The latest movie featuring Marvel’s metal-clad hero, Iron Man 3, manages to do something seemingly impossible. It takes Tony Stark’s character down a more serious path without losing any of the inherent fun superhero stories should have.
In fact, if Iron Man is Marvel’s Batman (both rich white guys with no superpowers but lots of gadgets), then director Shane Black can be rightfully considered the imprint’s Christopher Nolan. The latter took a beloved character and added depth and realism to an already rich story. Black, who previously helmed the drastically underrated Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, does the same with Stark in Iron Man 3, but deftly maintains the sense of joy one gets from reading comics.
Downey knows Stark so well, he reportedly pushed the idea of doing something new with the genius billionaire, which brings us to the story of Iron Man 3. The film finds Stark struggling with “panic attacks” as a result of the final battle from 2012’s The Avengers. And can you blame the guy? He hand-delivered a thermonuclear bomb through a wormhole in space to defeat an alien army. The guy’s allowed some PTSD.
Because of this, he also suffers from bouts of insomnia, during which he perfects and re-perfects his Iron Man armor. After a series of mysterious terrorist attacks credited to the even more mysterious Mandarin (Ben Kingsly), Stark goes on the hunt and somewhat knowingly puts everyone and everything he cares for at risk, including his love Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow).
Any Iron Man story comes with a heavy metaphor. (See what I did there?) The masks and armor we wear to protect ourselves, blah, blah, blah. But, Iron Man 3 takes this metaphor and gleefully runs with it. For the majority of Stark’s journey, the only suit at his disposal is beaten to hell and damaged seemingly beyond functionality. In addition, the playboy used to life in big cities like Los Angeles and New York spends a great deal of time out of his element in the Midwest. Yes, the Midwest.
Because Stark struggles to function with PTSD and must do so without the benefit of his arsenal of powerful suits, Iron Man 3 amazingly works as both a completion to the Iron Man trilogy and a sort-of sequel to The Avengers. Quite an incredible trick, if you ask me.
Not only does Black manage to dovetail these two stories into one, he also successfully infuses humor throughout the film, even when it seems it shouldn’t work. One of my favorite, laugh-out-loud lines comes during a very tense scene that finds Stark in mortal peril. That’s not giving much away because Stark and his cohorts find themselves in peril quite a bit in the film. I mean, seriously, there’s so much peril, it’s mind-boggling.
As you’d expect, the action sequences will leave fans squealing, especially one in which Iron Man must attempt to rescue 11 people who were inconveniently sucked out of an airliner midflight. And don’t get me started on the great cast: Guy Pearce; Don Cheadle; and even my personal guilty pleasure William Sadler (as the U.S. president, no less). I’ve loved Sadler since he played Death in Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey, but that’s neither here nor there.
Anyway, go see Iron Man 3. It’s like The Dark Knight Rises, except it’s fun.
|The father of twin boys, David Vienna is a screenwriter, playwright, former journalist, and spent a few years writing for reality television. He covers parenting issues at TheDaddyComplex.com and The Huffington Post.|