Wow! That was all I could think walking out of Iron Man Three late late last night. This was a phenomenal film, but it was sooo not what I expected. This flick was not what anyone expected. And it will blow everyone away. This is the must-see film of the summer so far. Check out my relatively spoiler-free review after the jump.
Big Shoes to Fill
Iron Man Three, as it’s spelled in the credits, has a lot to live up to as the first film in Phase Two in Marvel Comics Cinematic Universe. Phase One ended with a bang last summer as not only having the biggest opening weekend in North America and the fastest film to gross $1 billion, but Marvel’s Avengers is the third highest grossing film of all time. That is a lot to live up to.
The other films in Phase One had been under the direction of such seasoned Hollywood professionals like Joss Whedon, Kenneth Branaugh, and Jon Favreau. Writer/director Shane Black himself had a lot to live up to. Everyone who had been following this series of films can not be faulted for expecting new product at least as good as Marvel’s Avengers. I assure you, Mr. Black has delivered.
Shane Black is the writer/director of a great little action flick called Kiss Kiss Bang Bang that coincidentally also starred Robert Downey, Jr. Before that he also wrote the first two Lethal Weapons, The Last Bot Scout, The Long Kiss Goodnight, and the underrated Last Action Hero. His action/adventure pedigree is undeniable. But still, Iron Man Three was a big gig.
Shane Black manages to take a comic book property, perhaps the comic book property and breathe new life into it. He, as director, and along with co-screenwriter Drew Pearce (who created the infamous “No Heroics” for ITV), have created a movie that not only gives us terrific superhero action, but great dialogue, startling plot twists, and new energy to characters, who by their fourth outing might be stale and clichéd in other hands. Black and company have made me not just a fan, but a believer.
His next projects are Death Note based on the manga of the same name, and, yeah, baby, a big screen adaptation of the pulp hero Doc Savage. After Iron Man Three, consider my tickets to those two already purchased.
That’s the official trailer for Iron Man Three. Sometimes when you see a preview of a movie, you get the sense that you’ve seen the whole movie. That is always a bad thing. Sometimes you think you know what the movie is going to be about, the tone, the plot, how it will make you feel. Neither of those things is true about Iron Man Three. You’re getting a better movie than you think, and not the predictable one you think you’re getting. And I loved it.
You expect you’re getting a superhero flick, and as I said, you expect you’re getting something at least on par with the other films in Marvel Phase One. Shane Black throws us a curve, a wild left turn, and I loved it, and so will you.
Because of politically correct considerations, most folks may have thought bringing the Mandarin, a classic Iron Man enemy (perhaps his archenemy), to the screen impossible. The character has its origins in a mix of 1950s/1960s Cold War fears of both the Yellow Peril and the Red Menace. That would so not play today. It is perhaps why the Mandarin was not tapped for the first two films in the series.
Playing off of the idea of the Ten Rings – the terrorist group that kidnaps in the first movie, which was in fact an acknowledgement of the Mandarin, whose chief weapons were multi-powered rings worn on each finger and thumb – Black and Pearce created a new Mandarin, whose symbol is the Ten Rings. Played by Sir Ben Kingsley, this Mandarin is the ultimate terrorist, simultaneously conjuring comparisons to Hussein, bin Laden, Arafat, and Castro, and instilling a real world terror very unlike that of a comic book super-villain.
In light of recent terrorist activity here in North America, I will not deny getting chills by some of the events of this film perpetrated by the villain, but I assure you, there is a payoff. Ben Kingsley is brilliant. I can really say no more.
There are unsubstantiated rumors rampant on the internet that Robert Downey, Jr. will be leaving the role of Iron Man after Avengers 2. I don’t know if I could deal with that. I am down with Downey. As far as I’m concerned, he is the voice and face of Tony Stark. I can’t see anyone else ever coming close.
In Iron Man Three, his fourth time in the role, Downey still breathes life and adds depth to the character. He is flawless as a man so affected by the events of Marvel’s The Avengers that he suffers from post-traumatic stress. Downey’s interaction with actor Ty Keegan Simpkins is priceless. The boy steals each scene as easily as Downey steals it back.
We see more (but not enough of, sorry, I’m a fan) of Don Cheadle, and get to see some Stark and Rhodes action. And then there’s Gwyneth Paltrow, who like Cheadle is given more room to act and stretch out this time. As always, the terrific cast performs like champions. And Guy Pearce, man, what an actor.
Again, Black’s left turn, and his success in making a Shane Black film that also happens to be about Iron Man, is stunning. It’s not the Iron Man movie we thought we wanted, but it the Iron Man movie we will love. See it, now. That’s really all I can say without giving anything away. See Iron Man Three.
P.S. As with all Marvel movies, do not miss the after-credits scene, or the great retro 1970s TV style closing credits for that matter.