Seeking out the

5000 greatest films

in a century of cinema

Iron Man Three

Directed by Shane Black
Produced by Kevin Feige
Screenplay by Drew Pearce and Shane Black Based on the comic book by Stan Lee, Don Heck, Larry Lieber, and Jack Kirby
With: Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Guy Pearce, Rebecca Hall, Jon Favreau, Ben Kingsley, James Badge Dale, Stephanie Szostak, Paul Bettany, William Sadler, Dale Dickey, Ty Simpkins, Miguel Ferrer, Joan Rivers, Bill Maher, Stan Lee, and Mark Ruffalo
Cinematography: John Toll
Editing: Peter S. Elliot and Jeffrey Ford
Music: Brian Tyler
Runtime: 130 min
Release Date: 03 May 2013
Aspect Ratio: 2.35 : 1
Color: Color

I got suckered in again! I went to a superhero film thinking that it might be different from all the others due to the filmmaker at the helm--in this case, Lethal Weapon scribe Shane Black. When will I learn that it does not matter who directs or writes these movies? By the time they reach the screen they are virtually identical to each other. Honestly, if I didn’t know in advance the name of a director or a writers attached to any of these comic book pictures I could not tell you which was made by Shane Black or Joss Whedon or Sam Raimi or J.J. Abrams or Jon Favreau or Bryan Singer or Kenneth Branagh.  For that matter, I cannot see any significant differences between the current CG, 3D incarnations of Iron Man, Spiderman, Captain America, The Hulk, The Wolverine, etc. that are not strictly cosmetic or artificially grafted on by the screenwriters and script doctors in charge of providing the “depth” and “character development” for a given film. These movies are all tedious, over-produced, empty fantasies that attempt to provide an emotional release for whatever issues our culture is collectively grappling with at the time. However they never amount to anything more than a bunch of fake people flying around in the sky, hitting each other, blowing shit up and delivering labored, transparent dialogue.

There is a strong cast heading up Iron Man 3, but none of them seem to breathe, let alone act in the movie. Even Ben Kingsley playing a terrorist who looks like Osama Bin Laden and talks like Walter Cronkite only provides one brief moment of enjoyment in this picture.  Robert Downey, Jr. is a great actor, perfectly suited to this role, but in his trumped-up “emotional scenes” his performance is laughably counterfeit. His character is so removed from all human reality that when he becomes plagued by anxiety attacks, or fearful that his girlfriend’s life is in jeopardy, there is just no way to take any of it seriously. 

I know, I know… these are comic books, they are supposed to be fantasy; but clearly they are supposed to be something more as well--something relevant to society’s collective desires and anxieties. Otherwise, why do we need more than one superhero, let alone three or four movies about dozens of them? The first Iron Man film actually had something to say about its inherent themes (for first two thirds anyway). This movie, like The Avengers and most other comic book adaptations, only pretends to be about anything more than CGI effects and meaningless plot twists. Movies like this cannot even access the most basic feelings of anger, fear, regret, love, friendship, restitution, etc. that we all have within us—which is the essence of what big action/fantasy/adventure films are supposed to do.