The third Iron Man movie is here. With last year's The Avengers, most of the viewers should know who Tony Stark and his supporting characters are. These days movies tend to focus on being a trilogy but with The Avengers, this is, in a way, Iron Man's fourth film. Now that the Marvel Cinematic Universe has opened up and we've seen more cohesion between the different characters, going back to a solo movie is an interesting experience.
With the attack by the Chitauri, the meeting with Thor and Loki and even the wormhole to another galaxy, Tony Stark's world has opened up more than ever. We get elements of him moving forward but also simply trying to deal with the experience he just went through. This allows us to see many sides of Tony Stark, and that's great considering Robert Downey Jr. is more than capable of handling it all.
With a flashback at the beginning, we're reminded of who Tony Stark was years before the events from the first movie. This gives us the connection to Aldrich Killian and the idea of Extremis. When we catch up to the present, there's the threat of the Mandarin, a terrorist with America in his sights.
From here, you'll feel this is a different sort of Iron Man movie. That's a good thing. We don't want or necessarily need more of the same. For Iron Man to get involved with this sort of enemy, we're not seeing Iron Man vs. some villain in armor. This is also a movie about deconstructing Iron Man and Tony Stark. He isn't just a guy in a suit of armor. We need to, once again, really see what makes him tick. It's a great idea in showing us more than just the snazzy special fx of the suit flying around shooting the bad guys.
Where the movie shines but also flounders a bit is the humor. Robert Downey Jr. is great as Tony Stark. He is able to deliver the wittiest lines and give the movie a strong sense of being fun. There are times it gets to be a little too much. There were also moments I was trying to figure out what kind of movie this was and who it's being marketed towards. With the success of The Avengers, which was pretty much suitable for most ages, Iron Man 3 and director Shane Black had to decide what direction they want to take. There is a big reference to Tony's days of one night stands. It's innocent but the implication is plain to see. Some of the scenes of violence in Mandarin's war of terror might be a little too intense as well. But with all the jokes and the inclusion of child actor Ty Simpkins, you would think Disney is trying to make the movie appeal to younger viewers. Speaking of that kid, some of the scenes with the kid were funny but I could have done without his presence.
The other tough part is can you have a Marvel movie without other Marvel characters after The Avengers? Obviously, yes you can. But when the life of the President of the United States of America is at risk and when Tony Stark's home is destroyed, it's hard to accept that all his friends in the Avengers are busy elsewhere. Even the lack of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s presence was a little bothersome. Wouldn't this have been a great place to try to highlight the upcoming show? We don't even see a S.H.I.E.L.D. emblem anywhere. It's a minor gripe but isn't that what comic book readers are supposed to do? Other characters and events are referenced but just barely.
As far as the action goes, we are treated to some great scenes. I mentioned the different angle for Tony. He has to rely more on himself versus the tech of his suit. It makes for some really fun scenes but of course there will be an epic battle at the end. The threat of the Mandarin and Extremis combined with the twists and turns will keep you on the edge of your seat.
You will enjoy this movie. There shouldn't be any doubt with that. We get a great final scene. The movie serves as an epilogue to The Avengers and also sets up a new beginning. We were just spoiled a little with The Avengers.
I was late to my screening in Manhattan (thanks for the traffic, Lincoln tunnel) and barely made it in time. Because of this, I ended up in the third row of a massive theater. With my head uncomfortably titled back and wearing 3D glasses that barely let me see the entire screen, I was certain this was going to really take away from it. But you know what? It didn't. The slight pain in my neck was nothing compared to the huge amount of fun I was having. There's a scene in the film (fret not, this is totally spoiler-free) where a kid has a dumbfounded look on his face as he sees Iron Man. That look? It's the same stupid expression and sensation I had for most of the movie.
I'll admit, I was skeptical going in, too. I was afraid it would suffer too much of a "been there, done that" feeling. Robert Downey Jr. absolutely owns his role as Iron Man, but I was concerned we'd have a sense of overfamiliarity with him by now. Man, I was wrong. The laughs are every bit as good as the first and they're just as frequent. I can't recall the number of times I burst into laughter from one of Tony's remarks or even banter from another character (there's a great scene with two goons). Considering where I was seated, I was worried it would massively take away from the action as well. While close up shots were a little difficult to follow, they were still enthralling. There's a lot of action this time around and quite a few cheer-inducing moments. I know we've all seen the fleet of armors in the trailer, but in context it's still goosebump worthy.
Stark isn't in the suit all that much, and while that's sure to be upsetting for some, I thought it made the film feel refreshing. Instead, the plot has more of a detective vibe going for it and Tony needs to rely on his wit and what he can craft with limited supplies. Seeing him utilize all-new gear was simply awesome. Additionally, a decent chunk of the movie revolves around Tony teaming-up with a kid. On paper, that's facepalm-worthy stuff. But on the big screen, it actually works well. Watching Stark bounce his personality off someone new was definitely engaging, even if the team-up did generate a fairly cliche moment.
While I do love this movie, I of course recognize Iron Man 3 is sure to divide fans. Rebecca Hall's character feels uninspired and if you're a comic purist, there's something that'll definitely piss you off. If you're searching for a deep story with minimal plot holes, then you'll likely leave the theater disappointed. But if you're looking for hugely entertaining action, an overdose of laughs and a whole lot of fun, then you're going to have a blast. I can say with full confidence Iron Man 3 is second place for me when it comes to Marvel Studios' films -- first place being The Avengers, of course.