Review: Iron Man 3

Mark Wheeler on Tony Starks fourth outing

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As one of the biggest comic book franchises thanks to the movies, Iron Man 3 has quite a bit to live up to.

Unlike some other comic heroes such as Spiderman, Batman, Superman or the X-men, Iron Man didn’t quite have the pre-built fan base to rely on. The first movie was a blast – quite literally – and the second installment, together with his appearance in The Avengers, only secured Iron Man as a fan favorite.

This third film is quite hard to speak about without getting into the danger of spoilers. Partly it’s more of the same, as are most comic book sequels, however we also see a more vulnerable side to Tony Stark/Iron Man.

Set after the events of The Avengers, Tony is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and, unable to sleep, he throws himself into tweaking and building his suits, putting strains on his personal life.

When a terrorist named The Mandarin responsible for a series of mysterious bombings targets Tony, his home and his loved ones, he finds himself having to cope without his suits, on a revenge mission. This said there are far more twists this time around and all may not be what it seems.

Kingsley as The Mandarin, the face of the attacks

Robert Downey Jr is certainly one of the reasons for Iron Man’s popularity; the confidence, humour and bravado he brings to the role have become iconic. Yet this time his confidence is much like his suit, shielding his human vulnerabilities. The other star of the show is Sir Ben Kingsley who as The Mandarin has some fantastic thesp moments, along with some hilarious comic exchanges with Downey Jr.

Gwenyth Paltrow briefly gets to play the action heroine and doesn’t do too bad a job, and thankfully previous Iron Man director Jon Favreau’s character spends the majority of the film in a coma. Don Cheadle’s War Machine/Iron Patriot is a welcome return, and the climatic multi Iron Man action sequence hinted at in previews is a triumphant rollercoaster ride.

Does the suit make the man or the man make the suit?

The special effects are slick, although the 3D, while not bad for post-production conversion, feels unnecessary. All in all Iron Man 3 is great fun and one of the better comic book movies, slightly more mature than its predecessors but not as much as Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy. While similarities between the two can be drawn, both being billionaire playboys who rely on gadgets and suits for their power, the two movies couldn’t be more different.

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