In last year’s epic superhero blockbuster The Avengers, one of the more memorable dialogue exchanges was when Captain America asked of Tony Stark, Iron Man, “Big man in a suit of armor. Take that away — what are you?” In response, Iron Man retorted “Uh, genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist.” Well, if the question is “Who is Iron Man outside of the armor?” the answer comes loud and clear in Iron Man 3.
Throughout the movie, we are treated to an unfiltered Tony Stark, full of confidence, arrogance, and self-congratulatory genius, as he is disarmed for most of the movie. The movie is, though lacking in an even spread of armored adventures is not lacking in Iron Man suits. It’s a fun and actually action packed romp through the Marvel Movieverse, though we get to see Tony Stark have to improvise throughout the film, using his mind and inventiveness to save himself on a MacGuyver level as well as on an impossibly science fiction way.
Honestly, I don’t know what is left to develop for the character in films, and I wouldn’t be disappointed if they never made an “Iron Man 4,” not because I haven’t enjoyed the movies, but because I wouldn’t want it to be a forced affair. I feel like all the major points and tricks have been pulled, aside from making a movie version of “Demon in the Bottle,” the landmark story which establishes and copes with Tony Stark’s alcohol abuse issues, I feel like there isn’t anywhere else for them to go. Certainly, I will enjoy seeing the character in the next Avengers movies, and in cameo roles building up to it (them), but I hardly think stepping beyond the trilogy will be necessary.
That said, Iron Man 3 does everything a summer blockbuster is supposed to do, and for a third movie it does a great job of distinguishing itself from the other films. This movie is considerably darker in the way it deals with non-powered, highly powerful superheroes such as Iron Man and Iron Patriot (formerly “War Machine”) in the sense that not only do they kill their enemies, but on more than one occasion in the movie the heroes outright tell their adversaries that they are going to kill them. The death of the villain is something of a staple in the superhero movie genre, but with few exceptions the words “I’m going to kill you” aren’t uttered by the hero, and usually the villain dies quite by accident…and by their own hand.
Additionally, in all three of these movies, Iron Man is closely tied to the United States government and by extension, fighting terrorism. Movieverse Iron Man was created via terrorist kidnapping and since was fighting terrorists in all venues and to some extent in all movies. In Iron Man 3, we are presented with a charismatic terrorist leader in the Mandarin. I know that some have had issue with the way the terrorism is handled in the movie…but honestly these are people who are complaining about how a movie with a man in a flying suit or armor deals with terrorist threats involving people who shoot lava from their fingers. It’s hardly an issue. What is of more concern is the way that the Manadrin is handled in the movie. I won’t spoil it, as I think I’ve laid many a clue in this review already, but if they were going to make a character as fearsome as the Manadarin (with magical rings and near omnipotence) into a movie set in the tone of the Iron Man franchise, I suppose the handling was just about perfect. It was surprising, and certainly was not something I’d have ever thought of, but it was clever, well done, and I must say an appropriate use of Ben Kingsley. Additionally, I think Advanced Idea Mechanics (AIM) was also well handled. Overall, the villainy was well done.
As a comic book fan, I long advocated for the execution of a movie universe that threaded multiple movies together into an overall consistent super-franchise and Marvel continues to pull this off, incredibly well. The movie does bring to the forefront, however, the eventual downfall of such a franchise—especially such a successful one—the actors are going to age. In comics, the characters don’t age…at least not at rate that can’t be controlled or undone. Marvel needs to eventually play an end game or shift the focus of their movieverse to other characters. In that sense, Iron Man has come to a nice place in character development where, barring the necessity for Iron Man cameos, he doesn’t need to be in any more movies. And not in a bad way.
The movie brings to close a lot of loose ends, and leave almost none with the exception of the Avengers franchise itself to deal with. While there are some things I definitely wouldn’t have done in this movie…anxiety attacks for example was a totally useless plot device as another way to reference the alien attack of New York could have easily been devised, it was still very good and highly enjoyable. Furthermore, (SPOILER ALERT) seeing over thirty Iron Man suits flying around by remote control is Tony Stark’s best trick (always has been, always will be), and it was nice to see it on film and done so well.
Good story, great job by Robert Downey Jr., great action, and overall a good time. If you like comics, if you like popcorn action movies, and if you like fun you’ll like Iron Man 3. (P.S. the straight up 1970s credit sequence at the end is pretty bad ass, and the end credits scene is cute, but not epic).
Written by: Brandon Melendez