I'll tell you right now, I don't go for movie reviews that spoil the plot. And to tell you too much about this movie, Iron Man 3, starring Robert Downey Jr, Guy Pearce and Gwenyth Paltrow, would be to demystify some of the twists and turns that are best enjoyed by just sitting in a darkened theatre for two and a half hours with this very cool cast, script and spectacle smack-bang in front of you. Suffice to say, Iron Man 3 is great. Go and see it.

Meanwhile, in lieu of ruining it for you, let's dig in a bit further than just summarising the storyline.

After loving Iron Man and Iron Man 2 so much that I have the special collectible DVDs for both (of course, not to forget The Avengers) I wondered how this third iteration would be without director extraordinaire, Jon Favreau, at the helm? In my view, Jon Favreau ruled supreme in the first two but I note that he took on a producing role in the third, with Shane Black directing.

I shouldn't have worried.

Here's five reasons why Iron Man 3 and Robert Downey Jr rock.

1. Hero without the suit

Robert Downey Jr is not perfect. Far from it, in fact. A self-destructive personality, a history of substance abuse and jail term or two can put a dent in even the most well-meaning angel's halo. But through his return to the big screen, the result of an unprecedented personal / professional resurrection, we can easily appreciate the parallel in RDJ's character to that of his alter ego - Tony Stark aka Iron Man. 

It is the fact that RDJ has turned his life around so dramatically, recovering from the unfortunate path of addiction and crime that he fell into, that I most admire about him. That, and he makes guys of my particular vintage look pretty cool.

Iron Man Robert Downey Jnr in Lederhosen at one of the film premiere red carpets

In the film, there were scenes when Tony Stark had to rely solely on his own intellect, resourcefulness and courage without the benefits of his Iron Man suit. What I liked about that particular aspect of the story was that it tapped into the fact that so many young men and women of the forces are in harm's way around the world at the moment (and have been for some time, years actually), and they are - beneath the helmets, armour and camouflage - just human beings, with all the vulnerabilities and frailties inherent in that.

So I feel that the filmmakers have in their own unique way, paid homage to the thousands upon thousands of servicemen and women affected by current conflicts.

2. Gives PTSD a face

Iron Man 3 Official Movie Trailer

To explain these thoughts a little more, the Tony Stark character is forced to face the fact that life experiences, particularly his most recent traumatic experiences, have profoundly impacted on him. It's inevitable then that this is felt within his relationships with those closest to him and his abilities to function normally in life. Again, I think this was a way of acknowledging that many of our young people and their families find themselves in a similar situation right now. Having Iron Man facing and attempting to overcome those issues in a very normal way was important both in the fictional character sense and also in conveying that in a heroic yet accessible way for moviegoers - as much as you can within the context of a Marvel movie.

3. Good villain

The general undercurrent of the film was dark and in many ways unnerving because they played with our current fears and made the threats faced very real and familiar. I found many of the dark themes in Iron Man 3 unsettling to watch for that reason. 

However, the thing that impressed me most about the film was the way the director successfully played with our almost default view on how the baddie should be portrayed by manipulating contemporary iconology.

Without wanting to go into any detail, I was becoming uncomfortable with how blatantly Iron Man 3 was portraying the archetypal embodiment of an evil mastermind in the contemporary context, but as the story progressed they turned that entire view on its head and made it much more relevant and therefore much more believable. Top marks to the writers and director.

The Mandarin in Iron Man 3
Gwyneth Paltrow as a fiesty, intelligent Pepper Potts in Iron Man 3.

4. Strong women

It would be impossible for a guy in Tony Stark's mental state to not both spar with his partner and rely on her in every way. This makes for interesting storytelling, especially the development and portrayal of Gwenyth Paltrow's character Pepper Potts as a very strong and resourceful woman who prevails equally well in the face of overwhelming odds as her slightly damaged yet still heroic husband.

5. The end sequence

Call me superficial, but the end music and visual montage really did it for me. It was spectacular, over the top, superhero style action that was relentless, humorous and jaw-droppingly retro-tastic. It was a perfect way to wrap up what had been a rollercoaster viewing experience from start to finish. 

I loved Iron Man 3, and I hope you do too.

Related posts:
My ten top action movies of all time
Skyfall movie review
Top 5 action thriller book characters

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