Iron Man 3 review

Review James Hunt 24 Apr 2013 - 06:26

Can Iron Man 3 match the might of The Avengers? Here's James' spoiler-free review...

The task of following up the Avengers movie was never going to be an easy one. After Marvel's super-group shattered box offices the world over, the eyes of cinemagoers everywhere were soon trained on their next film: Iron Man 3. For the returning cast (Robert Downey Jr, Gwyneth Paltrow and Don Cheadle) and incoming director Shane Black, the pressure must have been immense. How do you follow up the biggest superhero blockbuster of all time?

The obvious answer is to make it personal. And that's exactly what Iron Man 3 does, to masterful effect. The threat of Ben Kingsley as proselytising terrorist warlord The Mandarin notwithstanding, what gives Stark the most trouble in this film is his sheer inability to process his recent experiences of gods, aliens and interstellar travel. Cool detachment no longer works. Sealing himself inside a suit of armour no longer works. This isn't a film about a hero saving the world – it's a film about a hero trying to save himself.

That's not to say there isn't spectacle, because there is, and it's as inventive as it is impressive. The set pieces run the gamut from huge multi-character CGI-fests to street-level armour-less action scenes, but crucially they all have a good reason to exist. Co-writers Black and Drew Pearce provide a barrage of genuinely hilarious jokes (Iron Man 3 is at least as funny as Avengers, if not more so) and also know that there's no point having a fight if having a fight is the only point.

Of course, we're here to see Iron Man as much as Tony Stark, and the film remembers that. The new Mark 42 armour is modular and can be remotely-piloted, so even when he's not wearing the suit, it (or part of it) is still around. Without wanting to get into movie critic cliché mode, by the end of the film the Mark 42 has managed to become a character in its own right. Any time Downey Jr and the armour are in frame together, the screen drips with symbolism and pathos. It's a fantastic device, effectively giving us access to Stark's conscious and subconscious simultaneously.

It has often been said that a superhero is only as good as his rogue's gallery, and if that's the case, it goes some way to explaining why Iron Man 3 feels like the strongest Iron Man film yet. The Mandarin is as audaciously-written as he is perfectly-cast - against all expectation, they found a take on the character that doesn't just work: it threatens to become definitive.

And as for allies? Gwyneth Paltrow gets undeniably her best material yet, thrust into the action not once but twice. Don Cheadle, while slightly under-used, is the perfect foil for Stark whenever he is on screen. And of course, there's JARVIS, the deadpan AI who can't resist (or rather, can't avoid) a joke. All note-perfect. 

One of the other things that helps Iron Man 3 stand out is its texture. Where Iron Man 2 took place in a world of corporate sterility, Iron Man 3 does all it can to take us to places where we'd never expect to find Tony Stark. There are scenes which feel straight out of a Lethal Weapon film, albeit with an Iron Man-style twist. The trailer reveals a lot about the film (including, bafflingly, something the movie tiptoes carefully around for the first two hours) but there's still so much to see.

In short, it's all great fun. Where Iron Man 2 felt like a fumble on a perfect pass, Iron Man 3 feels like a success against the odds. True, it isn't perfect - anyone who accuses it of sagging in the middle will be hard to refute (par for the course on modern blockbusters) and the plucky kid sidekick who shows up during the middle has the potential to set teeth on edge no matter how expertly the trope is subverted. But most of the time, it's great. Much better than Iron Man 2. Quite probably better than Iron Man 1. It's a triumphant return to form for the franchise.

However, with Downey Jr now out of contract with Marvel, you may not be surprised to hear that it also - and this gives nothing away - feels like an ending for the character. They could make another, but they don't have to. If Downey Jr never appears as Tony Stark again, it'll be disappointing, but understandable. Perhaps the best praise we can give Iron Man 3 is that it makes such a prospect seem almost bearable.

After the sheer excitement that is Iron Man 3, you'd be hard pressed to say that Tony Stark hasn't earned a rest.

Iron Man 3 is out in UK cinemas on Friday 26th April.

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Terrific review of what sounds like an excellent film!

Even if Dr. Pulaski isn't in it. (Gwinny doesn't count.)

looking forward to the IM3 Avengers double bill tonight!

Cool review! I'm so glad it's good!

Same here!!!

Its out on Thursday, Just an FYI.

Just a quick note, Robert Downey Jr is now out of contract on the iron man films, but is still contracted to portray tony stark/iron man in the avengers 2. So this will definitely not be the last time we see him :) I guess we will see from the next avengers the direction that iron man is going in

Seriously can't wait. Marvel have earned a place as a fun highlight of blockbuster season. So glad Iron Man 3 seems to continue their winning streak.

This and Captain America 2 are my most anticipated of the next round of
Marvel films. It did sound like they were doing the right things with
this one, this is an encouraging review!

I saw this at the regional premiere and I agree with the review, It was a fantastic movie. I'd even say best of the 3 Iron Man films. A great fun movie, and the suits, they use the suits near perfectly.

I don't know what will be more interesting post-Avengers 2. Watching what direction Marvel take Iron Man in, or watching what direction Robert Downey Jr takes his career in.

Actually he has been quite clear that he has finished his contract completely, that includes the Avengers 2. All the current talks about negotiating with him have emphasized the fact that this could very well be his final film as Tony Stark(something that the ending of Iron Man 3 only emphasized) and Marvel is seeking to sign him on for at least Avengers 2 and Iron Man 4 (while he wants to go on a more film by film basis.)

Gah! I was already looking forward to seeing this tomorrow but this review literally has me jumping in my seat. I can't WAIT.

And of course this also hinges on whether the dump trucks full of money can fit through RDJ's gate to offload his required salary. I'm not saying he's greedy, but I doubt he will do it for scale.

Huh? from ST: TNG??

Yes this and Cap 2, all the way. Thor 2 looks good, but that spy element of the winter soldier is what I'm looking forward to.

Downey Jr now out of contract? PLUCKY KID SIDEKICK?! No marvel, don't do it! We will NEVER embrace him! Give the iron man to Cheadle! At least he's established and not shoehorned.

4 stars from denofgeek carries weight in my house

Private joke meant for the author.

His portrayal of Tony Stark/Iron Man made the whole Marvel Cinematic Universe work.

It would be interesting to see a piece on his compensation and how it relates to the overall bonanza.

The Condor has landed. :)


IM 3 looks good! Star Trek looks good! Doctor Who may be on an upswing. A good month and more in store ...

A good time to be a geek. Also I have high hopes for the Under the Dome miniseries. That is, I hope it's good

Yes! Stephen King adaptations tend to be a bit dodgier, though ...

No joke, in light of The Stand and others. I never watched the Dead Zone TV show, and didn't feel the need to since I'm a fan of Cronenberg and Walken's movie, but I heard good things. Lets just say TV ain't what it used to be. Time will tell, and I will be watching it.

Dead Zone was an okay show which I watched a fair amount of.

The Stand was quite good considering it was on broadcast network TV, which prevented a lot of the gore from being present.

I'm thinking more of some of the dire movies which have resulted.

I like his Darabont films, which tend not to be scary but rather enduring classics. And it and pet semetary. And Thinner, for laughs

Yeah, those are good.

The shining, the mist, cujo, and misery also. As for the stand, I like more each time I watch it, but the first time was right after reading it. Suffice to say I did not like it. But with each rewatching it brings me back to those great characters, Gary Sinise of course was not just perfect, but he is exactly who I pictured when I read the book. And Dobber from Coach? M-O-O-N, that spells dreamcasting. He also did Patrick's voice on Spongebob, before the movie came out and everyone was replaced.

"But this time it's personal..."

My patented Cliche-O-Meter just went off the charts!

And Cheadle's a pretty good actor to boot.

Yeah, The Stand miniseries pales next to the uncut novel. But most things do.

The casting was quite good. And just a fabulous musical score.

In the comics war machine replaced iron man a couple times.

Yep most things do

I can hear that guitar figure now, and see the Walkin' Dude comin' up the road, his cowboy boots click-clacking along ...

I can't remember it, just the walking dude's mullet. He also stepped right out of the pages and on to the screen, but it turned out he was scarier in theory than in practice. Molly Ringwald, Kareem Abdul Jabar, the other dad from honey I shrunk the kid (as trash can man): u can really tell when this movie was made. And the opening song, Don't fear the Reaper. Perfect.

More recently, he's the evil vice president on Homeland!

>just the walking dude's mullet. He also stepped right out of the pages and on to the screen, but it turned out he was scarier in theory than in practice.

Appropriate. And that opening song always makes me think: I've got a fever! And the only prescription, is more cowbell!

Don't fear the cowbell.

sorry dont agree with this review! the movie sucks! the trailer show the hulkbuster armor but doesnt actually go use! the worst sin of this movie is that the mandarin is actually a dud!!! worst bait and switch move so far this year!!


Looking forward to watching this when it finally comes out Stateside on the 3rd May.


A 'more cowbell'/Blue Oyster Cult mash-up could only ever emerge from a site like this. Love it

That's for sure!

One of the reasons I love RDJ is that his career appeared irrevocably sunk - not once, but twice. He started out as the most talented of the young group of actors that surrounded the bratpack (not part of the bratpack himself, but he did appear as a very successful comic relief in several of their films). He then went on in his youth to do a magnificent portrayal of one of a group of rich kids decaying into hedonism and eventually drug addiction in the adaptation of Less Than Zero.

And then...IT happened - he was arrested and jailed for possessing cocaine. Even after release, he was heavily addicted, and you had a whole stream of interviews with directors and actors talking about what a tragic waste of a young talent.

Then he got himself clean, did a few smaller films and then hit the bigtime (again) by winning the 'Best Leading Actor' Oscar for 'Chaplin' (generally viewed by critics as one of the few times that the Oscar actually DID go to the guy who stood head and tails above his competition, and is still viewed as one of the greatest modern film performances).

And yet....he relapsed back into drug addiction and was jailed again - this time for a quite a few years. Again, everyone thought his career was over, and yet another hollywood tragic waste.

But you know I respect him most for? I followed his films post-jail, before Sherlock Holmes and before Iron Man. Where most hollywood actors in that situation would have been going for the biggest publicity film they could get regardless of quality (see: Lindsey Lohan), RDJ went back to basics as a struggling indie actor and did a whole series of absolutely magnificent indie films, foreign films - all stuff which would fly utterly under the radar of Hollywood and make him next to nothing in terms of money, but were great films that allowed him to demonstrate he was still a great actor. Apart from being a wise choice, you could tell that he still just wanted to act in good films, even if it meant earning a pittance.

It's why when he finally returned to blockbusters, after about a decade of proving he was drug-free and still brilliant, I was more than happy to see him get his bags of cash. That guy earned that money in a way that most Hollywood stars could never begin to imagine.

Even the most highly paid actors get only a miniscule fraction of the film's profits (unless, like Jack Nicholson with the first Tim Burton Batman film you're smart enough to waive your fee in return for a cut of the film's profits, but I can't think of any other case where that has happened in a major studio film). It sounds like a lot of money, and it is, but keep in mind that even when they're earning $10,000,000, the studio is earning billions. That's actually WHY when the actors unionised, they insisted not only on better pay for the minor actors, but also that the big stars (and directors, for that matter) get their massive salary - because as a fraction of what the studio is making off their work, it's an insignificant proportion.

Just for a couple of examples: if the movie is using film rather than digital, the filming costs alone will be many times greater than the actors' salary. If it IS digital (which - indie films aside - usually means big special effects and CGI) the effects/CGI cost utterly dwarf those salaries.

Trust me - RDJ, Joss Whedon and co are certainly getting rich from these films. But it's a tiny fraction of the money that the studio is making from their work, and a tiny fraction of the overall cost of production..

Generally speaking, that sounds right.

What would be interesting would be to have a report on the specific case of Downey and the Iron Man/Avengers pictures.

Dead Zone starts out as a somewhat predictable 'guy with psychic future-reading powers' procedural (albeit with the more interesting aspects of a guy who wakes up from a coma to find that his wife has moved on to marry a guy he actually really likes, and that his kid doesn't know that he's her real father, and is utterly lost when it comes to how to deal with it - he can't get angry because her new husband is a great guy and a great father, he's trying desperately not to get bitter, and he just doesn't know what he's supposed to think about the whole thing).

But the show gets better, and far less predictably 'police procedural' plotwise, as it goes along - arguably from the moment that (SPOILERS - but it's early in the show's run, so not too massive) he accidentally touches the hand of a senate candidate and sees a nuclear holocaust arising from the guy's future.

Well colour me disappointed, both with the movie and with Den of Geek. Whilst I can sort of understand liking the film, some of this review is just complete horse excrement.

The Mandarin was handled terribly and, whilst the script was very funny, it completely fumbled the balance between laughs, drama and action that The Avengers nailed so entirely. Poor work.

Just to correct you slightly he actually DIDN'T win the Oscar for Chaplin, although most agreed the he certainly deserved to win it for his performance (it went to Al Pacino that year, so far his only actual win...)

He is estimated to have made around 50 Million off the Avengers (thanks to his percentage of the Box Office) which is an incredibly substantial amount...what is scary is that there still going to be executives who earned more than double that from the film!

My apologies, you are right I don't know where I got that idea from. I think once you see the film (as i just have, its fantastic by the way) you'll have a good idea either way.

Hard to say he doesn't deserve it. Though I know of one very major cast member who made well under a million, last I heard.

It'd be one to look up then by the sound of it. Starts off like the book and movie, minus the daughter.

Agreed it is an incredible performance by Downey Jr (amazing that he was so young but managed to effortlessly inhabit Chaplin throughout his life so brilliantly.)

Iron Man- went for RDJ jr., Iron Man 2- went for RDJ stayed for Mickey Rourke, Iron Man 3--- wait & watch. And will Tony Stark/ Iron Man ever be the same with RDJ?

If wishes were Oscars...

My thougts exactly! The mandarin was like Joker to Batman and they ruined him by making him an actor? Suddenly Adrian was the real Mandarin. How pathetic. Should've known that the movie would suck since they rated it with a "G" rating. I was expecting for a Batman Begins kind of struggle, like what you said, biggest BAIT and SWITCH!!!

Even though I live in the UK, circumstances make me wait until May!!!

I think you saw a different cut of the movie than me...I was bored half way thru, Manderine is pretty dull and not in it much - niether is RDJ as Iron Man. It's all getting a bit samey now after 3 movies, it's better than IM2 anyway. I'd give it 6/10
PS don't bother with the 3D, it really isn't worth it.

Disappointed is an understatement - not enough Ironman- boring middle stint, ruined the Mandarin as a his main nemesis, weakest of the 3 for me

Worst movie ever in superhero history! Even worst than spiderman 3, why this review is saying all this crap? Disney pays you to make good reviews about bad movies? It doesnt matter how old are you, you could even be 5 years old and this movie still sucks! How can you even say that it is a triumphant return of the franchise?? Im sure im not the only one who thinks like this... Please everybody, go watch it and be ready for the worst... Theres a part when tony plays james bond with a gun he made with home depot stuff just to mention something!

i have just seen the film and marvel cannot be happy with the direction they took hat film they completly took the film off topic, they completly took the piss out of iron patrate, they made the mandrain fake and they didnt give tony stark the extremis arrmor.

Thanks for the spoilers guys. No one else managed to ruin what sounds like a major plot development but you just dumped it right under the review, well done.

First hes not called Adrian secondly the reason they probably did it is because Mandarin is an out of date character (Fu Manchu for gods sake)

I loved it.....until the ending anyway came along I liked the Mandarin thing it was refreshing to see

Mandarin hasn't been a threat in the comics for ages he is out of date as a character hes practically Fu Manchu. This is coming from someone who actually likes Fu Manchu part of me was disappointed but I understood why they did it

Given that this is a spoiler free review I wont make any spoiler filled comments about the film, all I will say is that as a huge Marvel fan, I really enjoyed it and all actors did incredibly well with their roles. Every time I saw someone with the Extremis virus I felt it was very creepy. I also detected some shades of the Five nightmares in there, but having not read the Extremis comic I cant say for sure. Loved it, would see it again for sure.

There were a few moments where I felt there were jokes where there didn't need to be jokes, and that'll likely show up more on a second viewing, but I loved it. I thought the Mandarin was handled very originally but very, very well, and Kingsley gave a staggering performances. So did Pearce, And the whole cast, in fact.

I also felt that the climactic battle was the best we've seen in an Iron Man film (It was about the only almost-weak point in the first film, and the sequel's wasn't particularly impressive). True, it petered out a little right at the end, but still a magnificent set-piece.

Watch the spoilers.

I agree with a lot of what you've said there. The whole cast WAS excellent and the final battle was probably the best of all the Iron Man films.

And yes, the Mandarin was handled originally... but also terribly.

I am not saying this was not a good movie, but at least to me it was a huge disappointment. I wont mention why as it would be a big spoiler, but there is something spesific with the movie that just ruined it for me. RD.jr is to me the only one who could play Iron Man, I just can't see anyone else do it. It would be like seeing someone else than Harrison Ford play Indiana Jones.

And RD.jr is great in this movie, as it is a more personal story and there is some great scenes in there that has lots of symbolism. The action is good, but not even close to how good the action in Avengers is. Even though the story in Iron Man 3 is maybe smarter than Avengers, it just did not work for me because of a certain part I will not mention.

I may be wrong, but I think that fans of the comics and Iron Man outside the movies will have a hard time with some aspects of the movie.

Is it better than the previous Iron Man movies? I am not sure, in some ways it is better, the story is better, but the action is on the same level I think. I think that Avengers is much better than any of the other marvel movies. So if I had to give this a score of some sort, I would give a 3,5/6 i think.

that's a potato gun! I think you mean he makes a tazer... but how ridiculous is that when you're watching a movie about a rich guy in a flying suit of armor?

Bet you're sorry now. Den of geek seems to be geek by name only. Douevencomicbook?
How can you rate this movie DenOfGeek? Unless, like Shane Black, you have a weakness for Christmas and tiny tim like characters? Not to mention the godawful twist! Oh sweet jesus on high that godawful twist! Ruined the franchise, if ironman 3 isn't in the bargain bin when it comes out on DVD, it won't be for sale.

Honestly, I've not read many old IM comics, so Mandarin's treatment in the movie didn't bother me the way it would have had they don't the same to joker. And maybe Mandarin is in some newer comics and I've just missed them, but I'm way more familiar with extremis and the 5 fears arches. What I didn't like was the jokes and the half naked women. I'm glad I didn't bring my son. As for the jokes, Thor 2 was way funnier. On that point, I definitely see why you were aggravated about mandarin: they'd never do that with Loki. I would like to see more than one villain move on beyond a single movie. No abomination, red skull, whiplash, no one but Loki. I don't like that.

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