Summer blockbuster season has exploded onto the cinematic venue with one of the single biggest releases of the summer lineup, Iron Man 3. After the highly successful Avengers film, everyone was waiting on baited breath to see if this new film would surpass the less-than-well-received Iron Man 2 and continue Marvel’s streak of creating engaging, well written superhero films. So does it succeed? Is it a majestic train wreck? Does it stand a good chance of beating the Man of Steel as the superhero movie of the summer?
Let’s take a look at Iron Man 3.
I will be spoiler free in the plot synopsis but I will have to discuss some minor details concerning the Mandarin due to the controversy on the issue, so I’ll be sure to denote when that conversation begins.
The film takes place some months after the events of The Avengers and having been faced with aliens, Gods, and magic, Tony Stark isn’t handling it so well. Rather than the boisterous, fun-loving billionaire, Tony’s been reduced to a hermit, building more suits in his basement, prone to panic attacks and insomnia – all symptomatic of PTSD.
But he doesn’t have much time to recover as the Mandarin, a terrorist leader, is launching attacks in the States and ends up injuring one of Tony’s friends. He threatens the Mandarin, only to have him decimate his home via aerial bombing and force Tony to dig deep to battle both his inner demons and the Mandarin – just not the way he might think. The plot is well thought out, with some interesting twists, and a satisfying conclusion which would make a fitting end to the franchise if this is the last Iron Man film.
Now that Marvel or Disney or whomever has decided to forcible remove all the camp from the Thor sequel (as evidenced in the trailers), it was nice to see a movie that wasn’t afraid to be bright, colorful, and witty. Action comedies are hard to pull off but Shane Black masters it with ease, in a more family friendly way than his acclaimed film Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. While there are some issues with less-than-fluid transitions in parts of the film, the direction is incredibly well done.
The cinematography is clean and crisp without making it seem too pristine, the action scenes are well edited and fast paced, and the use of the Iron Man suit itself is not only well integrated into the visuals, but actually not overused. In fact, we see more of Tony out of the suit than actually in it, a la Dark Knight Rises, which is a serious plus in my book. The screenplay, which was in part written by Black, is also full of energy and charm that really captures the audience’s attention since a lot of the action is reserved for the first and final thirds of the movie. In fact, sometimes I forgot that the whole film wasn’t meant to be a comedy.
Robert Downey Jr. is, of course, amazing as a more vulnerable but still sharp Tony Stark, and really pulls the film through as a character piece. There is actually a child character in this film who deserve note because he actually was entertaining and not terrible. In fact, the entire cast does an amazing job. Guy Pearce as Killian is likely the best Iron Man villian put to the silver screen and Don Cheadle remains a good, stable counterbalance to RDJ’s mania. Paltrow remains the sweet, and occasionally bad ass, girlfriend who does actually get more to do in this movie than nag Tony or be the damsel in distress.
MINOR SPOILERS AHEAD For those of you who want me to crack open the barrel of monkeys that is all the insane controversy surrounding what is and isn’t in this film, you will have to go elsewhere, but I am not where near articulate or knowledgeable about the comics for the first, and I am way too annoyed by the second to not devolve into raging. The Mandarin controversy has been argued all across the Internet, with some fans feeling betrayed, and others loving the twist. I am of the second opinion but the most eloquent argument I have seen for it was right here.
I think Pearce makes a great villain, and the Extremis make for some amazing, actually challenging fights (though we don’t get to keep Extremis Pepper? So much potential!) As for the second, personally, I think the Pepper Potts sex tape was a stupid idea, and I am so glad it did not make it in the film. What would have been the point? What character growth would it have added? It just seems to be exploiting one of the few female characters in the entire Avengers franchise for cheap drama, and I feel like Pepper would be the last character to do this kind of stunt (not that I like Gwyneth Paltrow much but this is the only character of hers I can stand). Some people speculate that it’ll be a plot point in the eventual Avengers 2 but I really hope that’s untrue.
While I still don’t think Iron Man 3 surpasses The Avengers in terms of quality (though, again, your mileage will vary) it is a great character piece and a very strong movie, especially in the wake of the second. My advice is to go see it as soon as possible, it’s really is a great movie, it has a lot to offer and it’s going to be one of the best, if not the best, film of Summer 2013.
– Great direction
– Great plot.
– Great acting.
– Amazing cinematography and action sequences.
– Transitions between scenes can be a little disjointed.
– Some aspects of the film can seem rushed.