Almost all superheroes have dual identities. For instance, Robert Downey Jr. plays both Tony Stark and Iron Man. Remaining in step with that longstanding comic book tradition, Iron Man 3 also has dueling personalities.
At some points, the second sequel feels like the byproduct of Joss Whedon’s brain on Extremis (you’ll understand after watching). Hilarious dialogue. Breezy pace. Genre expectations subverted. Well-executed misdirection. Dark comedy. More dark comedy.
At other points, IM3 is more like Transformers vs. Terminator, a Bay-Cameron production. James Badge Dale doing Robert Patrick. Gwyneth Paltrow doing Linda Hamilton. Unintelligible battle sequences involving robots that all look the same. Explosions galore. More than a few cringe-worthy moments.
Welcome to the cinematic stylings of Shane Black — half brilliant, half brainless. Luckily for Black, he has Downey to bring out the former and conceal the latter. Because of that, things mostly work out for the Lethal Weapon scribe turned director.
RDJ can transform corny to cool. C’mon, aesthetically his Tony Stark resembles Joey Fatone dressed up for Halloween as a Power Ranger. But he makes it look good. Downey can say ridiculously offensive one-liners and become more charismatic in the process. At one point he celebrates a little kid’s bastardization, but he does it so charmingly you want to high five him afterward. Try to imagine former Iron Man contenders Clive Owen or Sam Rockwell suited up as the playboy superhero? You can’t. Or even A-listers like Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio. You can’t.
There’s only man who can rock the red-and-yellow armor — Robert Downey Jr.
To celebrate the unprecedented swagger of Robert Downey Jr., let’s examine the greatest roles of an acting career that almost was derailed around a decade ago.
P.S. – Yes, Sherlock Holmes was left off the list intentionally. He’s been played better (recently by Benedict Cumberbatch) and certainly written better.