Review by Pete Mason
The Summer Blockbuster film season has kicked off with the release of Shane Black’s “Iron Man 3.” As the first stand alone Avengers film, “Iron Man 3” is unique as the plot explores the post-Avengers life of Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.), and while this is the first of three films leading up to “Avengers 2” in 2015, there is no plot progression towards this end. The result is intense character exploration of Stark and the dilemma that surrounds superheroes as their double life progresses. Like most superheroes in their third film of a trilogy, the alter ego is having a crisis of conscience/health as filling the role has become a burden both physically and mentally. In that sense, “Iron Man 3” is similar to “The Dark Knight Rises” and nearly as good a film.
The story of “Iron Man 3” is both involving and engaging, pitting Stark against the Mandarin (Ben Kingsley), a terrorist unlike any other, and Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce), head of the Extremis project, an experimental program that regenerates limbs for the benefit of all or as a weapon. These two are a pair of villains that prove threatening and alarming to the public, pitting Stark against enemies as tough as those seen in “The Avengers.” Using his brain more than his suit, Stark sets out to Tennessee to discover the cause of explosions that leave behind no bomb fragments. Once tied to the Extremis project, Stark sets out, linking up with Iron Patriot (ne War Machine, Don Cheadle) to put an end to the threat to the world.
While in Tennessee, Stark befriends Harley Keener (Ty Simpkins) who aids Stark in his quest to repair his suit, find out about Extremis and get answers about the Mandarin. Pepper Potts (Gwynth Paltrow) surprises as a badass in her few scenes, while Kingsley plays a great villain… emphasis on plays. An armada of Iron Men from the mind of Tony Stark and across the history pages of the comic book, appear for an impressive finale that rivals the alien wormhole attack on NY in “The Avengers,” which has left Tony with just a bit of PTSD as seen during the film.
There is of course, a post-credits scene, one that ties the film together nicely. With “Thor: The Dark World” due in November, “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” out in May 2014 and the second “Avengers” movie due in 2015, “Iron Man 3” serves as the start of the second part of the Marvel Universe’s franchise, and while it lays little groundwork for the next collaborative film, it shows that stand-alone films for the characters are as good as any other film in the series, if not better.