‘Iron Man 3’ thoughtful and fresh
“Iron Man 3”
Directed by Shane Black
Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow and Ben Kingsley
Four out of five stars
Coming off a mega-blockbuster like “The Avengers,” it’s nice that Marvel decided to take a step back and make it a little more personal with “Iron Man 3.”
Directed by Shane Black, master wordsmith behind “Lethal Weapon” and “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang,” the film features a whip-smart screenplay that embraces all of the acerbic wit that Black is known for.
Instead of rolling out old shellhead for yet another bout of invincible Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots, Black takes Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) back to his roots and strips him of his iron security blanket, which accomplishes two tasks.
One, it subverts your expectations of escalation for superhero movie sequels, which earns it points for originality.
Second, it manages to peel back layers of character that show a more human and vulnerable side to Stark’s genius billionaire playboy philanthropist persona.
Stark’s biggest struggle in the film is his post-traumatic anxiety lingering from the alien invasion in “The Avengers” and its effect on his relationship with Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow).
Sure, there are bad guys aplenty (with Ben Kingsley getting one mighty juicy role) but these characters are so well established by now that it’s the smaller conflicts that feel like big character developments.
What the film does best is take superhero movie clichés that are played out but finds a way to make them fresh. Black’s thoughtful script gives purpose to details that many filmmakers take for granted and his little twists make a world of difference.
A vast improvement over the shrill “Iron Man 2,” this is a film that shows Marvel isn’t afraid to take big risks that pay off in spades.
“Iron Man 3” has a strong authorial voice that emphatically declares that it’s perfectly fine to get a little dirty in the sandbox and shake it up a bit.
Frank Miller is a Sacramento writer.