Tony Stark/Iron Man is now suffering from systems of post traumatic stress disorder, caused from his battle at the end of The Avengers movie. Added to this he faces a new villain in the form of The Mandarin a terrorist hell bent on causing both our hero and the rest of the world a mass of trouble.
Robert Downey Jr, whose performances have become a real high of this series, is able to show us a different side to the Stark character, for the first time we see real doubt, anger and fear. Although we also get to see the brash, cocksure Tony we are familiar with – the script is littered with witty one liners that are delivered with his easy charm and humour. There is a nice subplot with a young boy that, with a lesser actor could have easily turned schmaltzy.
Any good superhero needs an evil villain, these have been rather lacking in the Iron Man franchise. Jeff Bridges in the first film was a bit of a damp squib, whilst Mickey Rourke in the second was criminally underused. For the third film Hollywood has reverted to type for its villain and cast an English man – Ben Kingsley as The Mandarin.
The Mandarin differs from the original comic book characterisation, a crude Fu Manchu copy; this version has been brought up to date with obvious Al Queda/Bin Laden traits. Kingsley clearly enjoys every scene chewing moment and brings a genuine sense of peril to the story.
The film is focused more on Tony Stark than Iron Man and it is all the better for this. It leaves more room for Downey Jr to shine and his relationship with Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) to develop. Iron Man does not feature on screen for a proportion of the film, though he does appear at the end (multiple versions) for the customary wham, bam, smash ending, that does feel at times like watching a Transformers film.
There are some unexpected twists and good humour through-out, but sadly the good effects are not particularly enhanced by the 3D…
Iron Man may have been proven to have feet of clay, but the franchise is clearly as strong as titanium.