Fresh off the heels of The Avengers film, Marvel Studios had a lot of momentum going into this one. While Iron Man 3 was a strange movie experience for me I do think I’m mostly on-par with the general consensus around this film, if such a consensus exists.
In all, Iron Man 3 is a love and hate experience. There were elements to it that were fresh and enticing and other elements that fell flat for me. So I’m going to split my review up into those portions…
Things that I liked: Continuity of the Marvel Cinematic Universe
Up until now, all of the Marvel movies didn’t really acknowledge one another besides the occasional wink or nod here and there. But in Iron Man 3, Tony Stark is genuinely affected by the events of The Avengers and the massacre that occurred in New York. This was a great way to not only make the Universe more real but to give the story some agency. Now Tony has a reason to change for the better (or calmer). I’m not quite convinced that this internal conflict had to manifest itself physically in the form of anxiety attacks–it was strange to see Tony dealing with such trauma–but perhaps that was the point.
Things that I disliked: Discontinuity of the Marvel Cinematic Universe
When the movie acknowledges the previous events of the cinematic Universe it is trying to establish then it must address all aspects of that Universe, including why other heroes were not there to intervene in some public terrorist attacks against the United States government and its people.
Things that I liked: The lack of Iron Man action
I think I heard one movie reviewer say that it was important for Iron Man 3 to step up its game in the action department in order to please the masses who will inevitably have The Avengers fight sequences still replaying in their heads from memory. “Puny God.” Well, especially when considering that this is a sequel, I thought this film did a good job not getting carried away with the recent blockbuster hit and giving us some novel action content within the Iron Man series. Tony loses his weapons in the middle portion of the film and has to fight WITHOUT his Iron Man suit, which was really cool to see. Also, my favorite action sequence is probably Tony saving everyone from an airplane fall. Not only was it not the run-of-the-mill hero fights bad guy scene, it was thrilling and clever.*
*I seem to have a strange liking for free-fall sequences. Maybe it’s time for me to try sky-diving.
Things that I disliked: The lack of Iron Man action
For how many new suits the movie introduces**, primarily at the end of the movie with protocol “House Party,” Iron Man 3 features a distinct lacking of Iron Man butt-kicking. War Machine–I mean, Iron Patriot–is controlled by the bad guys half the time, Tony Stark’s main suit is… out of battery for most of the movie… and his suit is not weapon operational with his encounter with the Mandarin. It’s like this movie made up excuses not to show Iron Man in his full glory.
**Why are his suits so flimsy in this film?
Things I liked: The Mandarin
Man, for how little screen-time this villain gets, he comes off as a real menace. I mean, he just shows up to Tony Stark’s house, the IRON MAN’S HOUSE, and puts it down under the Pacific Ocean. Well, he didn’t actually show up but he sent his henchmen. Wait a second, is he the real villain to our…
Things I disliked: The Mandarin
Wait wait wait, I’m not a butt-hurt fan-boy (I don’t even read comic books). But when you have an interesting and intriguing villain like Mandarin, you can’t scrap him off for some laughs and give us a less interesting and less intriguing villain like… ugh…
More things I disliked: This Butt-Hurt Fan-Boy
All in all, Iron Man 3 sets-up a compelling story and villain in a sequel that is much better than Iron Man 2. However, only one of these set-ups pays off in the end, a conclusion to a story that might come off as cheesy by using Iron Man explosions as fireworks but nonetheless ending the conflict between Tony Stark and Pepper Potts sufficiently. I’m not quite sure how not being Iron Man will stop his anxiety attacks but so be it, another instance that indicates that there might be more discontinuity within Marvel Studio’s franchise in future films. Some other plot holes***, like, why “House Party” wasn’t used earlier in the film questions the filmmaker’s thoughtfulness**** in producing these superhero flicks.
***How did Pepper Potts get so good at combat at the end of the film? Feels like an intrusive piece of marketing behind a clearly feminist agenda
****What was the point of that boy’s character? And making this happen in Christmas?
Not all decisions were bad, as changing the director to Shane Black added some new action into the story while maintaining a strong sense of comedy led by the impeccable Robert Downey Jr. He continues to impress in the role of Tony Stark and Iron Man although his decision to challenge the Mandarin without sufficient preparation paints him as possibly the dumbest reincarnation of Tony put to screen. Still, he is charismatic in this, and Iron Man 3 is not without its fair share of charms.
Action Grade: B- (81%)–Had the potential to provide us with the best Iron Man action in the series but was compromised by the suit’s noticeable frailty.
Final Grade: C+ (78%)–Iron Man sets-up a compelling story and villain but only one of these set-ups pays off in the end.