PM Movie Reviews: Iron Man 3
Iron Man 3 must be seen. Not just because it’s many times better than the abysmal Iron Man 2, not just because it’s the official start to Phase II of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and not just because it’s got lots of big and pretty explosions. It must be seen because of the inspired and unconventional direction breathed into it by new-to-the-series director, Shane Black.
Black is the screenwriting wunderkind who sold the script for Lethal Weapon at the age of 22 because of writing like this:
Black wrote and directed 2005’s criminally underrated Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, which also featured Robert Downey Jr., and he co-starred in the classic Schwarzenegger actioner, Predator, as this guy:
Iron Man 3 fits neatly into Black’s filmography. Die-hard shell-head fans may be dismayed with the way certain characters are handled and how certain plot elements hold up under scrutiny, but rest assured, Iron Man 3 is a great summer spectacle. It’s an action comedy that’s got the bravado of a 1980’s popcorn film and the intoxicating mixture of glitz, glamour, and grit of the new wave superhero movie. For the character of Tony Stark, it works extremely well. Most of the time.
If you went in thinking this would be a raw exploration of Tony Stark’s PTSD after the events in The Avengers, a dark and harrowing journey into the psyche of the man inside the armor, I wouldn’t blame you. The trailers set it up as such. Quite frankly, the movie going audience seems to crave this type of grown up, in-depth treatment for these characters; these characters who spring from the comic book pages generally deemed only for kids and man-children. Marketing departments know this. It’s supply and demand.
The trailers lied. In a way, the movie itself is just as deceptive. There are great emotional beats throughout the film that reveal a Tony Stark who’s struggling to find his foundation in a universe with demigods and aliens, fighting to be more responsible, more selfless, and more heroic in a world where everyone knows he’s a super hero. But then those threads just seem to dangle there. The expectations are set-up and then forgotten.
Late in the film, a moment of real pain for Tony simply passes. He’s back to his one-liners in the next moment and the gravity of the situation eludes him and us. If ever there was a time for Stark to shed his protective shell of one-liners and Robert Downey, Jr.’s chewy improv, that would’ve been it. Instead, we get go-go gadget arms and hyper aware pop culture references. But I guess that’s just how a genius, billionaire, playboy philanthropist rolls.
Still, aside from that and an unenthusiastic Don Cheadle, given a terrible redesign of War Machine for a lame call out to a lame character, and an uncharacteristic absence by S.H.I.E.L.D. (seeing as how The Avengers set the bar so high, it is disappointing to see the shared universe mostly ignored again), Iron Man 3, as the third movie in a series of Iron Man films and not the seventh in a series of Marvel films, is a solid popcorn flick and a good opener to a summer of big time blockbusters.
So, should you see it and then see it again?
It depends. If you’re going in with only a cursory knowledge of Iron Man and his rogues gallery, or you know who Shane Black is and you’re still down for the ride (you either love him or you can’t stand him, kind of like Tarantino), then chances are you’ll enjoy the spectacle of it all and might not mind seeing it twice. You’ve got another two weeks until Star Trek Into Darkness opens, more than enough time for another viewing of Iron Man 3.
If you’re a die-hard fan, you probably feel bitter about this installment in the trilogy. Blame the trailers for hyping up your expectations. Blame yourself for believing them.
P.S. As always with Marvel films, remember to stick around for the after-credits scene.
By Jeff Le