Review: Shane Black's 'Iron Man 3' Begins Summer 2013 with Edge

May 3, 2013

Iron Man 3

You have to give Marvel credit. They've allowed their franchises, though all taking place in the same, Avengers-centric world, to fall into hands of auteurs, film makers who have something more to say than "Just point and shoot." Though the results have been varied, certain cinematic voices have been allowed to be heard. And so it goes that summer 2013 kicks off with Shane Black's take on Iron Man. Iron Man 3, written and directed by the man who created Lethal Weapon and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, is as entertaining as it is unique, a comic book one-off with a little mystery and a little edge, something Black is all too gifted for.

Following the events in The Avengers, Tony Stark aka Iron Man aka suavest mofo in the Marvel (Robert Downey Jr. aka suavest mofo in Hollywood) world finds himself haunted by nightmares. Evidently shooting through and falling back from a wormhole in space messes with your mental capacities. Stark doesn't sleep. He tinkers in his garage, creating Iron Man outfit after Iron Man outfit. The hero's gifts have become his obsessive curse. And then the anxiety attacks kick in. Things don't help themselves when a global terrorist known as The Mandarin (Ben Kingsley) begins laying waste to various parts of the world, his ardent followers soon setting their sights on Stark and all that he holds dear.

But Black's version of Iron Man isn't all summer blockbuster chase sequences and helicopter attacks on beach houses, though that's something Black likes doing too. He quickly shifts the direction of his particular brand of summer blockbuster, stripping the franchise's hero of his alter ego and getting back to the man he was before the metal suit took over. Black is more interested in seeing Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr. remember) piece clues together and create mechanical masterpieces in a workshop than seeing Iron Man blasting F-16's out of the sky. The detective story in Iron Man 3 quickly takes over, the twists and turns bringing out more than a few moments of genuine surprises. Not so many shocks, though.

Iron Man 3

The Marvel/Disney brand, some might say attitude, does end up hurting the Shane Black edge more than the film maker's edge helps. There's a safeness to Iron Man 3, the feeling that no matter what happens throughout this story, by the end it will all have worked out for the better. It's a feeling akin to watching Network sitcoms. This isn't a negative against Iron Man 3 as a whole. There's something that lends to the escapism of it all to know there won't be too much difficulty in swallowing what a film is giving you. It's just that the Shane Black style, attitude and all, doesn't mesh perfectly with the Iron Man environment. It's fun to see a Shane Black summer blockbuster and all that goes with it, Christmas setting and buddy-cop moments for all. Downey Jr. and Don Cheadle, returning as Colonel James Rhodes, have some nice banter here that feels like a warm blanket coming from the Lethal Weapon writer.

Shane Black finds other areas in which to make Iron Man 3 the ballsiest of the Marvel films. He upends entire characters, hell, entire story projections in this film, for the sake of heading in a different direction. This sometimes leads to frustration in watching Iron Man 3. It's only after the film is over, when you're reflecting back on Black's character swerves, that they grab you.

Iron Man 3

This also allows the acting in Iron Man 3 to be well on par if not far better than previously seen. We know how cool Downey Jr. is, and this level of effortless charisma can only be described as God-given. Cheadle and Gwyneth Paltrow rest back into their characters with ease, even if Cheadle's Rhodes is somewhat short-changed here and Paltrow's Pepper Potts bounces between hardened businesswoman to superhero in her own right to, once again, damsel in distress. At least she's given a ton to do here.

On the villainous side of the Iron Man 3 acting coin, Guy Pearce does just fine with his suave-but-nefarious summer blockbuster baddie. He's the kind who wears nice suits, flashes a charming smile, then reveals his plot while holding you captive. The character is pretty paint-by-numbers, but Pearce fills it nicely. Kingsley, for what he is allowed to do, absolutely shines. The Mandarin is a quirky villain as is, but Kingsley's deadpan delivery and that awkward accent he incorporates here makes him all the more eccentric. It's when Kingsley becomes unleashed in Iron Man 3 that you see why he was chosen here.

Just one more interesting brick on this Shane Black house of herodom. Black likes to blend the hero story with the detective story, putting the all-around good guy right in the middle of conspiracy plots and dangerous predicaments. It's something the writer/director exels so well at, it's astounding he hasn't been given the keys to a blockbuster franchise until now. Not counting Lethal Weapon. Black's Iron Man 3, though never completely in tune with the Marvel model, is different enough, charming enough, and exciting enough to keep the franchise envigorated. Hell, maybe some day he'll even get to do  a Batman movie.

Jeremy's Rating: 8 out of 10

Find more posts: Marvel, Review



Funny thing, heard Black can't sell action scenes...and that in case of Iron Man, well, sucks

dawko on May 3, 2013


I'd suggest checking out the movie and deciding for yourself. I found the visual spectacle of the whole thing to be mesmerizingly fun.

Phillip Gockel on May 3, 2013


nononono....visual spectacle and selling the action is a different thing...Sucker Punch is visually amazing, Avengers are visually amazing...but, there are like two scenes in Avengers that came out as "epic"...that's what I mean...

dawko on May 4, 2013


Has to be better than Iron Man 2. Looking forward to watching it this weekend.

Luke Cavanagh on May 3, 2013


don;t do it. don't do it. it is about the same as ir2 which means it is pretty much crap.

hi hello on May 3, 2013


8 out of 10????? Seriously?? You need to have your head examined man! Iron Man 2 was better than this! if this is how you're going to kick off the road to Avengers 2 with your tent pole character..... fans should be worried!

ANolanFanAtYourMom'sPlace on May 3, 2013


You're the vocal minority

Daniel_Plainview_Milkshake on May 3, 2013


Feel free to scroll down or check various websites.

ANolanFanAtYourMom'sPlace on May 3, 2013


Keywords are "vocal" and "minority"

Daniel_Plainview_Milkshake on May 3, 2013


18 comments now, he is still not a minority in them with his negative opition

mike on May 3, 2013


18 comments vs the whole world

Daniel_Plainview_Milkshake on May 3, 2013


Self appointed representative for "whole world minus 18 people" huh? I wonder how does one get appointed to a position like that?

ANolanFanAtYourMom'sPlace on May 3, 2013


I'm not sure. I don't think anyone is saying that someone has that job

Daniel_Plainview_Milkshake on May 3, 2013


How about "Nolan" and "Fan"?

Bl00dwerK on May 3, 2013


And the intellectual minority, it would appear.

dangermonsters13 on May 9, 2013


well said. Thanks to Mr. Shane Black for fucking up such a great movie and a great villain such as Mandarin. This movie was disappointing

kels on May 5, 2013


I should have known from the opening song.

dangermonsters13 on May 9, 2013


I'm worried. You may be the vocal minority but take a look at the average intellect of most Americans. You're also the intellectual minority. Intelligence is like gold around here.

dangermonsters13 on May 9, 2013


I've seen this movie already. The first act of the movie it's ok, but the script is messy, the movie turns out pretty boring and messy. I was very dissapointed by this film. Lacks of the simplicity and brillance of the first one, I think it's very difficult to make a simple and fun movie these days. I will not spoil the "twists" of the script, they were dissapointing and stupid, and when you try to think about them you realize how stupid the plot was.

capitandelespacio on May 3, 2013


I have to agree with you. Saw it last night and walked out very disappointed. Not what I was expecting. I think Marvel blew a great chance to make this a great movie utilizing the Mandarin better.

Logan on May 3, 2013


This really disappointed me. I don't even see this as a huge improvement over Iron Man 2 (which I didn't hate). Sure, it's better, but not as much as people are hyping it up to be.

Nielsen700 on May 3, 2013


I agree. There were some nice elements, the Extremis soldiers were interesting and I did like the film overall, but the Mandarin was just horribly done. To be honest, it felt like they threw him in just to shut the fanboys up. A better choice would have been to do the Extremis story by itself, then the Mandarin. As much as I like Ben Kingsly, and the man truly is a fantastic actor, he just doesn't fit the Mandarin character. The movie is definitely worth seeing, but it does fall short of expectations.

Rob on May 3, 2013


I too was very disappointed by the film. The final battle scene is a mess. Tony starts out a mess and then suddenly is all good. The "twist' cheapens the movie I feel. Also two things i really hate is 1 why does Tony Stark keep using guns in the movie that's not who he is and two the they over did the suit coming together and breaking apart way too much it felt like a cool idea that they just kept having to do over and over and over

AJ on May 3, 2013


The biggest questions for me were, what da fuq EXTREMIS was, and why the Iron Suits were so weak against them.

DAVIDPD on May 3, 2013


and why the suits were so weak in general...

dangermonsters13 on May 9, 2013


Dude, no offense, but you need to proof read. Half the sentences in this article don't make any sense.

junglejim on May 3, 2013


I thought I was the only one who noticed...

ANolanFanAtYourMom'sPlace on May 3, 2013


"The Marvel/Disney brand, some might say attitude, does end up hurting the Shane Black edge more than the film maker's edge helps." Like, what?

junglejim on May 3, 2013


Like the script of IM3, poorly written.

capitandelespacio on May 3, 2013


Not sure I would say I was disappointed in the film, but, I,m not sure going in a "New" direction was the best thing, I left feeling more like it was a re-boot of the franchise instead of part of the original. People will flock to go see the film, but I think they are expecting to go in and see Iron 3 a continuation of the past two. so they may leave disappointed, or in my case, a bit underwhelmed or even confused, asking, "is this the same franchise"? I understand what the film maker was attempting to do, just not sure he should have. I have not read the comics so I don't know the true story of The Mandarin, but I would say, my only complaint was that he was more of a fraud, would have liked to see Kingsly as a real true evil villian, Just sayin, liked his persona up to the point it changed. I'm going to watch it again this weekend, maybe it's one of those films that grows on you. as a stand alone film it was good, but again felt more like it belonged by itself,

Rocky on May 3, 2013


This is exactly how I felt about it, It wasn't a bad film at all and I really did enjoy it. However It was just such a huge departure from the previous films that I felt a little confused while watching it.

Zade_92 on May 3, 2013


I enjoyed it! the jokes were refreshing and it had PLENTY of action. it had at least (or just seemed like it had) twice as much action than the second movie. It felt very comic book like. it was fun.

Jacob Denton on May 3, 2013


Iron man 3 is rubbish...nuff said...

safichan on May 3, 2013


After I got home from the movie I reread the Extremis story line, overall I think it helped me enjoy the movie more. While I was excited to see the Mandarin, I love how leading up to the movie it was all about him with the trailers. They hid the villain well, I thought.

Tyler Raney on May 3, 2013


According to the comics, The Mandarin was nothing near, they just changed him to a comedian character rather a arch nemesis. Would have been bigger. I think they wanted to kill it off so they can concentrate with A2.!

Fanboy on May 3, 2013


This was the biggest disappointment since transformers 2. Plot didn't make sense at times, crapped on the 2's story line. I'm sorry, -100/10.

Anthony Rodriguez on May 3, 2013


Yes. Boring, poorly written and crappy "twist". This was a Michael Bay film disguised like a Marvel one.

capitandelespacio on May 3, 2013


so clever

Jason McGuire on May 3, 2013


Oh, stop you!

capitandelespacio on May 4, 2013


Fortunately he made Pain and Gain, one of the best movies of 2013 🙂

dawko on Aug 15, 2013


I'll be straight up - its garbage. And the Mandarin is a washed up British actor, now you don't need to waste your money on this trash.

Lagoya on May 3, 2013


My review: Generic action movie with a great cast, and a well-written script ultimately falls a bit short of its ambitions. It is nonetheless a quite satisfying experience. Thou the 3D was awful. 7/10

Simen Moflag Talleraas on May 3, 2013


8/10?? hahahaahh dude you are crazy. What were you smokin when you watched it? 4.2/10 is closer to what this movie deserves.

hi hello on May 3, 2013


I smoked before & the movie was still terrible. Buzz kill for sure haha.

Nick on May 5, 2013


I think the bitter taste IRON MAN 2 left in people's mouths, made IRON MAN 3 seem better than it is. I thought it was good, but not great. Maybe two pegs above IRON MAN 2 and half as good as IRON MAN. I did not like how they did not address what (da fuq) EXTREMIS was (super powers? dragon breath? strength? healing factor?) Why were all the Iron suits so susceptible to heat? What was the point of Dr. Hansen, she did not serve any purpose. I wish they highlighted more of the individual suits, like IGOR. How the Hell did Tony get the armor to suck onto him exactly? Those implants from the beginning, I get that, but really? A lot of questions were raised, but few were answered to satisfaction. Overall, a good addition that makes up for most of the bad from IRON MAN 2, but also leaves a something to be desired. 6 out of 10.

DAVIDPD on May 3, 2013


I think this movie makes Iron Man 2 look better if anything.

Nick on May 5, 2013


Little surprised to read how many people are disappointed by IM3. Not perfect but damn was it lots of fun and that was the whole point; Shane Black giving us a breezy, but witty and silver-tounged Tony and taking us on a sarcastic joy ride. It was straight up dope (with an AMAZING score from Brian Tyler to boot) and I actually applaud Black for how he had the balls to deal with the Mandarin but I can understand how it pissed a lot of fans off.

RidgeRacer4 on May 3, 2013


Thought it was great fun and a huge improvement on the mess that was IM2. One thing that bugged me though, (spoilers ahead) was the mystery element to do with the how the "bombs" worked. The audience gets this shown to them and then we have to watch Tony work it out over the next 30 minutes. It would have been much better if we found out/work it out alongside Tony. Apart from that, I thought it was pretty damn cool. Very Shane Black.

SV7 on May 4, 2013


When there is an over abundance of action I just don't care about what's going on. That's Iron Man 3. The last act was a mess.

solarshock on May 4, 2013


Lmfao The Mandarin is what ruined the whole movie & anything it had going from the 1st half. Terrible twist & IM3 made IM2 good, you know that means it can't be that good. Terrible movie gets a good review from a terrible movie reviewer, go figure.

Nick on May 5, 2013


who paid you to write this crap? you must not actually like any of this stuff, huh? this movie sucked on so many levels and for so many reasons. shane black should have declined and waited to do another movie with RDJ. you don't get to play with someone's toys and then get a pat on the back when you break them.

dangermonsters13 on May 9, 2013

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