“It took us two years and you’re going to see it in two hours. Two years. Remember that while you’re watching it. Please like it,” enthused Director Shane Black and screenplay writer Drew Pearce, moments before Iron Man, aka Tony Stark, aka Robert Downey Jr, thumped onto our screen. And like it we did.


The action has been ramped up in this third installment of the popular Marvel series and there are a whole lot of iron men to enjoy. Yes, we said men – Iron Man is not alone in his quest to fight evil, there’s 42 suits no less, which is handy as Tony Stark has suddenly become, dare we say it, a little wimpy – buying fifty foot rabbits for now long-term girlfriend Pepper Pots (Gywneth Paltrow) and prone to crushing anxiety attacks.

While Tony can mobilise the suits individually, these weren’t designed to be Mickey Rouke-style drones (although they have their uses later), Tony’s been building up to his best suit yet. Now, transmitters in Tony’s arm allow the self-nominated saviour of the world to call his most advanced suit, the ‘mark 42’, to him from any location – a useful trick when he finds himself strapped up in a dungeon with only a Dora the Explorer watch to keep him company (limited edition, naturally).

Images of terrorist attacks and plots to attack high-ranking officials gives the film an eerily current feel, although rather oddly, it’s set at Christmas, in the snow, the like of which we’re frankly fed up of seeing. Bring back the Miami sun and shades, guys.

The plot is difficult to follow at times, as Tony switches from being in the suit to controlling the free-standing suits - even Pepper has a turn in the iconic red and gold suit, doing it for the girls with some kick-ass routines and an enviably toned tum. The baddies also have a nasty habit of looking completely normal before turning red, breathing fire and re-growing limbs (a subtle moral message perhaps?). Paul Bettany as the voice of Tony’s hi-tech lab is a reliable constant amid the chaos.

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There’s plenty of action to keep you gripped and there’s a strong lesson in there for kids: treat people the way you’d like to be treated - your actions will come back to haunt you. And haunted Tony is (SPOILER ALERT), with debilitating visions of attacks and Pepper in trouble, which are realised courtesy of baddie Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce) who masterminds large-scale attacks on innocent Americans. Using futuristic tricks of science, discoveries that Tony had brushed off as unimportant years before, Killian tries to out-do Tony’s mechanical genius and smug ‘come and have a go if you think you’re hard enough’ attitude. Which would actually be a great lesson in the power of the underdog, if Killian wasn’t quite so intent on blowing things up.

Children are given a new hero in tech-loving school kid Harley (Ty Simpkins), who kicks Tony into shape with some home truths and a few sandwiches, and is rewarded with his very own Iron Man-style lab. Do we spy a future mini-me for our loveable iron hero?

But, it’s Ben Kingsley who steals the show as bumbling stage actor Trevor, who emerges from the bathroom with probably the best use of the line, “I’d give that twenty minutes” in cinematic history. It’s not often a cinema audience erupts with applause, but Sir Ben certainly deserves the praise, continuing the action-come-comedy format we’ve learned to love from this franchise. Tony’s former heavy, bodyguard Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau), is even a weepy Downton Abbey fan.

The comic book hero gets to take center stage, so is great for kids, although perhaps a more robotic baddie would have appealed to kids more. Less of a Brad Pitt look-a-like baddie would have been good too, to stop us older gals pondering his obvious charm and good looks, while he plans the end of civilisation.

There’s a feeling of finality too, as Tony narrates the end with a somber, “If I was to wrap [the story] up with a big bow”, but Tony’s nothing if not impulsive, so should he desire to grab the suit again, we bargain he’ll darn well do it.


Iron Man 3 is in cinemas from 25 April. Watch the trailer and check out our Iron Man 3 toys shopping guide