After the insanely successful The Avengers, Marvel returned to the characters' individual franchises, setting into motion Phase Two of their cinematic universe. The first step towards this end was Iron Man 3.
Review by Crispy
Added: April 17, 2014
After he almost died carrying a nuclear missile into a wormhole to protect Manhattan, Tony is doing whatever he can to resume his life, but the near death experience has left him plagued with anxiety attacks and a restlessness he can't control. In order to distract himself, he's turned his attention to his Iron-Man suits. He's been kicking out new variations at an incredible pace (he's currently in the middle of Mark 42. For reference, the brand new one he debuted in The Avengers as he taunted Loki was Mark 7), and has even invented a telepathic remote control for the suits. Still, this new found obsession is pushing him away from Pepper, and is doing nothing to curb his anxiety. However, he's about to have something else occupy his time. A new terrorist, The Mandarin, has come forth and all but declared war on America. After one of his bombings leaves Happy in a coma, Tony begins a personal quest for vengeance. And while he may not have The Avengers by his side this time, he'll find some new, incredibly unlikely allies.
In a comment for the second movie's review, I noted that the series was increasingly becoming focused more on Tony Stark than on Iron-Man. Well folks, they pretty much wrote Iron-Man out of this sequel completely. OK, I get it. Out of all the Avengers, I'm sure his super-cocky humor has made Tony Stark the fan-favorite of the group, but that doesn't mean you kick the suit to the side and focus solely on him. They put so much effort into keeping him out of the suit, effort that doesn't make a shitload of sense. It's explained that the suit he uses throughout most of the movie is the latest prototype (Mark 42), and runs out of batteries a third of the way through. Runs out of batteries? Since when are they not powered by the arc reactor on his chest? And besides that, if you just went to war with the world's greatest terrorist, why in the world would you use a suit that you haven't even finished yet? The grand finale is even worse. You've seen the scene in the trailers where he fires up the entire army of suits to fly into battle? As I'm sure you've figured, a great number of those suits don't make it through the fight. You've spent three movies building up the strength of the Iron-Man suit; they've protected him against giant mechs, a one-on-one fight with Thor, alien invaders, and now they're getting ripped apart like nothing. And while I won't tell you exactly what move they made at movie's end, it certainly raises some questions about the character going forward. Stark keeps saying throughout the movie, "I AM Iron-Man" trying not to get lost behind the glamor of the suits. Well, I've got news for you: we plunked down our cash to see Iron-Man in action, and nobody was talking about Robert Downey Jr.
Sadly, that's not the only misstep in this movie. In fact, let's just list them off. First off, Stark's "anxiety attacks" have got to be one of the worst portrayals I've ever seen. I'm not talking about Downey's acting, I'm talking about the way they were scripted. I've seen them, I've had them, they're nothing like that. These were played for laughs, but unfortunately, weren't funny. Next, Stark spends a healthy chunk of the movie stuck in a small town with an annoying child for a sidekick. I don't even need to explain how or why this was horrendous. OK, I'll admit that there were some laughs in Stark verbally abusing this kid (He actually tells him not to be a pussy when he mentions his dad walked out on him. First Disney film to use the word "Pussy?"), but again, nobody wants to see this in an Iron-Man movie. Besides, I've already seen him punch a small child right in the gut. Mocking one because he's bullied at school isn't going to cut it. Three: Iron Patriot. Finally, the suits are built by Tony, for Tony and are powered by the arc reactor in his chest. In other words, Tony's the only one who should be able to fit in and power them. OK, Rhodes stole and used the Mark 2, but we can hand-wave that as a prototype, maybe a coincidental similarity in build between him and Stark, and just because War Machine is an established character. But now, everyone is jumping in and out of the suits. It's too much. And then there's the mack daddy of them all.
In the next paragraph, I'm going to spoil the shit out of the movie's biggest twist, but this twist was such a bad decision that I'm not going to apologize for it. The movie's villain was billed as Mandarin. While not as well known, The Mandarin is basically Iron-Man's Joker. His number one baddy. Everything was going smoothly, Mandarin was a heartless killing machine. That is, until Tony breaks into his mansion (using a homemade tazer and Christmas ornament grenades. No really, they wanted as little Iron-Man in here as possible) and discovers that he's actually a bumbling, drunk actor creating a diversion for the movie's actual main villain. Can you imagine what would have happened if The Dark Knight had ended with the Joker actually being an utterly clueless
clown goof and the whole thing was staged by Mad Hatter? That's the level of betrayal Marvel slapped the fans with. Oh, and the actual villain was a man with fire powers. Well, the Mandarin's got ten rings, and each one grants him a different sorcery with one of them being fire power. So, just by the math alone you've baited us with Mandarin and switched it with a villain one tenth as cool. Now, long after Iron-Man 3 dropped, Marvel kicked out one of it's short films entitled All Hail the King. Here, we catch up with Mandarin...excuse me, Trevor Slattery, in prison when it's explained to us that The Mandarin is in fact very real, and quite angry for this imposter taking on his name. I'm not sure if this was the plan all along or just damage control after the subsequent shit storm they received, but if it was the former that was an awful waste of Ben Kingsley. I'm inclined to believe it was the latter however, since it was released long after on, of all places, Thor: The Dark World's DVD. If it was the plan all along, I'd have to imagine they'd have included an abridged version as a post-credits scene to sooth the fans' rage in-house, and build a little anticipation for Iron-Man 4. Hell, It'd have been a huge improvement over the stupid bit with Banner they did used.
Apparently, since they're still dragging their feet on the Ant-Man movie, Ultron is going to be a creation of Tony Stark instead of Hank Pym. With that in mind, it's very easy to see how Stark's opinions on his suits here leads into him building an AI. That's not an excuse for the route this movie took, I'm just trying to find a silver lining. You see, I've still got high hopes for The Avengers: Age of Ultron, even though Iron Man 3 is an undeniable disappointment. 3/10.