I am a Disney fan, Marvel fan, superhero fan and a heretic.
Contrary to other reviews you may have read already, let me say Iron Man 3 is a good movie but not the greatest superhero comic movie ever. It is not as good as The Avengers, Iron Man 2,or Iron Man (my personal ranking, yes I did put 2 before 1). It is fun and enjoyable though at times (the front) it kind of drags and I have plenty of concerns that brought me out of the movie the first time I watched it. Maybe my expectations were too high!
In the third installment of the Iron Man series, an emotionally maturing Tony Stark, played brilliantly by Robert Downey Jr., is dealing, and not well, with the emotional ramifications of the battle for New York in The Avengers. While emotionally at his wit’s end he enters into a confrontation with the terrorist The Mandarin who is attempting to reeducate the American President. Tony becomes embroiled into this confrontation after one of The Mandarin’s Extermis soldiers hurts someone close to Tony. After a strike on his home, Stark must determine how to defeat the demons of his past, find The Mandarin’s lair, protect those he loves and defend the United States’ government in this Mousey Movie:
- Team Work: Where is Captain America? I assume that Thor is not in the neighborhood but where is Captain America? Shouldn’t Captain America face a challenge against the United States and its leader? Is he not the most natural of Tony’s friends, he has a flag on his chest, to at least fight for the American way of life? Where is S.H.I.E.L.D. and Nick Fury? Tony Stark is at least loosely affiliated with S.H.I.E.L.D., so should we not expect Nick Fury (who never shows up) to at least send someone like Coulson’s replacement over to the Stark Ranch after an air strike against it. But nope, no S.H.I.E.L.D. Tony Stark is part of a wider world, so where is everybody?
- The Real World: To me a hallmark of the Iron Man films has been cementing Tony Stark to the real world. So I wondered how The Mandarin played by Ben Kingsley would be handled. The Mandarin is a traditional Asian Iron Man villain powered by ten rings that are either magical or alien depending on the story arc you are reading. He is very non-real world. But I do applaud the fresh and realistic take they give to the Mandarin. He is portrayed in a way that should not be offensive to any culture. And he easily could exist in our world. Since Thor brought us Gods and The Avengers brought us aliens I thought maybe they would take an imaginary leap with The Mandarin. Instead, they followed their past and stayed in our world and I really liked it. And Kingsley was brilliant in his portrayal of this classic villain.
- Kids and Animals: Kingsley was good, but Ty Simpkins stole the show for me. Who? Exactly! This fresh faced youngster plays a boy named Harley. Harley like Stark is mechanical and an emotional hot mess. If anyone can put the cocky superhero into his place it is Harley. Disney, sign this kid onto a long-term contract. We need to see him in future films as a sidekick to the millionaire, a protégé one might say. With Coulson out of the picture, until the T.V. show premiers at least, I officially identify Harley as my new favorite Marvel Cinematic Universe original character.
- Tear Jerker: Everyone who has seen the trailers knows that Tony’s home is attacked and his hall of armor is devastated. I used to be sad about this when I saw the first trailers. But I must have come to terms with it, because I was sad but the armor loss did not upset me. But I had forgot there were other items in the garage that I've become emotionally attached to. So despite seeing this scene over and over again I was still left with a sense of loss.
- Other People’s Property: Punisher, Ghost Rider, Daredevil and Blade are all officially back in the Disney/Marvel family. And it is clear that Disney is concerned with staking claims to their property, intellectual property that is. Along with the return of the Marvel lost children, Kevin Feige has announced that Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch are planned to be featured in The Avengers 2. This is interesting since Disney does not have movie rights to their daddy Magneto, who is in the X-Men films. And you have to wonder if they can even stay they are mutants? But the move does block these mutant siblings from being used in the non-Disney Marvel movies. Another addition in the second Avengers film is AIM as Aldrich Killian’s think tank. And Roxxon is mentioned as a company within the Disney Cinematic Universe before it could show up in a Spider-Man film. The most interesting marking of the Disney territory is War Machine being re-branded as Iron Patriot. I prefer the War Machine name, especially since Rhodey has never been Iron Patriot. Oh, and Iron Patriot is a villain, a re-purposed Iron Man suit worn by Spider-Man villain Norman Osborn. Is it possible that Marvel and Disney made this name change now to keep an Iron Man-like armor from showing up in the Spider-Man films? Honestly, I have a hard time believing that Sony could include Iron Patriot in their plans without Marvel approval. When all the intellectual dust settles, I wish War Machine was still War Machine!
- Business Casual: This is a small thing, but it took me out of the movie. Don Cheadle’s Colonel James Rhodes the pilot of Iron Patriot is an Air Force officer. So his uniform when on patrol in the Iron Patriot armor is a polo and jeans that one can buy in any men’s section. Should he not have some sort of Battle Dress Uniform or other sanctioned and logoed military outfit when on official patrol, and not an outfit I could buy in every department store’s men’s section? I guess it does make CosPlay easier! I just keep thinking that Walt Disney demanded that Imagineers be true to details because even if we did not know why something was off we would still feel it. I felt it!
- Action Jackson: The action sequences are really good, especially the attack on the Stark mansion and the battle finale. The Between Kid saw it with me the second time and I am pretty sure there was no blinking during both of these sequences. And despite having seen the movie once before, I still felt pulled into Tony’s struggles as his house was destroyed around him. The second time I paid to see the film in IMAX 3D, which usually I dislike. But for Iron Man 3 I really enjoyed the feeling of broken glass flying at me or ashes floating throughout the room.
- Grow Up: I do believe the storyline shows growth for three of our main characters. Tony Stark clearly now cares for someone beyond himself, Pepper Potts. Potts, portrayed by Gwyneth Paltrow, is definitely in charge of Stark Industries and comfortable with that role. She says no and yes on her authority and not Tony’s. In fact, Pepper comes off as a very strong figure in the board room, her romantic relationship, and even on the battlefield filled with villains and heroes. And Happy Hogan , played by Jon Favreau, no longer drives Tony or Pepper around but heads all of Stark security. It is nice to see these original three have not been stuck in place.
- False Ending: I really feel like they are trying to give Iron Man 3 a Dark Knight Rises ending where the trilogy of Iron Man films are all wrapped up in a neat little package. But everyone, and I mean everyone to the youngest child knows, knows that regardless of the ending tying up of plot points that Tony Stark and Iron Man will return in The Avengers 2. In fact, the ending could literally end the Iron Man saga, and the Between Tween asked if there would ever be another Iron Man movie. After the post-credit scene we are told Tony Stark will be back and all the emotional work that the ending built up is out the window with a title card. I really felt like they fully do not understand the bigger picture. If this was the true end of a trilogy I would be satisfied. But that is not the situation. In the end, this ending is just misdirection to me. I should not I have debated heavily with a friend about this point, but I still have not been convinced it was the ending we needed.
Again, good not great. Iron Man 3 does have things we expect and need including the Stan Lee cameo and the post credit scene. Actually the post credit scene was not what I expected, or still believe needed, but was probably one of the best to date. If you are reading this blog, you will probably see Iron Man 3, if you have not already. I recommend sitting back, relaxing and do not look critically. Because when I took that strategy it was a much better movie.