When the first Iron Man movie
came out in 2008, I was very positively surprised. Due to the success of the film, further MARVEL movies that eventually led to the great Avengers movie
in 2012. We're now in the second wave of individual MARVEL superhero movies that will lead to Avengers 2, starting with Iron Man 3. Apparently, I was the only one that liked the second Iron Man movie, but I still wasn't exactly psyched for this one due to very lukewarm reviews and the uninspired trailer
. I got to watch it nevertheless.
Iron Man 3 takes off shortly after Avengers, with Tony on his own again. The story revolves around the omnious Mandarin
, a foreign terrorist that attacks military and civil targets in the US and the growing influence of AIM
(in a very different form than in the comics, magic rings and M.O.D.O.K. might have been a bit much for general audiences). Meanwhile, Tony Stark struggles with the responsibility laid upon him as Iron Man and his serious attempt at a relationship with Pepper. His public challenge to the Mandarin soon backfires and Stark has to face one of his lowest points when it hits home. Elements from the comics other than the villains are Extremis and a bunch of suits that have appeared in the original.
Generally speaking, Iron Man 3 is, just like the predecessors, an entertaining comic book superhero action movie throughout pretty much the entire time. However, it comes short of its full potential. The marketing set the premise of the hero being broken (in a remarkable resemblance to The Dark Knight Rises), however that isn't portrayed as drastically as the trailer puts it. The biggest issue this movie has might just be the third act, in which there are a bunch of terrible elements, but I'll get to that in the spoiler part. If it wasn't for the very good performances of Robert Downey, Jr. and Guy Pearce, it would have been the dullest of the three Iron Man movies, with some rather pointless stretches that contribute little to the plot or the character's development. The plot is, again, based on the question who actually pulls the strings behind the curtains, but it becomes perfectly clear within after twenty minutes how it all will turn out.
I'd also like to point out the very obtrusive product placement. Audi and Oracle most of all are rubbed in your face in ways that just seem off, as if people wrote the story and afterward struggled very hard to find a place to mention the sponsors.
WARNING – SPOILERS AHEAD, highlight the text to read:
Other than what I've just said, what really bugged me were the scenes with the kid and the final big action scene. The scene in the little town with the kid was supposed to be him at his lowest point, but really he shook it off very quickly and returned to action hero ass-kicking without any further consideration or planning. Also, there's this kid in it and kids are always annoying in movies.
What almost ruined the whole film for me though was the end when the several suits are deployed simultaneously and fighting the Extremis guys.
Every action-, fantasy- or adventure movie these days has to have a big battle scene at the end with as many people involved as possible. Not only is this formula boring and predictable, but in this it is executed in a way that reminds one of Michael Bay action scenes. It's impossible to follow because it's just a bunch of very brief sequences cut together, with no sense of coordination or direction. The highlight of Iron Man 2 was War Machine and Iron Man fighting the drone robots in that garden which was a completely brilliant scene because you get the idea what is happening and it was about firepower, close combat and the best use of weaponry. Most of it was shot up close, so you get drawn in way more, are more involved in the scene. In Iron Man 3, it's a lot that happens in the background, there are lots of explosions, the participants jumping and flying around and the camera just goes berserk. It's complete sensory overload without any clear direction, like these terrible Transformers movies. It's just not well made. When Pepper then got her Extremis superpowers and started doing kung-bullshit-fu, I just wanted that scene to end.
If it wasn't for Guy Pearce, Killian would have been a terrible role. The cliche villain who is cruel for cruelty's sake and tells his plan to the protagonist – it's very flat throughout the movie. He's like a competent version of Hammer from Iron Man 2, but just as cartoonish. All the other Extremis guys they have to fight off at the end remain faceless and without any clear motivation.
So all in all, Iron Man 3 is worth a watch if you liked the other two movies for some meaningless entertainment. It's not a great movie, but it has some quite good scenes in it, just don't hope for it to be on par with the first movie – mostly due to the idiotic finale and poor reveal.