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‘Iron Man 3’ kicks Blockbuster Season into high gear

My first true favorite superhero was Tony Stark/Iron Man. I’m not sure why, but I think even at a young age, I appreciated a hero who was a hero because he wanted to be, not because of an accidental dose of radiation or some far-fetched notion of alien parentage.

So, as a fan of Iron Man, I’ve been thrilled so far with the story laid out by Marvel Studios/Disney. Did it follow canon? No. But what comic book movie has? I’ve always been a sucker for a good story.

“Iron Man 3” isn’t a good story, though. It’s a great story.

Is it as good as “The Dark Knight Rises,” the final installment of the Christopher Nolan Batman trilogy? Probably not. But, as far as the Marvel/Avengers stories have gone so far, and in particular the Iron Man story arc, it is a far superior story than all the other installments.

Drew Pearce and Shane Black have crafted a fantastic tale that touches on a wide range of issues, including post-traumatic stress disorder, the importance of family and friends, and dependence. They strip Tony Stark down to the bare bones and then build him back, whole, as the man he probably always wanted to be.

Grown men likely won’t be seen crying after this one, unless they’re still busting a gut over some of the classic one-liners and completely unexpected plot twists that fly your way for 130 minutes. And, if you think you’ve seen the movie because you’ve seen all the trailers, think again.

Robert Downey Jr. is Tony Stark. And, if the end of the end of the credits is true, he can pretty much start minting his own money. I just don’t see how any other actor can give life to the character.

Gwyneth Paltrow is a far better actress in this film than in any other I’ve seen her in, and Don Cheadle does Rhoadey a service for the first time in the entire franchise. Guy Pearce and Rebecca Hall do quite well in their one-and-done roles, too.

But without a doubt, Sir Ben Kingsley steals the show, and not for any of the reasons you may assume you will see based on the trailers.

Yes, a few “Iron Man” purists out there are going to be outraged with how the “Extremis” and “Mandarin” storylines play out in this film. But, as someone who holds “Iron Man” in the highest regard, I thought both elements were given far more believable story arcs in this film.

At the end of the day, “Iron Man 3” is a film you will want to watch more than once. Watch it once or twice to capture the action. Then, watch it again to really appreciate the story — particularly in the context of the entire Iron Man/Avengers story.

As always with a Marvel film, you will want to stick around past the end of the credits for a special clip. But, you will also want to stick around past the end of the end of the credits for a special message regarding the future of Tony Stark in the film franchise.

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