Cocktails and Movies Review: “Iron Man 3” – Going Out (?) In Style!

Cocktails & Movies raises a glass to Marvel’s ultimate avenging badass, and his return to the top of the heap.

cocktails and movies iron man 3 posterIt’s hard to believe it, but once upon a time Iron Man was seen as a “second string” Avenger. He really wasn’t all that well known, except for a couple cartoon shows and a legendary run of comic books. Spider Man and the X-Men were the first properties Marvel farmed out in the early ’00s in order to combat the fatigue that ridiculous comic movies like Batman and Robin had forced upon comic fans. While they were successful, they started to wear out after their second sequels.

Iron Man 3 not only evades the dreaded curse of the threequel, but it deftly defies all expectations, making itself known as a kick ass comic flick that isn’t afraid to bend the genre to its will. What’s better, Shane Black’s voice in both filmmaking and screenwriting is another unexpected but welcome addition to Marvel’s ever increasing talent pool. And boy, do his talents shine in his first mass-audience, four quadrant picture. If you’re looking for a one line review, then here it is: “Iron Man 3 is the film to beat this Summer, as it exceeds The Avengers and rockets to heights that lighter comic films have never seen.”

Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) can’t sleep, can’t relax, and can’t stop being Iron Man. His addiction to the suit is only outmatched by his addiction to tinkering with all sorts of designs for said suit. The events of New York (if you haven’t seen Avengers, stop here and go rent it) have left him so shaken, so insecure and afraid of what’s out there, that he’s started to develop anxiety attacks. His burgeoning relationship with Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) is starting to suffer as a result of these neuroses. As if his life weren’t bad enough, he’ll have to eventually deal with a megalomaniac madman (Ben Kingsley’s Mandarin), a rival businessman/suitor for Pepper (Guy Pearce), and a one night stand who’s returned to complicate his life more than any alien force ever might (Rebecca Hall).

A Stark Difference

Iron Man 3 isn’t short on complications, but thankfully it isn’t short on ways to organically weave these complications into a cohesive storyline. Everyone who’s seen the trailer knows Tony’s penthouse gets wrecked big time. That’s practically an Act I action set-piece right there. But what looks like a typical “Third Film in A Trilogy” moment actually forces the film to do something that The Dark Knight Rises tried (and failed) to do: it forces Tony Stark to be Tony Stark again, and it forces the audience to either accept our hero in his mortal form, or reject the movie because it didn’t give us enough “pew pew” moments with the handsome guy in the suit. The film does break from comic canon, and it does break from the successful (if not uneven) Iron Man formula Jon Favreau cooked up during his time as the series’ helmer. Shane Black doesn’t discourage or throw out that background, but instead he evolves it into what it needs to be: a possibly fitting end to an amazing era.

cocktails and movies shane black with robert down jrShane Black knows his way around three things: visual language, the written word, and the perfomance style of one Robert Downey Jr. These three things have served him well in the 2005 underrated masterpiece Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, and its these three things that had me excited since he decided to sign onto the picture. Black does not disappoint as his script (co-written by Drew Pearce) gives everyone, and I mean EVERYONE something to do. Are you a Col. Rhodes/Don Cheadle fan? He gets his heroic due in this film. Always wanted to see Pepper Potts step up to the plate and kick some ass? Boy howdy, are you gonna get it. Enjoy Paul Bettany’s snark as JARVIS in the previous entries? Get ready for even more A.I. enhanced quips, as even he gets boosted up in profile. Black’s writing style allows multiple characters to speak in rapid fire verbal sparring matches, while enabling everyone to get a word in and not step on each other’s toes. Being able to do that on its own deserves a cookie, but being able to do that while delivering prime action/adventure material, and ushering in Phase 2 of Marvel’s Cinematic Universe, deserves the whole freakin’ bakery.

The Real Man of Steel

Iron Man 3 is the bar that all other films this Summer must cross, and it’s a pretty high bar considering its a follow up to The Avengers/Marvel Cinematic Universe – Phase 1. With a lot of other blockbusters (some comic and some not) waiting in the wings, it’s going to be a crowded playing field when it comes to the hard earned money of the movie geek community. Luckily, Marvel has beaten everyone to the punch again, and turned the first weekend of May into the new official start of the Summer Movie Season. (Can we trademark the phrase, “Marvel-ous May” before Kevin Feige does?) With such a strong start this year, it’s going to be an uphill battle for the competition. As good or bad as they’ll undoubtedly be, at least we can sleep a little sounder knowing that the story of Tony Stark hasn’t been ruined, corrupted, or corroded. The true man of steel has emerged victorious, and hopefully this will be considered a successful end to a successful franchise. If not, then Marvel needs to do two things: secure your cast, ESPECIALLY Robert Downey Jr., and secure Shane Black for the duration of Mr. Stark’s adventures that don’t involved The Avengers’ films.

Cocktails and Movies rating: 5 out of 5 Martinis; extra dry, extra dry, extra olives, extra fast. Make a couple of ’em dirty.

-Mike Reyes (@MrControversy83)