By Jules D.
In the third chapter of the Iron Man Saga Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) is obviously still shaken from his near death-experience in ‘The Avengers’. Tony always thought the world of himself, but encounters with aliens and a certain Scandinavian God Of Thunder have humbled the playboy billionaire: “I am just a man in a can”, he compares himself to these out of this world entities.
Stark’s world is turned upside down when a mysterious terrorist only known as The Mandarin attacks the U.S. In doing so this Bin Laden-like baddie gravely injures Tony’s assistant Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau, director of the first two Iron Man-films). Cocky as ever, Stark challenges The Mandarin on national TV. This turns out to be a bad idea when the terrorist accepts the invitation and sends a bunch of heavily armed helicopters to destroy Tony’s lavish Malibu mansion. In the mayhem and destruction that follows our hero barely manages to save his beloved Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow).
Stark is bent on revenge and flies – in what seems to be his very last suit – to the American Midwest, where The Mandarin’s hideout is supposed to be. In a nearby village he encounters henchmen of this supervillain who have been injected with the Extremis-virus, which makes them practically invulnerable and therefore unstoppable. This virus is designed by scientist Maya (Rebecca Hall), a former fling of Stark, who made a bad career choice in accepting an offer from the power hungry Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce). This dodgy businessman seems to have ties with the Mandarin.
By the time the movie reaches the halfway point the pace has slowed down considerably, especially during scenes when Stark takes shelter at a young boy’s home where he bonds with the kid. Luckily Iron Man 3 saves the best for last with two very impressive action sequences: a truly memorable and deeply spectacular scene where Iron Man tries to save the personnel of Airforce One that is falling out of the plane, and an explosive finale where Stark calls for the help of the Iron Legion, a whole army of remotely controlled Iron Man-armors.
When director Jon Favreau, decided not to return after Iron Man 2 this offered Robert Downey Jr. the chance to reunite with his close buddy Shane Black, the legendary Hollywood screenwriter who in 2005 ignited RDJ’s comeback by casting him in the lead role for his directorial debut ‘Kiss Kiss Bang Bang’. This ridiculously underrated film turned out to be Black’s as well as Downey Jr’s finest moment up to that point, and the prospect of the duo reuniting for a no holds barred blockbuster created mile high expectations. Unfortunately Iron Man 3 does not live up to these expectations; it has a lot of witty signature Shane Black dialogue and a lot of spectacular action, but the overall dark tone and the stretched out story with the slow middle act get in the way of this third instalment of the series becoming the definite Iron Man Movie it could have been.
Meanwhile back in the real world Robert Downey Jr. himself is now reportedly fighting a real-life supervillain at least as evil as The Mandarin or Aldirch Killian; the star actor has challenged Marvel’s über-stingy shareholder Ike Perlmutter to fork out decent pay rises for Downey’s underpaid fellow Avengers. If the infamous Marvel Boss will not give in to this rather reasonable demand then it means Iron Man 3 is the last we’ll get to see of Robert Downey Junior’s iconic performance of Tony Stark, and that of course would be an absolute shame.
Iron Man 3 is now showing in Australian cinemas