Movie Review: "Iron Man 3"

Friday, May 17, 2013
Rating: PG-13 (intense sci-fi action and violence throughout, brief suggestive content)

Length: 130 minutes

Release Date: May 3, 2013

Directed by: Shane Black

Genre: Action/Adventure/Sci-Fi

Stars: 4 out of 5

When the superheroes of "The Avengers" finally saved the world from Loki and his army, they all split up and went their separate ways. "Iron Man 3" (read more about the characters here) picks up after the battle in New York City, with Tony Stark (Robert Downy, Jr.) back in his hilltop mansion, tinkering with his Iron Man suit. On the surface, things might seem fine to some, but Stark is definitely not fine. He has long, frequent lapses in concentration that are driving his girlfriend and business partner Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) crazy. He is clearly traumatized by what happened, but he has no real outlet to try and get it all out.

Unfortunately, he won't have time to really recover because forces are already in place to make his life miserable. The Mandarin (Ben Kingsley) has plotted to kidnap and murder the President (William Sadler) among other nefarious plans. Meanwhile, Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce), who works for offshoot AIM, plans to use a new program he helped develop called Extremis to heal amputees. The only problem is that if the patient's body rejects the Extremis treatments, they end up exploding as a human firebomb. Killian doesn't seem to care about the deaths, instead forging ahead with plans to use Extremis in a way that could threaten a lot more than just a few unwitting test subjects.

When Tony publically takes a stand against the Mandarin and calls him out, his mansion gets destroyed and he nearly drowns in the ocean. Taking advantage of his presumed-dead status, he lays low in a rural Tennessee town to get his bearings. What follows is a series of rescue missions that are a complete thrill to watch.

"Iron Man 3" is the first film in what Marvel Studios calls Phase Two of its movie plan. It sets up this phase quite nicely by giving an honest look at how being a superhero charged with saving the world can really take a mental and emotional toll on someone. It is an unflinching look at the humanity of Tony Stark when he is outside of his suit, and it is a great way to reintroduce him as a solo character. Though Stark was given plenty of screen time in "The Avengers," it is nice to see him as the center of attention again, especially when he begins to get his mojo back and changes from Tony Stark to Tony Snark. The jokes and quips that fans have come to know are back, and so is Iron Man in all his glory.

The script, cowritten by director Shane Black and Drew Pearce really breaks Stark down to his lowest point in the series, only to build him back up, better and wiser than before. It is not unlike what "Skyfall" did with the James Bond character, similarly sinking Bond to his lowest level so that he could rise to the occasion, better than ever. Stark will need the extra oomph, because he has to pull off a series of amazing rescues, each one more daring and thrilling than the last. The fact that a pre-Avengers version of Iron Man might not have been able to pull off these feats shows just how much attention has been paid to character development in the series. Since the original "Iron Man," Stark has gone from an overgrown child with too much power and money on his hands to become a real hero who respects those around him, even if he does crack one-liners at their expense.

When Downey, Jr. signed on to do the first "Iron Man," he also agreed to appear in several more films, including sequels and the eventual Avengers project. With "Iron Man 3," he has officially completed his contractual obligation, meaning that there is a possibility that this may be the last time audiences see him suit up. Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige has said that he is confident the studio can sign him to another contract to continue on as Iron Man into the future. "The Avengers" scribe Joss Whedon, who is currently penning the sequel, has said that he is writing the script with Tony Stark in it. With the actor keeping mum about his future plans regarding the franchise, if "Iron Man 3" is the last time Stark and Iron Man are on the big screen, then it is a great way to go out.