Iron Man 3 (Shane Black, 2013)

What's it about? After surprising us in Iron Man, boring us in Iron Man 2 and helping out in Avengers Assemble, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr) is back as - you guessed it - Iron Man. This time, his past comes back to haunt him as the world faces up to a new threat in the form of sinister terrorist The Mandarin (Ben Kingsley).

Is it any good? Yes it is, easily the best of the Iron Man films and for my money the best comic-book film since Batman Begins back in 2005. Much of its appeal is due to Downey Jr, who is wisely kept out of the Iron Man suit for much of the film, allowing him to twitch, wisecrack and generally charm his way through the film with a real movie-star charisma. However, credit must also go to writer-director Shane Black, who previously worked with Downey Jr on the excellent Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, and who brings a similarly zippy, sarky and playful verve to proceedings, right down to the amusing narration. Whilst the action is handled with aplomb, Black is careful never to let it overshadow the character interactions, but also remembers not to take the whole thing too seriously. This irreverent influence spills out to the rest of the cast, which also includes Gwyneth Paltrow as love interest Pepper Potts, Guy Pearce as rival scientific genius Aldrich Killian, Don Cheadle as fellow iron man Iron Patriot and the director of first two films, Jon Favreau, in a nice cameo as Stark's bodyguard. They all play along gamely as the plot barrels along in enormously entertaining, and sometimes surprising, fashion. Even the annoying kid is actually not annoying at all and the inevitable all-action doesn't outstay its welcome. Okay, so it's not exactly deep or profound, but it's great fun and nice to see it remembering to put the comic in comic-book.

Anything else I should know? Tony Stark will return in ........ IRON MANATEE!

What does the Fonz think?  Iron Man 3, Other Super Hero Films 0.

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