Iron Man gets in the way of the romance between Tony and Pepper
Does Iron Man 3 measure up to it’s legacy? Yes. I actually preferred it to Iron Man 2, though it’s also a sequel of sorts to last summer’s Avengers. One might ask how Iron Man 3 could possibly top the epic proportions of the Avengers, but it does so handsomely by exploring the character of Tony Stark without wallowing in it as other super-hero films have done *coughSupermanReturnscough*
In the aftermath of the epic battle in Manhattan, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) seems to suffering from a form of post-traumatic stress syndrome. Despite his four-film journey from self-involved playboy to armored Avenger to billionaire philanthropist, has begun to ponder where to go from here, and his only answer is to tinker constantly with his armor.
This leads to the inevitable friction with live-in girlfriend Pepper (Gwyneth Paltrow). Adding fuel to the fire is the reappearance of Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce), who heads Advanced Idea Mechanics, one of Stark Industry’s sometime competitors. With Pepper now in charge of Stark Industries, Killian begins wooing her on both a personal and professional level.
Meanwhile the government has now co-opted his battlesuit, renaming Air Force buddy Col. James Rhodes (Don Cheadle) the Iron Patriot and giving his former WarMachine more of a Captain America-style paint job.
However, rising on the international landscape is a terrorist known as the Mandarin (Ben Kinglsey). In the comic book world, the Mandarin is arguably Iron Man greatest foe, and was briefly referenced in the first Iron Man (2008) when Stark was captured by a guerilla group known as the 10 Rings.
So the film comes somewhat full-circle as the man loosely responsible for the creation of the hero comes gunning for him (or vice versa, sometimes), which has evolved into almost a cliché in comic book-based films, and is often ret-conned into the comics themselves.
But I digress.
The Mandarin’s campaign against the United States hits close to home when Stark’s head of security Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau) falls victim to the latest bombing attack. Suddenly, Stark has a clear purpose and a definitive target. Unfortunately, as Iron Man, he finds his resources limited. Taking on an international terrorist armed with a screw driver and a Home Depot credit card seems daunting, but Stark is motivated enough to make it work.
And the film works. It features various plot points drawn from the Extremis storyline. But again, these elements are not merely stolen and filmed. Instead, they are twisted and taken in new, equally entertaining directions. Not to leave anyone Without a Clue, Kingley’s portrayal of the Mandarin is especially a multi-dimensional revelation.
Downey is still the crass but charming egotist we’ve come to know and love, delivering plenty of humor while serving up a serious beat-down in good old comic book fashion. Pearce’s Killian is a fearsome challenge, though perhaps the role is too similar to Iron Man 2’s Justin Hammer; your mileage may vary. Cheadle makes a more than able ally (do NOT call him a sidekick), and Paltrow rises well above the typical damsel-in-distress role.
The great thing about Iron Man 3 is it’s a great sequel not only to Iron Man 2, but to the Avengers as well.
And be sure to stick around for the post-credits scene. Best. Shwarma. Ever.