Iron Man Three: Closing With A Whimper
– A Hero Corner Catch-Up Review by David 2
So after Mighty Marvel Studios finished out “Phase One” of their cinematic dominance, the next challenge is to top it with “Phase Two”.
Sadly for Marvel, though, they falter on their second lap.
“Iron Man 3” or “Iron Man Three” (as it is called in the credits) was released in 2013 and brings back Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, the voice of Paul Bettany, and Jon Favreau, although this time around Jon is just an actor and not the director of this movie… and it shows. They also bring in Guy Pierce, Rebecca Hall, the late Miguel Ferrer, and Ben Kingsley. Ty Simpkins is introduced as a kid sidekick, and he was supposedly given a three-movie deal, although we have yet to see the other two films. Mark Ruffalo also has an appearance in the after-credits as Bruce Banner, but he’s not credited for it.
The movie takes place some time after “The Avengers”. Tony Stark (Downey Jr.) begins by giving weird narrations about luck and fate.
Tony starts his tale with a flashback. It’s December 31st, 1999, and Tony is his usual “genius billionaire playboy” self, getting drunk and trying to get laid with a young scientist name Maya (Hall). During this time, he is interrupted by the doctor who will later save his life while in captivity (in “Iron Man”), and by a flaky inventor name Aldrich Killian (Pierce). He blows off the doctor, sends Aldrich to the roof of the hotel, and sleeps with Maya. Our future hero!
Cut back to the present (2013). It’s six months after “The Avengers” met, saved the world, and then went their separate ways and Tony is a wreck. He’s not sleeping. He’s building Iron Man suits like crazy and giving them the ability to respond to his commands without him being in them. It’s causing friction with his girlfriend, Pepper Potts (Paltrow), and she’s focusing it on her new visitor, which is Killian. He’s cleaned himself up since the blow-off and has made a name for himself as the head of Advanced Ideas Mechanics. (Marvel comics fans will immediately recognize this group.) But something about Killian and the people he works with creeps out Tony’s longtime bodyguard Happy (Favreau).
Around this time there are news reports of terrorist actions by a man called “The Mandarin” (Kingsley). It’s been keeping Jim Rhodes (Cheadle) busy as the newly re-named “Iron Patriot”, and he’s looking for his friend Tony to help, but Tony is in no condition to help. He’s suffering from insomnia and, even though he refuses to talk about it, post-traumatic stress disorder from his near-death experience in New York with The Avengers. But when Happy is seriously hurt in an explosion that the Mandarin takes credit for, Tony feels obligated to help and he publicly calls out the Mandarin.
Maya returns in Tony’s life just long enough to warn him about the threat, but shows up just in time for the Mandarin’s soldiers to attack the Stark residence with gunships. Tony’s latest Iron Man suit is buggy and it fails him, but he still manages to get Pepper and Maya to safety before going down with the house into the ocean. The suit manages to save him just before its power core fails. (Wait, what? I thought it was powered by the arc reactor in his chest.) He makes his way in the snow to a garage, where a 10-year old kid named Harley (Simpkins) is in awe knowing that Tony Stark needs a place to stay.
Meanwhile we learn that Maya and Killian are connected to the Mandarin… although saying how will give it away. Sufficient to say, though, that even Tony’s “biggest fan” could figure it out long before it’s revealed, and that’s not a compliment.
Director Shane Black supposedly wanted the story to be like a Tom Clancy thriller, with twists and turns all along the way. Sadly, the twists and turns leave much to be desired. There are some really good scenes, such as the rescue of Air Force One and the climactic dockyard battle, but otherwise the story is dragged out and a tad boring. And the “big reveal”? Come on, Marvel! That’s not even comic book quality!
Oh, and a little trivia for you: “Iron Patriot” was actually the name adopted by one Norman Osborne, Spider-Man’s arch enemy, back when he took over SHIELD and got hold of Tony Stark’s Iron Man suits. So to see Rhodes flying around calling himself “Iron Patriot” is sort of a fanboy slap-in-the-face. Thankfully that ends when this movie does.
And, yes, the after-credit scene is that we find out Tony’s whole story is being told to… a sleeping Bruce Banner. So we weren’t the only ones that noticed the dragged-out story.
“Iron Man Three” ends Tony Stark’s story, and none too soon. It’s not exactly a good reflection of “Phase Two”, and given how the character changes in subsequent appearances, it’s probably good that they ended Tony’s story when they did.