The first Iron Man film did the origin story really well and it delivered Tony Stark's character brilliant. However, they were never very good action movies. Which is strange because Iron Man has a lot of excellent qualities for some fantastic action set pieces. This is where Iron Man 3 steps in.
If you've seen the trailers and think that Iron Man 3 is 'doing a Nolan' and making it a darker film, you've been misled much like I, and the rest of the cinema was after the film. This is no bad thing, however. What we do get is a bloody brilliant action film courtesy of Shane Black - the writer behind most of your favourite action films and the director of the outstanding Kiss Kiss Bang Bang.
The film is set sometime after what happened in The Avengers, but Tony Stark is still heavily disturbed by the events of New York. Meanwhile, a terrorist threat known as the Mandarin is attacking America, which also includes Stark's mansion. This is just the first third of the film. What occurs after this is...Weird to say the least. It's fairly minimal but why does every superhero film have to be plot heavy? The Avengers certainly wasn't and look at that.
What plays out after this is a simple story of redemption, but it plays out a little bit like an origin story - almost like a rebirth of Tony Stark once again. Don't worry, though, it's not a rehash of the first. It involves an awesome little kid.
Two thirds in, though, and I was a bit shocked at the minimal use of action especially for a Shane Black film, but boy was it worth the wait. What Black delivers for the final third of the film is just the some of the most incredible action set-pieces I've seen in a film and even a hint of a 'buddy cop' action film with Stark and Rhodey taking on what seems like the world. I really liked this because it was a little nudge into the direction of Lethal Weapon which Black wrote.
Credit has to go to Downey JR and the supporting cast for putting in another excellent performance. Every character seems to come into their own in this one. You've got Rhodey, who's now donning the Iron Patriot armour, who was excellent (although I still prefer Terrence Howard's take on Rhodey) to Gwyneth Paltrow's phenomenal Pepper Potts. They all seem to go that extra mile in this film, which just takes it up a notch. Credit has to go to the writing for that. Guy Pearce also puts in a fantastic villainous performance. He really feels like a threat to Tony Stark unlike Rourke and Bridges in the previous films.
It also keeps up the humour that's become synonymous with the franchise, but it never feels tacked on. Black has got the balance right perfectly.
However, there's a fairly shocking twist about halfway through which kinda feels like a cop-out and is a tad cringey for my liking. I don't want to ruin it, but it just feels like I've been mis-sold a film. Although it certainly does pick up after the twist. There's also a fair amount of plot holes or little niggles that annoyed me about the film. Some of it just feels lazy and unprepared.
So, what we get is a much better film than Iron Man 2, but not as good as the first Iron Man. A very good start to 'Phase Two'. Thor 2, our eyes are on you...