Iron Man 3

The threequel has evolved into a more feared object than death or Nic Cage’s forehead. Who can forget such duds like “Superman 3,” “Batman Forever,” “Spider-Man 3” or when the thought-provoking “Beethoven” franchise screwed the pooch with “Beethoven’s Third”? (Biting Mr. Johnson’s crotch just didn’t have the same in-your-face attitude that time around).

But, thank God, this fear has forced directors to think outside the box and avoid this fate for their films, causing the audience to remember why they pile next to sweaty, fat nerds on opening night.

“Iron Man 3” director and writer Shane Black utilized a desire to do something different. The result was a hilarious, surprising, character-driven action spectacle sequel that rivaled its predecessor, which in itself managed to breathe new life into the genre.

The most refreshing aspect was the story wherein Tony Stark a.k.a. Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), rattled with severe anxiety after the events of “The Avengers,” has become a fearful insomniac. He dreaded the rapid fortuity of death, creating a fleet of suits in an attempt to protect himself and his love, Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow). And some Batman is cool because of all his problems.

Distracted and brash regarding a new terrorist threat, Stark was attacked and thrown literally hundreds of miles out of his comfort zone, away from all his toys, and forced to react using nothing but his intellect against two seemingly superior foes. It brought to light the answer that has plagued Superman for years: How do you properly challenge an indestructible man?

The two aforementioned villains, The Mandarin and Aldrich Killian, were without a doubt menacing and threatening (played superbly by Ben Kingsley and Guy Pearce) but lack a mental obstacle for Stark. Though the former did pose some mental threat, there was a twist involving him—albeit a unique and appealing one—that took him out of the equation, leaving nothing but a physical challenge for Stark to overcome. The former “Iron Man” villains had the same prowess about them, and this third one had the story arc that could’ve really introduced a strong villain that tested all his intellect. But, hey, stuff blowing up is fun, too.

Despite a hole for a more desirable villain, “Iron Man 3” brought back a lot of the entertainment, humor, character development and welcomed surprises that made the first so groundbreaking. However, the most amazing was the character transformation of Stark, whose realization allowed for an ending the left the whole future of the Marvel universe open for play, which was the bold ingenuity the original used to make it all a reality in the first place.

Grade: A-

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