Trust Shane Black (Lethal Weapon, The Last Boy Scout, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang) to make an Iron Man movie that’s better than the previous two put together. Iron Man 3 well and truly knocks it out of the park and, much as I hate to admit it, is even a better film than The Avengers.
There are so many things that this film gets right. First off the bat: S.H.I.E.L.D. isn’t present. At all. Whilst I seemed to enjoy Iron Man 2 more than most, many complained (quite rightly) that too much time was spent working towards Marvel’s master plan. Here we only get the briefest of moments pointing to the larger narrative. Secondly, Tony Stark spends a lot of the film without his suit. The problem with ridiculously powered heroes is that we never really feel that they’re in danger. Thus, the cleverest thing a comic book writer can do is take that power away. The third pitch perfect element of Iron Man 3 is that the supporting characters get their chance to shine. Colonel Rhodes (Don Cheadle) and Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau) are afforded their moments in the spotlight, and both feel integral to the script. More significantly, Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) finally has something useful to do, and gets some of the film’s best scenes. And then there’s Guy Pearce and Ben Kingsley. The former feels a much better match for his role than that of Prometheus (where he was about 50 years too young) whilst the latter is having an absolute ball as the Mandarin.
The script itself is as watertight as superhero movies get. We’re all aware that Black knows his craft inside and out, but he excels himself here. There are surprises, comedic moments and action aplenty, all packed tightly within a 130 minute running time that whizzes by.
There are only a couple of minor complaints. Rebecca Hall’s character doesn’t feel as well fleshed out as the others, though her scenes are all excellent. The visual effects are certainly better than the previous two instalments, however the action is occasionally hard to follow, with some rapid and disorienting editing.
Iron Man 3 is easily the best Marvel film thus far. Where the others had an over-reliance on CGI, this is the first one to feel tangible and visceral. Though this is the first entry from Marvel’s Phase 2, it really gives no indication of the direction the meta-narrative is taking. Even so, I’m excited to see just how far they manage to take their adaptations.Rating: