The summer of superheroes is about to get underway and Marvel has served up its first offering in the shape of Iron Man 3. Jam-packed with explosions, Starkisms and even a red, white and blue Iron Patriot, fans of the franchise will not be disappointed.

Following on from the events in last summer’s Avengers Assemble, the third Iron Man instalment shows a different side to the enigma that is Tony Stark. He’s become an isolated character, content to spend time playing with a ridiculous amount of technology in his basement armoury. Pepper is very much his priority in life, that’s for sure, but not everything is as rosy as it seems.

Enter Aldrich Killian played by Guy Pearce (The King’s Speech, Memento). At the start we have a flashback all the way back to 1999 which explains the origins of Stark’s relationship with Killian, who appears to be an over-eager, creepy Iron Man fan. Fast-forward and Killian’s had something of a makeover. Not only that, he’s keen to establish a name for himself in terrorism. Without ruining the plot too much, suffice to say Sir Ben Kingsley features as the idiotic frontman of Killian’s scheme, turning what at first seems a serious terrorist threat into a far less credible plotline. In fact, it begins to tip the balance from far-fetched but enjoyable into the realms of ridiculous and highly questionable.

Like Iron Man himself, this movie is far from perfect. There’s no denying that the cast is strong, there’s plenty of fast-paced action to keep it all moving, and Shane Black does a great job stepping in as director after Jon Favreau. But for all this, it seems to fall a bit short. While Stark’s limitations make him a less two-dimensional character, at forty-six it’s questionable whether it’s time for him to hang up the suit, or pass it on – something the film hints at with the introduction of young sidekick Harley Keener (Ty Simpkins).

As the first of what is set to be a deluge of superhero-based fare, there was also great anticipation surrounding Iron Man 3 as the movie which ushers in an age of the Marvel 3D spectacular. However, there are no real 3D moments that make it worthy of breaking out the plastic specs. The best moment involves a completely scientifically unsound scene involving Iron Man catching falling victims of an air crash, à la Barrel of Monkeys. And he saves them all, of course. Although entertaining, the predictability is exasperating – not to mention poor Gwyneth Paltrow, who doesn’t seem to be able to make it through a scene without being blown up.

This is by no means a bad movie; it’s just not quite living up to the hype. The third instalment is a difficult one to deliver for any blockbuster factory, and this is no exception. There’s always the risk with overworking a popular genre that it becomes worn out for good. Let’s just hope this isn’t the beginning of the end for Marvel’s finest.

3 stars