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Iron Man 3

Posted on Wednesday, May 15th, 2013

Dave!Despite what you may have read, this is not the best Iron Man movie ever made.

The best Iron Man movie ever made is The Avengers. And that's because, so far as comic book super-hero films go, that movie was insane. Finally... finally we got to see all-out super-hero action taken to the degree it's at in the comics, and Iron Man was a huge part of that.

So I guess that Iron Man 3 would be the second-best Iron Man film ever made.

More or less...

Iron Man 3 Poster

Co-written and directed by Shane Black, the writer genius behind Lethal Weapon and The Long Kiss Goodnight, Iron Man 3 is a very good film in a surprising number of ways. Even if you were take Iron Man out of the equation. Which the movie does... a lot... because Tony Stark is the star of this show. Iron Man is relegated to a supporting player (albeit an important one).

I have mixed feelings about this. On one hand, Robert Downey Jr. plays Tony Stark so flawlessly that you're always left wanting more... on the other... well, you're going to an Iron Man movie to see Iron Man.

Putting all that aside, the film feels very Shane Black. Which is mostly a good thing.

There be spoilers from here on out, so don't click through to the extended entry unless you've already seen Iron Man 3...

Spoiler Zone!

The film opens with a framing sequence that doesn't really pay off until one of Marvel's famous "extra scenes" after the end-credits roll. It also starts off with a flashback. A flashback which has a very cool link to the first Iron Man film, but also sets up the entire plot. Including an interesting bit of bio-tech called "Extremis" that can give people super-strength and an internal fire that can burn through most anything... or cause them to explode if their body rejects it. We're also introduced to the obviously-going-to-become-a-villain Aldrich Killian and his Advanced Idea Mechanics (AIM) think tank. Tony Stark treats him badly in 1999, which has big repercussions in the present day.

And... we're back.

Haunted by the death and destruction of the alien invasion of New York (from The Avengers), Tony is having anxiety attacks and is unable to sleep. I understand this was to give Tony something new to overcome and make the role interesting for Robert Downey Jr. to play... but it's a subplot that mostly gets in the way. Not always in a bad way, as it does move the plot forward, but it feels very manufactured and gimmicky when it pops up in the story.

In any event, the sleeplessness is an excuse for Tony to spend eore time in his lab building Iron Man suits, and we're up to the Mark 42 armor when the film begins. This is making his girlfriend Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) unhappy because she'd rather he spend the time with her. As if the holidays (it's Christmastime!) wasn't stressful enough.

Enter "The Mandarin," a global terrorist who's fond of killing people and blowing stuff up. When Tony Stark's ex-bodyguard, Happy Hogan (who is now head of security at Stark Industries), becomes collateral damage in a Mandarin attack, Stark takes it personally and issues a challenge to The Mandarin on national television. A challenge which goes terribly wrong when his Santa Monica cliffside mansion is blown up by helicopters with missiles, nearly taking Pepper with it. Now Tony gets to play detective so he can track down The Mandarin and have vengeance against the terrorist who's hell-bent on destroying everything he cares about. Action (and more than a little humor) ensues.

And now for a recap of the things that worked... and a few things that didn't...

  • The special effects are mind-blowing. All the little details are just nailed, and there was no moment... not one... where the CGI visuals took me out of the film.
  • Probably because Shane Black knew when to put CGI aside and go with practical effects... like when Iron Man saves a bunch of people falling out of an exploding plane. It would have been easy to make that all CGI, but Black went with actual skydiving stunts, which looks so much better because people are actually plummeting towards the earth. And I would like to take this opportunity to say "THANK YOU!" to everybody involved for knowing when to say no.
  • Robert Downey Jr. once again exceeded my every expectation. Which is why I am horrified that this is the last film he's contracted to play Iron Man. I hope... badly... the Marvel backs a dump-truck filled with money up to his door to lure him back. Because ain't nobody going to replace him any time soon.
  • The movie completely reinvents "The Mandarin" from the magical villain of the comic books. Given that the original character is pretty much a racist stereotype I have no problem with this. But the "twist" with the character does completely undermine and destroy the source material which defines one of Iron Man's main villains, which feels a bit wasteful. In any event, Sir Ben Kingsley does a great job with the material he was given.
  • Likewise, Extremis, AIM, and Killian are all radically altered from the source material, which is also a bit disappointing. I know it's probably a necessity given that comics have nearly unlimited time to tell a story and a movie only gets a few hours, but still.
  • If there is one thing... ONE THING... I could remove from movies forever, it would be villains taking over television sets. It's unbelievably unrealistic and stupid. It's also badly overused, and a complete cop-out by Shane Black in Iron Man 3. This is fucking Austin Powers goofball stuff, and should stay there.
  • Half-way into the story Tony Stark is trapped in rural Tennessee with no suit and a mystery on his hands. There he teams up with a kid named Harley which should have been the death-knell for the film. But, much to my shock, it worked. Unlike 99% of the other child actors on the planet, Ty Simpkins can frickin' act! And Shane Black used his skills to beautiful effect.
  • I have no idea why Don Cheadle was in this film because Rhodey is pretty much a throw-away character here. Heck, Pepper Potts gets more action. Other than some joking around about his War Machine armor being re-christened "Iron Patriot," there seemed no purple at all for him to be in the movie.
  • At the end of the film, Tony has summoned an entire "Iron Legion" of remote-controlled armor suits to help him out. When Rhodey asks for one of the suits, Tony replies that they would only work for him. I didn't buy it (Rhodey stole a suit in Iron Man 2, and Pepper was wearing one earlier in the film), This means that it's retaliation for when Rhodey wouldn't give Tony any bullets because "they wouldn't work with Tony's gun." Given the grave danger they were in, it was an ass-hole thing to do. This is the part of the film that bothered me most, and really should have been changed somehow to make Tony look like less of a jerk towards his so-called friend.
  • And while we're on the subject of the "Iron Legion," it was kind of a dubious precedent to set. In all future films with Iron Man, you're going to be wondering "Why doesn't Tony Stark just keep cranking out a massive number of armor sets so he can create an army capable of dealing with any threat?"
  • The post-credit scene was a really good one.
  • The success of Iron Man 3 seems to once again bring out an opportunity for people to bash Iron Man 2, and I just don't get it. No, it's wasn't as good as 1 or 3, but I still loved that movie!

So... overall, an awesome film that keeps pushing the Cinematic Marvel Universe forward. Highly recommended, even if you're not a big comic book fan.

And now I guess it's time to update my "Y2K Super-Hero Comic Book Renaissance Scorecard" as follows...

The Avengers... A+
Batman Begins... A
Batman Dark Knight... A+
Batman Dark Knight Rises... A
Blade... B
Blade 2... B
Blade Trinity... B-
Captain America... A+
Catwoman... F
Daredevil... B-
Daredevil (Director's Cut)... B+
Elektra... D
Fantastic Four... C
Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer... D
Ghost Rider... C
Green Hornet... D
Green Lantern... C+
Hellboy... A
Hellboy 2: Golden Army... A
Hulk... C-
Incredible Hulk... B
The Incredibles... A+
Iron Man... A+
Iron Man 2... A-
Iron Man 3... A+
Jonah Hex... F
Kick-Ass... B+
Punisher... C+
Punisher War Zone... C
Spider-Man... B+
Spider-Man 2... A
Spider-Man 3... D-
Amazing Spider-Man... B
Superman Returns... C+
Thor... B+
Watchmen... B
X-Men... C
X-Men 2: United... D
X-Men 3: Last Stand... F-
X-Men Origins: Wolverine... D
X-Men: First Class... B

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Categories: Movies 2013Click To It: Permalink


  1. I got to watch Ironman 3 for Mother’s Day. My family bought me the IMAX 3D tickets and if you get the chance, go see it in that format. The music & sound was so much more intense it made the movie an experience. I wasn’t thrilled with the Mandarin, though. Not. At. All.

  2. Wow. That’s a lot of complaints and problems to point out and still give an A+. I wish more of my teachers had been like you 🙂

    I thought the whole part with the kid (Ty Simpkins) was odd but I really liked the way they made it worked. I assumed this was from some storyline in the comics otherwise it was a bit of content to add to a movie with a (too) busy plot.

    Gwyneth and Robert Downy Jr. were excellent and I wish they were given more screen time together (while not in crisis mode).

    • Dave2 says:

      I really had only one complaint, and that was the whole “villains taking over television sets” thing. That’s just comical and lazy. Any other “problems” I had were minor, and easily offset by the overwhelming number of positives in the film as a whole. It completely earned that A+ rating.

  3. kilax says:

    I waited to read this until I finally saw it (today), especially because Steven said the movie was crap but I really enjoyed it! 🙂 (I think he just can’t take it all in and have fun)

    I do hope they get him to do more movies! Isn’t there going to be an Avengers 2?!

  4. martymankins says:

    Pretty much agree with your thoughts and review and detailed points. Ben Kingsley is so, so good in this movie. His diverse role made for a great scene stealer. So did Guy Pearce.

    In my order of Iron Man movies:
    Iron Man – A+
    Iron Man 2 – B+
    Iron Man 3 – A+

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