Iron Man 3 **** ½

Whereas Iron Man 2 tilted toward mediocrity—more action than story—Marvel’s back on course with Iron Man 3. In true comic book spirit, the film unleashes new villains, illusions and sci-fi technology, flip humor with zingy one-liners that offset any gory onscreen tension, and even the 3D effect is used to a credible advantage. Now established with the American government and populace as the Iron Man, their crime-fighting friend and hero, brilliant, eccentric industrialist Tony Stark (Downey Jr.) concentrates on developing new “cutting edge play toys” at his cliff-hanging Malibu home. Pepper Potts (Paltrow), his onetime executive secretary is in charge of Stark International, and the love of his life. Life is good, until terrorist extraordinaire Mandarin (Kingsley) enters the world stage.

Ever brash, Tony taunts the Mandarin and suddenly finds himself devoid of personal possessions, resources, and far from home. Even Jarvis (Bettany, voice) is too weak to respond. A youngster discovers Tony in his mom’s garage, and after striking a bargain Harley (Simpkins) helps Tony: “you’re a mechanic, why not just build something”? So despite his angst over what happened in New York (The Avengers, 2012), Tony pulls himself together. With his ingenuity totally concentrated and his survival instincts honed, and using basic hardware store items, Tony sets out on a course of retribution. Unbeknownst to him, these newest nemeses are monsters he unwittingly created years ago: the subterfuge lay with Aldrich Killian (Pearce), the originator of the privately funded organization A.I.M. (Advanced Ideas Mechanics), and Dr. Maya Hansen (Hall). The net widens, and longtime buddy Lt. Col. James “Rhodey” Rhodes (Cheadle) eventually helps Tony deliver, albeit in increments. At the end of the day, Tony finds the answer to what he has asked himself—is it the suit that makes the man, or the man the suit—since donning the iron armor years ago in Afghanistan.

Since taking over control of its movie slate in 2005, Marvel Entertainment (a Disney subsidiary since 2009) has propitiously developed their superhero comic book characters—Iron Man, Spider Man, the Incredible Hulk, and Thor—while also developing stories whereby the superheroes join forces, yet retain their distinct personalities. Shane Black’s (Lethal Weapon, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang) sequel contains exceptionally well balanced doses of humor, drama and action with deftly placed surprises, and reenergizes the Iron Man. Downey Jr. is at his best—tough, vulnerable, sweet, and full of vim and vigor—as is the entire cast. Everyone involved in this production deserve kudos, so pay the extra 3D price of admission, and hang onto “the mechanic’s” heels for an unforgettable trip. (Marinell Haegelin)

  • Iron Man 3
  • Starts May 1, 2013
  • USA 2013
  • Directed by: Shane Black
  • Writing credits: Drew Pearce, Shane Black (screenplay), Stan Lee, Don Heck, Larry Lieber, Jack Kirby (comic book)
  • Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Rebecca Hall, Guy Pearce, Ben Kingsley, Don Cheadle, Jon Favreau, Paul Bettany (voice), Dale Dickey, Ty Simpkins
  • Length: 130 minutes