Warning: This review may contain spoilers

When Jon Favreau brought us the first Iron Man movie, he may not have known the success he would bring on so many levels. He cemented his own reputation as a solid director. He brought Robert Downey, Jr. back into the spotlight as a go-to action actor. And he helped make Marvel and their characters blockbusters in their own right. Stan Lee should be a very proud Papa of all of his beloved franchises.

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After Joss Whedon did so well in tying in the Marvel movies that set up The Avengers, there really was some skepticism about whether or not each franchise on their own could continue the movie success starting with Iron Man 3. Without Favreau at the helm and only as an actor, the third and supposedly final stand-alone film could have suffered. However, with Shane Black as the director and one of the screenplay writers, the movie hit more high notes.

Drawing on the classic character of the Mandarin, it was possible that the movie could have relied on old Asian villain stereotypes and been too much of an echo of the first movie. However, with the excellent foil to Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark played by Guy Pearce, the story gets more complicated and holds more tension than expected.

In terms of story, Black did a good job of having Tony be affected by the actions at the climax of The Avengers. After all, he is just a man in a suit. Having him suffering from PTSD and wondering what to do after working with a god, a superhuman, and a Hulk was a smart story choice. The heart that Downey Jr. brought to the role with the story in the first movie that was missing in the second is now back. And the villain is more than formidable and a match for Tony.

I applaud Black for finally letting Pepper Potts played by Gwyneth Paltrow have a bigger role than just whining. I know that in the comics, she didn’t play a big role. But in this day and age, and especially with characters like Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow, I wanted Paltrow to do more and be more. Finally, she gets her day, and it opens up a large door for her (regardless of the ending that suggests she’s back to normal).

The action of the third film builds from the first moment all the way to the end. There were few down times, and the times that were quieter held more of the heart that made the character likable. They chose a good sidekick in  the kid Harley played by Ty Simpkins. If we could imagine Tony as a kid, he would have been just like Harley. And Tony needed him to balance his angst that held him back.

As the movie will also lead into another Avengers directed by Whedon, it was fitting that it felt like it had his hand on it as guidance. If you want proof, wait through the credits to see the additional scene at the end. But this movie felt like it followed The Avengers seamlessly. I can only hope that the next Thor and Captain America movies will be as good. There are those that are hopeful that Robert Downey Jr. will sign on to do more Iron Man movies. I’m not sure I agree. He’ll still be there for the Avengers, but maybe it’s time to let some of the other Avengers step into the limelight. Also, I’d rather see RDJ end on a very high note than risk an Indiana Jones Crystal Skull let down.

The heart that Downey Jr. brought to the role with the story in the first movie that was missing in the second is now back

I highly recommend seeing Iron Man 3 in the movie theaters. I saw it in regular 2-D, but am debating going to see it in 3-D as I enjoyed watching The Avengers in IMAX 3-D. We’ll have to wait until November for Thor: The Dark World and until next year for Captain America: The Winter Soldier. We may even have an interesting addition to the Avengers movie world if Edgar Wright gets to make his Ant-Man film after displaying some incredible potential fight footage at San Diego Comic Con last year (appropriately termed size-fu).

The Marvel movie world will continue to get bigger with another Amazing Spider-Man movie as well as Guardians of the Galaxy. And I’m really looking forward to the Superman reboot with Man of Steel. One thing’s for sure – we can’t get enough of our comic book heroes regardless of which comic franchise it is. But at this point, Stan Lee may need to be promoted from his rank of Generalissimo to Supreme Emperor.

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