Iron Man 3 has been out for over a week now, and many reviews are quite positive. I can’t blame them; on first sight this film is yet another home run for Marvel. Yet, on close observation, this movie has some serious issues at hand. As the beginning of Marvel’s Phase 2 of superhero films, Iron Man 3 had the opportunity to be an incredible aftershock of the Avengers. Of course, we can’t expect it to be quite at Avengers level, but I did expect it to fulfill its potential. But it didn’t. It missed opportunities, dropped some necessary drama, and ruined some great moments.
Immediately, The Mandarin attacks everything Tony Stark holds dear. Even worse, Tony is still dealing with the aftermath of the Avengers and his near death, even experiencing some post-traumatic stress attacks. While his PTSD presents quite an interesting character struggle, it was barely touched on. Conveniently, whenever it did kick in, he could always deal with it, and it never prevented him from doing what was necessary. This aspect was a perfect opportunity to make an incredibly complex storyline with some great character development. But instead, emotional moments were ruined by the sharp humor of Stark. Of course, Tony Stark has always been a sarcastic and somewhat jocular character. And that’s not a bad thing. But here and there it detracted from some scenes that could have provided serious emotional drama.
This lack of suspenseful drama was clearly noticeable when the Mandarin was revealed to be an actor hired by Aldrich Killian. Instead of a dark, unknown, mysteriously powerful villain, we get an English actor almost completely oblivious to what has been done in his name. It was disappointingly anti-climactic. Indeed, it was a surprising twist, but definitely not a well-executed one.
When Killian injects Pepper Potts with Extremis, it terrifies Stark. But after escaping from his bonds due to his mobile armor, he stumbles around dealing with his damaged suit and seemingly ignores Pepper’s plight while verbally sparring with Rhodes. And after that we never hear a word about Pepper until the final battle, while she’s supposedly in danger of spontaneously combusting from Extremis. These moments seemed extremely nonsensical and humorous rather than suspenseful.
Despite all that, I have to give the film high marks for acting. Robert Downey Jr., as always, did a fantastic job, joined by Paltrow as Pepper and Cheadle as Rhodes. All three lived up to their roles, putting forward convincing and genuine characters. Even though I disliked the twist with the Mandarin, Ben Kingsley pulled off such opposite roles with ease. At one moment the brooding and evil terrorist, and the next a clueless actor enjoying his high pay rate. The acting in this film holds no source of complaints.
I must also admit that it is cinematically incredible. The filming is flawless; the effects and graphics are believable and visually amazing. Shane Black does a more than adequate job in his role as director. However, considering that the first Iron Man movie held such great characters and plotting, it makes me wonder if perhaps the change of director could be a partial cause of some of the failures. Jon Favreau seemed to have a better grasp of plot and Tony’s character as a whole. When Stark tossed his arc reactor into the ocean at the end, it seemed as if Black was cavalierly dismissing what Favreau had set up as Stark’s legacy in the previous films.
While Iron Man 3 is an impressive try at beginning an epic Phase 2 of Marvel movies, it didn’t quite deliver. The potential was there for dynamic drama and deep characters, but it was not capitalized on. However, it was still an enjoyable action movie with an impressive and glorious ending fight scene. Since I didn’t absolutely hate it and actually enjoyed watching most of it, I give it a 6.5/10.
Never without his notepad, pen, and hyper-active imagination, Nathan Nance is a News Reporter for Capeless Crusader, amateur comics writer, and connoisseur of all things mysterious, intriguing, and superhero-related. His favorite DC character is Tim Drake, aka Red Robin. In Marvel, Gambit. He can be found buried in comic back-issues or at firstname.lastname@example.org