I remember being a child reading Marvel comic books by the dozens. I’m going to get a little nostalgic now, so if you’re just interested in a review of the film, move on to the next paragraph. I’d go to comic books stores weekly to get my favorite issues and become immersed in the stories and the artwork. The static images were vibrant in my mind, and occasionally as I imagined the action between the comic panels, I’d ponder how glorious it would be to see my favorite heroes come to life. It seemed like a pipe dream, but now it seems that the day has actually come. Iron Man 3 represents the eighth spectacular achievement in the Avengers vein by Marvel studios as they revolutionize the concept of the film franchise. The cinematic universe that Marvel studios has created achieves a detailed serial nature usually reserved for complex television dramas. The success of these films is often attributed to their effects and unyielding action. Nevertheless, the greatest titles, Iron Man 3 being one of them, deserve their status because of clever writing and character development.
Iron Man 3 finally finds the suited up superhero, Tony Stark pitted against his greatest nemesis, The Mandarin. While Iron Man’s battle with The Mandarin in the comics dates back to 1964, The Mandarin’s role in Iron Man’s cinematic adventures has only been hinted at in the previous two films. Thanks to clever and creative writing from director Shane Black and screenwriter Drew Pearce as well as a superb performance by the great Ben Kingsley, The Mandarin was well worth the wait…and that’s all I’ll say.
For the sake of keeping Iron Man 3’s impact in tact, plot should be discussed minimally. What can be said is that a new terrorist, The Mandarin is violently attacking America in order to expose what he believes is a hypocritical and offensive ideology shared by the American people. At one point, Stark mentions that he “sounds like a Baptist minister,” suggesting perhaps that he’s using “crisis” as a way to force decision, a controversial Baptist philosophy. It gets personal when Stark’s head of security, Happy Hogan (played again by Iron Man 1 & 2 director, Jon Favreau) is seriously injured in one of The Mandarin’s attacks. There is much more to the story including a minor flashback to 1999 where Stark is just hitting his stride. It is there that he meets bourgeoning scientist Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce) and “botanist” Maya Hansen (Rebecca Hall), and again…that’s all I’ll say.
Iron Man 3 is a very smartly made film, and while it still addresses comic book staple themes like good/evil, identity, revenge, and freedom, an emergent theme can also be extracted from it – learning from mistakes. Film series usually start to run out of steam by the third part, with few exceptions. A third film in a series tends to be darker and excessive in regards to whatever made the first two work be it action, villains, or some sort of familiar formula. Iron Man 3 learns from others’ mistakes and avoids them. In fact, it can be said that this film acts as a “how-to” manual on freshening up conventions. In scenes where the hero is captured by henchmen who are normally silent and sinister, Shane Black and Drew Pearce devise witty and even humorous dialogue that makes those scenes enjoyable. At one point, Iron Man must team up with a child, a move that often results in schmaltzy sentimentality, yet in the hands of Black and Pearce it works. By the end of Iron Man 3, it is clear that these film makers are thinking quite a few moves ahead and have no intention of letting the audience down at any point. The film has fun with Stark’s Iron Man identity being public knowledge and various nods to The Avengers add another level of substance and self-referential fun. Robert Downey Jr. has certainly found a home in his role as Stark/Iron Man. This installment is his best as he tactfully and authentically balances humor, intensity, and sentimentality without ever missing a beat.
Other favorites are back as well including Rhodey (Don Cheadle) formally War Machine, now dubbed the Iron Patriot and Stark’s reliable CFO/lover Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow). The other star of this film is the Iron Man suit itself. JARVIS and the suit have made some exciting and enjoyable upgrades that are quite central to the evolution of the story. Iron Man 3 is another excellent entry into an ever-blooming genre of film. It is entertaining, gratifying, and most of all – clever. A
Iron Man 3 is rated PG-13 with a running time of 2 hours and 15 minutes. It should be seen in 2D rather than 3D as nothing is gained from the 3D transfer. Also, as with every Marvel film, stay through the credits!
Great review! I like that you hinted at some great things this movie did without giving them away 🙂
Up until this point I wasn’t planning on seeing it and now I can’t wait to go. Thanks for a great review!
No excuses for comic nuances or punctual cliches. The entertainment value can be seen separately. The movie has plot holes and writing conventions that mislead and forcefully drain emotional connection that is misleading and trivial to the conflict of the story. I would say that the element of internal conflict in the development of Tony’s character is (humorously) well done. However, the conflict of the Mandarin which is meant to drive the plot line lacks any real conviction or sense of identity. B grade only.
Sorry. One more plus can be said for the performance of Kingsley, Cheadle, and Downey. They made the movie worth its ticket price.
You are unfairly judging a genre of film that would crumble under the circumstances you are looking for. You want a different Iron Man. Sort of like how Michael Keaton was Batman, then Christian Bale was a different Batman. In 20 years when an up-and-comer director decides to take Iron Man into his ‘dark’ period, you can look me up and say, I told you so, but for now- enjoy this for what it is! This Avengers juggernaut isThe Star Wars of this generation! I’ll bet I’ve really gotten your attention with that one.