In Iron Man 3 our beloved Iron Man, again played by Robert Downey Jr., works to stop the evil Mandarin (Ben Kingsley) from blowing things up. He’s also trying to repair his frayed relationship with Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow).
And since our hero always has some kind of existential crisis, Iron Man gets panic attacks every time he thinks about what happened in New York, otherwise known as The Avengers movie.
Iron 3 grossed $195.3 million in foreign markets before it was released in the United States. It’s safe to say that many, many, many people love this film franchise. For most it probably started with the Marvel comic of a billionaire playboy who created an awesome, terrorist-fighting suit. Even for the comic-book-challenged, there’s an attraction to a superhero who has no supernatural powers, unless his super smartness counts.
Iron Man is the kind of guy you love to hate. He is arrogant, self-centered and brilliant, with a general lack of concern for anyone but himself. He’s also quite funny in the way he rattles off jokes and insults.
Downey, who’s so good at creating memorable characters that it’s almost a supernatural power, plays Tony Stark (Iron Man’s alter ego) as someone who is arrogant and self-centered, yet cares about people in general. Many times he’s surrounded by beautiful women and the audience is left wondering when he’ll give Pepper a chance.
Now that he’s gotten the girl, Tony has to step out of his comfort zone and actually make an effort to show Pepper that he really does love her. The sentimentality is overshadowed by the wow factors. Then again, this is an action movie.
What’s best about director/writer Shane Black’s film (with writing help from Drew Pearce) is that Pepper gets in on the action as well. It’s rare to have “the girlfriend” save the day and the hero. The distinct impression is that Black and Pearce were looking out for their female Iron Man fans, who like seeing a woman take charge, kick butt, and rescue her boyfriend from ultimate annihilation. Paltrow is not known for action prowess, but she took to her role quite nicely, which begs the question whether we will become People magazine’s newly minted Most Beautiful Person in the World in Avengers 2.
In the support roles, Ty Simpkins does a fabulous job as Harley Keener, the little boy who helps Tony in his hour of need. From an acting standpoint, they play well off of each other. If Simpkins were ten years older, he would make a good sidekick for Iron Man.
Speaking of sidekicks, Don Cheadle continues his reign as Colonel James Rhodes, aka Iron Patriot.
Cheadle’s Rhodes, like Tony, might not be considered a superhero because he technically doesn’t have any super powers. Unlike Tony, however, Rhodes proves in this film that he can handle his own without his suit. Hopefully that means Rhodes will make at least an appearance in Avengers 2.
Kingsley, the consummate professional actor, plays The Mandarin in two very different, delightful ways: He literally humanizes the terrorist, while simultaneously striking fear into the hearts of those who experience his wrath. That’s no problem for someone who has played Gandhi. Kingsley’s problem in Iron 3 is that he didn’t get more screen time.
Even though Iron Man 3, is heavy on the action, special effects, gadgets and great thinking on its feet, the storyline was too safe. It’s apparent that Black and Pearce went with the less-is-more theory and kept it simple. There’s only so much storytelling that can be done when things are blowing up and catching fire.
The good news is that the lead character is so good at what he does, he doesn’t even need a good plot. Like Iron Man, Downey just needs room to do his thing.