No Shawarmas were harmed in the making of this film...
Tony Stark / Iron Man: Robert Downey, Jr. Virginia "Pepper" Potts: Gwenyth Paltrow Col. James Rhodes / Iron Patriot: Don Cheadle The Mandarin: Ben Kingsley Aldrich Killian: Guy Pearce Eric Savin: James Badge Dale Dr. Maya Hansen: Rebecca Hall Ellen Brandt: Stephanie Szostak President Ellis: William Sadler Vice President Rodriguez: Miguel Ferrer Happy Hogan: Jon Favreau Harley Keener: Ty Simpkins Jarvis: Paul Bettany
Paramount Pictures presents a film co-written and directed by Shane Black. Co-written by Drew Pearce. Based on the Marvel Comics character created by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, Don Heck, and Jack Kirby. Rated PG-13 for sequences of intense sci-fi action and violence throughout, and brief suggestive content. Running Time: 2 hours, 10 minutes Release Date: May 3, 2013
Tony Stark needs to get some sleep. For the fourth time in the last six Mays, Robert Downey, Jr. and his weaponized suit - or in this case, 42 of them - have flown into theaters to help kick off the "Summer Movie Season". The first Marvel film post-Avengers, Stark - having been exposed to alternate universes and extraterrestrial life - has traded in sleep for anxiety attacks and spends countless hours "tinkering" in his workshop.
Three and a half dozen different models of the Iron Man suit later - many of which are unknown to Tony's better half, Pepper (Paltrow) - and a world-feared terrorist comes into play. In the midst of taking over American televisions with a series of pro wrestling-style vignettes, The Mandarin (Kinglsey) orchestrates a bombing in Los Angeles that personally affects our hero. Stark - never able to be completely void of arrogance - retorts with a public invitation for the Mandarin to meet him face to face at his home. This turns out to be one of several regrettable decisions Stark faces during Iron Man 3.
One of those decisions takes thirteen years of hindsight to become regrettable, as a mean-spirited joke aimed at an awkward young scientist (Pearce) sets some very negative wheels in motion. Much of the film's terror revolves around Extremis, similar to the "Super Soldier" mutation however with the side effect of turning anyone who rejects the mutation into a literal ticking time bomb. When effective, Extremis can turn its host into something resembling a molten T-1000 with the ability to breathe fire. How or why any of it works the way it does isn't given a great deal of attention, unless Iron Patriot (Cheadle) asking "You breathe fire now?" counts.
Iron Man 3 is drenched in tongue-in-cheek satirical moments such as that, but none bigger is Ben Kingsley's turn as The Mandarin. At the sake of spoiling anything, I will say the character is probably not what you are expecting - likely moreso if you follow the comics. Love or hate the twist, it is the main thing that makes Iron Man 3 stand out amidst the ever increasing landscape of big budget comic book adaptations.
While the Mandarin twist is a memorable one, it doesn't solve the problem that the Iron Man franchise has encountered in summers past. Robert Downey, Jr. has done such a phenomenal job making Iron Man a top-level superhero that it's easy to feel that he's yet to have a villain truly go toe-to-toe with him. A big part of the Dark Knight trilogy's acclaim was due to Batman having a series of strong bad guys to go head-to-head with. Stark has yet to find his Joker.
For a movie where Tony Stark is attacked in his home, there feels like there is a lack of peril. Having a hero who you've already seen succeed three of the last five summers and who is arrogant enough to give out his home address on television only moves you so far towards the edge of your seat. Stark's anxiety attacks feel forced at times, as well, as the film lacks few other moments before the final act where our hero doesn't appear to be dripping with confidence.
That attitude does Iron Man 3 more good than harm, though. It leads to some of the film's funniest moments, when a suitless Stark finds himself searching for answers in rural Tennessee with a young sidekick (Simpkins). It's Downey's ability to walk the fine line between hero and jackass that ultimately keeps us coming back for more. But that attitude can get in the way of Stark's more vulnerable moments. Regardless, Iron Man 3 isn't a bad way to spend a Friday night at the movies, but it still may be time to give Tony Stark a May or two off to finally get some sleep.
The 411: Iron Man 3 is an enjoyable enough entry in the increasingly bloated Marvel universe, thanks in huge part to the performance and comedic timing of Robert Downey, Jr. With Tony Stark hitting the big screen nearly annually, however, this is a role that Downey can excel in in his sleep. It may be time to take a break from Iron Man before audiences risk becoming as bored as its leads appear at times. In the mean time, despite its fair share of forgettable moments, Iron Man 3 is interjected enough humor and aptitude to warrant a recommendation.