Iron Man 3
Director Shane Black recovers from a lacklustre second instalment with wit and subversion
The third instalment in Marvel’s Iron Man franchise has its work cut out in both bettering its own relatively lame sequel and following the massive success of Avengers Assemble. Thanks to director Shane Black (who also co-wrote the script with Drew Pearce), it’s a film that rejuvenates the franchise while having some fun with superhero convention into the bargain.
The story finds Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr) struggling with PTSD following his near-death encounter at the end of Joss Whedon’s movie. On top of that, he's also been targeted by a terrorist known as The Mandarin (Sir Ben Kingsley), who seems set on taking down the whole of America as well.
Black’s script has fun grappling with a lot of elements (genetic enhancements, terrorism and media manipulation), while also offering a more stripped down version of its lead character, thereby allowing Downey Jr room to play and tap into a hitherto under-explored vulnerability. There's also a hint of that subversive seam Black mined in Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang (and scripts for Lethal Weapon and The Long Kiss Goodnight), typified by Stark's attitude to the new presence of precocious kid (Ty Simpkins).
There are flaws. The film takes a long time to get going and is too heavily populated, meaning that the likes of Rebecca Hall and Don Cheadle aren’t given enough to do. The grand finale also promises more than it delivers (much like the now-obligatory post-credits sequence, which isn’t worth the wait).
But overall Black pulls off a neat trick by combining intelligence with crowd-pleasing spectacle and wit. When it’s cool, this latest Iron Man instalment is really, really cool.