Gort vs Tony Stark: We review Iron Man 3

Commander's Log, Stardate 03052013.2:

I've lost count of the amount of times I've had to crouch in fear behind some bulkhead in an abandoned section of the Mothership since this mission began. This was the first time it had been because of a baby, though.

Stuck with a tiny human spawn through events beyond my control, Gort had decided to put the infant to work. Finding its motor skills lacking, he had outfitted the child with a prosthetic exoskeleton. Being Gort, he had added a few disintegrator beams and missiles. Little did he realise a fundamental truth of the human condition - babies are essentially tiny psychopaths.

I fear I must draw this entry to a close. I hear the sounds of "goo" in the depths. It is coming...

So we reach what could be the last entry in an Iron Man trilogy, if Robert Downey Jr can be believed... wait... Sorry, just read that back to myself. What am I saying? Let's start again...

The baton has been passed from Jon Favreau, who quit in a huff that Iron Man 2 had so much Avengers lead-up crowbarred in, to Shane Black of Predator and Lethal Weapon fame. It appears the success of Avengers has led Favreau to eat a lot of humble pie as his returning cameo as Stark's bodyguard sees him slightly heftier than we remember...

We know Black can direct from Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, but what we didn't know was if he had a grasp of the characters. Thankfully, we needn't have worried. Black seems to get Stark far more than Favreau ever did. Favreau portrayed Stark as a spoiled manchild who found a conscience. Here, we see his experiences forcing him to a maturity much closer to his comics persona - that being a simple egomaniac.

The obvious parallel is to James Bond, a womanising misogynist with sociopathic tendencies who we nonetheless cheer for through all his espionage adventures. The 60s and 70s Iron Man comics were very much Bond with armour instead of gadgets and Black apes this perfectly, right down to a score that is pure 007. Still, adapting a heavy scifi plot from the Warren Ellis Extremis storyline makes sure the movie doesn't get too old fashioned.

The film itself follows neatly from these two ideas, starting back in Avengers when Captain America asked Stark what he was without the suit. Stark gave a pithy comeback - "playboy, billionaire philanthropist" - but the answer was never 'superhero'. Black strips Stark of his armour, his money and his lifestyle, and asks: "what are you now?" To Black's credit, we don't get a straightforward answer. This is the perfect movie to show to people who think comics lack characterisation or complexity. Likewise, those who consider superheroes to be chauvinist will love that Paltrow's damsel in distress is far from helpless.

Black can't quite reach the iconic heights that Favreau's first reached - the humour doesn't always hit the mark and the story feels self-contained - but the action and villain are a lot better and it just feels more grown up. Best of all, the film's twist wonderfully subverts both your expectations and the plot of the comics in a way that is brilliant and hilarious. For once, the plot was supported by the trailer, instead of being blown by it. If RDJ is determined to pull out of the franchise, then there are far worse ways to go out than this.