Now Playing: Stark Relief

Since ‘Iron Man 2‘ proved to be less than stellar back in 2010, this third adventure for the Marvel hero returns with a much-needed boost of attitude and character. ‘Iron Man 3’, which can be also considered a sequel to ‘‘The Avengers‘, takes us through many twists and turns and tons of new Iron Man suits. Director Shane Black tosses away some of the wham-bam action to focus on the quick-witted humor and our hero’s internal struggle with crippling panic attacks. I have no doubt that this will be a fan favorite of the franchise and will light up the box office something fierce.

Jon Favreau serves only as producer this time, but appears as his recurring character Happy Hogan. It’s known that Favreau turned the opportunity down to direct this new sequel (as well as ‘The Avengers’) due to creative differences with Marvel. Shane Black is famous for writing the screenplays for ‘Lethal Weapon‘, ‘The Monster Squad‘ and ‘The Long Kiss Goodnight‘. He made his directorial debut in 2005 with the wonderful modern noir ‘Kiss Kiss Bang Bang‘, starring Robert Downey. Jr.

As we’ve seen in his previous scripts, Black has an uncanny talent for writing stories with serious situations and characters, while at the same time being silly and over-the-top. The formula works, and is perfect for a comic book movie like ‘Iron Man 3’. Tony Stark continues to belt out cynical remarks and make us laugh, even in the most diabolical situations. This cross between seriousness and sarcasm seems to be a trait of every character, particularly Stark and Rhodes (Don Cheadle), who both show their much different sides in and out of their respective suits.

We start out with Stark narrating a past event from New Years Eve in 1999, where he attended a party in Switzerland with fellow scientist Maya (Rebecca Hall). They run into the odd and clingy Aldrich Killian (an unrecognizable Guy Pearce), who wants to talk with them about something new he has developed. In perfect Stark fashion, he stands Killian up for a one-night stand. We cut to present day at the Stark mansion in Malibu, where Stark has not been sleeping and spends his nights tinkering with his Iron Man gear.

Meanwhile, Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) is the head lady in charge of Stark Industries. Head of security Happy Hogan (Favreau) follows her around and makes things run almost too smoothly. Stark himself can’t be bothered with any of the bad news in the world. He’s too preoccupied with his panic attacks and fumbling with new Iron Man related projects. Even mass bombings around the world and the hacking of the world-wide television networks by a bin Laden-type terrorist known as the Mandarin (Ben Kingsley) don’t seem to phase Tony.

As Pepper is at the office, a now handsome and suave Killian tries to persuade Stark Industries to team up for the old project he tried to get off the ground back in Switzerland. Pepper turns him down for reasons unexplained, but things seem a little off. Then, maybe hitting too close to home these days, a bomb goes off at the famous Hollywood Chinese Theater, killing a bunch of people. Amongst the victims is Happy Hogan. He’s survived, but is badly injured.

This sets Stark off, which leads the terrorists to show up at his mansion with a swarm of heavily armed helicopters that literally destroy everything. (It’s not a spoiler if it’s shown in all the trailers.) Tony regroups in Tennessee without any fancy gadgets or an Iron Man suit. For a good chunk of the film, he has to rely on his brains rather than his machines to fight back. He even has the help of a lonely kid (Ty Simpkins), as they slowly figure out what is causing these bombs and who’s really behind this terrorist regime.

This is my favorite Downey performance of any of the ‘Iron Man’ films. While still the same snide yet funny, charismatic yet somewhat offensive hero, Stark is forced to be the hero he has become without any of his usual money, technology or resources. In one scene, he reminded me of Batman, as he used his intelligence and bravery to scale a mansion and easily take out his foes. Then we have Stark being his brash self, who’s not above calling a kid a pussy or threatening to run him over with his car. Downey just owns both Stark and Iron Man. I believe this was the role he was born to play.

Cheadle is also great as Rhodes this second time around. He gives more depth and insight into both sides of his character, Rhodey on the one hand and War Machine on the other. Pearce shines here too. I haven’t seen him do such a great job since ‘Memento’. Kingsley looks like he had a ball with this role. Every time he appears on screen, I yearned for more. Paltrow has much more screen time in this sequel, and we finally get a glimpse into her relationship with Tony.

It’s truly great to see Tony Stark rise to the occasion without the suit and deal with the deep-seated issues that have plagued him since the beginning. The script is witty, funny and smart, with brilliant and memorable performances from everyone. The film has some stellar action scenes on land and in the air that will leave you on the edge of your seat, drenched in sweat and wanting to see more.

In true Marvel fashion, stick around until after the final credits scroll to witness a few more minutes that are quite amusing. ‘Iron Man 3’ is a great addition to the Marvel universe, and might be the best ‘Iron Man’ film yet.

Rating: ★★★★½


  1. JM

    The chinese version of ‘Iron Man 3’ I wanted to see until I heard how fucked up it was. It’s too bad they didn’t let Shane Black write and direct the additional footage. He really could have had some fun with that.

  2. Sorry but I completely disagree with this review. I felt the film was a complete mess and that it completely wastes Sir Ben Kingsley in a roll that could have been brilliant but is just sad in the end.

    If you Liked the first two Iron Man movies and don’t buy that the second one was some kind of a let down, then see this one only after you have toned down your expectations.

    The trailer makes the movie look a lot more serious and dark than it actually is

    • It’s nice to hear someone with same opinion about the movie I have because we’re clearly the minority here. I think the movie received too much hype from the trailer. Since reviewer mentioned Dark Knight, I think nobody would disagree Chris Nolan explored the characters better than what was done with Iron Man.

      Based on the oversea earning I had expected this would be the best movie of the year. It’s not even close. A friend who watched the last two IMAX movies (Oblivion and Iron Man 3) said he actually enjoyed Oblivion more than Iron Man. And I agree. That’s how bad I think Iron Man 3 is.

      • Ditto here for enjoying Oblivion more than Iron Man 3. In fact I saw that movie a second time at the IMAX because they used the entire screen with the modified aspect ratio.

        That movie is a perfect example to show that an unoriginal story can still be extremely entertaining in the hands of a capable director.

        In the light of day I feel so terribly disappointed in that Iron Man movie and unfortunately because it has better reviews than the last one and will probably make a metric Ton of money it’s probably not the last one well get from Shane Black.

        Shame, because I love Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang. But this was more like his other script for “The Last Action Hero”.

      • I’m with all of you guys – but (obligatory tease to follow) I’ll save my opinion for the rant-ish poll post going up on Monday 🙂

        • William Henley

          LOL, I think this goes to show the differences in audiences. Most of this forum loved TDKR and The Avengers – I thought they were rubbish. I loved Iron Man 3, and it seems half this thread are people tearing it up. Most of this forum loved Skyfall, I thought it was Meh.

          However, I think the consensus among the masses is pretty much that Oblivion was Meh!

          • Sorry, you are kinda nuts if you found this travesty more entertaining then The Avengers or TDKR.

            Not trying to insult you but I think that can summed up as “Comic readers hate movies like Iron Man 3 and non Comic readers love them.”

          • Chapz Kilud

            I’m aware of the consensus. The box office says it all. I know what the rating said and I know I’m the minority. But if this is what the consensus wants, then you can expect Hollywood to produce junk after junk because they know they can recycle boring ideas into more extravagant blow them up mindless plot and make money out of it. You don’t need storytelling or narratives, you just need to create more CG effects and blow things up. Even IM3 cannot save the sinking ship. The movie industry revenue has been down for the past few years. Even last year with so many good movies, it was only average. Since 2012 there have been more Fandango and Hollywood Movie money promotion on those Blu-ray than all previous year combined. They are in trouble and they know it.

            I’m just using Oblivion as an example because I watched it the previous week before IM3. It might have been a “meh” movie but at least my kids could give you a meaningful one sentence summary. The picture on IMAX was mesmerizing. IM3 on the other hand was quite empty.

            And did anyone care to talk about the 3D rendering? In Jurassic Park 3D I instinctively raised my head to avoid a tree trunk blocking my view. In GI Joe and Hansel & Gretel I had to dock on incoming debris and swords. I didn’t think IM3 3D rendering was that good for the money they spent. I may be wrong but when 3D Blu-ray comes out I doubt it will be considered a reference 3D.

            In short I don’t think this movie deserves to be the second fastest selling movie of all time. That’s all I’m saying.

          • William Henley

            I didn’t know that they even had a 3D verison of Iron Man 3. I saw it at the Cine Capri, and for some reason, they don’t show 3D movies on that screen. Now I am a HUGE 3D fanboy, but I don’t think I would have wanted to see this in 3D – the way the movie was cut, I think I would have had a huge headache watching it in 3D.

            Oblivion was pretty eye-candy, and I will admit, it had a story. My issue is that the story was pretty much a copy of every sci-fi movie in the past 20 years. Shoot, you could pretty much say that Oblivion was a live-action remake of “Wall-E”. I am not saying Oblivion was awful, I am saying that it failed to impress, and I won’t be buying it when it comes out.

            With Iron Man, I just felt that it was a fun movie. I wouldn’t defend that it was a great movie, just that I really enjoyed it.

          • Chapz Kilud

            You probably didn’t miss much on 3D because I think the 3D special effects were very average. The problem is they spent a lot of money, and we paid a lot of money, and the least they can do is make 3D quality rivaling Avatar.

            Did you think 2006’s The Departed was a good film? I think it was. What you may not know is it was a direct copy from Hong Kong’s “Internal Affair”. I still enjoyed Scorsese’s take because of brilliant acting and amazing plot even though I watched the original before watching The Departed. Last year’s “Taken 2” was nothing original but still brought a lot of money. It may had to do with Liam Neeson. If you recycle an idea you’d better do it well. I loved Bourne Trilogy but I thought Bourne Legacy was a failure.

            I agree with you. I think people either loved IM3 or they hated it. You could probably say that about many movies. I’m on the same page with you on Skyfall. I didn’t think it deserved to be the best selling Bond movie of all time. On the other hand, last year I had major disagreement with movie reviewers. I thought John Carter and Battleship were great movies. But both tanked at box office and both lost a great deal of money. How could anyone like IM3 and not like Battleship? A more relevant comparison would be Thor and Captain America. I thought both movies had better plot than IM3. But their combined revenue probably won’t be a third of what IM3 brings.

            I’m just concerned that struggling movie industry is getting the wrong signal. I want to see more quality movies that are produced and directed well with decent narratives. Instead Oscar nominated films hardly earn a tiny fraction of what IM3 or Avengers brings. I don’t want to see more and more of IM3. These mindless but extravagant blow them up movies will hurt the movie industry in the long run.

          • William Henley

            I liked John Carter. Once again, wouldn’t say it was a GREAT movie, but I have watched it actually a few times since the Blu-Ray came out (which is saying something with my large pile of movies I have bought over the past couple of years that are still sealed).

            Battleship I haven’t seen yet.

            I enjoyed Red Tails (or was it Red Wings). It felt like George Lucas doing WWII, which is exactly what it was. It neither failed or surpassed my expectations, but was exactly what I was expecting.

            I guess my point is, a movie doesn’t have to be a great movie, or even have a great story to be enjoyable. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want all movies that come out to be along the lines of Red Tails or Iron Man 3, I am just saying they were enjoyable. And sadly, I think Hollywood is producing EXACTLY what the masses (not the movie buffs) want – movies that don’t require much thought. People want to go in, detach from reality for a couple of hours, and that is exactly what Hollywood is producing.

            Why I think the movie industry is loosing money is because more and more people want deeper movies with stronger stories, but it is still not the masses.

            Oh, and by the way, I certainly agree that both Thor and Captian America were better than Iron Man 3.

  3. Matthew

    You mentioned “reasons unexplained” for why Pepper turns down Killian when he presents her with his research. An explanation is indeed given. Pepper states that it is dangerous because she fears it will be used for military purposes example she provides is super soliders. So she declines him as it would parallel Stark’s involvement and mess with its military contracts of the past. Maybe you missed this due to the crunching of popcorn 😛

  4. Barsoom Bob

    Just saw IM3 last night and I don’t know what disapointed you guys so much, but I am very 180 to your sentiments. If you have seen any of the recent years sci-fi films, Oblivion just patched together plot elements from this here, and that there, without adding anything new to it. Pretty to look at but a borefest devoid of any challenging ideas.

    And, I enjoyed Tron Legacy and really wished they had made a sequel to that. We are a long time gone from single computer systems, the idea of busting them out of a particular grid and into the real world social/media grid had potential.

    IM3 was believable like the first half of IM, not silly like IM2. There were some truely awesome action sequences and when there wasn’t action there was pretty witty and sharp dialogue with great performances all around. If it was the bait and switch that pissed you off, come on, where is your sense of humor that was hilarious.

    My biggest unwarranted fear was that there was going to be tons of Iron Men and robots fighting each other, such as the disappointing ending to IM2. But although there is no shortage of IM suits it doesn’t play that way it still plays human. Enjoyed it quite a bit.

    • If you go to cnn (http:// you will see more people posting negative on this movie than positives. Again, it really depends on what you like. If you like shoot them/blow them up mindless movie, IM3 might not be bad. I get it that some people don’t want to think too much watching a movie. Comparison with any Dark Knight would be more appropriate. Can you really honestly tell me IM3 has more depth than any of the Dark Knight movies?

      Your criticism on Oblivion is fair but I must say it applies to IM3 as well. But if you have young kids and you want them to give you a meaningful summary of the movies. My kids came up with “Oblivion: some guy discovered he was the instrument of evil and decided to turn against his master. “IM3: Some bad guys destroyed Iron Man’s home and iron man ended up beating up and killing the bad guys”. I don’t think I need to go into some bad sci-fi films like the Total Recall and Dredd remake. My kids came up with something meaningful. You just can’t with IM3.

      In my opinion this was a badly written plot and has tons of holes. One person pointed out if you take out the kidnapping of president, it doesn’t affect the story. Almost everyone will agree Ted was very funny. But a lot of people did not find those witty/sharp dialogs funny. You know why? Because such person in real life would be considered arrogant jerk.

      • Um, Tony Stark IS pretty much an arrogant Jerk only because every other person is a moron next to him except for people like Reed Richards. But you are right this was over the top even for Tony Stark. Some of it was funny alot of it was cringeworthy.

      • Barsoom Bob

        Who compared this to a Dark Knight movie, certainly not I. This is a pure Marvel comic book movie and I found it better than most of the other ones and,(gasp) The Avengers.

        But, it does not exist in the same dojo as the Nolan Batman movies, TDKR lazy weakness included.

        • Chapz Kilud

          You didn’t compare it with Dark Knight. But almost everyone else did in terms of box office record. It won’t make as much as Avengers, but it will surpass Dark Knight Returns. Part of the reason more people went to see IM3 was the abundant positive reviews and rotten tomato ratings. It received better ratings and reviews than some of the Dark Knights. I’ve yet to see a bad review from a major publication. I’m sure some people want this to be consider for next year’s Oscar. But to me it’s a very bad movie.

          • William Henley

            Oscar, no. It was a good movie because it was fun. I wouldn’t put it in the same scope as TDKR in terms of story, but I DID enjoy this movie more. But considering it for an Oscar? MAYBE with visual effects or sound design, but that would be about it.

  5. Aceawesome

    I too was disappointed. I came to watch iron man not Tony Stark play detective and run around with a gun Sherlock Holmes style.

    Also the empty suit everywhere were cool but in fact felt empty. Also, how did they kill all the soldiers when they’re immune to blowing up? And why couldn’t one of the 40 suits save pepper from falling?

    Iron man 1>3>2

  6. William Henley

    I felt this was the best of the three, and 10 times better than The Avengers. This was a fun movie, with a good (albeit silly) plot. “how many people can the suit carry?” “4 sir” “Screw that, I am saving them all anyways!”

    I also raised my eyebrow when the movie started. “Seriously? Blue? This song is like 15 years old.” Then after about 20-30 seconds, they give us a date.

    My friend and I were both like “They are shooting missles INTO the house, and it is still there – Tony is still there?” Then I was like, “It’s a comic book movie” and we just accepted it.

    Yeah, fun movie.

    This was hands down the best of the three. Iron man 3 > 1 > 2.

  7. Bryan

    I’m still in disbelief that they’ve been able to keep the “secret” about the Mandarin under wraps this long. As a longtime comic fan of Iron Man, I’m a little surprised that they “wasted” a villain in that way, but realistically, had they tried to make the Mandarin be like he was/is in the comics, I think it would become a little too far-fetched. So, having said that, I think it was a clever trick of screenwriting to make us all think we knew what we did about the Mandarin and then turn it on it’s head.

    As far as the movie as a whole goes – it was definitely way more intense than I expected. I took my (just about) 10 year old son with me. He’d seen the first two (and the Avengers) and been fine with them, but he was a little scared during the first attack (when Happy got injured).

    I still really loved it for what it was – and am on the fence as to whether this is my favorite in the trilogy or not. It’s certainly better than IM2.

    • Barsoom Bob

      You know, you can talk about things without spoiling them for people who haven’t seen the movie yet.

      • We are running a spoiler post later today. People can discuss spoilers in the comments to that one. In the meantime, let’s try to keep this thread relatively spoiler-free for the benefit of those who haven’t seen the movie yet.


      • William Henley

        I don’t think saying that The Mandarin was in this movie, and its different than it was in the comics, is a spoiler.

  8. I dont think this is the last we will see of the Mandarin. I have a feelong he was playing everybody. I think he will be back and we will learn that all his little act for Stark in the manision was a ruse.