Robert Downey Jr. is Tony Stark. Despite this being his fifth outing as the billionaire playboy turned superhero (if you include his post-credits cameo inThe Incredible Hulk (Louis Leterrier, 2008)), Downey Jr. still brings the same energy and wit to the character, and you don’t get bored by him. On the contrary, Iron Man 3 is the best and by far the funniest Marvel movie yet.
Hiring Shane Black to direct and co-write (alongside relative newcomer Drew Pearce) was a stroke of genius. Black, who made his name as the screenwriter of the Lethal Weapon series, makes Iron Man 3 play in many ways like an old-school, 80s cop movie. All the best Shane Black trademarks are there: sarcasm, fourth-wall breaking voiceover, brilliant one-liners uttered by the villain’s henchmen and inevitably a Christmas setting; while staying true to the Avengers universe.
The decision to deprive Tony Stark of his Iron Man suit for a large portion of the film is good one and takes the character to new places. The returning supporting cast (Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Jon Favreau) is excellent and the new characters blend in well (Rebecca Hall, Guy Pearce). The real stand-out is however Ben Kingsley, who is utterly brilliant as the new villain, The Mandarin, who turns out to be one of the most surprising and funniest characters of the year (the fact that he is a Liverpool supporter is an added bonus).
While the final act, similarly to The Avengers, has a tendency to turn into overlong, unnecessary, generic action with robots bashing robots for 20 minutes, the sequence is put together with great competence, makes complete sense and is always fun. Fun is actually the best word to describe Iron Man 3,which left me with a huge smile on my face.