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Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

The (empty) Iron Man suit and Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) in Iron Man 3.

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★★★★✩

Iron Man 3

Directed by Shane Black

Starring Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, and Don Cheadle.

Rated PG-13

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Some people have questioned whether their favorite Avenger is Iron Man or Robert Downey Jr. Iron Man 3 seeks to unite the disparate personalities that are the cocky billionaire Tony Stark and the selfless armored hero Iron Man. It explores this theme through two hours of over-the-top action scenes and genuinely funny humor. As great as the special effects and jokes are, they leave little room for a cohesive or moving narrative. Still, I was having so much fun I barely noticed.

In Iron Man 3, Iron Man has a new suit, which is able to separate into many individual components that can each fly through the air and attach to Tony Stark. This new trick is used to great effect in the movie in a variety of interesting ways. What if Iron Man only has a couple pieces of armor? What if he wants the armor to latch onto someone else? In fact, variety is the best word to describe the movie’s many action sequences. Iron Man has to use hand-to-hand combat to fight off a cybernetic assassin, infiltrate an enemy compound sans armor, and play Superman to save people from a falling airplane.

The villains this time around include a mysterious terrorist, the head of a weapons research group, and a group of biologically enhanced humans with strength and regeneration abilities similar to the robot from Terminator 2. The large number of villains gives Tony Stark plenty of battles to fight, but it’s also interesting to see him struggle to overcome the obstacles in his own mind, as he copes with the traumatic events of The Avengers.

The movie’s humor includes a surprising amount of slapstick, and plenty of Tony Stark making jokes at other people’s expenses. I honestly can’t remember laughing out loud this much during a superhero movie. My only gripe is that the humor is so frequent that it’s difficult to feel the gravity of the more serious parts of the film. Even the darkest scenes of Iron Man 3 have a joke or two thrown in.

The movie’s plot isn’t too difficult to follow, but has several holes in it that might throw story-oriented viewers, some more serious than others. I know I wasn’t the only MIT student at the film disconcerted that Tony Stark was able to charge his technological marvel of an exosuit to 98 percent capacity off of a car battery. Nerd rage at its finest.

Considering the significant amount of lead-in content for The Avengers in the first two Iron Man films, Iron Man 3 is notable for its small number of references to the larger cinematic universe. Neither SHIELD nor Tony’s fellow Avengers appear to aid him in this film. Iron Man 3 focuses mainly on wrapping up the plotlines within its own franchise, like the relationship between Tony and Pepper Potts. It was fun to see them work together as a couple in this film, when so many other superhero films rely on romantic tension.

Iron Man 3 delivers on the action and suspense that viewers have come to expect after The Avengers. It also manages to cram in more humor than you may have thought possible for a superhero movie. The action drives the film more than the plot, but this won’t spoil the experience for most people. If, like me, the film’s ending was the last thing you wanted to see, make sure to stick around for the bonus scene after the credits roll.