“Big man in a suit of armor. Take that away, what are you?” That was the question Captain America posed to Tony Stark aka Iron Man in last year’s “The Avengers”. Well this year we find out the answer once and for all.
BEWARE SPOILERS AHEAD FOR ANYONE NOT FAMILIAR WITH IRON MAN, IRON MAN 2, OR THE AVENGERS!
Tony Stark is still a genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist but now he can add frazzled to that list. After the events of The Avengers, including his small excursion into a worm hole to fight an invading army of aliens, Tony is pretty visibly shaken by his memories of the Battle for New York. It also doesn’t help that whenever he goes out, that seems to be all people want to talk about. Although soon, another threat is brought to his attention. Enter the Mandarin, a mysterious terrorist leader who has been responsible for a series of bombings against the United States, and celebrates each one with a video he broadcasts over hijacked US airwaves. When one of the bombs hits a little too close to home though, Tony decides that enough is enough and it’s time for Iron Man to step back into the arena. Will Iron Man be enough to save the day or is there more that Tony Stark has up his sleeves?
The third outing with Iron Man and friends (not counting The Avengers) is handled this time by Shane Black, taking over the director’s chair from Jon Favreau. Black wrote the first two Lethal Weapon movies and also directed Robert Downey Jr. in “Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang”. For Iron Man 3, he brings his own touches to the story and a fresh look at it’s characters. (Seriously, what is it with Shane Black and making movies set around Christmas?) Returning to the Iron Man series is Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark/Iron Man, Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper Potts, Jon Favreau as Happy Hogan, and Don Cheadle as James Rhodes/War Machine/Iron Patriot. Newcomers include Ben Kingsley as The Mandarin, Guy Pearce as Aldrich Killian, and Rebecca Hall as Maya Hansen. All of the cast are great in their roles and clearly were having a lot of fun making the movie because the fun shines through the screen.
Iron Man 3 is the first movie in Marvel’s Phase II of the Avengers Initiative. What that means to you less nerdy folks is that this movie and the next four Marvel films (Thor: The Dark World, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and Guardians of the Galaxy) will all tie together and lead into The Avengers 2 in 2015. And as the leader of the pack, Iron Man 3 has set a pretty high bar for all other Avengers installments to live up to. Here is a sequel that not only puts the characters into new situations and challenges them to rise to the occasion but it also packs in more fun moments than it’s predecessors. While it’s not perfect, it sure is a blast to watch.