Debuting just two years after Iron Man 2 and one year after Avengers, Marvel’s shell head continues even with a different director.
And what do we get?
A damn good movie.
Tony Stark, obviously played by Robert Downey, Jr. returns with Gwyneth Paltrow as his now live in girl friend Pepper Potts with the house AI Jarvis played by Paul Bettany and this times comes up against someone called the Mandarin played by Sir Ben Kingsley. The Mandarin is a terrorist that has blowing up things in the Middle East until President Ellis played by William Saddler sends James Rhodes once again played by Don Cheadle has been re-dubbed the Iron Patriot because of the focus groups thought War Machine was a tad too violent.
Meanwhile Tony has been suffering from PTSD from the alien invasion in New York and until the Mandarin strikes at Gruman’s Chinese Theater and injures Happy Hogan played by previous Iron Man 1+2 director Jon Favearu the Mandarin does something really smart: he accepts Tony’s challenge and blows up his house.
I’ve ruined nothing of the movie for you the trailer sets it all up already.
The good news is with Tony on the run, he gets a kid sidekick for a third of the movie.
Yep. I said good news.
Shane Black accepts the baton and makes us forget about the bloated mess of Iron Man 2. He takes Tony out of his armor and makes him think on his feet and even when Tony exposes what has happened the movie doesn’t lose a step. Sure there are several homages in there form Beverly Hills Cop and Lethal Weapon but who cares it’s Shane Black. In fact it gets better because like Batman Begin’s two villain set up, the real threat comes in the form of Aldrich Killian played by Guy Pearce. Killian is what Weyland Yetuni could have been if he hadn’t been an old man in Prometheus.
Kilian the geek and Tony the womanizer cross paths during a segment set in 1999 at the beginning of the movie where after a failed conference in a elevator and a one night stand with Maya Hansen played by Rebecca Hall the trio never meet again until a dapper Killian arrives one day looking nothing like his former self and that’s when we get to gist of things.
Turns out Maya’s work to reanimate limbs called Extremis has come to Killian’s attention since it can be weaponized. Killian’s gang is out of a typical Shane Black script complete with pony tail. Unfortunately, Killian’s right hand man Savin played James Badge Dale is nowhere near as rememberable as Gary Busey or in Iron Man 3’s case, Brandt played Stephanie Szostak. Brandt (the fiery red head in the bar scene) would have been my choice for Killian’s left hand but no such luck.
The only downside to Killian’s work is through the use of some info dumping/shortcuts the audience sees the results of his earlier attempts but does not experience them as part of the movie but the movie is supposed to be remembered through Tony talking about it to a certain doctor we all know but the film takes some liberties on the point of view. And the 3-D wasn’t worth it except seeing it on IMAX was totally worth it.
The big set pieces are just as big as ever. The attack on Tony’s house, the attack on Air Force One that I swear every single SFX company must be using this year since World War Z, White House Down and Iron Man 3 all have sequences. The final show down between Tony and Killian is three times better than Iron Man 1 or 2 because Killian and Tony are equally matched for a change, Killian keeps burning through his armor and Tony has to run around to get a new one.
I would be remiss in reminding that part of the plot and characters were from the Iron Man comic entitled: Extremis written by Warren Ellis and art by Adi Granov.
Overall, a better film than Iron Man 2 and good step for Marvel’s Phase Two.
As always stay past the credits.