And so Marvel’s Phase Two begins, with a crash, a bang, a wallop and, strangely enough, the unmistakable, toe-tapping intro to Eiffel 65’s late-’90s Europop hit, “I’m Blue (Da Ba Dee, Da Ba Da).” “Iron Man 3” is Marvel Studio’s first theatrical release since their epic superhero team-up “The Avengers” kicked movie-goers’ butts in the summer of 2012 (and in doing so, raked in over $1 billion at the international box office), and it was feared that everyone’s favourite man-in-a-can would crumble under the immense weight of Joss Whedon’s huge-scale juggernaut – just how would Tony Stark’s next solo outing fare without the rest of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes tagging along for the ride?
Quite well, it turns out: co-written and directed by legendary “Lethal Weapon” scribe and “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang” helmer Shane Black – as should be obvious from the get-go, what with Robert Downey, Jr.’s meta-riffic opening narration and the otherwise inexplicable Christmastime setting – this first film in the build-up to 2015’s “The Avengers 2” stands sturdily and mightily on its own two feet, bursting with personality, sizzling with wicked humour, soaring with high-octane thrills and packing an almighty wallop of a plot twist that’s guaranteed to split the comic-book crowd in two – in the age of pesky internet spoilers and overly revelatory studio marketing, it’s refreshing to see a blockbuster with genuine shocks and surprises in store.
Most surprising of all though, is how mature Marvel’s latest output is – have you ever seen a superhero movie tackling the harrowing effects of PTSD? That’s what super-snarky superhero Tony Stark is having to deal with, and it’s turned his high life upside down: following his near-death experience in New York (i.e. the alien-busting finale of “The Avengers,” wherein Tony travelled through a wormhole into space), the self-described “genius, playboy, billionaire, philanthropist” is now an insomniac, frightened for the safety of his beloved Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow), crippled by anxiety attacks and spending his nights in the basement of his ocean-view pad, obsessively building new armours to help keep his mind busy and distracted. (Continue Reading…)