Iron Man 3 Review: RDJ Brilliantly Kicks Off Marvel’s Phase 2


Last night from the comfort of an AMC cinema suite I finally got to see Iron Man 3, which is the first film in Marvel’s second phase of comic book movies. Once again Robert Downey Jr. proves that he is one of the main reasons why the Marvel movie universe kicks so much ass. This once troubled actor brilliantly reprised his ongoing role of Tony Stark in Iron Man 3, and he nailed the slightly darker tone of the Shane Black directed sequel.

Black, along with Drew Pearce, crafted a great story for Iron Man 3, and it perfectly ties into the events of The Avengers, which have had a negative impact on the psyche of Tony Stark. For the first time Stark, through RDJ’s masterful performance, comes off as a wounded individual. He still oozes brashness and a cocky flare, but his experience in the New York alien invasion has left him stricken with panic attacks that plague him throughout Iron Man 3. That event has clearly changed Tony Stark and made him a damaged character, which results in an Iron Man who’s a little more violent than in past movies. He definitely is driven by these new emotions, and they cause him to do things that most other super heroes do not, which is kill, and Downey Jr. pulls of this dark character transition like a pro.

Tony Stark is a troubled man in Iron Man 3
Tony Stark is a troubled man in Iron Man 3

RDJ gets to show his range as an actor in this film unlike any of the previous entries. He nails his comedic moments (there’s plenty even with the darker tone), and sells the more emotional ones with a passion you wouldn’t expect in a comic book movie. RDJ is Tony Stark, and he proves that fact with his amazing performance in Iron Man 3. One can only hope that Marvel realizes that he has them by the balls, and they should pay him handsomely to keep reprising the role of Mr. Stark. Without RDJ there isn’t an Iron Man.

Downey Jr. is without a doubt the main reason to go see Iron Man 3, but he’s not the only upside that this film has going for it. The story that Black and Pearce created for this movie is packed with high octane action, witty banter, and emotional moments. There’s even a pretty big twist in store for those who haven’t already spoiled every detail of the Iron Man 3 plot. The movie feels like a direct continuation of Tony’s tale after the events of The Avengers, which is a great sign that Marvel is on track for the second phase of their comic book movie empire.

A movie based on a comic book character needs a great villain to clash with the super hero for it to be a success, and Iron Man 3 provides this requirement perfectly with The Mandarin and Aldrich Killian. The combination of Ben Kingsley (Mandarin) and Guy Pearce (Killian) is a formula that works very well in this Iron Man sequel. Kingsley plays his role perfectly, but Pearce is the big surprise. He provides a solid foil for Tony Stark, and proves to be a formidable foe. His evilness is unrivaled, which is one reason why he is able to assist The Mandarin in tearing apart Tony’s world early on in the film.

Kingsley as The Mandarin
Kingsley as The Mandarin

The character of Killian teaches a lesson on how to treat people you meet in life, which you’ll understand by the end of Iron Man 3. I appreciate how his character is developed via a flashback, and how Tony’s treatment of him led to the near destruction of his entire world. Killian, through Pearce’s acting abilities, gives Iron Man 3 a villain who can believably take on the super genius Stark, and his lineup of Mark “X” armor. He’s an evil son of a bitch who will stop at nothing to get back at Stark for snubbing him many moons ago, and he just may be one of the best villains in the Marvel cinematic universe.

Pearce's character knows exactly how to get under Tony's skin
Pearce’s character knows exactly how to get under Tony’s skin

Iron Man 3 isn’t all doom and gloom, and a little unknown chile actor by the name of Ty Simpkins is the reason. Ty plays a young boy who meets Tony Stark after he hits rock bottom. His interactions with RDJ are some of the most memorable moments of the film, because the two have unbelievable chemistry with each other. You’d think Simpkins is directly related to RDJ, or that he’s been acting since he left his mother’s womb, because this kid easily holds his own in one-on-one scenes with one of Hollywood’s most seasoned actors. His character, like other facets of Iron Man 3, definitely helped to show the ever changing mental state of Tony Stark, which gave this movie a sense of realness that the others may have lacked.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the lovely Gwyneth Paltrow, who got into some seriously sexy shape (she’s in a sports bra for a large portion of the film) for her return to the role of Pepper Potts. Her chemistry with RDJ is what makes their onscreen relationship so believable, and her character is what drives Tony’s deeper emotional connection to his immediate world, which is something he’s lacked up until this point. Tony’s always been about Tony, but his love for Pepper coupled with his near death experience in NYC, is what causes his drastic personality change from Iron Man 1 to Iron Man 3.

Paltrow gets her abs on in Iron Man 3
Paltrow gets her abs on in Iron Man 3

Paltrow plays a much larger role this time around, and she does so like a pro. In fact, I don’t think another Iron Man movie could be made if she and RDJ weren’t committed to it. They work that well together, and they will forever be Tony Stark and Pepper Potts in real life.

Iron Man 3 is a fantastic entry in the Marvel cinematic universe, and the perfect kick off to the second phase of the project. The story picks up after the events of The Avengers, and it features a much darker, yet still very Iron Man-like tone that fans of the series have come to expect from this property. RDJ has cemented his status as Tony Stark, and one of the greatest actors of all-time. He delivers on every emotional level, and leaves you wondering how Marvel could even consider moving forward without him as Iron Man. The supporting cast is stellar, with Kingsley, Pearce, Simpkins, and Paltrow all delivering performances on the same level as RDJ’s.

Attack of the Mark "X's"
Attack of the Mark “X’s”

Iron Man 3 is definitely a must-see summer blockbuster, and quite possibly the second best Marvel movie behind The Avengers. It’s a movie that could be watched time and time again and still be entertaining. I love Favreau, but Shane Black did a bang up job taking over the Iron Man 3 directorial duties. His film is the perfect start to the blockbuster season of big budget movies, and it’s an experience that can’t be missed by comic book fans and movie buffs. These accolades have earned Iron Man 3 10 out of 10 Buddhas! Don’t miss out on the experience and make sure to see it in theaters before it’s too late!


Iron Man 3 Digital 3D

10 out of 10 Buddhas

The Awesome

  • RDJ
  • Engaging story with a few twists
  • Paltrow’s abs
  • Guy Pearce and Ben Kingsley make great villains
  • 42 Iron Man suits on parade

The Not so Awesome

  • Could be RDJ’s last stint as Iron Man
  • Climax is guessable

Must see: Without a doubt


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Tags : Iron Man 3Marvel Phase TwoMovie Review
Matt Heywood

The author Matt Heywood

Matt Heywood is the founder and EIC of where he strives to make you a better geek, one post at a time! When he’s not scouring the Internet for interesting nuggets of awesomeness he can be found in his secret lair enjoying the latest and greatest video games, taking pictures of toys, or talking Star Wars on EB’s Star Wars Time podcast show.