That’s the official title. I like it.
So, after the disappointing second act Iron Man 2 and the glorious team up feature The Avengers, Iron Man Three was always going to be a challenge but it seems to be one that writer/director Shane Black attacks with aplomb. In much the same way that Toy Story 2 is just a meaningless retread of the first part but the third, even though it reuses some familiar themes and concepts, is a vastly superior film, so too is this picture, which sees Tony Stark face personal demons nastier than he could ever find in a whiskey bottle. While I was tentative to warm to yet another Tony-Off-The-Rails story, Black’s deft narrative and feckless, exciting style makes it all feel fresh and, most importantly, makes Tony feel vulnerable.
Fans’ fears that this film may try to circumvent the tricky issue of integrating the story of the Avengers into Tony’s life were quite unfounded – in fact, the Iron Man’s entire dilemma is forged by his inescapable feeling of fragility and mortality when faced with the mind-boggling events he’s witnessed; other worlds, aliens, gods and monsters. RDJ shines here as man who has seen things, subject to dangerous bouts of anxiety when reminded of “New York” ,secluding himself in his Bat-Cave to tinker away at his armour. Armour as cocoon metaphor only begs for it to be torn away to strip him to his fundamentals and that’s where are nefarious villains come in.
Sir Benjy Kingsley is actually damned good as the arch-terrorist and Osama stand-in, the Mandarin. The character’s history as a “Yellow Peril” racist caricature actually opens up some interesting avenues for the film’s writers and, in the face of recent events, the film takes some turns that are genuinely cleverer and not as black-and-white as they initially may seem. No spoilers, but the plot’s progression had me grinning. Even so, imaged of Don Cheadle as a Star-Spangled death robot, literally called War Machine, pointing guns at women in burqas in Pakistan are problematic…very problematic. You get the feeling there are smarts at work but they can’t escape the corporate machine, for all their notions.
But I’m getting too political, and this film asks that you don’t as it is A LOT funnier and less dour than both the trailers and I have made out. Even the opening credits will have you in bits. You’ll regularly be grinning from ear-to-ear as RDJ and co seem to recapture some of the off-the-handle wit and charm the original possessed in such abundance. This is Kiss Kiss Bang Bang but with repulsors and jet-boots and it makes the technologically wondrous world of Tony Stark get its mojo back, which after three outings was beginning to flag. Even the much reviled cliche of the special kid the hero befriends is turned on its head in delightful, inventive ways and with straight-faced black humour, pun intended.
Unfortunately, the biggest caveats with this film are leftovers from the last one: robot fatigue and Gwenyth Paltrow. Now it’s true that the entire supporting cast is underwhelming, especially an underused Guy Pierce as new baddie Aldritch Killian, Paltrow has been a consistent source of discord within the entire franchise. She never seems to click with Tony and she often carries of as if she’s in a completely different film. It doesn’t help that Pepper is so two-note and under-written. So, there’s that.
And the suits. For five minutes it’s a kid’s wet-dream (weird image) to have all these suits and armours and robots but if we’ve learned anything from Transformers it’s that less is more and more is mess. There are some fucking great set-pieces, which unlike the Avengers, have a real, palpable sense of peril to them including the Malibu home destruction and a heart-stopping rescue a thousand miles in the air. But after a few hours, the more CGI and lack of physical danger it all starts to lose its punch and we’re back to watching cartoons fight. The film soars in its Shane Black quips and punchlines, as well as in its emotional journey for Tony, but it has issues with its tired action and weak villains.
Without spoiling nattin’ I’ll say that this film really brings some closure to the Iron Man franchise and is a fitting send off for the series, though not the character. Unlike 2, Three actually feels like its own animal and not just a glorified trailer for the Avengers. You won’t even notice that Sam Jackson doesn’t even pop his head in to sit around and eat chips with Black Widow like they did in 2. Iron Man Three actually has things for its heroes to do, fortunately. You’ll cringe, you’ll gasp, you’ll titter alot. You won’t really care all that much but that’s always been the appeal. It’s good popcorn and Shane Black should just write the Avengers III or something. That’d be fun lots.
Oh boy! You stayed for the post-credit sequence! Well, in true Iron Man from if you wait til the end you’ll get a cross-film teaser but this one is more of a Shwarma moment than a Thanos one. One clue: