Let’s begin phase two. Still glowing in the phenomenal success that was last year’s superhero smackdown ‘Avengers Assemble’, Marvel lay the burden of responsibility on Ol’Shellhead to set the tone and launch another blockbuster Summer. With our swaggering hero taking a few critical chinks to the high tech suit after his last solo effort was labelled as muddled and a blatant set-up for the studio’s all-star project, his own trilogy closer arrives with a new director at the helm (Shane Black) and a point to prove.
Acknowledging the destruction of NYC within ‘Assemble’, we find billionaire Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr) back in Malibu using his egotistical persona to disguise the inner traumas, sustained by his encounters with alien race the Chitauri and descending from a wormhole. Immersing himself in his ‘work’ instead of date nights with his beloved girlfriend Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow), he soon finds old fashioned revenge is on the menu instead.
Launching an all out assault on America through the saturation of its media output or a series of atrocities, Sir Ben Kingsley’s The Mandarin doesn’t hide from his ‘terrorist’ tendencies. Hardly the least of Stark’s troubles, he becomes increasingly concerned with Pepper’s association with smooth talking scientist Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce), as he attempts to negotiate a deal for his potentially groundbreaking creation Extremis. Strictly business.. or a more sinister motive driving Killian?
Righting the wrongs of its predecessor, ‘Iron Man 3’ possesses a tighter plot with substance and a refreshing ability to surprise and subvert expectations, in a time where we’re bombarded with ‘teasers for teasers’. Making the step up from scripter to director, Shane Black thankfully retains the barbed wired wit and playful tone of previous outings, whilst heightening the threat and dramatic heft. Growing accustomed with the action packed theatrics of cinema throughout his career, Black shows an unsurprising knack for spectacle with its obligatory, visually stunning ‘adrenaline shots’ hitting the mark and sidestepping the ‘tacked on’ feel of ‘2’.
Leaving a potentially overcrowded cast plenty to sink their teeth into, it’s inevitable that its ever present leading man thrives in particular. This time complete with comical riffs on Downton Abbey, Christmas and stinging putdowns for the younger generation, whilst fleshing out a more vulnerable and grounded side to undercut the arrogant element of his character, Downey Jr is once again a delight. Injected with a buddy cop style dynamic in a similar vein of Black’s Lethal Weapon series, Don Cheadle’s Iron Patriot revels in exchanging the quickfire dialogue.
In roles that could easily get bogged down in cliche, Guy Pearce’s aspiring scientist Killian is effectively underplayed without striving for the classic ‘maniacal’ approach. The showstealer here however is Sir Ben Kingsley. The antagonist behind the film’s various surprises, his performance as ‘The Mandarin’ is a wonderfully inspired creation that taps into social relevance, through his dictator-esque persona and his love for a ‘show’.
Its early stages are staggered in their ‘footing’, potentially leaving you in an anxious state mirroring RDJ’s Stark. Winning you over in emphatic fashion with a compelling narrative that avoids being convoluted and brilliantly staged action punctuated with the trademark humour we’ve come to expect, ‘Iron Man 3’ is by far his most satisfying outing to date which further solidifies the notion, that Stark is indeed the comicbook version of James Bond.
‘Tony Stark.. will return.’