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Iron Man 3

Iron Man 3 2013

This is the latest in the juggernaut that is Marvel Studios releases, and especially movies with Robert Downey Jr. in a metal suit. The early reviews were mostly blown away by the new sequel and as I had to wait an extra week for it to come out here in the States, I was starting to chomp at the bit to watch the movie. Of course, once it hit theaters around my neck of the woods, there started to be a few more rumblings of failure and a lot more opinion that this actually wasn’t the best of the trilogy. There were plot holes, and weak moments and ill-fated twists, and when I got the chance to watch the movie… I wasn’t quite sure what I really thought about it. It had it’s action moments, and Robert Downey Jr. doing what he does best as he has done in the past three movies including the Avengers, but there were also those plot holes and other things tugging away at the sides of my brain. I decided I couldn’t quite give the movie justice until I gave it a few days thought and watched the movie for a second time. 2D every time all the time for me FYI. I had an article previously where I talked about the Curse of Three, and while the impact has dwindled a bit with the release of The Dark Knight Rises, it hasn’t completely gone away and I still think there are weak elements in this movie that can definitely hinder the watching experience for some and completely ruin it for others. And fair warning, there may be spoilers in this review, I will try to be non-specific where I can, but I’m not going to dance around them if I need to call them out.

Iron Man 3

Before I get into too many details, I do want to mention that I was on the most recent episode of the Lambcast over at the Lamb where we discussed Iron Man 3 shortly after I had watched it. Check it out right over here. After seeing it again, interestingly one thing that kind of bugged me the most was a continuity/editing error. During the final fight, at one point Tony gets his leg sliced off and you can clearly see that the leg of the suit had been severed, but when he falls, he still has both legs and it is actually one of the suits he is physically in instead of a remote suit. I really wasn’t very much of a fan of all the remote suit stuff as well as the couple times when it was a misdirect for the audience to believe that Tony was in the suit when he actually wasn’t, even if it was then played off as a humorous moment.

One of the things I do respect this movie for is the fact that it really tries to get to the central theme that the metal suit is not Iron Man, Tony Stark himself is Iron Man. He remains out of the suit, or at the very least in his prototype suit which isn’t fully functional, for most of the movie. He is being brought down to the level he was at during the first movie and has to rely much more on his intelligence rather than his technology. But this also creates this effect where not only is he intelligent and resourceful, he can also kick some major ass, and so can Pepper. I can understand that he has to have some fighting skills, because even though being in the suit boosts his strength, he still has to have the agility and reflexes to pull off the basic moves which the suit then enhances. Even though he doesn’t have any extreme martial arts throwdowns, he does have quite a few impressive fighting skills that I felt like it was a bit of a stretch for him to have. Why couldn’t he just rely completely on his intelligence and resourcefulness, does he also have to be able to take people out with relative ease without technological help?

Another piece of the movie that I felt was shoehorned into the plot was the whole Christmas angle. It’s mentioned only three or four times during the movie, and there’s one or two Christmas songs, but I never really got a feeling that the movie takes place during Christmas, and I also never understood how that was relevant to the rest of the plot of the movie. I also wasn’t really fond of the whole narration at the beginning where the movie kind of starts in the climax (at least the first climax) then becomes a flashback to what’s really the start of the movie. Just start the movie already. I will say that one element that I was the most worried about when he showed up turned out to be handled excellently: the kid sidekick. In many movies the kid sidekick can be the kiss of death, Short Round, little Anakin, the kid in Superman III, but little Harley was a great foil for Tony Stark. He really felt a lot like a real kid, one who was quite intelligent for his age and also lives in an insecure home. I absolutely loved two moments out of the kid; the first is when he’s asking a string of questions about the Avengers, and the second was when he’s trying to guilt trip Stark and Tony calls him out on it because “we’re connected”. I also felt that he got just the right amount of screentime. He played a big part during the time he was on screen, but once Tony left Tennessee, we only get a couple brief follow ups which is all we need.

Spoiler alert: who do you think is in the suit?

The secondary characters were hit and miss in this movie, I thought both Pepper Potts and Rhodey had a little bit more to do than in previous films, but I still thought both of them got short changed. Rhodey only has a couple brief scenes in the first half of the movie and they are mostly played for comic relief. When he gets a couple chances to really show some action chops, he gets taken out way too easily, and even in the final battle he only gets a couple brief moments to shine. I think Pepper fares better, especially because she gets to don the armor momentarily and it’s an awesome moment where she’s able to save Tony for a change. And especially awesome in that it happens at least twice during the movie. It’s rare these days to see many strong female characters in superhero movies and it’s great that Marvel has two of them right now in Pepper Potts and Black Widow. But at the same time I hate that while she gets to play the strong, capable woman, she’s also relegated to being the damsel in distress as well as the bait. Sometimes in this movie it’s one step forward and two steps back.

I haven’t even gotten to the villains yet. One of the biggest love it or hate it moments in this movie is the Mandarin reveal. Since I don’t follow the comics and my only experience with the Mandarin was in the pretty poor animated Invincible Iron Man I was not at all mad about the bait and switch. I thought it was intelligent, funny, and amazing that it was such a surprise in this day and age. It really helped to quiet down all the early complaints about Ben Kingsley not being Asian. I did have a bit of a problem with the overtaking of the airwaves. With television being available through so many different sources, broadcast, cable, satellite, internet, it’s harder and harder to believe that someone can remotely take over every single station at once, it was especially annoying because it felt like this had been going on for months now and yet it was still a complete and total shock to everyone working at the television station? As for the lava-men-like Extremis projects? I liked the visual representation of how they glowed red, but I thought that the pseudo-science of how they actually worked was too implausible. Instead of nanobots, which is still fairly far fetched, they explained that it was an empty slot in the brain that they replaced with new DNA. The amount of energy needed to repair that level of damage and/or create that much heat needed to melt metal is not only massive, but very hard to imagine as something physically able to do by the human body. On top of that, Guy Pearce’s presence as a villain left something to be desired. I thought he handled the slimy businessman/potential suitor role fairly well, but he just wasn’t menacing enough in the end, and his plan was poorly defined. It is there, and can be explained, but it shouldn’t really have to be explained, it should be fairly simple and obvious.

He's not the Mandarin that I used to know, even though I never knew any Mandarin.

He’s not the Mandarin that I used to know, even though I never knew any Mandarin.

Iron Man 3 had a lot of action, a lot of humor, and a lot of drama. But I don’t think it got them in quite the right combination. It’s still a pretty impressive Marvel movie with a lot of great moments, and I’ll never get tired of seeing Robert Downey Jr. playing Tony Stark, but at the end of the day there was just a lot to be desired. This movie had a lot to live up to after the massive success of the Avengers and the relative disappointment of Iron Man 2. And while I’m one of the fewer people that thought Iron Man 2 was a great movie, I think Iron Man 3 falls right around the same level if not a little bit lower. I’ll happily watch it again once it hits home video, but for now I’m waiting for Man of Steel. Until next time, this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.

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About Bubbawheat

I'm a comic book movie enthusiast who has watched and reviewed over 300 superhero and comic book movies in the past four years, my goal is to continue to find and watch and review every superhero movie ever made.

Posted on May 15, 2013, in 10's movies, Marvel and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.

  1. Fine look at this, bw. Entertaining film, but the more I think on it the more I fall in line with you. I do remember reading the Iron Man/Mandarin comics and it was a disappointment when the reveal arrived (though the humor lessened the blow). And I really didn’t like the Extremis project for exactly the same points you noted.

    Hence, while I do love Guy Pearce’s (not Ritchie, btw) work overall, he’s nowhere close to being the top villain in the IM trilogy. I did enjoy RDJ taking direction from Shane Black once more. Great review, my friend.

    • Ritchie? Who said Ritchie *shifty eyes*? Thanks for the kind words, I figured if I waited this long, it should be a review worth waiting for and hopefully I achieved that. It’s one of those event movies where when the event wears off, you realize it was more flash than substance.

  2. Fair review. I forgave it many of the things you mention ,the continuity stuff and the Christmas angle didn’t really bother me. In all biased honesty I went in with a free mind, took it for what it was and enjoyed it. The Mandarin thing I understand for many, but I accepted the rug pull and it made me laugh. The remote suits became OTT, but separating the man from the can as I put it and you quite rightly observe that Stark is Iron Man as I do too, is exactly my take on it. I also watched IM2 again recently and it wasn’t as bad as I personally remember either, so I have an improved view of that now, but I still thought 3 was better. Well done for taking the time on it.

    • Thanks, I do think it was right to keep him out of the suit, I just thought he was a little TOO good out of the suit. I went in with mostly high hopes and enjoyed the spectacle of it all, and the second time I think I went in a little more objectively and paid more attention to the plot and the holes therein.

  3. Good review Bubba. Took maybe a bit too long to get going where it needed to get going, but it sure as hell was a fun ride. Especially that last act.

  4. With the leg thing you commented on, I was confused about that the first time I saw it, but the second time, I saw the back of the leg open up when Killian trapped it so Tony could get his leg out.

    As for Harley, I liked him for 2 reasons: Tony treated him the exact same way he treats everyone else and he seemed like who Tony would have been if he hadn’t been the son of a billionaire industrialist.

    I think the final battle would have been better with about half as many remote armors and half as many minions, but with the armors more clearly differentiated. The “Igor” armor had a good moment with stabilizing the crane, but all the rest of the remote armors were pretty much interchangeable.

    With the post credits scene, I wish they had teased something rather than just having another joke. Maybe even something as simple as teasing that Tony did keep one set of armor for if Hulk went out of control (maybe even built at Bruce’s request).

    In general, my experience was pretty much the same. Wasn’t a big fan after the first time I watched it, but after I had time to think about it some and watch it again, I liked it more. Still not as much as the original, but better than 2 (though 2 does have the best Tony Stark moment for me in the Senate hearing).

    • I may be putting too much emphasis on that leg scene, though when he falls down, it’s not just that he still has both legs, but he still has both armored legs. I totally agree about the final battle, the armors felt too interchangeable aside from the Hulkbuster armor which I only know is called the Hulkbuster armor due to outside information.

  5. I can see what you’re saying here, especially about the implausibility of how Extremis works. I was able to roll with it (growing up on the Silver Age “Radiation can do anything” comics helps) but I can certainly see how it would be an issue for some.

    I also concur about the Christmas angle. But that seems to be Shane Black’s “thing”. He loves to set action movies at Christmas.

    • I hadn’t thought of it in terms of “silver age”, but it’s like they put silver age villains in a modern age movie, they just don’t mesh the right way for me. I do think I should watch it again, maybe for an episode of my podcast.

  1. Pingback: 100 Essential Superhero Movies | Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights

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