The iron is still hot

Marvel Universe strikes again with more big, dumb fun

Knight and shining armor.

Knight and shining armor.

Iron Man 3
Starring Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle and Guy Pearce. Directed by Shane Black. Cinemark 14, Feather River Cinemas and Paradise Cinema 7. Rated PG-13.
Rated 3.0

As anyone following the Marvel/Disney brand already knows, the comic-book empire has of late been thinking outside the box by creating a new paradigm, the Marvel Cinematic Universe, wherein the entire Marvel (comics) Universe is mined for sprawling narrative arcs to be released piecemeal in related feature-length bursts.

Now, I enjoyed The Avengers, so I didn’t have a problem following what was going on with Iron Man 3. But I wasn’t getting the Big Picture—the interconnectedness to all the other titles. But I’m not gonna watch the next hippy-with-a-hammer movie or yet another attempt to reboot the Incredible Hulk in order to keep up. I’m not being elitist here. I dig monster movies, so I really can’t dismiss anyone else’s genre of choice. But superheroes just ain’t my bag.

But then, I didn’t go into Iron Man 3 out of excitement to see what Tony Stark and his metallic-mayhem suit were up to now. I was stoked to see what writer/director Shane Black would pull off after an eight-year absence.

When we last saw Black, it was with the release of 2005’s vastly entertaining L.A.-noir send-up Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (drop it in your queue). He also built a rep in the ’90s as Hollywood’s most bankable action writer with movies like Lethal Weapon, which in itself spawned an entire subgenre. He also wrote The Monster Squad (also drop in your queue). The man can write snappy dialogue like no one else’s business, which is a definite priority in scripting a superhero movie, the multiplex successor of the ’90s action comedies. And so when it comes to banter, Iron Man 3 flies.

But despite being a fun film with plenty of action, it rings a li’l hollow. There’s not much of a story to bring IM3 to its climax, as it rigorously adheres to the superhero template of being a bunch of explosive set pieces barely linked together in lieu of a narrative. But then, who goes to a superhero movie to watch a bunch of folks standing around yapping? Bring on the mayhem, bitches.

IM3 definitely brings it on. This time around übercapitalist and Iron Man alter ego Tony Stark (the always entertaining Robert Downey Jr.) and his faithful companion Pepper Potts (the ever-annoying Gwyneth Paltrow) have their domestic bliss disrupted by yet another supervillain’s personal vendetta. Things blow up and people die until Iron Man jumps back into action and resolves things in an interminable maelstrom of CGI pixels.

The 3D is fine, and the scheiss hits the fan with a liquid consistency. But IM3 isn’t very complicated, and the villain’s motivation for all that subterfuge and destruction in pursuit of destroying Stark is kind of absurd … which of course may be Black’s sly jab at the genre itself. But the banter is amusing, with a couple of gags that nail it out of the park. But by following the superhero template so tightly, there are no real surprises. It is what it is: an omen of lightning and a drop from the cloud, but no storm.