After even the second Jon Favreau directed Iron Man film felt tired, for Iron Man 3 a new director is wisely pegged in Shane Black for his first film since the excellent Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang.
Iron Man 3 is an improvement over the stale second Iron Man, but falls short of greatness. The film is filled to the brink with action sequences and a non-stop, fast plot. The action is largely well filmed and clean. However the sequences are a little familiar, nothing new to either the Iron Man franchise or Marvel’s other superhero films. They are watchable but hardly exhilarating or new. Considering how the film is dominated by action, they are not enough to carry the film to great status on its own.
Furthermore in search of a “pure fun” blockbuster, Tony Stark making growth over the film largely takes a backseat. The film’s plot needs Iron Man far more than Tony Stark, even if he hardly wears the suit in this one.
A bigger problem is Guy Pearce’s villain. While his backstory as a suicidal nerd had the potential of a more complex villain, by the time the present day shows up his one-note evil personality makes him flat and dull. Rebecca Hall’s more morally ambiguous character is more interesting but underused.
Aside from Ben Kingsley’s scene stealing, Iron Man 3 is also not as funny or witty as it thinks it is. Downey, Jr. is as charismatic as ever, but he is hardly throwing punchlines. Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper has her weakest film and is mostly a bystander, a sharp fall from the first film when Pepper provided so much wit and energy. If the first Iron Man’s wit felt fresh, the third can’t escape feeling calculated and aiming to capitalize on that early success. A superhero Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang this is not in its script.
Iron Man 3 is a perfectly fine and entertaining blockbuster film, but as in other Marvel films like Thor or The Avengers, the how-to manual for a summer superhero film is followed at such an evident level that it’s hard to be bowled over, especially with two Iron Man films before this. It is as expected.
By Julien Rodger