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Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) seems to have it all: incredible wealth; a gadget-filled mansion by the sea; a beautiful girlfriend, Pepper Potts (Gwenyth Paltrow), who manages his company; legions of devoted fans; and, above all, a laser-sharp sense of humor. But after saving New York City from an army of aliens and an atomic bomb in The Avengers (last summer’s action mega-hit), Stark suffers from panic attacks. He spends his time tinkering on new versions of the armored suit that brought him superhero status.

Like Batman, Stark’s superpowers are technological and not those of a demigod. How will this shiny knight save his damsel in distress when his suit of armor breaks down?  Stark must depend upon his basic skills, his wit, and especially upon the trust he inspires in others.

If the original movie gave us the creation of “Iron Man,” a brilliant but self-centered hero, Iron Man 3 traces his further (post-Avengers) redemption as he learns to get his priorities straight at home. Fortunately, Iron Man 2, an epicfailure of a film, is happily forgotten as the franchise finds its feet again with Downey in fine barb-filled form.

As a blockbuster must do, Iron Man 3 offers up numerous eye-and-eardrum-popping action sequences, at the risk of becoming far too predictable. Also, the hot-tempered, genetically-modified nemesis Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce) didn’t convince me (fans of Pixar’s The Incredibles will understand when they see the film).

By contrast, Sir Ben Kingsley offers a brilliant performance as the Mandarin, the terrorist without a clear cause who shakes Stark back to life. It was also good to see Gwyneth Paltrow get more screen time, especially as a damsel who manages her own distress.

Admittedly, it was difficult to watch the film’s initial depiction of random terrorist bombings so soon after the Boston Marathon attacks. I looked around in the theater and wondered why we were all paying $10 to see this. As the film progressed, however, I was reminded of how summer blockbusters often reflect our society’s fears and also our hopes for a superhero—or, you could say, for a savior. (Disney)

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