Release Date: 2013
Director: Shane Black
Why I picked this: Do I need to say?
After an underwhelming first sequel and an extremely well done crossover film in “The Avengers,” the third entry in the Tony Stark is finally here, with a new director and completely different mindset. Unlike “Iron Man 2,” this film doesn’t shoehorn references from the larger Marvel universe for the sake of doing so, but rather focuses mainly on the struggles of Tony Stark as Iron Man, of course played by Robert Downey Jr. But while larger Marvel elements such as S.H.I.E.L.D. are sidelined in this film, it is clear that the bigger developments of the Marvel universe have taken a personal and mental toll on Tony, who is having difficulty coping with the existence of out worldly and mythological beings, as well as his near-death experience in New York City. Tony’s coping mechanism turns out to be designing and building as many different suits as his imagination allows him to, which in turn takes a toll on his girlfriend and partner, Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow). Coupled with this are old ghosts coming back to haunt him in the form of a former one-night stand Maya Hansen, played by Rebecca Hall, and scientist Aldrich Killian, played by Guy Pearce, who is ignored by Tony all the way back at a New Year’s party in 1999. In the present day, the two have further developed a substance named Extremis, which is meant to have regenerative properties; but as we see in the film, it has many more uses than that. Guy Pearce always disappears into his roles and he is no different here; I was almost shocked when he entered the movie looking completely different as a disabled Killian. Rebecca Hall’s character, on the other hand, feels very underwritten. And hanging over all is the notorious terroris The Mandarin, played by Ben Kingsley, who has a very commanding presence every moment he occupies the screen. Don Cheadle returns as Tony’s best friend Rhodey, aka War Machine, aka Iron Patriot; I found him more convincing as a military man here more than in the second installment, though he did very little as Iron Patriot; I don’t think he ever used his suit weapons. Director of the first two films Jon Favreau returns as comic relief Happy Hogan, though with a reduced role after the first fifteen minutes or so, and we have an evil henchman in James Badge Dale as Eric Savin, who brings much energy to his role. Basically, this cast rocks. Some underwritten parts, but nothing wrong with the acting, especially with Robert Downey Jr., who has the uncanny ability to own every scene. The story was a mixed bag, however. While Tony is shown to be traumatized, I felt that this aspect of the film’s story was not further developed and added nothing to the Extremis storyline; also, his trauma rarely felt like an urgent issue. Stark has an occasional panic attack, but it is either rushed, or put together with comedic dialogue, making it difficult to take his panic seriously. Eventually, this storyline is dropped completely. The only successful scene depicting his panic was one where a nightmare causes Tony to accidentally summon his suit. While this is a Tony Stark movie, I was disappointed with the use of his suits; one of my favorite parts had Tony Stark with MacGyver’ed equipment infiltrating a mansion, but I felt that his new suit, Mark XLII, was mostly played off as a joke, always failing, usually in a comedic fashion. There’s a plot development involving a villain that stirred up quite a lot of controversy; while I had no problem with it, my problem was how the filmmakers attempted to justify and alleviate this change. Co-writer and director Shane Black has created a very fresh Iron Man film, but one derivative of his own previous work such as “Lethal Weapon” and “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang,” which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. There’s some tongue-and-cheek narration, a Christmas setting, a buddy cop-like scene, and tons of humor; this is easily the funniest Marvel film. Black attempts to inject some 70’s spy film elements in the feel and look of the movie, which is evident in the wonderful credits sequence; too bad the scene afterwards was a disappointment. It’s a well crafted film, with my only major gripe being the rushed nature of some of the editing; some major scenes don’t give enough time to let them sink in for the audience.
Featuring a great ensemble and predictably awesome action, this film feels fresh and new despite being a “franchise movie”; however, some plot elements, such as Tony Stark’s inner demons, were disappointingly not developed well.