I like Iron Man, I do, and I've loved Robert Downey, Jr since middle school (yeah, BEFORE his comeback!), but I think it's fair to say a lot of us are getting a little sick of the whole character. He's funny and smart and actiony, but perhaps his braggadocio has worn out its welcome. I didn't see any particular need for Iron Man 3 but dammit they reeled me in with two things: Shane Black, and Pepper Potts donning the suit. I'm easy, as you guys probably know. This time around Tony is still reeling from the cataclysmic events of The Avengers, suffering from insomnia, paranoia, and panic attacks. He works obsessively on more and more Iron Man suits, alienating his girlfriend Pepper (Gwyneth Paltrow), who is also the CEO of his company. When a mysterious terrorist calling himself "The Mandarin" (Ben Kingsley) begins targeting American landmarks and Tony's friend/former bodyguard Happy (Jon Favreau) is caught in a blast, Iron Man is back in action. But he soon finds himself alone and with limited resources, forced to rely on his intellect and luck to get to the bottom of things. Meanwhile, Pepper becomes mixed up with a cocky scientist (Guy Pearce) who is wielding incredible, unpredictable power.
I can spoil stuff for this by now, right? Because I'll want to talk about some events that happen at the end, so be warned. Anyway. This movie is way better than most people probably thought it would be, but I'm not that surprised since by now I'm kind of into Shane Black's MO: it's darkly funny, violent, fast-paced, pro-friendships, and set at Christmas. With the self-aware RDJ narration it's basically Kiss Kiss Bang Bang 2, and that's just fine. I love how the general story goes against the grain of a lot of superhero movies in that its not as focused on the action and big effects (though of course those are there), and really takes its time to consider Tony as a person. His experiences have affected him deeply, and while his friends see it they can't really reach him because he's so unwilling to open up, so much of the film becomes about Tony's personal quest for healing. Black deftly blends actual human emotion with over the top sci-fi and goofy pop culture jokes, it's pretty impressive. Or maybe it's that Downey is just such an effective actor, since every time he had a panic attack I thought about the times I've had one and it made me so worried for him. So um good job making me feel feelings, Iron Man 3.
I'm not a huge Gwyneth Paltrow fan but I do like her Pepper Potts. She's feisty and savvy and not particularly impressed by Tony. So I was excited when I learned she'd be donning an Iron Man suit at some point in the proceedings. Because let's face it: superhero girlfriends are generally boring and useless, and their main purpose is to just get kidnapped. Though Pepper saves some folks with the suit earlier on, she's later abducted by the villain OF COURSE. But then she's temporarily given super powers and defeats the villain by herself in the big climactic battle. So THAT was AWESOME. It's stupid she was half-dressed at the time but fuck it, I'll take it. Tony's all flying and punching everything for like 20 minutes but then he can't defeat Guy Pearce and then out of nowhere Pepper's like STEP ASIDE, I GOT THIS and she just decimates him. Boom.
Anyway, all in all it's a really good time, though not perfect of course. The overarching story doesn't quite fit together, and I wanted more of Rebecca Hall's character, who was awkwardly forced into it (though, side note: this movie passes the Bechdel Test, which is uncommon in a superhero movie). I enjoyed Don Cheadle's side plot, since it made fun of the government and also featured the dad from Wonderfalls. And the reveal with the Mandarin is pretty great, very funny and ultimately true-to-life. Lots of things going on but it all fit together well, and was consistently interesting and fun, plus I liked the darker tone and unexpected focus on character. Sooooo great job everybody.
Pair This Movie With: Well obviously the other Iron Man movies make sense if you want to make a day of it. Or the aforementioned Kiss Kiss Bang Bang.