Iron Man 3 is a 180 for Marvels third story in their gonzo epic metallic super hero character study. Shane Black, who co-wrote and directed, is well known for buddy action flicks such as the Lethal Weapon series and The Last Boy Scout. What we get as a result is a movie thats different in unexpected ways and makes it damn near impossible to peel your eyes away from the screen for the more than 2 hour run time, not literally of course.
The story begins with a narration from Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.), talking about his regrets in Sweden circa New Years Eve, 1999. He turns down then frail scientist Aldrich Killians (Guy Pearce) proposal to join his company in favor of hoping to bed sexy scientist Maya Hensen (Rebecca Hall). We return to modern day to see Tony struggling with nightmares mixed with a fair share of insomnia while struggling to maintain a peace of mind and his hanging-by-a-thread relationship with Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow). Oh, and there are attacks on the US by the Mandarin (Ben Kingsley).
This movie is darker, more intense, and faster moving than the previous two. It could also be the funniest. Its a well told story about regrets and consequences and succeeds in brandishing Tony Stark as an anti Bruce Wayne of sorts. Stark needs to be Iron Man and he uses the obsession to fill the gaping void in his sense of belonging. While the first two movies told us how much we may need Iron Man, this is a more personal tale of why Tony Stark needs Iron Man.
There are great action sequences with great CGI, humor and fisticuffs. Ben Kingsley is great as the Mandarin and the twist on the character made me have a good laugh rather than offending the fan boy in me. Don Cheadle gets to flex his acting muscle a bit more this time as James Rhodes/ Iron Patriot and his scenes with Downey are among the most fun in the movie.
In the end, Iron Man 3 is a great super hero movie that launches Marvels stage two successfully and makes me wonder what changes are ahead for Earths Mightiest Heroes. Though Downeys stepping down as Stark becomes a bit more apparent, its been a pure delight to see him get to the gritty of what makes Tony Stark tick. Other things that are accomplished in this movie are spoilers, but for those who are fans of the movies, its well worth finding out.
My Personal Grade: A