Review: IRON MAN 3
For the superheroes of Hollywood, 2008 is a year that will always be remembered. The summer of ’08 gave us what many people consider to be the greatest film of the comic book genre, The Dark Knight, while Iron Man gave birth to the much adored Marvel Cinematic Universe. DC’s Caped Crusader and Marvel’s billionaire playboy propelled the genre into heights never-before-seen – and look at how far we’ve come.
After the worldwide success of The Avengers, Marvel and director/co-writer Shane Black kick off the Phase Two initiative with this exciting, comical, action-packed Tony Stark threequel, Iron Man 3. Is Iron Man 3 better than The Avengers? No – but it definitely could have been. Two things that can be said about Iron Man 3 are that it’s the best of the Iron Man series, and the best written Marvel film to date.
Iron Man 3 begins long before the Iron Man legend. We’re taken back to 1999 where Tony Stark, young and even more arrogant than he is now, is celebrating New Year’s Eve with Maya Hansen (Rebecca Hall), a young bio-technologist working on reprogramming the repair center in the human brain. Stark saw Hansen just as he saw every other female he came in contact with – just another one night stand.
Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce), a scientist from Advanced Idea Mechanics (or AIM), approaches Tony and Maya about supporting his ongoing project. Maya looks intrigued by the proposition, while Tony leads Aldrich on about his interest, only to end up ignoring Aldrich entirely. A voiceover from Tony Stark explains that it was in this moment that he created demons.
Fast forward to present day America. A TV broadcast is interrupted by two crossing swords surrounded by Arabic letters. “Some people call me a terrorist. I like to consider myself a teacher,” The Mandarin (Ben Kingsley) proclaims. We see Tony Stark trying to adjust to life after the events in New York with The Avengers, and his realization that there are bigger enemies out there than he ever could have imagined.
Robert Downey Jr. returns to the role that revived his career for his fourth, and possibly final, turn – and he is better than ever. RDJ is undoubtedly the most popular actor playing the most popular character for fans who love the MCU – a character which he turned from B-list superhero to pop culture icon. The script penned by director Shane Black and co-writer Drew Pearce allows the character to experience a character arc much deeper than we have seen in his previous three appearances. Although Stark is prone to anxiety attacks brought on by the traumatic events in New York, his trademark wit and arrogance is always present.
Tony’s relationship with Pepper (Gwyneth Paltrow) has been rocky ever since the events that took place in The Avengers, and Tony’s constant stress and anxiety add to their troubles. Killian comes back into the picture to ask Pepper if Stark Industries would like to be involved in the “Extremis” project. For those of you unfamiliar, the story is partly based on the six-issue “Extremis” story arc written by Warren Ellis. In short, the Extremis virus is a sophisticated method of hacking into the brain to upgrade human DNA – giving it the ability to repair and regenerate limbs. Pepper has no choice but to decline Killian’s offer, seeing that it can be easily weaponized.
Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau), Tony’s former assistant and now head of security at Stark Industries, senses some suspicion surrounding Killian and his assistant, Eric Savin (James Badge Dale). Upon following Savin, Happy finds himself in the middle of the next “lesson” from The Mandarin, leaving him hospitalized. These events trigger the much publicized clip where we see Tony Stark sending a message to The Mandarin: “There’s no politics here, just good old-fashioned revenge,” while offering up his home address.
The action set-piece that follows is nothing short of outstanding. An all-out onslaught on Stark’s Malibu mansion that makes all of the other action in previous series installments look like kid stuff. Everything that I’ve discussed up to this point is information that the viewer can know by just watching the trailers. I’ll spare my readers of any major spoilers here, although this film is virtually impossible to discuss without revealing the big twist.
After escaping the attack on his mansion, Tony’s suit takes him to the outskirts of a small town in Tennessee. Tony befriends a local boy named Harley (Ty Simpkins), and the relationship that they develop is one of the more comical and arguably the most compelling portion of the story. Harley explains to Tony how his dad left their family years ago. Tony replies with “Dad’s leave. No need to be a pussy about it.” Harley becomes Tony’s sort of sidekick in Tony’s search for answers about The Mandarin.
The film’s action set-pieces really take center stage. Shane Black’s résumé includes some great action films – Lethal Weapon, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang just to name a few. The action in Iron Man 3 is much bigger than anything he’s ever done, and proves that Black is absolutely the right man for the job. It also shows that there isn’t anyone better than Marvel when it comes to delivering thrilling action sequences with dazzling special effects. Like Lethal Weapon, Iron Man 3 also reflects the fact that Black is brilliant at blending high class action with comedy. Two set-pieces to take note of are the aforementioned attack on Stark’s mansion, and a high-flying attack on Air Force One.
Ben Kingsley’s Mandarin had a chance to be the absolute best villain in the MCU. Marvel took a huge chance with this character, and I think that it paid off. The Mandarin is the quintessential villain of the 21st century as his shock and awe campaign unfolds across America. It’s basically impossible to discuss The Mandarin without giving away the film’s biggest twist, but Kingsley brings such a sensational menace to the character, I couldn’t help but want more of it. This portrayal of the character will most likely leave many fans divided, and it could bother fans loyal to the comic books. Early in the film, The Mandarin proclaims, “You will never see me coming.” It wasn’t until now that I realized how big of an impact that line would have.
Guy Pearce does more than hold his own as the suave scientist, Aldrich Killian. Pearce was almost non-existent in Prometheus, and was a little silly as the main baddy in Lawless, but he did a wonderful job as this smart and manipulative figure. His performance in the role could land him some big blockbuster success in the future. Gwyneth Paltrow’s Pepper Potts is more active in Iron Man 3 than in any other installment. During the attack on the mansion, we actually get a chance to see Pepper in the Mark 42 suit, after Tony sends it onto her body to protect her.
All in all, I really enjoyed Iron Man 3. If you think that you have the slightest idea of what to expect, then I’m here to tell you right now, you’re wrong.
Iron Man 3 isn’t better than The Avengers, but it is the best of the Iron Man series and the best written Marvel film to date. Director Shane Black brings his signature style to this action-packed, comical, and thrilling threequel while giving fans one of the biggest twists ever seen in the comic book genre. Marvel took a big leap of faith with Iron Man 3, and they delivered. Ben Kingsley’s Mandarin is the MCU’s most daring villain to date – a character that will definitely divide fans. Many comic book purists will have things to gripe about, but for all the film’s flaws, this is one hell of a way to kick off Phase Two. If this is Robert Downey Jr.’s last time under the armor, then he leaves the role that revived his career with his head held high, and we should all tip our hat to him.
Posted on May 1, 2013, in Reviews and tagged Avengers, Ben Kinglsey, Comics, Film, Guy Pearce, Gwyneth Paltrow, Iron Man, Iron Man 3, Marvel, Marvel Cinematic Universe, MCU, Movies, Review, Robert Downey Jr., Shane Black, Superheroes, The Mandarin. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.