Iron Man 3
I am Iron Man
Just kidding. Robert Downey Jr. is the only person with the right to say that.
As we stand now, Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man is the face of Marvel. The metallic gold and red of his ultra-destructive suit shines green in the eyes of Marvel execs, and allures audiences to cushy theater seats opening weekend. Downey does not take his role as Head Superhero Honcho Since Batman Ended lightly, and neither does Marvel, as Iron Man 3, quite possibly the best film of 2013 so far, highlights his role of Tony Stark more than it does his robotic baddie-blasting ego.
Stark has turned a 180 since his first adventure. Once a pampered playboy philanthropist heir to a billion dollar industry, he’s now a billionaire playboy philanthropist who has saved the universe. After the events in The Avengers, he’s inadvertently drawn worldwide attention to himself, and begins to suffer from severe anxiety attacks. He can’t sleep; instead he spends the night tinkering with new weapons of mass destruction in the basement, causing friction between him and his girlfriend Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow, who as far as science can tell is not fully human either).
Meanwhile the Mandarin, head of terrorist group The Ten Rings, has targeted America with a string of violent attacks counting down to an anonymous climactic tragedy, causing Stark in his distracted state of mind to challenge him to a fight via cell phone. The Mandarin takes Stark up on his offer and arrives at his house soon afterward in some tricked-out vehicles (Tony was kind enough to provide a home address). Launched on an adventure that takes him across America (and from the bottom of the sea to miles up in the sky) Tony is forced to be a hero without the help of his suit.
Considering the reduced role of the suits (does Stark’s partner in justice War Machine, I mean Iron Patriot (Don Cheadle), shoot his gun more than twice in the entire film?) the picture is still packed with pulse-racing action. Whatever time isn’t spent worshipping Downey’s whiplash delivery or character development is spent dodging high-speed missiles or chasing baddies. Some scenes apparently utilize Stark’s genius mathematical formulas to deliver to eager action fans exactly what they want to see. Whizzing by breathlessly, the delicious and varied buffet of computer-generated excitement is the only aspect that comes close to overshadowing Downey’s performance. It’s meticulous and turbo perfection.
The film also delves into Stark’s past before he built the suit, fleshing out both the film’s story and central character. At a New Years Eve party ushering in the 21st century Tony ignores an offer to work with bug-eyed scientist Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce) on technology he has found able to repair mortal injuries. Flash forward to the present, when his one night stand of that night Maya Hansen (Rebecca Hall) shows up to warn Tony of danger she believes might be involved with the Mandarin. It’s all just a set up display how Stark’s character has developed over the series, and for Downey Jr. to give layers deeper than his impressive motormouth.
Perhaps the most chitchat-worthy factor about the movie though is its aura of finality. Nowhere in the film does it say the series is finished, but the film certainly played like a finale, even bringing out the Mandarin who was notably Iron Man’s archrival in the original comic series. To end the series now would be a deranged decision on Marvel’s part, as Downey’s Iron Man is now responsible the top two highest-grossing opening weekends in cinematic history. He sells tickets, and represents Marvel. An Avengers 2 without Downey prominently centered on the poster won’t feel right. If the series is able to uphold the level of quality this threequel set, it should continue. Because, for what it is, Iron Man 3 is a perfectly formulated and even more perfectly executed superhero offering.