With the release of Iron Man 3 Thursday comes the reappearance of long lines, excited inhaler puffs, and oily skin glaze that is indicative of international geek hype.
This the fourth appearance of the incomparable Robert Downey Jr. as the eponymous Man of Iron, and the directorial trifecta of the equally incomparable Jon Favreau. Hopefully their collaboration will flourish as expected, because if Iron Man 2 was any indication, there may be an essential element of the franchise lacking
Iron Man and The Avengers had the finest compliment that one could ask for in a film that is primarily dependent on big-budget action: humor.
Tony Stark, the self-proclaimed “Genius Billionaire Playboy Philanthropist,” and man inside the suit, made up for his lack of super powers by having the personality of approximately 3.2 Spider-Mans (spidermen?). Where other action films struggled to quip, or have any comedy birth from the natural depth of their characters. Writers like Zoolander’s Justin Theroux effortless built in to Stark. They advanced the absurdity of the impossible paradox of Tony Stark, a ne’er do well that seems to do everything really well. The boozing, womanizing, and thoroughly sarcastic Downey Jr. brought his real, sassy self to the part, and paired well with a smart on and off screen effort from actor/director Jon Favreau, who shared the screen as Tony’s right had man. The two maintain a cynical rapport that further bolstered Tony Stark’s Tucker Max-esque penchant for highly entertaining, thoroughly reprehensible behavior.
Somehow, The Avengers was even funnier. The amalgam blockbuster brought the classics together for a fun romp, but, tonally speaking, was more Ocean’s Eleven than Alien Vs. Predator. With gags like Tony Stark trying to make Eric Banner angry, and one of the nameless henchman playing space invaders in the background, the uber franchise maintained a self-aware mindset that could bring heaving laughs with or without Tony Stark.
Iron Man 2 tried to be just as facetious, but ended up lacking considerably. Sam Rockwell eats up so much camera time being weird and vaguely dislikeable, it makes ones think that he supposed to be comedic fodder. Inevitably, there are a few one-off laughs, like the Don Cheadle justifying his overly-weaponized suit (“It’s called ‘being a badass!’”), but it seems to me the ultimate cause of the film is to be a halfway decent bridge between the Avengers and Iron Man 3. The laughter went second fiddle to background noise.
Hopefully IM3 will maintain the hearty sense of humor. Enough money and testosterone will guarantee an ample amount CGI-effects and huge actions scenes, that is a certainty. Comedy however, is a more difficult art form to create at a consistent level. Let’s hope both bullets and pithy remarks fly around the screen with a nice balance.