Phase Two of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is officially underway with the release of Iron Man 3 as Robert Downey Jr, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Don Cheadle all return to the franchise that started it all. Shane Black has taken over directing duties while Guy Pearce, Ben Kingsley, and Rebecca Hall have all been added to the star studded cast.
Following the alien invasion that nearly destroyed New York, but instead managed to bring together Earth's Mightiest Heroes to save the day, Tony Stark (Downey) has been dealing with the mental and emotional fallout of the events that nearly took his life. Withdrawn from everything but his work on new and upgraded versions of his armor, the once head of Stark Enterprises is unaware of a new and fast approaching threat.
While the emergence of a global terrorist who calls himself The Mandarin (Kingsley) wreaks havoc on the world stage, a memory from Stark's past reemerges in a most unexpected manner. Meanwhile, Pepper Potts (Paltrow), who is once again running Stark Enterprises in Tony's absence, receives a very intriguing business proposition from a man named Aldrich Killian (Pearce) who has made some very interesting technological breakthroughs of his own.
Okay, if I go any farther into the story, I will have to reveal some spoiler type material and, if you've been reading my reviews for any length of time, you know that's not going to happen. One of the things I really liked about this movie is how the heads at Marvel did not demand a bigger, more explosive, and potentially overloaded superhero extravaganza for the sole reason of topping what they accomplished with The Avengers. Instead, the reigns are actually pulled back in and the story focuses more on Tony's relationships both past and present and how his own personal struggles can have an effect on everyone around him.
Don't get me wrong, this is still a Marvel superhero movie so there are still plenty of explosions, fighting, helicopters, chase scenes, and big time special effects, but its all wrapped nicely into a really fun package that also turns out to be the funniest Iron Man movie yet. Of course, Robert Downey Jr continues to play the title role just as spot on as he always does and what's most impressive is how he manages to lead Stark through so many obstacles and learning experiences all while maintaining the core of who the character ultimately is.
As I said before, there are a ton of twists and turns that will, for the most part keep you guessing, but what really makes this movie work is how Black has managed to instill a relentless amount of fun into a story that also sees the title character go through a very troubling time in his life. Well balanced and full of everything we all love about Marvel movies, Iron Man 3 does not disappoint on any level. I suppose there are those who can and will find things to gripe about, but seriously. All you have to do is just sit back and enjoy the ride. Oh, and don't forget to stay all the way to the end for another of the MCU's patented post credit scenes.
You can also see this review on LiftedGeek.com!