Iron Man 3 (2013)

Iron Man 3 theatrical poster.jpgNerves of Iron

When Tony Stark's (Robert Downey Jr) world is torn apart by a formidable terrorist called the Mandarin (Ben Kingsley), he starts an odyssey of rebuilding and retribution.

"Big man in a suit of Armour. Take that away, what are you?"

The basic idea of this film is built around that question Steve Rogers asked in The Avengers. To take away his suit of armour, to bring him down to how he was at the beginning of his debut film, away from his high-tech items with a box of scraps to save his life, and the film goes a long way to show you this level of resource from Stark.

This movie proves to be the perfect follow-on point from The Avengers, showing how big Tony's life has changed since he discovered gods and aliens exist, and the aftermath of him nearly dying within a wormhole. It shows how he's affected by said aftermath, how it's having a strain on his mental well-being, how it's preventing him from sleeping and getting in the way of his relationship with Pepper, bringing on anxiety attacks. While this does sound like the making for a grim tale, Shane Black wisely chooses to handle it with a sense of humor. Thanks to his and Drew Pearce's script, the witty lines are regularly brought in with gags that'll genuinely make you laugh, which is helped by the brilliant comedic timing from the actors.

Shane Black may not have been the first choice to direct, but he certainly was the right one. He draws upon what he knows, regularly subverting expectations, with fantastic results, and influences a Lethal Weapon feel by making Rhodey feel like the Murtaugh to Tony's Riggs. In fact, one of the more surprisingly enjoyable aspects is when Tony meets a young boy, keeping far away from the threat of being overly sentimental, and it helps that Ty Simpkins plays the role as anything but annoying.

"So, whats on TV?"
The performances are fantastic, with Robert Downey Jr delivering some of his best work, adding a thoughtful and multi-layered performance to his jokey side that was overtly-present in Iron Man 2, and Gwyneth Paltrow becomes more than the typical damsel, bringing a franchise best performance. Guy Pearce manages to be believable as Killian, the man who's early scenes has him starstruck by Stark, which follows in disappointment that changes his character in a believable manner and makes him really compelling.

The Mandarin is known in the comics as Iron Man's greatest nemesis, essentially The Joker to his Batman. The handling of this character goes away from the original 'Fu Manchu' racial stereotyping that Jon Favreau wanted to avoid, instead giving something that's certainly an interesting take on the character. It will irate a number of comic book loyalists, but those willing to accept the change will find a take on The Mandarin that works exceptionally well within the context of the story, with Ben Kingsley delivering a fantastic performance that steals many scenes with such ease.

Jon Favreaus performance as Happy is helped by how it feels less like a director cameo of Tarantino proportions and more like a character of his own, while Don Cheadle really comes into his own in the role that's more than 'Iron Man's friend who's also in a suit', leading you to want him to either get a spin-off film or perhaps star in a team-up film, be it Avengers 2 or something else entirely, perhaps including a couple of the other characters Marvel has lying around *hint hint*. However, Maya Hansen does come off as underdeveloped, and is easily the weakest character of the lot.

As for the action, Black manages to more than prove his worth as he delivers thrilling scenes that'll set your pulse racing, with an airborne rescue scene that'll leave you on the edge of your seat and a final scene that sets the bar high for other blockbuster films this summer.

So what happens when you take away Tony Stark's suit of armour? You see that it isn't the Iron that defines the man, but the man that defines Iron Man.