Iron Man 3
Director: Shane Black
Starring: Robert Downey Jr, Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Ben Kinglsey, Guy Pearce
This time billionaire Tony Stark, who fights evil wearing Iron Man’s armor in his free time, must face a terrifying enemy, a Middle-Eastern terrorist who enjoys spreading fear around the world. The crazy man who calls himself “The Mandarin”, is now targeting: the President of the USA, Stark’s girlfriend, bodyguard and friends…
To reinvent Iron Man after the failure of Iron Man 2 (2010), Marvel’s producer made the wise decision to hire Shane Black as director and screenwriter — the same Shane Black who started his career writing the hit screenplay: Lethal Weapon. Black practically reinvented the action genre in the 1980s, but that is not his only merit. Some years later (in 2005) he brought Robert Downey Jr. back into the spotlight with the action-comedy: Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005). It is probably the chemistry between Black and Downey in that movie that made producers decide to bring them together again in Iron Man 3. This is a movie meant purely for entertainment, whose quality is much higher than that of previous episodes, or than other movies of the same genre (Hulk, Thor, Captain America) and the over-valued and super-accessorized The Avengers.
Iron Man 3 is ironic, humorous, enjoyable from beginning to end, and manages to achieve the difficult goal of self-parody, while at the same time celebrating its own genre — the action movie. Most of all, it is a reflection about the cinema’s ability to enhance our imagination. In this vein, Black has decided that the villain will not blow up the usual targets (like the Empire State Building, Brooklyn Bridge or the White House), but rather, one of the most famous movie theaters in Hollywood: the Chinese Theater.
The movie also continually manages to overturn the expectations of the viewer. In fact, as in a traditional spy movie, people are rarely whom they seem to be, and the terrorists don’t hide in remote caves in Afghanistan, but enjoy directly witnessing their evil plan.
Although Iron Man 3 goes deeper than just “action”, it is not (and doesn’t want to be) as deep and philosophical as The Dark Knight (2008). However, it is one of the best superhero movies because it follows all the rules of the genre without taking itself too seriously or using clichéd tricks. It has all that a movie of this kind needs: humorous dialogues, spectacular and never before seen action sequences and high quality special effects. However, it must be said that this movie isn’t for all viewers. Young children may be frightened by scenes that resemble horror scenes, villains who look more disturbing than those of previous episodes, and the intense visuals of some sordid environments.
In other words, this war between good and evil is seen from an adult’s point of view. This may be because the movie doesn’t just want success at the box office, but also wants to become a milestone in the history of the genre. Black and his co-writer manage to take Tony Stark and his metal alter ego to a completely new depth. The finale says something important about the value of giving our life to those we love, even when we have the responsibility of being “heroes” and taking care of the whole world. Stark, the champion of the Peter Pan syndrome, must make fundamental decisions that create intriguing expectations for the next episode in the saga.
Problematic elements: scenes of violence and psychological tension, bad language.
Raffaele Chiarulli is an Italian film reviewer and author.