Iron Man 3

Richest man in the world, super-scientist, mechanic, inventor extraordinaire, wise-cracking faux arsehole with a heart of gold superhero Tony Stark aka Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr) is back for the third instalment of what started off as a fresh franchise but quickly turned into yet another spin-off of the incomprehensibly popular Avengers-film-franchise-behemoth-film-series-blockbuster-higher-than-high-concept-Marvel-studios-company-thingy[1]. I guess at least they are creating a lot of jobs for a whole bunch of film people.

So contrary to my expectations, Iron Man 3 sees Tony Stark is all messed up and anxious since the events in ‘New York’. He doesn’t sleep properly and everyone is concerned. Meanwhile he has started suffering from crippling anxiety attacks that last about 15 seconds, and Pepper Potts (it’s such a bad 60s comics name I can’t believe they kept it – Gwyneth Paltrow) is visited by an ex-stalky-boss-but-never-boyfriend Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce). Then a guy explodes and the Mandarin takes credit for it. Tony is angry because John Favreau with a bad wig (the characters actual name is totally irrelevant, he spends the rest of the narrative in a coma) is injured so he taunts the (what the audience knows is a Killian/ Mandarin collaborative) bad-guy consortium then they blow up his house.

Iron Man 3b

Then Iron Man has no magic super suits and is sad. He meets a young boy who helps him, and he goes shopping at a hardware superstore (like Bunnings but American) and uses some high-tech lo-tech fertiliser weapons to beat the baddies and discover the twist starring Ben Kingsley as Mandarin. Then there’s a jet plane bit with the president, and a final confrontation on an oil tanker with lots of super-hot (up to 3000 degrees, not sexy) explosive (above or exactly 3000 degrees – I’m guessing Fahrenheit but stupid US-centric cinema rarely bothers to make the distinction for a world-wide audience) bad guys that is pretty cool.

Idiotic and overly simplistic narrative retellings aside, the film’s largest flaw is that sadly, Tony Stark is getting boring, and the role that Downey Jr is so suited to play, has become a bit of a cake-walking exercise for him. The, albeit guiltily low-brow and heavily-manipulated, humour of Starks character is fading rapidly, and during this film I managed only a couple of half-hearted chuckles. I’d be shocked if any viewer actually expected a clever plot that managed to anything beyond introduce a couple of cool fake-science gizmos and tie together a high number of spectacular action/ special effect sequences, but the film is meant to be entertaining in an escapist way and I feel that the audience has come to expect a certain level of quality from this film franchise.

Iron Man 3 fell below my already lowered expectations.

[1] Starting at The Incredible Hulk [2008], there have been seven Avengers-related films (not including Spiderman…suckers: Iron Man [2008], Iron Man 2 [2010], Captain America: The First Avenger [2011], Thor [2011], Avengers [2012], Iron Man 3 [2013]), one more is scheduled for release this year (Thor: The Dark World [2013], and at least two more again in 2014/15 – which makes a total of 10 films so far. Oh and there’s a TV series as well.