Iron Man 3 (2013)
Dir: Shane Black
This is the way to enter Phase 2!
‘Marvel’s Cinematic Universe’ has become quite a force to be reckoned with, especially after ‘Avengers’ became the 3rd biggest grossing film of all time. So how do you follow that and enter into the second ‘Phase’? The answer is in the same way you kicked it all off, with Iron Man!
Original director Jon Favreau has here stepped back to the role of producer (and on-screen talent) handing over the directorial reigns to ‘Lethal Weapon’ scribe Shane Black. This is a man who has written some of the biggest action films of the 80’s and 90’s as well as having experience directing star Robert Downey Jr before in ‘Kiss Kiss Bang Bang’. Therefore big action is to be expected, witty lines, interesting villains, and some level of mis-matched partnerships, and sure enough they’re all there, along with something extra.
Joss Whedon has previously spoken about how when you’ve gone so big with a story as he did in ‘The Avengers’, following that up becomes difficult, and that the way to do it is not by trying to go bigger, but rather by focusing in on the complexities of characters and delving deeper into them. It looks like Shane Black took that on board, as although there’s nothing ‘small’ about this film, the big action is still there, there’s also a huge amount of character development, and really toning sections of the film down to allow characters to express themselves.
This film sees Tony Stark / Iron Man as he’s somewhat settled down with Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow), but he’s also struggling with the aftermath of the events in ‘The Avengers’ where he went through a wormhole to protect Earth, and now he’s traumatized by what he saw and unable to sleep. When his friend Happy (Favreau) is severely injured in a terrorist attack however, Stark emotionally throws himself back into action challenging the mysterious ‘Mandarin’ who then responds with such explosive force that Stark is presumed dead, and takes that time in self-imposed exile to try to work out what’s really going on and how to stop this formidable foe.
This story brings in lots of characters and elements from popular ‘Iron Man’ comics and graphic novels, really changing them quite a lot from the original sources and tying parts together. I have no problem with that, as parts of the story get to really surprise, and may even have surprised comic fans who had read all the comics and suchlike, and in my opinion there’s nothing wrong with playing about a bit to surprise your audience.
The last section of the film may have been a little bit over-saturated with the action however, as it really dials up things to a hight far above anything else in the film and somewhat leaves the character development aside briefly. Mark Kermode described it as being like ‘Transformers’ at that point, and though the content of the action has similarities to that, the quality of it all is far above those ever-worsening films.
I was really surprised by the audience I saw this with. They were a generally young bunch almost all in their teens, and almost every one of them left when the credits started! My friend and I were shocked, had they not seen the previous 6 films? Ever since ‘Iron Man’ in 2008, Marvel have put a little treat in as a post-credit sequence, often teasing the next film or as a humourous aside, and this is certainly no exception to that. If you’re going to see this, just sit and wait, it’s worth it!
Although it’s not quite as good as the first film which really set new heights for Superhero movies, this is great fun, and is more of a sequel to ‘The Avengers’ than 2010’s ‘Iron Man 2’ which wasn’t so popular. ‘IM3’ has been steadily climbing up the list of biggest grossing films since release, and at time of writing was 5th! Worryingly now the future of Robert Downey Jr in the role of Iron Man is in question with his contract coming to an end. Hopefully he will return to wear the metal suit again, at the very least in 2015’s ‘Avengers 2’ even if not in another Iron Man film, as if this is the one he leaves the series on, it’s a perfectly good way to go.