“Iron Man 3,” written by Drew Pearce and Shane Black, directed by Black, 130 minutes, rated PG-13.
The release of “Iron Man 3” marks the official beginning of the summer movie season, and if it’s any indication, it’s going to be a good summer.
Robert Downey Jr. rounds out the trilogy as Marvel’s cash cow Tony Stark aka Iron Man, who, after the events from 2012’s “The Avengers,” is on the verge of a mental breakdown. After his experience with gods, other dimensions and worlds, Tony has become an insomniac, working nonstop to create new and sometimes improved Iron Man suits in an effort to protect the only thing he has left: Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow).
Stark’s anxiety rises as a terrorist of unknown origin who calls himself The Mandarin (Ben Kingsley) wreaks havoc on the United States in the form of random bombings. The reintroduction of Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce), a geeky scientist shunned by Stark 13 years ago who has a crush on Pepper, is now rich, handsome, suave and successful, leading to more concerns for Tony.
After Stark’s friend and trusty bodyguard Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau) is hospitalized by one of the bombings, his worst fears hit home, and The Mandarin’s attacks become personal. So, in true Tony Stark fashion, he calls the terrorist out on national TV, and an all-out assault ensues on Stark. Presumed dead after the battle, Stark finds himself in a small town in Tennessee seeking answers about the bombings, which aren’t quite as they seem, while physically and mentally repairing himself.
In terms of comic book movies, “Iron Man 3” is one of the best. As with all good superhero movies, this film explores the duality of Tony Stark, a theme the series had previously only dabbled in. In this installment, much like the first, we get far more of Tony Stark out of his suit of armor than in it, giving us more of what we really came to see: Robert Downey Jr.
Here, Downey is challenged to play both the Stark we know, with all the swagger and ego he’s exhibited in the first two films, as well as the Stark he has kept hidden. Downey, of course, pulls it off, finding pockets of hilarity amid intense panic attacks and moments of crippling anxiety. Really, when it comes to Iron Man, Robert Downey Jr. is the franchise.
Shane Black, the writer of “Lethal Weapon,” puts his signature on this installment, replacing Favreau, who directed the first two films. Black knows the anatomy of a good action scene, and he puts the budget to good use here, creating exciting and elaborate moments that are reminiscent of his previous work. In fact, there are moments in “Iron Man 3” that could have been lifted right out of Black’s “Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang,” which also featured a brilliant performance from Downey.
“Iron Man 3,” much like the first film, is the very model other superhero movies should strive to be like. It’s fast-paced, well constructed, and most of all, a lot of fun to watch. This is what the summer movie season is all about.