Iron Man 3 arrives in theaters the same weekend where a year before found The Avengers breaking box office records. Would you believe that this third film in the Iron Man franchise is even better than that wickedly successful film, and thus can easily be crowned the most astounding superhero film since The Dark Knight?
It appears as if the creative team behind the series learned a few lessons from the misstep that was Iron Man 2 and perhaps in the process we have discovered what it was about The Avengers that worked so well. Sure, that green monster otherwise known as The Hulk was a huge standout. But, it was Robert Downey Jr. and his charm as Tony Stark/Iron Man that carried the day.
And now that he has his own film again, the actor and the role further show how it is a match made in cinematic heaven.
There's a humor and an impeccable sense of timing that is inescapable in Downey's portrayal of the billionaire arms dealer/playboy. He may be born to be Sherlock Holmes, but it is a once in a century moment in Hollywood where an actor and a role become synonymous for their excellence.
As Downey has said throughout the Iron Man 3 press tour, a superhero movie is only as good as its villain and in this latest Marvel Studios incarnation, Ben Kingsley knocks it out of the park as The Mandarin. He is pure evil, driven by… well, you’ll have to see the film to get that answer! There are twists and turns in this film that simply cannot be revealed in even the simplest of summations without ruining it for the audience.
Just know this: It is a brilliant use of an actor in Kingsley and is as well written a role as a superhero or even an action movie, for that matter, has seen in decades.
What also is a welcome surprise are the expanded roles of Gwyneth Paltrow and Don Cheadle. Both actors are stellar, time has proved that, and Iron Man 3 allows them to join in on the action, humor and joy that is this particular franchise. Again, don’t want to give away too much, but Paltrow even gets to don the Iron Man suit!
After a series of terrorist attacks, Iron Man swings into action by calling out The Mandarin and even, as seen in this Iron Man 3 trailer, gives his home address. Stark is inviting a full-on attack because, as he says, this is now about revenge. Yes, the attack comes and Stark has to flee.
When Stark flees the assault on his home, he lands in Tennessee and another joy hits the screen, the unexpected talents of Ty Simpkins. The plot here allows Stark to "start from the beginning." The Dark Knight Rises attempted to do this, and failed in the process. You can knock your hero down to where he has to cull his power once again and save the world. But where it felt forced in the final Batman movie, here in Iron Man 3 with Downey and writer-director Shane Black wielding the plot and power… it is a marvel. Pun intended.
Also, fans of the Marvel world may wonder how this first film out of the gate after The Avengers would handle that film and the universe of the superhero collective.
When Stark lands in the beat up suit in Tennessee, he has to answer a myriad of questions from the little boy played by Simpkins. It is here where we get some congruency with last summer's The Avengers. As Stark says in this Iron Man 3 clip, "Things haven't been the same since New York." It is through the scenes with the talented young thespian that we find out why.
In the end, the hiring of director Black to take over the helming duties for Jon Favreau (who still stars as Stark's loyal sidekick) is a stroke of brilliance by Kevin Feige and the team at Marvel Studios. Much as Downey and Black combined to make explosive action and dialogue in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, so too do they with Iron Man 3.
We know there will be a The Avengers 2, but will there be an Iron Man 4? With the proof in the pudding that is Iron Man 3, we can only hope so as this series shows how to do superheroes right. Our Iron Man 3 review can firmly state that the film may be the best superhero film... ever.