Iron Man 3 – Review
The sins and victories of the past have come back to haunt our favorite genius/billionaire/playboy/philanthropist. In Marvel’s first installment of their post-Avengers phase of super hero flicks, Tony Stark is forced to wrestle with the demons that he created, both physical and psychological. Despite some missteps, director Shane Black has started this summer off with a fun action throwback reminiscent of his past work.
“Nothing’s been the same since New York.” –Tony Stark
Tony’s words couldn’t be more appropriate. He’s sleepless, and clearly suffering from PTSD, following the events of The Avengers. His relationship with Pepper has become strained due to his constant need to occupy himself by building an arsenal of new suits for protection against anything that could threaten the things he loves.
Swooping in is Aldrich Killian, who had been dissed by a douchey Tony way back in 1999. They have some fun with the flashback and Happy’s hair and oufit is a definite highlight. Now brimming with confidence and charisma, Killian, played adequately by Guy Pierce, pitches the Extremis formula to Stark Industries CEO, Pepper Potts. Worried that the product may be too easy to weaponize, Ms. Potts shoots him down once again. Killian’s previous connection to Pepper (they used to work together and he used to ask her out all the time) just kind of serves as an obvious plot device to get her into “damsel in distress” mode, but the payoff is totally worth it.
To complicate matters, the terroristic Mandarin has been bombing civilian filled locations that are evocative of Bin Laden and his attacks. I would be remiss if I failed to mention that the recent Boston attack, which has been weighing heavily on our collective minds, adds a touch of real world significance to Tony’s poignant statement. Sir Ben Kingsley’s portrayal of the Mandarin and the ultimate reveal of his intentions, will have people talking well after the closing credits. Suffice it to say it is far from any semblance to the comic book counterpart, for better or worse.
“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” -George Santayana
Marvel head honcho Kevin Feige has been keen to shake things up with each movie, making bold decisions with directors and actors to varied success. Now that Shane Blacks has the reigns, it’s hard not to compare this movie to everything that has come before it. Expectations are high for the Kiss Kiss Bang Bang director. His early nineties sensibilities are on full display here. It’s kind of a mash up of Lethal Weapon and Last Action Hero, which makes sense because he wrote both of them. That’s not necessarily a bad thing; in fact, it adds to the charm. Reveling in the past is a recurring theme in Iron Man. They wanted to get back some of the magic of the first movie where we got to watch Tony become Iron Man. So what do you do? You take it all away.
Watching Tony get stripped of everything he built is tough, but watching him build it all again is very rewarding. Iron Man 3 works best when it puts Tony in situations where he has to think his way out of seemingly impossible circumstances. The scene in the trailers, where he has to choose who to save out of more than a dozen falling people, elicited cheers from the audience. It’s just too bad they keep Robert Downey Jr. away from Gwyneth Paltrow for so long; hearing him verbally assault his kid sidekick is much less fun than hearing him spar with Pepper. At some points it’s actually kind of just mean. Lucky, someone got the casting right and Ty Simpkins plays a loveable, precocious little punk.
The first film was very loosely based on the Extremis origin story line, the second film got the case suit and the third movie borrows much of the story from the comic as well. It was a relief to find out that the baddies wouldn’t just be more Iron Man replicas, even if the special effects were slightly cartoonish. There a bit of squandered potential, but we get to see lots of different people kicking ass towards the end. Its super satisfying watching Cheadle/Rhodey finally getting to show that he too is a badass. Most of the action throughout the movie is spectacular, especially the destruction of Tony’s Malibu mansion. Sadly, the finale falls kind of flat mainly because there is so much going on. It’s hard for any of the best moments to land with any kind of resonance. It could be bad editing or it might have also been due to the, only just par, 3D effects. 3D has its merits, but here it’s just distracting. Skip it.
So to answer the question I know you’re asking, no, it’s not as good as the first one. But really, how many movies are? Is it worth going to see? Hell yes it is. Iron Man 3 is fresh and fun, but it’s not a significant departure for the series, even with the capable Shane Black at the helm. Attribute it to the revived star who takes the title role for the fourth time. It’s great to see RDJ in the part he was born to play, and if they intend to keep making Iron Man movies without him, it’s going to be extremely tough finding anyone worthy of donning the hot rod red suit. Tony Stark is Iron Man, and Robert Downey Jr. is Tony Stark. They are one. Is it too soon to be excited for The Avengers 2?