Iron Man 3

Since “Iron Man” hit screens in 2008, Marvel has been building its cinematic universe; that “Phase One” culminated in the billion dollar blockbuster “The Avengers.” Director Shane Black had the job of creating the follow-up movie to that massive flick, and did he deliver or what?

Iron Man suits

The movie opens to a voiceover from Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), who has been an anxious mess since the alien attack on New York City. Building compulsively, he reflects and the flashback introduces us to Maya Hansen (Rebecca Hall) and Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce), who is soon to become one of the greatest threats Stark has had to face.

A mysterious threat, calling himself The Mandarin(Ben Kingsley), has been taking credit for attacks across the world and spinning the US up, resulting in sending Iron Patriot (Don Cheadle in Rhodey’s new suit) on wild goose-chases to hunt down the mastermind. When “Happy” Hogan (Jon Favreau) gets caught up in an explosion, Stark takes it upon himself to solve the mystery of the terrorist.

Hansen and Killian have developed Extremis, a biological virus that hacks into the body’s repair center and rewires it, which leads to increased strength, regenerative abilities and swift healing, and the best part, the ability to breathe fire.

“Iron Man 3” explores more of the man outside the suit, and gives Stark a problem that isn’t simply another man in a suit of armor. Stark is stranded with a broken suit and must rely on his genius to defeat the enemy; when the suit does work, he can control the suit remotely, which is definitely something.

The movie is just as witty as the previous ones, but there are definite tinges of drama about it, as Stark deals with his emotional issues from the event of “The Avengers” and the imminent threat that is the Mandarin. A great bit of the movie is when Stark is stranded in Tennessee and bonds with a ten-year-old kid with potential genius and a temperament to match Starks.

While well-written, there are some plot holes that become rather obvious as the movie progresses, such as why is the Mandarin targeting the president at all, when Stark is the true target, and why did it take him so long to strike in the first place?

The best part of this movie was that Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) finally got something to do. She got to save the day, and the hero, despite being the bait that originally drew him into trouble.

A definite surprise in this movie was something that the studio was able to hide from spoiler-seekers for a year. A twist involving the Mandarin is in play, and fans of the comics may be none too pleased. SPOILER: The Mandarin as we have believed him to be Ben Kingsley, is actually an actor hired by Aldrich Killian as a cover for all the misfires from the Extremis patients. What?!

The movie was post-converted to 3D, and with the dark coloring of the movie, would not make it worth the extra money. With a budget of $200 million, the action sequences are bigger and better than any previous “Iron Man.”

While Marvel opened itself up to the more mystical parts of the comics, it kept this movie fairly grounded in reality, choosing instead to focus on a commentary on the threat of global terrorism, and how the face it presents may not be the truth behind it. “Iron Man 3” is a fitting end to this trilogy of movies, but was left open enough to see Stark return, as teased post-credit.

The grand finale was the best part, hands down, and if you don’t get goose bumps when all 42 of Stark’s suits are remotely commanded to help out and we see them surrounded the base of operations then there’s something up, because that was Awesome, with a capital A, what with Avengers Initiative Phase Two now running full steam ahead.

“Iron Man 3” is rated PG-13 for intense violence and sci-fi action throughout and brief suggestive content, with a run time of two hours and fifteen minutes.

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