“You start with something pure, something exciting. Then come the mistakes, the compromises.” – Tony Stark
This review will contain minor spoilers
There is something so attractive about Tony Stark. Not necessarily Iron Man, but the actual man beneath the armor. Maybe it’s the money, the brain, and the nonchalant charisma that Robert Downey Jr. so amazingly portrays. Or maybe it’s the vulnerability that is so rarely ripped out and picked apart. There is one thing in storytelling that is incredibly cliche’, but always works for me: the lover is the weakness. And the bad guy will inevitably exploit that.
Add on the appearance of anxiety attacks stemming from Tony’s actions in The Avengers, the addition of The Mandarin’s sudden appearance, and Tony’s own determination to stop the attacks, and well… you have a really long movie with some hits and misses. So let’s get into it!
The introduction of Tony’s past is something I didn’t enjoy. While it was entertaining to see Tony in his pre-Iron Man environment, the action was stale and almost unnecessary despite the critical information presented. Aldrich Killian is a forgettable brainiac with an idea, shoved aside by Tony and by me as well. I knew his character would return. I knew that Killian would end up being an evil jerk with a huge brain. But overall… I didn’t care. His introduction was bleak and carried no lasting impression despite his involvement in the rest of the movie.
And then the movie actually begins…
Tony Stark isn’t sleeping, and this is a result of the events in The Avengers. He is suffering from anxiety attacks, and while this has definitely affected his character, I felt like maybe this element should have been more deeply explored. Stark has always been an egotistical jerk with a golden heart… some darkness could have really created some necessary depth which could have clashed perfectly with the new villain that is introduced. Instead, we get a slightly haunted man that has buried himself inside of his work. But we are used to seeing him tinker with experiments anyway. No big deal.
Aldrich Killian returns all spiffy and charismatic, a huge difference from the greasy scientist shown at the beginning of the film. He introduces his project Extremis to Pepper, a technology that involves hacking into the human DNA to cure anything you can imagine, including things such as lost limbs. Pepper denies his proposal, stating the fact that such technology could easily be weaponized. Obvious foreshadowing.
The Mandarin enters the picture, inflicting terror and death while threatening the President and the public with videos shown on public television. Why was The Mandarin terrorizing and blowing things up? No clue, but he immediately becomes the villain because of it… so of course the public wants Iron Man to take him out.
After nearly losing Happy in a bombing in front of the Chinese Theatre, Tony personally invites The Mandarin to his home. After that, there is hardly any special mention of Jon Favreau’s character. No more emotion over the fact that he is in a coma. Nothing. And what irritates me more is the fact that Tony invites danger into the home that he shares with Pepper, who he has claimed that he has to protect because apparently he can’t live without her.
Should I begin the speech about how geniuses often lack common sense?
After having his home blown up, Tony does some solo investigating and runs into a random kid named Harley that kind of teams up to help. Surprisingly, Harley’s involvement was something well received with me, and the interaction between him and Tony was hysterical.
Then, Tony passes through Chattanooga, Tennessee (which is hilarious since that’s where I’m from). Do we really have southern accents that are that obnoxious? Also, we have no Channel 5 News. Thanks.
A bunch of fighting occurs with people that glow red and can burn things, and we soon learn that this is part of Killian’s Extremis project who may just be in cahoots with The Mandarin. The rest of the movie continues with some cool action, a twist that may leave many comic book fans a little upset, and an ending that may make you wonder if Tony Stark actually plans on appearing again (despite the fact that it’s stated in the credits that he will).
Tony is his usual self, only now he is suffering from anxiety attacks. RDJ once again does a perfect job personifying the Tony Stark everyone fell in love with, but I think his mental instability should have affected his role a lot more. Despite this setback, Tony is a blast to follow throughout this movie, not only pulling out the humor that he is known for, but the brains and the seriousness that makes Iron Man one nicely wrapped package.
Pepper is the same lovable woman… for the most part. It was nice to see her portray something outside of the placement as Tony’s lover and the woman that gets pulled into Iron Man’s messes. It’s obvious that the damsel in distress line has gotten old, but it was important to still see Pepper as the one figure that could make Tony desperate in a dangerous situation. But it was also nice to see her as the hero as well. I could dig a superhero Pepper. Bring on the Rescue armor!
Rhodey had a fantastic talent of stealing the show, a shocker considering the lack of life he contained in the past titles. Don Cheadle did an amazing job promoting both Patriot’s involvement and his own physical presence that complimented well against Tony Stark’s lack of one outside of the Iron Man suit. It was fun to see Rhodes in his own heroic light with a stumbling Stark in the background, and I wish I could have seen more of that in the past.
The evil in this story was 99% disappointing. When The Mandarin was first introduced as the villain in the trailers, I was ecstatic to see his story on the big screen, but not only was his character a disappointment… it was a slap to the face for the fans who know about The Mandarin’s past and his true involvement with Tony Stark. To say anything more would ruin the movie. I’ll simply let The Mandarin ruin a little bit of it for you.
Killian was annoying… nothing more. Despite the fact that he should pose the largest threat, he simply became another character to get rid of. There was no depth, no true bitterness that should have strongly stemmed from his past with Tony. He was simply another not-so-exciting villain that was meant to get beaten up.
The evil that does shine, however, is portrayed inside of the Extremis victims. Seeing a bunch of glowing, nearly invincible people was something interesting to see. And it was nice to learn that evil doesn’t have to be dramatic and overhyped. It can be hidden and it can exist behind a normal human face. Plus they just looked cool.
I am a massive fan of action movies, and Iron Man 3 didn’t disappoint in this department. What is interesting in this movie is the fact that Tony spends most of his time outside of the suit. So while there is some usual Iron Man fighting, a lot of it is targeted outside of the metal. What I did enjoy watching was Tony fight with only pieces of the suit: a glove in one moment, a piece of the leg… and the acrobat stunts that occurred because of that was something a bit new and fresh to see. Eventually just seeing Iron Man blast through things gets a little boring. It was nice to see things spiced up a bit.
While Tony spends a lot of time outside of the suit, Rhodey spends a lot of time in his own, and it really introduces a new element and tone that I thoroughly enjoyed. Hell even Pepper spends time inside of the Iron Man suit… which is something I would like to see on a more permanent basis. Pepper deserves to be a kick ass superhero. She does have to deal with Tony Stark 24/7 anyway, right?
What is shown in the trailer that I was excited to see is the appearance of the different Iron Man machines. It added a bit of variety, and it was fun to see Tony interact and command them with Jarvis. Did I mention I love Jarvis? I think he’s the true hero.
Overall, Iron Man 3 is an action-packed ride that should successfully entertain any casual Marvel movie lover. Despite the few misses and disappointments, this movie should definitely be on your list of movies to see, and it may even compete against my love for the other two. However, comic book fans, particularly ones that enjoy The Mandarin, may leave the theater with a bitter taste in their mouths. But don’t let that ruin the overall experience. Go see it! And make sure you stick around for the scene after the credits.