No movie superhero has captured the popular imagination quite like Iron Man has. While ten years ago, only the keenest comic fan would have known who Iron Man was, today he is probably the best loved of all movie superheroes knocking out competition from the better known likes of Spiderman and Batman. Robert Downey Jr.’s hero was easily the best thing in last year’s Avengers Assemble, the biggest grossing film of last year.
The new film sees our hero looking strangely vulnerable, however. Prone to panic attacks after his close brush with death at the end of the Avengers film, Iron Man’s alter ego, billionaire playboy Tony Stark also his domestic life threatened by both an old flame (Rebecca Hall) and a new enemy, the sinister Mandarin, played by Sir Ben Kingsley (in the antithesis of the portrayal of Gandhi which made his name, thirty years ago).
Too often in the past, the third in a trilogy has marked a franchise’s death knell: witness the disappointing X –Men: The Last Stand (2006), Spider-Man 3 (2007) and Superman III (1983). But if anything this time round, it was Iron Man 2 (2010) which let audiences down. With a new director (Lethal Weapon screenwriter Shane Black) this is both funny and dramatic enough to leave audiences thirsting for more.
Out: Now. Director: Shane Black. Starring: Robert Downey, Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Sir Ben Kingsley, Jon Favreau, Don Cheadle, Rebecca Hall, Guy Pearce. Running time: 130 minutes.