Home Reviews We review Iron Man 3 – The tin man gets a heart. And lots of crazy, fun action

We review Iron Man 3 – The tin man gets a heart. And lots of crazy, fun action

6 min read


Pardon my French, but Tony Stark has seen some shit. He’s tussled/hung out with thunder gods, defrosted legends and green rage monsters, stopped alien invasions and Mickey Rourke’s career revival and even popped into a wormhole once. Those kinds of experiences changes a man. It also changes the expectations for a sequel film about that man.

Normally by the 3rd entry in a franchise, ideas start running dry and we’re essentially just left with more of what came before, only with a bigger explosion budget. Also more villains, lots and lots of villains (aka Spider-Man 3 Syndrome). That would have been the easy choice for franchise debutante writer-director Shane Black (Lethal Weapon, The Last Boy Scout), but instead of just staying with the tried and tested formula, he pulls a “Tony Stark” and starts tinkering.

Now to be fair, Iron Man 3 also throws lots of villains into the mix and is also a lot more explodey than its predecessors, but the brilliance of this threequel is that for all intents and purposes this is the Tony Stark show. Now you may be wondering just how that is any different, as Robert Downey Jr – after having already been on and perfected this hi-tech rodeo three times previously – has been doing this attention black hole trick ever since landing the gig back in 2008. Simply put, this is the story of the man in the can, not the can on the man. And no, that is not a toilet joke.


After the events of The Avengers, Tony Stark is a PTSD stricken insomniac who would rather build new toys in his workshop and hide behind his armour than face his real issues, including his frustrated girlfriend, Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow). But when Stark’s public bluster and bravado makes him a target of Bin Ladenesque terrorist The Mandarin (Sir Ben Kingsley), his whole world – very literally – comes crashing down around him, including all his fancy schmancy gadgets. Forced out of his armour, and now armed with nothing but his wits and wit, he needs to figure out how The Mandarin’s bombing campaign ties into the mystery of one time fling Dr Maya Hansen (Rebecca Hall) and her scheming boss Aldrich Killian’s (Guy Pearce) new technology, Extremis, which allows you to rewire human DNA to superhuman effect.

Stripped of the Iron Man suit for a large percentage of the film, Downey Jr (whose career revival actually began with Black’s Kiss Kiss Bang Bang) gives us easily his best performance yet as the character, instead of just being a snarky voice behind a visor all the time. This is a more vulnerable and human Tony Stark than we’ve ever seen, as he is put through the psychological wringer. But don’t worry, it’s not all touchy feely mushiness. This is a Shane Black film after all!

His and co-writer Drew Pearce’s script is filled with a never ending barrage of razor sharp quips and the wisest of cracks, all expertly delivered by not just Downey Jr but the rest of the cast as well. Especially including 11-year old Ty Simpkins, who proves that under the right guidance, throwing in a cute kid sidekick to a fallen hero is not always celluloid cyanide. As Harley, the tech-centric boy who helps a down on his luck and tech-less Stark to solve the mystery of one of the bombings, he very nearly threatens to steal the show by out-Starking Stark. During some of their exchanges I was laughing so loudly, that I almost didn’t hear the follow-up retort. One of which is about as inappropriate a thing as you could say to a child. And utterly hilarious coming from the sardonic Robert Downey Jr.


The rest of the cast all turn in solid performances and most get their very own moments in the spotlight, especially Paltrow’s Pepper Potts who goes from tied on the train tracks damsel in distress to being responsible for one of the film’s best “F@#$, yeah!” moments, while Guy Pearce’s Aldrich Killian undergoes a transformation of his own, from barracuda smiling megalomaniac to barracuda smiling megalomaniac with really cool tattoos and the worst case of halitosis you’ve ever seen. But it’s Kingsley’s completely unexpected rendition of classic Iron Man villain, The Mandarin, that stands out of the crowd, and the one that will probably be most remembered.

To give all the characters their moments, Black and Pearce’s script borrows threads from some of the best Iron Man comic book stories of the last decade – “Extremis”, “The Five Nightmares”, “Stark: Disassembled” – and weaves them together for a twisting, high octane techno-thriller. Unfortunately, there may just be a twist or four too many, as the plot does get just a fraction too illogical in places. Rebecca Hall’s Maya Hansen in particular seems to be given stuff to do that makes zero sense, and there’s also the demigod, super-soldier, giant green elephant in the room of why Stark wouldn’t just call in his Avengers buddies for help.

There’s also one gigantic plot twist, which I won’t spoil here, that I’m still in turmoil about. As a movie fan, I appreciate the giant cojones it would take to do a twist this big, and it really does pull the rug out from under the audience. As a comic book fanboy of note though, the twist didn’t so much pull the rug out from underneath me as it instead just peed on the rug. And me. It essentially robs the cinematic world of Iron Man of one of the comic book’s greatest characters, and left me feeling rather stink-faced about it.

I’m sure that more casual fans won’t even care about it (or actually notice), which is why I didn’t let it hamper my scoring of the film too much, but this is a plot point that’s going to be keeping the comic book shop debates raging for quite some time.


That is, of course, if said debaters can kickstart their brains again after having them overloaded with awesome by the film’s action sequences. Black’s skill with action direction is top notch, giving us not only the best action beats of the franchise, but barring some scenes in The Avengers, the best of the entire Marvel line thus far. Even despite the fact that the film’s crazy, over the top finale was spoiled in just about every piece of promotional material released, it was still an eye-popping, brain melting experience that will have the fanboys and casual fans alike squealing like little girls at a Justin Bieber concert.

That being said, the highlight for me would have to be an adrenalizing, highly inventive mid-air rescue that occurs at about the film’s halfway mark. It takes a scenario we’ve seen before and puts a new spin on it, to spectacular effect.

Which is really what Iron Man 3 is all about. Everything we’ve come to love about the world of Tony Stark is here, but seen through slightly different, slightly more awesome eyes. I’d be hard pressed to say which was better, Iron Man 1 or 3, but there’s no doubt that this has just set the superhero bar for the 2013 blockbuster season. Superman, your move.


Last Updated: May 2, 2013


  1. This looks so awesome, im going to watch it only on the 11th though :'( sooo far from now


  2. Christo Kruger

    May 2, 2013 at 09:23

    Yeah, I don’t know. I liked it better than 2 but it dragged in some places. Not enough action and the comedy was kinda hit and miss also. Maybe I expected to much 🙁


    • Gareth Lagesse

      May 2, 2013 at 11:17

      Dude, I think that you were watching the wrong movie, especially after reading this: “Not enough action and the comedy was kinda hit and miss”.


      • Christo Kruger

        May 2, 2013 at 12:20

        Maybe I was? I just felt like they didn’t have enough Iron Man in it, you know? The Avengers had more action in it than this one.

        Humor is subjective though, so I’ll give you that. Just didn’t feel as witty as Black’s Kiss Kiss Bang Bang.


        • Kervyn Cloete

          May 2, 2013 at 13:02

          I like that it was more Tony Stark than Iron Man, as that’s pretty much how the comics have been for a while now, but I can completely understand how you’d want more Iron Man action.


        • Kervyn Cloete

          May 3, 2013 at 06:30

          I liked that it was more Tony Stark than Iron Man as that’s pretty much what the comics have been like for a while now already.

          And this movie was essentially also an answer to the question that Cap poses to Tony in Avengers of what he is without the suit?


          • Christo Kruger

            May 3, 2013 at 07:30

            That is a pretty good point, I didn’t really think of it that way. And I can’t really complain as I liked The Dark Knight rises and that was also more Bruce Wayne than Batman.

  3. Gareth Lagesse

    May 2, 2013 at 09:30

    It really was a non-stop thoroughly enjoyable movie, I loved it! Kingsley and the kid were great, and it was full of nice surprises like Joss Whedon’s two-second cameo.


    • Justin Hess

      May 2, 2013 at 10:04

      What? Where?


      • Gareth Lagesse

        May 2, 2013 at 11:15

        The scene at night in the town just after the kitchen gets blown-up, Tony crosses the road and there’s a man hiding behind the car. That’s Joss Whedon.


        • Justin Hess

          May 2, 2013 at 12:47

          Jumping Jehosephat!


        • Kervyn Cloete

          May 2, 2013 at 13:00

          I think you may be mistaken there. That clearly didn’t look like Whedon to me, and I can find absolutely zero mention of it on the net.


        • Kervyn Cloete

          May 3, 2013 at 06:30

          Are you sure about this? Coz that dude didn’t look like Whedon to me, and I can’t find a single trace of it on the interwebs.


          • Gareth Lagesse

            May 3, 2013 at 09:55

            When I saw the character hiding I thought “Was that Whedon? That must be a cameo!” I wasn’t 100% sure so I checked the IMDB, and there it was in the Trivia section. 🙂

        • DarthofZA

          May 3, 2013 at 07:28

          Dude… that was not Joss Whedon. Watched it last night, and specifically looked out for him.


          • Gareth Lagesse

            May 3, 2013 at 09:56

            Damn, well I’ve been wrong before. 😛

  4. Wayne Bossenger

    May 2, 2013 at 09:33

    Fantastic film and great review as well, 100% agree!
    Some spoilerific content below but I’ll try stay as cryptic as possible…

    —- I’m spoiler man —-

    —- I’m spoiler da ba dee da ba spoiler —-

    —- spoiler man will return with spoilers—-

    THE plot twist (of the many) was interesting and I agree that it’s robbed us of one of the main characters of this hero’s roster, but then again, has it? The way it was used was interesting and I quite enjoyed it. We were sold this idea of this character in the trailers/press releases etc but were well misdirected. Liberties were taken with the character shown in the trailers (origin etc) but once the film is near its end we see who the real character is, and who’s to say he’s gone for good? (revival of comic book proportions anyone?)

    In any event, there’s more than enough time to give Tony a rest after Avengers 2. The character (and actor) have earned a welcome break till a possible Avengers 3. Gives Marvel more time to focus on the other Avenger related films and other Marvel characters as well 🙂 There’s enough content (read: enemies) for more Iron Man (and those related) films down the line.

    —- end of spoiler —-


  5. Sir Rants-a-Lot Llew

    May 2, 2013 at 09:57

    Watched this last night. Amazing movie. But as you said. The plot twist… Man. I’m not sure what to make of it or how I feel about it….


  6. DBL_ZA

    May 2, 2013 at 20:30


    I think when we look at it from a comic book perspective, it might have thrown a lot of us that wanted them to stick closer to the extremis storyline (despite them saying that they were merely “borrowing” from that arc). I think it will appeal more to the people who didn’t follow the comic arcs, but keep the fanboys happy nonetheless. That ending scene 😀 😀 😀

    But nevertheless, was an absolutely amazing movie and I would pay double Nu Metro’s ridiculous fees to watch it again.

    Just going to play it dumb for Thor 2 and Captain America 2 this time round so that I don’t know what to expect, despite watching the first trailer for Thor 2. Looks really spectacular


  7. DarthofZA

    May 3, 2013 at 07:33

    Watched it last night. RDJ was simply amazing. His acting was a new level of insanely awesome that caught me by surprise. I was impressed.

    One small gripe though. The scene after the credits? Seriously? Those scenes are supposed to reveal something to you, show you a glimpse of what is still to come. Ironman3, just walk out when the movie ends, its not worth it.


  8. Marty

    May 3, 2013 at 23:26

    D I S A P P O I N T I N G. The kid was annoying. Paltrow was a fifth wheel – not needed. The humor was childish. How bad was this movie?? My friend and I walked out before the end because it was also –
    B O R I N G!


    • DarthofZA

      May 6, 2013 at 17:01

      Ok.. wow… Pretty much all of my friends rated this as one of the best, if not the best (after Avengers of course) Marvel movies ever made. The only people that are not 100% sold on it are the guys who couldn’t get over the “TWIST” because they are such fans of the comics. They still think the movie was amazing. Not sure what you were smoking, but you shouldn’t of smoked that before you walked in.


      • Marty

        May 7, 2013 at 16:07

        A lot of people seemed to like it. Hey, you might too. We didn’t think the villain was very impressive either. Iron Man has a lot of creative villains from Stan Lee to fight. Why choose this guy??


        • DarthofZA

          May 8, 2013 at 09:29

          As good as most of the Iron Man comics have been through the ages, they haven’t been the most creative. Lets look at some of his best villains. Obadiah Stone, Justin Hammer and Whiplash have all been done in Iron Man 1 and 2. Dr. Doom (the best Iron Man Villain ever) currently has his rights sitting out of Marvel’s hands with the FF. Fan Fang Foom just wouldn’t fit in the MCU, Crimson Dynamo, Ultimo and Titanium Man are all actually really lame villains. Mandarin is the only one who is really awesome that I can think of that hadn’t been used, but his magical powers wouldn’t really fit into the MCU.

          Therefore, they had to rather tackle an interesting story. They did a nice spin on a few story archs combined, but borrowed most from Extremis. This works nicely. Tony’s best power is his inventive genius, and this movie played on that rather well. Bringing in AIM as the main “villain” with extremis and the few plot twists, really helped bring out everything that is awesome about Iron Man.

          The only flaw in the whole movie was **** SPOILER **** passing Mandarin in the way they did. But that wasn’t really a flaw at all, just something different to the comics, and used to brilliantly explain their villain.

          The movie had it all. Your dislike of it makes no sense.


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