It's easier to start with too much and scale it down than to start with too little and scale it up, particularly when you have such specific references as Shane Black does. He strips back the excess of Iron Man 2 and hews this franchise installment closer to Jon Favreau's first Iron Man. The strength of that film was its light-heartedness, its weakness was its action; 2 exploded the action and the CGI, all arrogance and ambition, and wound up a mess; 3 reverts back to the comedy angle but is possessed of a key advantage - a director who understands how to stage a set-piece. Although some are heavily reliant on visual effects (Black bungles parts of the finale in using it as a crutch), all are thrilling examples of lucidity and innovation in action storytelling. Black's method here is the same as his method for the film as a whole: don't get carried away, just stay committed to what you've got to work with. Humour is employed to keep the tone bright, and a strong spacial awareness and comprehension of how place and architecture shape such sequences lifts the film notably. The writing team has devised a novel means of overcoming Iron Man 2's over-abundance of characters, streamlining the narrative with a plot manoeuvre that makes total sense, doesn't screw us over, improves the film, and you'll certainly never see coming. Alas, Black and co-writer Drew Pearce have very little idea what to do with several other characters - Don Cheadle is relegated to the role of sidekick so unceremoniously that any attempts to imbue his character with independent credibility are invariably funny (both intentionally and not, which gives you an idea of how much faith they have in the role), and poor Rebecca Hall is denied the chance to develop her role into something of any value by a daft reveal that you'll certainly see coming. What truly lets this film down, though, is its attitude towards violence. It seems to be the first major superhero movie to actually advocate violence, as good parties enact vengeance on bad, threatening and slaughtering en masse, and international political issues are treated with flippancy. Whereas Tony Stark used to aim to prevent deadly threats in order to protect planet Earth, now he seems all too eager to kill and destroy in order to protect his lass.