Iron Man 3 (2013)
Directed by: Shane Black
Running time: 130 minutes
It’s official, Phase 2 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe has begun! The scale of what Marvel Studios is attempting to pull off still boggles my mind. They financed and approved five movies to introduce, among other things, four of their famous comic book heroes in an interwoven narrative that culminated (four years later mind!) in the epic masterpiece known as Joss Whedon’s The Avengers. But soon afterwards, Marvel announced that all of that, all SIX of those movies, were just Phase 1 of their ultimate plan: to assemble the Avengers. That’s right, six movies just to introduce us to the main characters of a story that has yet to come. And with (spoilers if you’re silly enough to have not seen The Avengers yet) the reveal that Thanos, the Mad Titan will somehow be involved then we will be in for one hell of a ride!
But I digress. On to the first movie of Phase 2: Iron Man 3
Now Showing this week is Iron Man 3, directed by Shane Black and starring Robert Downey Jr. again as Tony Stark. Stark is back to his old ways of advancing his suit technology and struggling to keep a stable relationship with his girlfriend Pepper Potts. He is also suffering a case of PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) following his heroic (again Avengers spoilers) venture through the wormhole to nuke the incoming Chitauri invasion force. He cannot sleep soundly and suffers panic attacks whenever anyone mentions the New York event to him, the idea that an alien invasion could be imminent at any time is haunting him. But Stark must put his demons aside when a new villain makes his presence known: a man who calls himself the Mandarin (Sir Ben Kingsley) has been detonating explosives around the country, and Stark has taken it upon himself to stop him.
I went into Iron Man 3 with a bit of caution as frankly I wasn’t overly keen to see another movie about just one of the Avengers members since they finally came together into one film. It took us so long to get to that point and I want them to keep developing the characters together rather than send us back to individual movies in the lead up to the sequel. But I was very excited to see what seeds would be planted to begin the long line of clues in the lead up to the Avengers doing battle with Thanos (seriously, look him up, it’s going to be awesome!).
Sadly though, the filmmakers of Iron Man 3 seemed to have the opposite view to me. I think if the writers and director had their way, in their fiction The Avengers would never have happened. They seemed to be trying their hardest to not acknowledge it and just tell their own Tony Stark story. Yes they worked into the story that Tony is suffering from PTSD, and people mention “New York” to him on several occasions, but it feels more like an afterthought. Whenever Tony was in peril, or whenever he was terrified that the conflicts he has to face would be too overwhelming, I couldn’t help but think “just give Nick Fury a call and assemble your posse! Sure, Thor is on another world so he’s probably unavailable, but you could at least get Captain America, Hulk and Black Widow down there and just destroy the Mandarin!” I wondered if perhaps Tony doesn’t do this because of his PTSD and that contacting S.H.I.E.L.D would just exacerbate it further; but the movie makes no effort to acknowledge that idea. If perhaps someone just suggested he contact the Avengers and Tony yelled them down with how fragile he is psychologically that he can’t bring himself to do that then I would at least have had some sort of explanation as well as a gorgeous character moment. But unfortunately I am left unsatisfied.
On the bright side though, the story of Iron Man 3 is actually quite good, very interesting throughout with a twist in the story that was unexpected and extremely welcomed! However, like with the last two Iron Man films, the ending seems to fall apart a little. The climax involves a huge feat (I shan’t spoil), but the impressiveness of it is ruined by the thought that there was no reason that Tony couldn’t have done it sooner. Sadly I cannot describe why without ruining the story so I won’t, but viewers of the film will see what I mean.
Positive sides of the story though are that the Mandarin is a formidable villain, and he has some quite awesomely powerful cronies. The script is also very solid, with Tony Stark still wielding his trademark wit. A huge mention goes to the actors in the film, especially for Sir Ben Kingsley as the Mandarin, his imposing performance and character development is both impressive and unexpected! Another shout out goes to Guy Pierce as a rival scientist named Aldrich Killian. Where Kingsley shows formidable strength, Pierce shows some wonderful sleazy manipulation!
Bottom line, Iron Man 3 was quite enjoyable and definitely worth a watch. While I am disappointed that The Avengers is considered an afterthought, and with no tiny clues to The Avengers 2 (none that were apparent as yet that is!); Iron Man 3 was still a well written, spectacular adventure. But as I said at the beginning: Phase 2 has only just begun, so we must wait to see how this all plays out. Let’s hope Thor: The Dark World is awesome in October!
See you next time!