I feel that saying that threequels, especially those concerning superheroes, are usually a letdown, is redundant at this point. There are of course exceptions. Dark Knight Rises is a fine end to the trilogy, I love Return of the Jedi, Ewoks and all, and I now feel we can add Iron Man 3 to the list. It’s a smart, engaging sequel that really plays with what a superhero film can be.
For the 0.0001% of the population who aren’t aware, Robert Downey Jr. plays Tony Stark, who doubles as superhero Iron Man, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist. This film sees him go toe to toe with a terrorist group led by the mysterious Mandarin. targeting places Americans have appropriated from foreign cultures. He employs super soldiers with fire power who can recover from seemingly any wound. He’s also facing some hangover from his little near death experience in Avengers, that showed just how small he is in the world. Meanwhile Gwyneth Paltrow is still suffering as his girlfriend, Pepper Potts. All the while Don Cheadle has been sculpted into America’s figurehead, the Iron Patriot, a slightly ridiculous amalgamation of Iron Man and Captain America, charged with fighting all of the nation’s battles.
Robert Downey Jr. has truly nailed who Tony is by this point in time, as shown in Avengers. He brings the same level of snarky wit that we’ve come to know and love, yet I’m still not tired of his portrayal. Paltrow is given a lot more action this time around, and she rises to the occasion with gusto, while also covering all the bases of having to date the insane Tony. Rebecca Hall is an interesting new addition to the cast, as essentially the female Stark, but isn’t clichéd or overused. Ben Kingsley is fantastic as the Mandarin, bringing the right level of fear and an appropriate gravitas to the role.
The story explores just who Stark is, by taking away his suits and friends, forcing him to use all his skill to defeat the enemy. Scenes in which he has to use stealth and crafty gadgets evoke 007, while also being a bit MacGyver-esque. Refreshingly, the film isn’t too heavy on action, making these scenes all the more special. The destruction of the Stark homestead is a particularly powerful moment as the building has become so familiar through the previous films that it’s almost a tragedy to see it fall, not to mention the destruction of the familiar suits. Shane Black directs these scenes incredibly well, allowing you to focus on each loss without focusing too heavily on any of them.
The final fight scene is a kinetic delight, being all over the place without becoming a total mess. Mandarin feels like a genuine threat throughout, with his power to tear apart Iron Man’s armours as if they were kindling. It honestly feels as if Stark has to pull out all the stops and last ditch moves to stop him.
Ultimately, Iron Man 3 is an interesting follow up to Avengers that could serve as an effective end to the Iron Man films. While I am sure there will be a follow up, in fact I’m pretty sure he’s scheduled to be in Avengers 2, it’s a great close to the franchise that serves to outdo its predecessors, giving us the perfect Iron Man story.