If you're worried that the third time won't be a charm for Tony Stark, the sequel has already launched successfully in a dozen overseas locations, aiming toward a $110 million debut in its opening week.
The first wave of 'Iron Man 3' reviews are overwhelmingly positive, praising Robert Downey Jr., Ben Kingsley's menacing villain The Mandarin, and surprise twists from director Shane Black.
Black took over the director's chair from Jon Favreau who oversaw the first two films to screen, a role which worried some since he's mostly known for screenwriting ("Lethal Weapon"). Previously, he had other film under his directorial belt, 2005's "Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang in which Robert Downey Jr. also stars.
"Iron Man 3" follows Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) after the fallout of last year's summer blockbuster, "The Avengers."
The film is partially based on a six-issue "Extremis" comic in which villain The Mandarin (Ben Kingsley) unleashes an army of soldiers with the help of scientist Aldrich Killain (Guy Pearce).
"Iron Man 3" won't be in U.S. theaters until May 3, but, until then, here's what you need to know before deciding to see the film.
Downey Jr. is as superb as ever in his return as Tony Stark:
"Downey is at his superhero genius best here, rattling off dialogue both clever and boilerplate with non-repetitive aplomb ... The star executes almost continual verbal pirouettes, barking out sardonic quips and rejoinders even in moments of greatest distress but, due to his exceptional lingual dexterity, it rarely gets old and never seems condescending to the admittedly cartoonish context."
Black does a fine job back in the director's chair, and will remind fans of his last go-around with Downey Jr.:
"'Kiss Kiss Bang Ban' fans in particular are going to find themselves howling at the film's framing device and at a few twists and turns in the detective elements of the story."
"It’s Kiss Kiss Bang Bang with a lot of extra bang."
One thing everyone can agree on: Ben Kingsley's Mandarin villain is amazing.
"One of the great surprises of the movie is Kingsley's turn as the Bin Laden-ish bad guy, hamming it up and giving Stark a reality check on who's to blame for all this."
"Kingsley’s ultra-menacing turn as The Mandarin is nothing short of sensational."
"Barely a scene goes by without a killer of a one-liner, with The Mandarin getting some of the best. In fact, he might be the most eye-catching superhero villain since Heath Ledger’s Oscar-winning turn as The Joker in The Dark Knight."
"People will be talking about Ben Kingsley’s performance for ages to come — it’s a tricky, delicate role, handled beautifully."
Not enough is said about the film's other villain, Guy Pearce's scientist-gone-rogue Aldrich Killian.
IGN provided the best analysis:
"Special mention should also go to Guy Pearce, who is just about believable as the unfortunate Killian in the film’s early scenes, and then absolutely spellbinding as the character becomes more refined and ambiguous later on in proceedings."
Despite all the revealing teasers and trailers of late, there are a few unexpected twists that will still surprise:
"The ante is upped beyond mere contemporary relevance by some major surprises—one of them, at the 75-minute mark, quite startlingly funny—that shoot the film up to an entirely different level of screwy humor and large-canvas spectacle."
Some of the action sequences may hit close to home for some. There's a scene that shows an attack in front of Hollywood's Chinese Theatre where it appears bombs go off:
"Although clearly unintentional, the movie’s recurring images of severed limbs and burning bodies can’t help but strike a queasy note in light of the recent events in Boston."
The film's a trite long at more than two hours. (The film's runtime is 130 minutes.)
"If there’s a criticism, it’s that the film slows down somewhere around the halfway mark and it wouldn’t have hurt to chop out a good 20 minutes from that epic running time."
"Coming in at just over two hours, it suffers a few saggy sequences (Rhodes’ detour to Afghanistan, for example) that weigh down the film’s convoluted middle act."
There's a breakout star in Ty Simpkins ("Insidious") who plays Stark's mini-sidekick.
"Ty Simpkins ... plays a kid who runs into Tony at his lowest point, and what could be a disgustingly syrupy relationship in the wrong hands is actually very funny and does a nice job of reminding Tony about humility."
The biggest downsides with a new director is that the film feels a bit overwhelming and overly reliant on technology:
"Favreau’s handcrafted touch is conspicuously absent, particularly his affection for retro, Ray Harryhausen-esque visual effects. (This is by far the most digital-looking series entry.) Perhaps fittingly for a movie that introduces a new generation of remote-guided Iron Man suits, “Iron Man 3” all too often feels as if it were assembled by a machine."
"He [Black] seems out of his depth during the larger set pieces: the action sequences are busy and confusing, especially the misjudged, threat-free climax. The result is a film which never settles into a comfortable groove. It tries to be an angsty ‘Dark Knight’-style game changer, an ’80’s-throwback action romp, a nudge-wink pastiche and a CG-fuelled spectacular."
Don't see it in 3D.
"3D post-conversion adds absolutely nothing, apart from some irritating plastic glasses to your face and a layer of murk that renders set-pieces occasionally hard to follow."
Overall, the film is a thrill ride:
"A superhero flick with smarts, depth and a marvelously mischievous sense of fun."
"If this does turn out to be Downey Jr.’s final solo outing, it’s a very strong exit."
General consensus: See it ASAP
Shane Black hits it out of the park in his second directorial debut with Robert Downey Jr. at his side once again. Though early trailers for the film made the third "Iron Man"appear as broody as a "Dark Knight" film, it looks like another fun ride with Downey Jr. in the driver's seat as Tony Stark.
"Iron Man 3" is out in the U.S. May 3.
Check out a trailer for the film below: