Remember how good the first Iron Man movie was? Man, that was awesome. What I think I actually remember more clearly about the first film is when the first footage of Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark premiered at SDCC in 2007 and made its way online. Seeing RDJ as Tony Stark selling weapons to military people let you know right away how fucking perfect he was for the job. Unfortunately, The Dark Knight also came out that year which was an entirely different beat than Iron Man was, and some press got out about Robert Downey Jr., possibly in character as Tony Stark, talking down to The Dark Knight. By the time that Iron Man 2 came out, I was only mildly excited, and even though that film is entertaining, it felt like a rehash of a lot of stuff we’d already seen. The way that the stakes were made higher was just by the addition of more characters. In fact, if you read my review of that movie, you’ll see that I chose to review each character as opposed to really reviewing the movie as a whole. By the time The Avengers had come out, I wasn’t really all that excited on Iron Man or Tony Stark, but there were enough other things I really enjoyed to not think of it as an Iron Man film. When pictures and trailers started popping up online for Iron Man 3, there just really wasn’t anything that was getting me excited for it. Despite not being excited for Iron Man 3, that didn’t stop me from going to see it at 10:20AM opening day, and maybe it was because the screening was followed by pizza, the entire experience left a much better taste in my mouth.
What I really want to know is how he can find such strong couches.
The last time we saw Tony Stark (Downey Jr.), he was being sucked into and spit out of an intergalactic wormhole to save the entire planet. How do you cope with every day life after that? Well, you don’t really. He can’t sleep, he has anxiety, and is showing clear signs of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. His company is in the trusting hands of his girlfriend Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow), the more day-to-day heroics are handled by his best friend James Rhodes (Don Cheadle), so Tony just gets to sit around building more Iron Man suits all day. Or at least, until a terrorist calling himself “The Mandarin” (Ben Kingsley) starts blowing up different parts of America and Tony’s old rival, Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce) starts trying to prove himself in very dangerous ways. I don’t really need to go into more details, because obviously you’re going to go see this movie, because you’re a person who has read enough of this review to prove that you’re someone who enjoys fun things. If you enjoy fun things, then go see this movie! Why are you reading this?! Go see it so you’ll know what the hell I’m talking about!
You’re going to have all these suits line up and NOT do a wacky dance number?! Shows what I know about movies.
I might sound oversimplified or it might sound stupid, but the reason this movie works is because from start to finish we see Tony Stark acting like Tony Stark. He’s brilliant, he’s narcissistic, he’s dangerous, and he’s goddamned hilarious. Having Shane Black, director of the amazing Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, take over directorial duties was a fantastic choice. Almost the entire movie, Tony Stark is taking every situation he’s in with a grain of salt and we get to enjoy snappy dialogue throughout the entire thing. I don’t even know how long Tony actually wears the Iron Man suit in the film, but almost all of those scenes are overshadowed by how well Robert Downey Jr. wears the suit of Tony Stark. Whether it be his interactions with Pepper as she’s trying to take control of a situation, busting the balls of Rhodes for having his suit getting a paint job and having his code name changed from “War Machine” to “Iron Patriot”, or bickering with a child about his sister’s limited edition Dora the Explorer watch, we get to see Tony Stark being Tony Stark. If you think back on the first film, the most enjoyable moments aren’t necessarily the scenes where Iron Man is kicking the shit out of bad guys as much as the sequences where he’s trying to figure out how to get his suit to work and yelling at his robot assistants. With Iron Man 3, they really tried to humanize him a lot more and we just get to enjoy watching Robert Downey Jr. chew the scenery around him.
Talk shit about Coldplay on the internet and this is what you’ll find when you get home. I’m cool with that!
Coming off of The Avengers, a big question that could be asked in regards to getting The Mandarin taken care of was why doesn’t Iron Man just call Captain America to take care of it? It’s an issue that the film had to deal with, but by making the story so personal, you can absolutely see why other things take priorities. From his suit losing power to Pepper being in danger, every situation that he deals with as a top priority is something very personal. The first film focused on Tony Stark, Pepper Potts, and Jim Rhodes as they dealt with one villain. The second film focused on those three characters, as well as introducing more good guys, Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), further develop the idea of the Avenger Initiative, and then still deal with TWO bad guys. I’m still confused and I just rewatched Iron Man 2 a couple of days ago. Iron Man 3 brought the attention back to the three most important characters, got rid of Tony Stark’s assistance, and then dealt with two bad guys. Once you’ll see the movie, you’ll also kind of realize it’s more like one and a half bad guys. Point is, the film focused on the charismatic characters that people loved, rather than throwing a whole bunch of people in there to sell more toys. And speaking of characters, I thought it was really interesting the way Tony Stark’s pseudo PTSD was incorporated into the film, as it didn’t serve as a device to move the plot forward AT ALL. The took an important issue that this character was obviously struggling with, used it as a way to ground the audience in Tony Stark’s reality, make the character more vulnerable and it was purely in there for character development. There isn’t a scene where Stark has to overcome his anxiety to face an ultimate foe, there’s just a couple of times in the movie where he clearly gets overwhelmed with the physical and psychological trauma he’s been through, he’ll take a moment and then move on from it. The whole time I was expecting it to serve as a direct reference point for the plot, but it never did, so that was really awesome to see. If you need your superhero movies to be big budget showcases of CGI action and destruction, then this movie might not have everything you’re looking for, but if you want to see how an ego-maniacal multi-billionaire proves how superior his intelligence and wit is over everybody else’s, then I think you’ll love Iron Man 3 as much as I did.
Wolfman Moon Scale