Iron Man 3 Review
By Bret Dorman
A lot of people seem to have these really weird concerns when it comes to seeing Iron Man 3. Concerns like threequels never being as good as the first, how a stand alone Marvel flick will match up after the awesomeness that was The Avengers, and how closely the movie will stick to its comic origins.
But forget any negativity or hum-drumming. Iron Man 3 is solid all around. Solid humor, fun, character advancement, and spectacle.The Story: Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) is super obsessed with making suits after The Avengers beat down some aliens and Stark himself space travelled and almost died. His girlfriend Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) is now in charge of Stark Industries and being sort-of business-courted by Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce), a sort-of Stark Rival. All of this comes crashing down when The Mandarin (Ben Kingsley) starts blowing things up. Can Iron Man and The Iron Patriot (Don Cheadle) save America? Oh no! I hope so! Also, Stark is a total (loveable?) a-hole, but especially to kids…
For me, all of these concerns people have seem like non-concerns completely outweighed by one thing: writer and director Shane Black/Robert Downey Jr. reunion (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, a MUST see). For starters, this may be the third movie, but clearly Marvel has established its movie universe as a fluent piece of work. So this isn’t just some random movie that they decided to make because the last one did a lot of money at the box office. Marvel has phases. PHASES!!! Never before has a movie production company entered a franchise with such a long term game plan. This is exciting and comforting. I don’t have to go into a Marvel movie worrying about typical sequel woes. Sure that doesn’t mean I don’t have to like every single movie, but knowing that they are actively working to piece together to The Avengers 2 while expanding on the individual characters is nice.As far as following up The Avengers? Yes, that movie was fantastic fun. Whedon did a great job of bringing everyone together and getting them to fight each other then work together. And the fact that the movie is mostly play doesn’t make it less good than some of its darker or heavier comic book counter parts. But with Iron Man 3, we laser focus in on Stark and his newfound obsession with suit building. There is one brief mention of Avengers, S.H.I.E.L.D. gets name dropped once or twice in passing, and New York and the worm hole are referenced but specifically in how it affected Stark. Seems like Marvel took note of everyone being a big baby about Iron Man 2.
Luckily for Marvel, Iron Man is the first character to follow up The Avengers. I’m not sure if they planned it that way since launching the first Iron Man, but I see him as the most interesting of all the Marvel movie characters. Yes, the first movie was very surprising after it came out, especially in contrast with Batman Begins and the anticipation of The Dark Knight, but the movie is just a fun ride. The second movie upped the stakes by introducing a real villain for Iron Man (Mickey Rourke) and a real counter point to Tony Stark (Sam Rockwell). Iron Man 3 is more of a mystery movie as Stark tries to figure out who The Mandarin is, as well as how to get his act together.Lastly, I should just write up a single post about my feelings towards comic book origins. I’m not a purist. At all. I’m all for deviation, as long as the deviation keeps in spirit of the original and fits the proper tone of the movie. Besides, I don’t read comics. Never really have. I mostly know these characters from video games, pop culture, cartoons, and general nerd-ery I guess. Because I didn’t grow up on the comics maybe I don’t hold them precious, but that’s where I come from. Besides, comics re-invent themselves all the time. And it CERTAINLY makes sense that they would re-invent themselves cinematically. I’ve said this before and I’ll say this again… if I want the comic story, I’ll read the comics. One doesn’t HAVE to be better than the other, just so long as each one is right for itself.
What I love about Marvel is that they are trying something new. They are making it fun and exciting to talk about summer movies without having to worry about big budget problems like well-worn territory, flat characters, and misguided action (well, the action in Thor was lackluster but I forgive them). It’s fun to be able to go to a theater and then theorize with a bunch of friends about where the entire freaking cinematic universe is headed next, or what Marvel should do (although the trick is to not flip out and go on the internet and express your nerd rage when they don’t do what you wanted), or how the characters and their actions here will connect to The Avengers (2) or other movies. Basically, I love talking about movies, and its fun to talk about them in general, which is what Iron Man 3 allows you to do, because of the greater vision of Marvel and the more specific vision of the filmmakers at play here. But what did I actually think of Iron Man 3?It’s awesome! Yes, the movie is not perfect and has flaws, but I don’t mind. The film ends with a massive action set-piece that delivers perfect PG-13 action (although there are some pretty violent things happening in the movie in general). Tony Stark is just as flawed as ever and here he really learns how to become a hero (both physically and spiritually) as Tony Stark. Then the Iron Man suit(s) come into play later which allow him to fight his super duper enemies on a grander scale. Iron Man 3 is definitely the most action packed of the bunch and even though some scenes do feel a bit gratuitous, the execution makes them refreshing and rewarding. Tony Stark spends a lot of time having panic attacks, figuring out mysteries, and being kind of an a-hole to the people around him, but he is constantly moving forward. This movie has very little backtracking in it and is able to juggle a lot of information in very little time. So when it comes to the action, they keep it short and sweet when they have to and prolongue it just enough at the end to make it a grand finale.
As far as the comedy goes, Shane Black and Drew Pearce do a great job of letting the story unfold and letting the characters react in their own way. The humor is a little odd at times, considering the budget. You might think going a tad bit weird or making Stark TOO much of an asshole (again, especially to kids) would be something Marvel would want to stray from, but the fact that this movie has personality, no matter how strange or condescending is what people seem to be responding to the most, even more than the action bits. Iron Man 3 is a good argument for going for a specific vision rather than just a bland blockbuster.
In Conclusion, I’m definitely excited for the future of Marvel. Iron Man 3 feels like a post-Avengers film. Although its backstory is firmly planted in its predecessors, it is a stand alone flick that holds up on its own. It knows the importance of fun and places that at its highest priority, while still advancing the character of Tony Stark in bold new directions that surely will reverberate in sequels to come. And it features very little cameos and absolutely no other hero detours. The movie builds itself a solid foundation, even if part of that is blowing everything up.
Final Grade: A
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