“Iron Man 3” Starring Robert Downey Jr.

iron_man3-guy-pearce-poster1-610x919One of three most anticipated blockbusters of the year, joining the likes of Star Trek Into Darkness and Man of Steel, will be the first major release of the season, starring yet again a cocky, rich, and manipulative philanthropist making his fourth appearance on the big screen in the last six summers.

Robert Downey Jr. returns as Tony Stark and his manufactured superhero alter ego in Iron Man 3, a film that fans hope is more aligned with The Avengers, savvy and thrilling, than it is the meager and mundane Iron Man 2. From the look of its first full-length trailer, this franchise is heading back on track.

After a self-absorbed and fairly mediocre sequel, one that seemed to be as much about Downey Jr. as it was Tony Stark, The Avengers exceeded expectations in both story and spectacle, with Iron Man taking centre stage. Returning to a stand-alone movie for Mr. Stark and company (though who knows which other heroes will make a cameo), the filmmakers look to turn this into some deeper, darker, and more intimate; something much closer to Batman films of Christopher Nolan.

A reflective, contrite, and perhaps even mature Tony Stark seems more destitute and powerless than ever, with his arrogance replaced with feelings of both morality, and mortality. The enemy here is certainly, at least according to the source material comic books, a far stronger and smarter foe than any on the screen so far. Ben Kingsley plays The Mandarin, a mysterious man in the vein of the terrorist Bane. While it may not be the destruction of bridges, tunnels, and a football field like in The Dark Knight Rises, The Mandarin destroys Stark’s palatial ocean view in the trailer, sending it to the depths of the water-and Iron Man along with it.

Gwyneth Paltrow returns as Pepper Potts, no longer Stark’s assistant, but his partner/lover/girlfriend/wife – their dynamic in The Avengers was the best yet, and hopefully that continues to flourish. Don Cheadle returns as well, and hopefully he will don the suit as War Machine like he did in Iron Man 2. While Jon Favreau will continue to play the minor role as Stark’s light-hearted driver, he will turn over the directorial control to Shane Black after running the first two films in the series. Black’s only other feature was 2005’ Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, also starring Downey Jr., but the veteran filmmaker has had his hand in writing and producing such action films as Lethal Weapon¸ The Last Boy Scout, and The Long Kiss Goodnight.

The unknown of the film rests with the immensely talented Guy Pearce, capable of such range that is will be entirely plausible as either a friend or foe of Stark. From the trailer and a recently released poster, he may be something in between.

It’s not a question of whether the film will be a hit, as fans will continue to flock to the cinema for Marvel’s superhero franchise. Given the success of The Avengers, a film helmed by Joss Whedon that was both fun, smart, and action packed, the bar is raised high for Iron Man 3 to invest in a solid story and compelling villain, and to challenge us with what we think we know about these characters hitting the big screen once again.

The summer blockbuster season begins early this year, as Iron Man 3 hits theatres May 3rd. And as always with Marvel films, stay until the very end of the credits.

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