Despite ropey beginnings, this proves to be quite possibly the most enjoyable of the Iron Man series thus far. Written by Shane Black and Drew Pearce, and directed by Black in the stead of Jon Favreau who helmed the previous two, the third instalment finds our hero Tony Stark dealing with the psychological aftermath of the events of ‘Avengers Assemble’ (or ‘The Avengers’ for everyone outside of Britain) whilst once again donning his not so alter-ego of Iron Man to deal with the threat of a terrorist calling himself The Mandarin, played most wonderfully here by Sir Ben Kinglsey. The Mandarin was one of the most frequent villains to appear in the comics, and one of the advantages of writing about a universe which has just been visited by demigods and hordes of war waging aliens, is that the term ‘far fetched’ can no longer be applied.
The story is a lot of fun, and what makes it really work is the injection of comedy which fits both the personality of Stark and the actor portraying him, Robert Downey Jr. At one point he encounters a fan in the guise of a schoolboy, which normally means we are about to be bombarded by irritating cliché, but it actually turns out to be one of the best things about the film. Don Cheadle and Gwyneth Paltrow reprise their roles, and both Guy Pearce and the enchanting Rebecca Hall manifest themselves as talented scientists. Ironically Hall’s character has a rant about being called a mere botanist, but websites about the film also seem to enjoy referring to her in the same manner. There’s a nice improvised ‘Assassin’s Creed’ moment, and at the end there’s a series of slightly retro credits with stills from all three films, but no expected extra scene following. However, I do believe there is one if you stay for the entire credits after the retrospective. I shall just have to go and see it again…. (I can now confirm that this is indeed the case, it’s a lengthy wait though)
Apparently some scenes were shot in China purely for the Chinese version of the film, something which is becoming more popular with the Chinese market now being second only to the American one in terms of film revenue, and something which The Red Dragon doesn’t agree with since it’s done purely for commercial reasons, but probably the other footage will appear on the DVD release anyway.
Below is the London press release for the film with some of the cast and crew, seemingly a small cauldron of emotions, from nerves to repressed giggles….