Phase 2 of Marvel’s movies have official begun with Iron Man 3. Much like the original Iron Man, the tone and direction for the next set of movies has been set. One question after the Avengers was what threats the characters would face that they wouldn’t simple call in their new found friends. The simple answer was, make it personal. Robert Downey Jr. has talked about his trepidation in playing Tony Stark for the 4th time, wondering what direction he could take the character without repeating himself. The post-Avengers iteration sees Tony suffering from PTSD. After nearly dying in the depths of space, his cocksure demeanor has been shattered. He barely sleeps, only creating more armor, now up to the MK 42 (apparently abandoning Roman numerals by this point).
There was a lot that worked and equally as much that didn’t for me. First off, the villains were finally done well. The Mandarin was wonderfully translated to the screen. The character has always been a difficult translation for Marvel. The character in the comics is a good opposite for Tony, a martial arts master with magic from 10 power rings, he was raised in Communist China and became a power hungry despot. While the idea of tech vs. mysticism is a smart one, it’s a little hard to bring the spectacle to the big screen. Instead, this interpretation from writer/director Shane Black (of Lethal Weapon and Monster Squad fame) has him looking like he was left behind in Vietnam and came straight out of the jungle to terrorize America. It was brilliant and worked well. Strangely, in the trailer a Captain America tattoo can easily be spied on The Mandarin’s neck. It’s not really scene or mentioned in the movie.
The main plot crossed the Extremis and Five Nightmares story lines to good effect, changing some basic elements to keep the story suspenseful. I’d rather not talk spoilers here, but don’t worry about the final battle, it’s not another rehash of the Iron Monger battle like Iron Man 2 was.
What didn’t work for me was Tony himself. While he his sarcastic charm was endearing in the previous entries, here he’s more of an ass. At one point Tony meets a kid who assists him. The child actor actually holds his own against Downey and gives a wonderful performance. Tony made some remarks to him that I thought were more so cruel than humorous. Also, apparently anyone can pilot the Iron Patriot. My main complaint was how little Tony was in the Iron Man costume. He’s stuck with the MK 42 after his house is destroyed, which is an incomplete model. Tony not having access to 100% of his capabilities was annoying as it felt like I’ve seen it before, too many times. I realize this move is to teach Tony how he’s the hero, not the suit, but after seeing limited appearances of the suit before, I wanted more.
There was a dramatic moment that came during the final battle only to be undercut by a gag shortly after. This really took me out of the experience. After the showdown, the story took an interesting path, which really makes me wonder what direction the character will go in during Avengers 2. At the end of the credits the tag “Tony Stark will return” displayed, reminding me how the movie series has always strived to show that their is difference between he and Iron Man.
I was let down by the movie mostly. I don’t set high expectations for things, but this failed to met any. The tag at the end wasn’t a set up for another film, which brought me down even more. As of right now I have mixed to negative feelings about the film. I want to see it again before reaching a consensus, but for now, meh.
Little worried about Thor now.