Well, I wasn’t expecting that! Low expectations provide another win for my cinema viewing, as the first of the “Phase 2” Avengers films arrives. Though it didn’t really feel like that, with the story trying quite hard to distinguish itself from last year’s massive “Avengers Assemble“.
I’ve found it hard to warm to the Iron Man franchise. Sure, I can’t resist a totally overblown blockbuster, and few come more overblown than the Iron Man movies. But Robert Downey Jr’s swaggering playboy prick Tony Stark isn’t quite my template for a superhero, I prefer mine vulnerable or at the very least heroically good. Maybe that’s why I like “Iron Man 3”, as it puts Tony Stark in his most vulnerable position to date.
There were plenty of good unexpected twists in the story, which I won’t go over in this review (spoilers etc), but for the most part it wasn’t your usual template superhero movie.
I had heard from a friend that “this one is supposed to be a love story”. I didn’t get that at all, sure Tony and Pepper’s relationship is put under strain, and ultimately comes out stronger, but I didn’t feel like it was a central part of the otherwise spectacular story. The set-pieces were brilliantly done, looking amazing as CGI continues to come on in leaps and bounds.
Sure, there was a lot of time spent repeatedly suiting up, particular with the new design of Iron Man costume, the components of which have rocket-powered minds of their own. There was enough breathing space between big action sequences to make you appreciate them, while the down-time spent dealing with Tony’s post-traumatic stress after the events in “Avengers Assemble”.
The perfect foil for the recovering by spiky Tony was the kid he befriends while he repairs his suit and gathers his strength. Their to-and-fro snarky dialogue was brilliantly done. Ben Kingsley was also a bit of a masterstroke playing the role of arch-terrorist The Mandarin, and while Guy Pearce made for a less well-rounded geek-gone-bad, he was pretty good too.
To be honest, there wasn’t really a weak link in the cast or the story, I felt well entertained throughout, and I have renewed confidence that the home-runs Marvel have been hitting with these movies hasn’t just been a lucky streak. The writing was funny without being cheesy, and the odd choice of intro music really did it for me. I’m curious to see where this story leaves “Iron Man 4”, but I’m sure it’ll happen if the money’s right.
Oh, by the way, stay until the end, there’s a traditional post-credits sequence!