Marvel’s Iron Man films laid the groundwork for the Avengers, and set a high bar for comic book movies. So, how do you follow Avengers, and where do you take the Iron Man character? Iron Man 3 closes the trilogy nicely but may upset some hardcore comic book fans in the process.
Iron Man 3 begins on New Year’s Eve, 1999. Tony Stark spends the evening courting botanist Maya Hansen (Rebecca Hall) while avoiding eager scientist Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce). Hansen shares her “Extremis” project with Tony; an experiment that repairs physical damage to living tissue. Use of Extremis runs the risk of increasing the temperature of the organism, to the point of exploding; thus, forming a living bomb.
Back in present day, Tony loses sleep, dodges conversations about the Avengers (See The Avengers movie, which you should have by now), and constantly builds various Iron Man suits.
A terrorist known as The Mandarin blows up Grauman’s Chinese Theater, injuring Tony’s friend and employee, Happy Hogan(Jon Favreau). Enraged, Tony publicly challenges The Mandarin, and Iron Man 3 really takes off from here.
Iron Man 3 balances the smart-ass humor of Tony Stark with his darkest story yet. Though not as bleak as Nolan’s Batman, this is the most vulnerable we’ve seen the character. Stark battles The Mandarin, panic attacks, and potentially losing the people closest to him. Tony is still a man with problems that his suits and billions can’t solve.
Hardcore comic book fans have responded differently to the film, mainly, regarding The Mandarin character. The loudest, initial complaints were that Ben Kingsley, isn’t of Asian descent and therefore, not an accurate representation of the source material. I personally think the treatment of The Mandarin, for the purpose of the film, was creative and shouldn’t be spoiled here.
The fact that Tony is constantly asked by other characters about the Avengers’ fight in New York is another great decision. Continuing the story after Avengers helps with Tony Stark’s growth as a character and keeps the ball rolling for Marvel’s “Phase 2” films.
Don Cheadle returns as James “Roady” Rhodes, formerly War Machine, now rebranded The Iron Patriot. He takes a backseat to some of the other characters but is fun every second he’s on camera. Gwyneth Paltrow’s love interest and best friend of Tony, Pepper Potts, really gets to shine and has become as important as Tony’s suits. Guy Pearce’s Killian also becomes more interesting as the film progresses.
My main gripe with Iron Man 3 is an overall Hollywood problem with 3D. I saw this in 3D and the only thing that stood out was nothing. I didn’t see a single effect, spark, or image even appear to crawl off the screen. Save your money and see the 2D.
The action here is incredible. Everything from a helicopter attack on Tony’s Malibu home, to a daring aerial rescue with a real-life sky-dive stunt team, should entertain Iron man fans of all ages. Also, stay for the post credits scene.
Iron Man 3 wraps up Robert Downey Jr.’s contract to play the character. If this was the last we saw of him, it was a great way to end the trilogy and his story. Although, with Avengers 2 on the way in 2015, Iron Man 3 just leaves me wanting more. Here’s hoping Marvel pays enough to get the real Tony Stark back in the suit one more time.