The loudest thing about “Iron Man 3” isn’t the constant boom of explosions, the heavy barrage of bullets, or even the impressive destruction of our hero’s magnificent mansion, which ends up crumbling into the sea. It’s the ka-ching of cash as this third installment in the popular Marvel Comics franchise, even more so than its predecessors, seems meticulously crafted to be a box-office juggernaut.
It deals with the big issue of the day — terrorism — and even has a cute kid.
But “Iron Man 3” manages to rise above its naked ambitions thanks to two things: Robert Downey Jr.’s sly charm in the role of the multi-billionaire entrepreneur turned superhero and Ben Kingsley’s too-short and ultimately hilarious turn as the villainous Mandarin, a clever update on the comic-book character created in the ’60s. If “Iron Man 3” doesn’t pack the surprise of the first “Iron Man,” Kingsley alone puts it leagues ahead of “Iron Man 2.”
This time around, Tony Stark aka Iron Man (Downey) finds his world torn apart by a man he once spurned, a brilliant but mad scientist, Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce) who’s bent on revenge. Thanks to work pioneered by Iron Man’s friend Maya Hansen (Rebecca Hall), he has found a way to instantly re-grow tissue so limbs instantly reappear. Trouble is the side effects are rather explosive.
Combine that with the threat posed by the Osama bin Laden-like Mandarin, who’s threatening to take America down, and you’ve got a job fit for Iron Man and his plucky girlfriend, Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow), who gets to display some superhero moves of her own. It doesn’t help though that Stark is plagued by anxiety attacks from his previous missions, and this is where the cute kid — Harley Keener (Ty Simpkins) — comes in; his exchanges with Stark are some of the film’s funniest.