Marvel Studios’ “Iron Man 3” pits brash-but-brilliant industrialist Tony Stark/Iron Man against an enemy whose reach knows no bounds. When Stark finds his personal world destroyed at his enemy’s hands, he embarks on a harrowing quest to find those responsible. This journey, at every turn, will test his mettle. With his back against the wall, Stark is left to survive by his own devices, relying on his ingenuity and instincts to protect those closest to him. As he fights his way back, Stark discovers the answer to the question that has secretly haunted him: does the man make the suit or does the suit make the man?
The Marvel cinematic universe is in excellent shape, with Iron Man 3 (the seventh instalment) officially launching phase two of the series and boasting a production budget of approximately $200 million, which can be seen on screen with excellent production values, great looking sets and solid visual effects.
Jon Favreau’s departure from the franchise in a directing capacity (he still appears in the film and is on board as an executive producer) left a void for director Shane Black to come in and fill, returning to direct for the first time since his 2005 film (also starring Robert Downey Jnr) ‘Kiss Kiss Bang Bang’.
Iron Man 3 picks up following the events of ‘Avengers’ where last we witnessed Tony Stark helping save the world, resisting the temptation to delve deeply into the wider marvel setting, other than a few nods this is very much an Iron Man centric film. With a screenplay from Drew Pearce and Shane Black the film is loosely based on the ‘Extremis’ story arc written by Warren Ellis and first published in 2005.
For this latest instalment Shane Black sets something of a different tone to what Favreau established, playing very much as an action comedy Iron Man 3 delivers a strong character arc that nicely fits with the setting. Multiple times throughout the film things move tonally towards a more dramatic state, only to quickly to turn things around with some comedic beats injected in all the right places which might divide some audiences.
Unfortunately at a more detailed glance the film is packed full of ideas that aren’t explored to their fullest potential. Tony Stark is a changed man following his experiences in New York, and this is an interesting idea that is glossed over a little too quickly. In fact many of the characters suffer a similar fate with good ideas, and nice developments that despite the slightly over two hours running time, ultimately feel somewhat short changed.
As hinted at in the marketing campaign for the film, here we find Tony Stark stripped of almost everything he holds dear and this creates a compelling situation that is a pleasure to watch. Without his abundant resources at hand we get to revisit Tony relying completely on his wits and ingenuity with only basic tools, something that was missing from Iron Man 2.
Importantly of course is the action within an Iron Man film and Shane Black displays his ability to handle characters, drama and comedy coupled with big explosive set pieces and engaging action sequences. Despite its exposure in the trailers the mansion attack is an exhilarating scene, and is followed up by strong sequences later in the film, with a tendency to keep the audience hungry for more through till the credits roll.
Robert Downy Jnr is superb of course as we knew he would be, though he is also supported by an excellent cast who are well directed by Black. Don Cheadle and Robert Downy Jnr display a good onscreen chemistry and at times things play out like an action comedy buddy cop film of yesteryear. Both Gwyneth Paltrow and Jon Favreau feature more prominently than in previous films and make the most of their additional screen time. Ben Kingsley, Rebecca Hall and Guy Pearce are also all strong, though without being overly specific there are some missed opportunities where some of the cast were deserving of some deeper character material to work with.
With Iron Man 3 Shane Black throttles down on the action a little when compared to the previous films, he delivers a more balanced blend of characters, action and comedy. There’s no denying the comedic elements are managed excellently, at times the film is hilarious though it felt like too great a departure down this route over previous instalments.
Ultimately though Iron Man 3 is a very enjoyable film to watch, I’m giving it 7 out of 10 stars and it’s in cinemas from Thursday 24th April 2013.