In the lead up to Captain America: Civil War and the launch of Phase Three in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, we've been looking back through the previous installments in the MCU. Today Tom Pheby checks out the first movie from Phase Two, Iron Man 3.
"I'm gonna offer a choice, an empty life or a meaningful death" is a statement that pretty much sums up the conundrum facing Tony Stark - industrialist, billionaire playboy and metal clad super hero.
Iron Man 3 cost $200 Million to make and raked in over $1 billion worldwide, making it, at the time the most successful MCU film to date. So it's fair to say that there wasn't any scrimping involved in its production and that Joe Public kinda liked it. Aside from the pointless financial details (which never has any baring on quality) what we actually get is an action packed thrill ride that injects new impetus into the series, incorporates all we expected and some of what we wanted.
We ('The Marvelletes') want a slick experience, with massive ear popping explosions and a body count that could potentially fill the Albert Hall or Hollywood Bowl, but we also want another side to our hero, we want to see what's underneath, and that's exactly what we get. There are also a few twists along the way to keep it from being predictable and one dimensional, which is a relief.
Ben Kingsley plays an international terrorist known as the Mandarin who blows up stuff with a degree of calculating and callous enthusiasm... and without any bombs, damn inventive of him! Kingsley is one of many Brits over recent years to play the bad guy and he does a first class job here, oozing meanness and dripping deviousness in every scene.
Aside from all the routine dark deeds, Mandarin has also taken a dislike to the pompous Stark and so chooses to play havoc with our hero's life and all he holds dear, mainly Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow).
This personal vendetta adds a fresh new spark into the proceedings and allows us to see Stark in a predicament where the personal stakes have never been higher.
Stark is not in great shape, having developed insomnia which could well be attributed to all the mayhem he experienced in The Avengers. All this carnage has left its mark on Stark, he has retreated into his own world of high tech gadgets and gizmos and has farmed out all other head spinning responsibilities to his minions, including the running of his company. Stark Industries is now in the dependable hands of current squeeze Pepper Potts.
Whilst on the subject of Paltrow, she certainly fairs much better in this outing because the script allows her to do so. She's not simply there to blink seductively, add glamour, subtly pout or flounce about whilst looking over her shoulder adoringly. Nope, this time she means business.
As well as the great performance from Ben Kingsley as the splendidly despicable baddie, churning out a Bin Laden type role that Hollywood seems obsessed with at present, and of course Robert Downey Jr who can play it straight or for laughs without changing gears, the dreadfully underrated Guy Pearce co-stars as the brilliant yet warped science bod Aldrich Killian. You'll notice he appears a little too infatuated with Mr Stark - hmmm, all will become clear. We discover that all this sad little man wanted was recognition and if he'd got that then all would be well with the world again, but we all know that life doesn't work that way, especially in the 'World of Marvel'!
Shane Black takes over form John Favreau on directing duties, renewing his association with Downey Jr. It was Black that ignored the actors baggage and cast him in the strangely titled yet satisfying "Kiss, Kiss, Bang, Bang" back in 2005, which was instrumental in turning RDJ's fortunes around.
Iron Man 3 is a gloriously bold, brash and in your face film. A movie that is delivered at a frenetic pace, containing a cocktail of random killings, super loud explosions, guns and even girls in bikinis. When the film hits its stride it is spectacular, and this makes it a cut above Iron Man 2.
Script Writer, Poet, Blogger and junk television specialist. Half
English, half Irish and half Alsatian, Tom is well known for insisting
on being called Demetri for reasons best known to himself. A former film
abuser and telly addict who shamefully skulks around his home town
of Canterbury after dark dressed as Julie Andrews. Follow Tom on Twitter