So you’re wondering how Marvel will come back after the smash success of The Avenger’s movie of last year. Their response: Iron Man 3. I had a chance to watch the newest iteration to the Marvel Cinematic Experience last Wednesday and I’d like to offer up my brief review of the film. In a way Iron Man 3 is not only a sequel to it’s sequel but more of a fact that it’s a sequel to The Avengers. Iron Man 1 and 2, The Incredible Hulk, Captain America: The First Avenger, and Thor all led to the first of the Avengers movies. Iron Man 3 is the first of the Marvel movies in the Phase Two list leading up to the eventual sequel to the Avengers. Is Iron Man 3 worth the hype and excitement? Read on to find out. For films so close to the release date I do try to avoid spoilers but in this review I will note where spoilers begin and where they will end. You have been forewarned!
Iron Man 3 takes place after the events of the attack on New York which occurred in The Avengers. Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) is still reeling in the events from the attack on New York. Stark, now realizing that there’s yet a whole new world he’s yet to discover (Asgard), becomes frightened that he can’t protect his friends and more importantly his brand new girlfriend, Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow). Meanwhile Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce), of the Advanced Idea Mechanics, or A.I.M. for short, has partnered with Dr. Maya Hansen (Rebecca Hall) to create the Extremis Project; a project which taps into the human mind to trigger an untold potential locked away in human DNA. At the same time there has been a brash uprising of a terrorist organization called The Ten Rings led only by a man who calls himself The Mandarin (Ben Kingsley). Their attacks are getting closer and closer to home till one day Stark provokes The Mandarin on leading to an attack on Stark Manor. Faced with not only the rival technological company A.I.M and the terrorist leader The Mandarin, Tony must now protect everything he holds dear including himself.
First and foremost you have to understand that this Iron Man 3 is not so much a sequel to Iron Man 2 but that it is more of a sequel to The Avengers more than anything. Multiple times in the film people refer to the events of New York which provide a ton of solid connective story elements which only further develop Iron Man 3 in a post Avengers world. The amount of connection to Tony Stark when he passed through the wormhole to this movie is just very well done and thought out and provides for a perfect story explanation of his panic attacks that he has periodically. The Extremis story I thought was very well handled. Killian and A.I.M as an opposing force really sets the stage not just in the Iron Man verse, but in the Marvel world itself because as you know, A.I.M. is a big factor in the grand scheme of things.
Probably the most compelling of them all as it shows much more of the human side of Tony Stark than anything. That said though, one of my two complaints (the other is pretty obvious), is that I found that Tony was playing too much detective work in the middle portions of the exposition. I realize that Tony needed to stay dead to protect Pepper, but I feel like he played a little too much Batman, minus the angry violent nature. Harley, the surprise sidekick, was just perfect. That little kid added a much needed child side to the whole Iron Man experience.
My other big complaint is how the director Shane Black handled The Mandarin. First and foremost The Mandarin is not even remotely close to who you thought The Mandarin should be. In fact the only connection that Ben Kingsley’s character had with the comic books is the ten rings that he wears and even then he doesn’t even flaunt or show them off. I was willing to accept that they cast a caucasian man as The Mandarin because Kingsley did look the role, but really, you can’t just write off one of Iron Man’s greatest nemesis as a stand in actor. Not only that, watching the trailers I was already weary that they weren’t going to put magic in the movie and my doubts were correct. You’d think after the events of Thor that they wouldn’t be afraid to throw a little magic in but they don’t. It’s shameful not use The Mandarin for his real purpose. Comic book purists are going to freak out over this plot point and I won’t blame them for it. I can understand why they might want to write off The Mandarin considering the ending to the film and the ultimate fate of Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark but at least if they were going to do that they should have just used a different villain.
If you were a fan of Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper Potts or just a fan of the character herself you’ll be happy to know that they didn’t skimp out on her scenes in this movie. Pepper gets thrown into way more dangerous situations as you may have seen from the trailer which gives her a lot more opportunities to grow as a character other than being the perfect girlfriend. Don Cheadle is back as James Rhodes to wear the Iron Patriot, formerly known as War Machine and yes, it’s not the real Iron Patriot from the comics but due to legal rights Marvel won’t be allowed to put it’s real wearer in the suit at this time. Rhodes does have a bit of screen time and he even gets probably one of the best one liners in the movie but as a sidekick to Iron Man don’t expect too much from him from this movie.
As you can expect the special effects of all the armors from the trailer are there and they do look amazing. I can already tell that there are hidden easter eggs all over the place in this film. It’s a shame that we don’t see more of the suits in their actual glory such as the Igor Heavy Lifting suit aka the infamous Hulk Buster suit, or the Sub Orbital Space suit but the scope of the movie doesn’t really allow for a robust list of suits; after all the movie is about the man and not the armor.
Iron Man 3 is a fantastic film and while it’s not quite a sequel to Iron Man 2, it most certainly is a sequel to The Avengers movie of last year. While there are some kinks and quirks that some purists may not agree with, as a standard action flick it more than makes up for it. It’s well developed for what they were working with and while I do disagree with some of the directorial changes to the overall Iron Man arc, I think the average movie watcher won’t be able to tell the difference.