This weekend, Iron Man 3 hits U.S. theaters and Robert Downey Jr.. returns as quick-witted, motor-mouthed billionaire Tony Stark. Last time we saw Stark, he nearly died, but luckily Hulk wasn't having that.
Marvels' The Avengers became the third highest-grossing film of all time so the pressure is on. Will audiences still flock to see just one hero for the same ticket price? We're betting yes, and the good news is that IM3 isn't just the best Iron Man outing yet, it's a great follow-up to Avengers.
Director-writer Shane Black brings a focused, rat-a-tat energy to the flick. Scenes between Stark and Rhodes (Don Cheadle) sizzle. Also, be sure to stay through the credits for a terrific bonus scene. Here are the five things we think you should know before strapping retro rockets on in Iron Man 3:
Marvel/Walt Disney Pictures
1. Stark Suits Up and Quickly Falls to Pieces: Early on, Tony Stark is tinkering with a new suit that flies to his body piece by piece, attaching to him like magnets. A cool new trick and an effective way for Shane Black to show that the focus this time will be Stark's rebuilding of himself. Tony's out of the suit often, which forces him to use that super genius brain of his to take on a very clever villain. Speaking of that villain...
Marvel/Walt Disney Pictures
2. The Mandarin Has Tricks Up His Ruffled Sleeves: After Heath Ledger changed things forever as The Joker in The Dark Knight, there's been no shortage of deranged psychos who speak with a strange cadence and usually, get caught—only to escape since that was all part of the plan. As great as the first Iron Man was, Obadiah (Jeff Bridges) was at best, a passable nemesis. Enter Sir Ben Kingsley who brings his A-game as The Mandarin. Comic nerds might take issue, but we think the mysterious baddie is one the freshest characters in a superhero flick in years.
3. Amazing Action Sequences: The Mandarin's assault on Chez Stark is bombastic and reveals a pretty vulnerably Tony. Though there's still time for humor, especially when botanist Maya (Rebecca Hall) shows up unannounced. The highlight of the flick is a death-defying rescue from six thousand feet when Air Force One is attacked. More impressive is that while computer effects were used, filmmakers shot a stunt with numerous passengers in free-fall.
4. Pepper Is IM3's MVP: This time around, Gwyneth Paltrow's Pepper has evolved into much more than just Stark's main squeeze. Eventually, she even learn to kick butt! And speaking of body parts, nice abs!
5. IM3 Breaks the Part 3 Curse, But Is This the End? Thanks to a Stark who must get back to basics, a wisecracking kid who doesn't ruin the middle act, a great villain and funny one-liners from RDJ, IM3 absolutely makes up for the misfire that was Iron Man 2. And we've still got Avengers 2 in 2015! All good, right? Well, yes and no since RDJ is only contracted until A2. We want more Iron Man, though!