Marvel has pretty much nailed this whole Superhero movie thing. We all know what to expect, so it is all about execution. How do the director, writer and cast pull it off? In THE AVENGERS is an 11 on a scale of 1 to 10. A near perfect genre movie. THOR was good, but clearly a lesser movie. So it is hit, and mega hit. Marvel has rarely missed since the first IRON MAN movie hit theaters in 2008. So that brings us to IRON MAN 3. Was Shane Black able to pull it off? The answer is an unqualified YES! The dialogue is sharp and witty. Robert Downey, Jr. is a great actor, but seems to have been born to deliver these snarky one-liners. The effects and set pieces are fantastic and the 3D and Dolby sound enhance the experience. Guy Pearce is better than I expected as the all to slick villain. Ben Kingsley shines as the Mandarin and I could give examples as to why, but not without spoilers. The real surprise here is the darkness. It’s not exactly Christopher Nolan’s BATMAN, but there is a shadow looming about Tony Stark. We’ve seen his faults in the previous movies, but here he seems more vulnerable.. more human.. more torn about what he is actually doing as Iron Man. And that makes him even more endearing. That’s fully on display in Downey’s scenes with a younger version of himself. There are a ton of twists in the plot and I know the audience saw the one in the final act coming a mile away, but it was still satisfying. And of course, it wouldn’t be a Marvel movie if there wasn’t some payoff to sticking around to watch the credits. People will compare this to THE AVENGERS. That’s not fair. They are both excellent. I’m sure the next AVENGERS movie will be as awesome as the first. I think a more fair comparison is the Spider-Man trilogy. The third movie was a mess. Too many villains. Too much melodrama. It fell flat as a spider squished under your shoe. IRON MAN 3 soars like Tony Stark’s metal man. It satisfies, it’s endlessly entertaining and pays off in every way possible. If this is Downey’s final turn as Iron Man as has been rumored (other than Avengers 2), then let the series rest here. It’s a fitting end to an excellent trilogy. — Alan Yudman

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