(NEW YORK) — On Friday, the third installment of Marvel’s blockbuster Iron Man series hits theaters in the U.S., buoyed by huge box office numbers overseas, and acclaim from many critics on these shores.
The film takes place after the events of the record-setting superhero team-up film The Avengers, and shows Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark haunted by the climactic events in that film. To ignore what happened to Stark/Iron Man in that film wouldn’t serve Iron Man 3 well, Downey explained at a press conference recently. “It’s weird when one movie that’s connected to another doesn’t reference that movie at all,” he said. “I think it would lack confidence if we didn’t.”
While Iron Man 3 boasts returning players like Don Cheadle, playing Stark’s military pal Col. James Rhodes — one of the only people the billionaire genius trusts with one of his armored suits — Gwyneth Paltrow also returns as Tony’s girlfriend Pepper Potts. During an action scene glimpsed in some of the trailers, it’s revealed Pepper gets to don an Iron Man suit as well, something Paltrow found exciting. “One of the most thrilling parts of having gone all over the place and talking about this movie is that people really love to see Pepper in the suit and…kicking a**,” she explained.
While he reprises his role as Tony’s pal and driver Happy Hogan, and also co-produced the film, Iron Man 1 & 2 director Jon Favreau handed the keys to Shane Black for Iron Man 3. “It was just weird that he wasn’t there directing,” said Paltrow, admitting she soon grew to respect Black, the screenwriter of Lethal Weapon, and the writer/director of the acclaimed dark comedy Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, which also starred Downey.
The third installment of the series also sees fresh faces in the villains Aldrich Killian, played by Emmy winner Guy Pearce, and The Mandarin, played by Oscar winner Ben Kingsley. Mandarin, a holdover from the comic books, wreaks havoc on Stark’s life by targeting those closest to him, forcing him to rely on his wits to seek revenge.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Frank Pallotta, CNN
Brett Crandall, BYU-Idaho Communications
Sandra Gonzalez, CNN