I never expected to like the Iron Man films. By the time I felt this way I had seen my share of super hero movies go wrong, and figured Iron Man would be no different. Sure enough Robert Downey Jr. pulled off the unexpected and with his sardonic wit won me over in the first film.
The second film also surpassed expectations by taking me on an even bigger ride, breaking the sequel curse by not sucking all the good things from the original.
Then, of course, there was The Avengers, one of the better superhero films of recent memory that somehow made all these superheroes that I found individually uninteresting exciting and charismatic. Disney/Marvel definitely has a plan here. So how does Iron Man 3 fit into this plan?
Surely, following such a colossal hit such as The Avengers was a daunting task, and how exactly do you sell a movie ticket for one hero for the same price as one for several?
Apparently, the idea is to make the story more personal, more intimate. Perhaps the hero is struggling with the aftermath of his outings in the previous films? Iron Man 3 is a darker film and it does attempt these things.
But… it doesn’t do them well.
First of all, I can’t stand action movies that take place during Xmas. The only exceptions are Die Hard, a true classic, and The Long Kiss Goodnight, which shares director Shane Black with Iron Man 3. How odd.
There is really no big reason for Xmas to be happening. The only gift-giving I saw was for someone’s birthday.
We are also introduced early on to a villain whom comic book fans would recognize, Mandarin. In this film, he is made out to be some kind of terrorist leader, and you’d think this would cause Tony flashbacks from his time captive in the middle east, but no, it doesn’t come up.
Besides, the true villain is easy to figure out in the first minute. (Hint, don’t shun nerds in the elevator. They *will* seek revenge.)
Also, Tony and Pepper Potts seem to be having love troubles. No one knows why. Perhaps not even them. And Tony is working on remote control suits that will allow him to fly through plot holes and the strings of deus ex machina with ease.
The majority of the plot focuses on Tony Stark trying to find the Mandarin guy, who turns out to be a proxy for nerd-turned-stud Guy Pearce. Pay attention here, though, because Ben Kingsley gives a masterful portrayal of this non-villain.
The rest of the plot revolves around Guy Pearce and his army of exploding glow stick people trying to assassinate the prez. It’s all very flashy and stuff, and Pepper Potts even becomes a glow stick girl and might have a bigger role in the next Avengers film alongside every other side kick this side of D.C. Comics.
Overall I felt this film was a letdown, and not because it followed after The Avengers, but because, aside from Pepper being able to heat up her own water back at the office, nothing really changed. Tony Stark developed like a fake tree, and the villain was really nothing menacing.
The film could have been darker, more emotional, tore at our hearts, but it really just kind of scratched at my nerves. Oh well, at least there was an excuse to sell more toys.