Iron Man 3 is the film we have been waiting for since Dark Knight Rises. It has a phenomenally powerful heroic arc for many of its characters, pits our hero against a terrifying enemy, gives us a nice love story, and does it all without wallowing in darkness and a fairly nihilistic worldview. And it is explosively funny at perfect moments.
As of its release, Iron Man 3 is the best movie of 2013.
Here’s a trailer:
Released May 3, 2013
Written by Drew Pearce and Shane Black, based on the comic by Stan Lee, Don Heck, Larry Lieber, and Jack Kirby
Directed by Shane Black
Starring Gwyneth Paltrow, Rebecca Hall, Robert Downey Jr, Don Cheadle, Jon Favreau, Guy Pearce, Ben Kingsley, Paul Bettany, William Sadler, and Ty Simpkins
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Iron Man 3 comes chronologically after Iron Man 2 and The Avengers. In this story, the events from The Avengers are referred to as ‘New York’ from the year before. This is important, because the heroic efforts Tony Stark (Downey Jr.) made in that conflict have left their mark on him. He is torn up and is having trouble sleeping.
But he’s been working obsessively with his suits, making them able to move remotely and even be controlled by Jarvis (Bettany) so they can be nearly autonomous. At the same time, Rhodey (Cheadle) is using the suit the US Government appropriated, which is now called the Iron Patriot. Rhodey and Tony are still friends. Pepper (Paltrow) is very worried about Tony. He is unable to stay in bed, is acting a little too manic, and their relationship is suffering. She wishes he could have a life without the suits.
Meanwhile, there is a terrorist called the Mandarin (Kingsley) who is incredibly well outfitted for mass destruction. He is bombing all kinds of places and appears to want to knock the world’s systems completely off balance. But there’s also another bad guy named Aldrich Killian (Pearce) who is a brilliant inventor and developer and who seems to have a personal bone to pick with Tony Stark. And this guy is not entirely human.
When Tony’s home and lab are completely destroyed, Stark is left with his one final suit, panic attacks, and a pushy kid (Simpkins) who might be able to help him save the world. The Mandarin’s plans move forward, putting countless lives in danger, and Killian’s plans do much the same. Now Tony has to somehow rescue his relationship, the president, and the entire world from a madman who is bent on molding the world after his own vision.
Leading to a visually stunning showdown that does all kinds of crazy things that will come as a surprise to most viewers.
There’s not much bad to say about this film. It starts with a script that knows how to throw punches at our hero, leaving him on his back, nearly dead, in the snow. The script allows characters to explore relationships and to inhabit their emotional space. This consists of allowing scenes to continue for enough time to let us see the character do natural, often heroic things.
The script also allows for all kinds of humor at surprising and perfect times. Most of that humor is clever dialogue, but it’s so effective because of its timing. Furthermore, the bad guys are ruthless and smart and incredibly dangerous. They win every encounter because they’re better prepared than anyone else.
As expected, the acting is excellent. This is a surprising role for Ben Kingsley, but the guy really gets it done. Guy Pearce is effectively smarmy and villainous, as are the sidekicks. The role of Stark was of course written for Robert Downey Jr, but there is more asked of him here. He has to move beyond clever snark to real self exploration, while staying true to himself. He does that well. Gwyneth Paltrow is as Gwyneth as ever, but the presence and acting of Rebecca Hall offsets the Gwyneth factor nicely.
The effects are remarkable. Seamless, creative, stunning, and altogether wonderful.
You’re going to love this movie.
Content warnings: Lots of superhero violence and some at times creepy or difficult images. Nothing gory.
Writing: 5 Acting: 5 Overall: 5
Iron out the kinks in your relationships, man (or woman!), and share this review with your friends. Then drop a Hamilton and go see this flick.