Iron Man 3 has a lot to live up to. Iron Man was one of the best movies of its year, and is arguably one of the best superhero movies ever. Iron Man 2 and The Avengers were brilliant, and there’s been a lot of anticipation for the first movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s ‘Phase 2’. So how does it measure up?
Well first off, Iron Man 3 is a buttload of fun. Every scene is rife with explosions, one-liners and/or emotion. In fact, it’s a rare scene that goes by without some kind of one-liner or gag, even in the heat of battle. Some people might find it a bit excessive, but I felt that the funny moments kept the film lively, even with the dire subject matter. But what about the other parts of the film?
Let’s start off with the obvious elements: Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau) is back (but not as Tony’s bodyguard anymore), as are Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) and Rhodey/War Machine/Iron Patriot (Don Cheadle). Favreau stepped down as director of the Iron Man films, but Shane Black does a commendable job of continuing the legacy. Child actor Ty Simpkins is a lot of fun to watch, acting as Tony’s (tiny) foil and helper. Rebecca Hall plays Dr. Maya Hansen, Guy Pearce is Aldritch Killian, and of course, the Mandarin makes a satisfyingly menacing appearance.
Now, when I heard that the Mandarin was going to be the villain, played by Ben Kingsley no less, I was less than impressed. Hollywood cinema has a long history of casting white people in roles that should be played by non-white people. Especially since the Mandarin is you know, kind of a giant Asian stereotype. However (without giving anything away), the writers used the Mandarin very cleverly and resolved the entire thing by the end.
There are a few plotlines in this movie. The big, bad, obvious one is the Extremis plotline, along with the Mandarin’s terrorism. Quite relevant in the current political climate. As for the secondary plotlines, the most interesting is how Tony is dealing with the events of New York. Hint: not terribly well. He’s been spending most of his time building suits. Lots of suits. And he’s having mental issues – fairly common after a traumatic experience like fighting an army of aliens and almost dying. It’s handled pretty well, and will hopefully encourage more talk about anxiety. I mean, if it can happen to Tony Stark…
Director Shane Black makes some interesting stylistic choices, including very comic book-ish wipe transitions and having Tony narrate various parts of the movie. (Stay for the cut-scene at the end, because it’s pretty funny, and also makes sense of the narration.)
As to how Iron Man 3 fits into Phase 2 of the MCU, I’m reserving judgement. The way the film ends is intriguing. We’ll leave it at that.
Rating: 8.5/10 – explosions