Well, after a year of anticipation since last year’s Avengers, Iron Man 3 has finally been released. I know what you’ve all heard… this was either the best of the trilogy or the worst thing to be inflicted upon us since Batman and Robin. Well, I’m here with the truth: Not only is this the best in the trilogy, it may well be one of the best superhero movies since this whole crazy genre got an adrenaline shot to the heard way back in 2000 when X-Men was released. For the life of me, I can’t figure out why some people hate this movie so much, but I can sure rant and rave about why I loved it.
IM3 is Robert Downey, Jr.’s Tony Stark’s first solo adventure since the battle in New York in The Avengers. He is a man who lived in the lap of luxury most of his life before finding himself thrown into a world of intergalactic warfare and walking among super soldiers, gods, and monsters. He is now suffering from PTSD and his only way of coping is by further immersing himself in his work building his Iron-Man suits, or as Gwyneth Paltrow’s Pepper Potts calls them, “distractions.” It is a clever way of exploring the character’s dependency on alcohol in the comics without having to show the character hung over or drunk for half the movie. This is a little something I like to call “character development” and it’s something a lot of movie goers expecting to see Avengers Part 2 are complaining about.
Don Cheadle returns as James Rhodes- also known as War Machine in previous movies. He sees a little more action in this movie as he has now been hired by the US military to fight terrorism around the world with a new “spangly”paint job and a new name- the Iron Patriot. Apparantly, terrorism is too small-time for a large group of superheroes so The Avengers are not brought in to hunt down Ben Kingsley’s Mandarin- a Bin Laden type who is the figurehead of an international group of terrorists known as The Ten Rings. This character has also been the subject of some harsh criticism by the more hardcore comic fans because of some of the artistic liberties taken, but these are the same people that had no problem with Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy, so I don’t take those criticisms too seriously. All I can say is that if you have paid ANY attention to world politics in the past, say, decade or so, you’ll totally understand the Mandarin “twist.”
Director Shane Black, who also wrote Lethal Weapon, revisits his roots in IM3. The witty one-liners just keep coming and help to make sure that this big-budget superhero action movie doesn’t take itself to seriously. There is plenty of detective work in this movie, as Stark has to hunt down the Mandarin and connect him to an evil business rival played by Guy Pearce. Pay close attention to the homages to Lethal Weapon, from an anxiety-ridden hero having his California home destroyed by air assault to the setting of the climactic battle at the end of the film.
The special effects haven’t changed much: Iron Man wears a suit made of half CGI/ half plastic and metal; villains’ eyes glow red, and Iron Man and Iron Patriot fly around a lot. There is a scene where an army of suits face off against an army of glowing red people that’s pretty fun, but again, you’ve seen this all before. This movie is much more character-driven than previous installments in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and doesn’t rely on an Avatar-like “WOW” factor to keep things interesting.
Please don’t go into this movie expecting to see The Avengers revisited. That will come later. These standalone movies are ways to explore the individual characters with a little more depth between missions as a team– kind of like, oh, I don’t know… COMIC BOOKS! And for cripes’ sake, STAY UNTIL THE END OF THE CREDITS! I CANNOT believe how many people still insist on leaving as soon as the credits start to roll at these Marvel movies! Have you learned nothing!?!?! Let me let you all in on a secret: the post-credit scene in Iron Man 3 might be the funniest of all of the Marvel post-credit scenes so far.