FILM: Marvel begins its Phase Two with the release of Iron Man 3

ironmanIT IS SAFE to say that, following the phenomenal success of The Avengers in 2012 (it has since grossed over $1.5bil to become the third highest grossing film of all time), Marvel had something of a point to prove with its latest offering. Thankfully, with the first instalment in the much anticipated Phase Two, Marvel has managed to more than match its previous success.

Iron Man 3 boasts an impressive cast and a host of characters that’ll make fans of the comic books start jumping in their seats. In the wake of the events of New York, which have left Tony battling his own personal demons, America is faced with a new terrorist threat in the form of the formidable Mandarin (played by Ben Kingsley, whose surprising performance is perhaps the highlight of the entire film). Throw in a megalomaniacal scientist with a luxuriant bouffant, a rather worrying development in the biomedical field, a whole host of conspiracy theories and Gwyneth Paltrow’s bare midriff, and you have the season’s biggest film.

As the first Iron Man film without Jon Favreau at the directorial helm, there’s definitely a different feel to proceedings, with Shane Black opting for a far more humorous approach than his predecessor. There are more one-liners in this film than the first two Iron Man films combined, and for a franchise with Tony Stark at the forefront, that’s saying something. The effects that the events of New York have had on Tony are deftly conveyed, and the results are heart-breaking. On the surface, this film really does tick all the boxes: plausible character development, groundbreaking special effects and dialogue so sharp that it rivals Guy Pearce’s jaw line.

That’s not to say that the film is without fault, however. A much toted turn by Rebecca Hall as a scientist with a secret starts off promisingly but falls flat, probably due to the fact that her character ultimately seems to serve no point other than to demonstrate Tony’s prowess with the ladies, despite her impressive qualifications and job title. The biggest flaw at hand, however, is that perhaps typically for a superhero movie, the plot does tend to stray into the overdone and clichéd – how many films have we seen now with a middle-aged, white male president getting into a spot of bother at the hands of a charismatic, sociopathic villain? – but it’s easy to overlook this when it’s wrapped in such a shiny package.

In summary, Iron Man 3 is fun, surprisingly thought-provoking and just generic enough to be self-aware – three things that Marvel seem to have turned into a winning formula. We can only hope that the rest of Phase 2 continues in a similar vein, and that Marvel keep upping their game. If they do, then the next few years should be very interesting – and rewarding – indeed.

Oh – and just a hint to any first-time Marvel viewers – don’t leave the cinema before the very end of the credits. Really. Trust me on this one.