‘Iron Man 3’ Movie Review – Why Fix It
[Note: for another review of the film, check out Americ’s non-spoiler video review here]
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. That seemed to be the mentality of Iron Man 2 (go ahead and refresh on the Iron Man franchise with me here). Iron Man 3, on the other hand, does try something new…for parts of the movie. There are (like most movies) things that don’t work…but some of those problems boil down to the franchise as a whole.
Taking place after the events of The Avengers, Tony Stark finds himself in a low place. From the trailers, it seemed like Iron Man 3 would be a tougher character study, meaning it looked like it would be more about him as a person than a crime-fighting superhero.
A deadly villain named The Mandarin (Ben Kingsley) surfaces overseas and vows to take America down. The Osama bin Laden-like figure is the head of The Ten Rings international terrorist group that hijack television airways and threaten the country. As if they hadn’t had enough just a year ago when New York City was obliterated by an alien force!
Before this, though, the movie starts with a prologue showing Tony Stark pre-Iron Man. It shows him in 1999 (at the turn of the century) in a one-night stand with Dr. Maya Hansen (Rebecca Hall). During that same night, it shows him ignoring the advances of a prominent Advanced Idea Mechanics (AIM) engineer, Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce), that tries to sell Stark on his Extremis technology.
The three characters – The Mandarin, Killian, and Hansen – all play into the central plot. However, the “main story” is more about the central character (Stark’s psyche and his strained relationship with Pepper) than the terrorism and action. Okay, so maybe the third act is a little action-heavy…
The insight into Tony’s character is what makes the movie work as a whole. Superhero movies are often pre-judged that they’re ALL about action sequences. The Iron Man franchise is equipped with some of the best technology that makes him one of the easiest superheroes to watch just for the shock-and-awe. It’s comparable to how much we enjoy watching cars change into Transformers.
Whoa whoa whoa. Did I just compare Iron Man to the Transformers? Not really. Iron Man 3 works because it doesn’t go the Transformers route…completely.
Since I’m going to keep this spoiler-free, I will need to tread carefully with this next paragraph. Expectations alone have the power to destroy a film. Going into Iron Man 3, the only thing I overhyped was The Mandarin. Not only is Kingsley a phenomenal actor, but the trailers made him out to rival even Heath Ledger’s iconic Joker. Maybe I should give Iron Man 3 credit for taking a different route with their villain but the twist in his character irked me the most.
And this gets back to the entire franchise. I noticed it the most in The Avengers, but comic relief is a driving force behind what makes these movies enjoyable. At times, this humor can be distracting (any time a character makes a joke in the middle of a firefight). Iron Man 3 is funny. There’s no doubt about it. But…should it be funny?
I guess that is up to the audience member. Call me cold-hearted, but I like my movies dark – I like them realistic. What that says about me is entirely up to you to decide. Tony Stark, as a character, is funny. I get that. However, if the movie is truly about his character going to darker places, they’ve got to relent on the humor.
Going back to The Mandarin, I luckily didn’t have time to pout too long because Black (who co-wrote the story) made up for The Mandarin with Killian. There is a stretch in the back-end of the film where Killian (and Pearce’s performance) absolutely nail it. If I had to pick the best performer, it’d go to be Pearce.
I want to emphasize Iron Man 3 is a good movie. Shane Black’s addition to the franchise is felt (in a good way) and the action sequences were gripping. Although The Mandarin fell through, Pearce sure picked up the slack. Props to the movie for trying to take Stark’s character in a different route (than, say, Iron Man 2). However, to make this better, it’d need to find a way to a) iron out the conveniences in plot (it must be nice having a virtually indestructible suit that can transport itself hundreds of miles) b) reign in the humor and c) take that next step. “That next step” is such a hard thing thing to pinpoint, especially when you’re trying to create a story that fits into a greater whole, like Marvel’s Cinematic Universe, that makes it fairly obvious what will happen.
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