Hey guys, Ben here. I saw Iron Man 3 at a midnight 3D IMAX screening on Thursday night and it has taken me a couple days to figure out where I fell in terms of my overall enjoyment of the movie. While I sorted out my thoughts, I asked Horrorella, a guest contributor, to write up her thoughts on the movie as well so I have a dual review for Iron Man 3! I’ll start with my thoughts and Horrorella will finish off the review with her opinion.
I went into Iron Man 3 with some pretty high expectations and walked out uncertain as to how I ultimately felt about the movie. On one hand, Shane Black has made a movie that feels true to his voice and I think it benefits from his involvement in a big way. On the other hand, there were certain elements of the movie that had me feeling uncertain towards them and my overall opinion of the movie. The Extremis altered villains, for one, felt a little weird and I wasn’t sure if I was buying into that element of the film. There is an instance of fire breathing* that had me stare at the screen and think, “huh?” One of my favorite characters is Pepper Potts and she gets into the action in the finale in a way that gave me somewhat lukewarm feelings. By the end of the movie, I was okay with what happened (I’m purposely being vague) but in the moment it took me out of the movie a little as it was something I wasn’t expecting to see. That’s not necessarily a bad thing mind you and I think that was what Black set out to do with this sequel, subvert expectations. For instance, Shane Black and co-writer Drew Pearce handled The Mandarin in a completely unexpected manner which will undoubtedly upset some fans. However, I think it was handled in such a clever and absolutely hilarious way that I was willing to accept it.
Another tactic Black uses to subvert expectations is providing an Iron Man sequel with a different tone and feel to it. In some ways, Iron Man 3 feels like a Tony Stark-centric James Bond film. Black also throws an element in the movie that could have turned sour easily, having Tony team up with a kid for a small portion of the movie. Black makes it work though and writes the dialogue between Stark and the kid in a way that is not only hysterical but shows that Tony has problems being sentimental. He says some of the most dickish things to the kid to mask his sentimentality and it made me laugh multiple times. This is where the movie often succeeds, in terms of showing Tony Stark for who he is. The movie utilizes Stark out of the Iron Man suit more than in it. He’s able to switch in and out of different versions of the suit at the drop of a hat. This is because the suit doesn’t make him Iron Man, Tony Stark is Iron Man. The suit is the facade, the tool through which he is able to realize himself. That is the central idea behind the movie and Black pulls that off through great dialogue and character development.
Iron Man 3 is definitely entertaining and may be the funniest Iron Man film to date but I need to see it again to really see where I ultimately stand with the movie. The film was made up of really enjoyable sequences and moments, especially when Tony is fighting bad guys with only a few pieces of his Iron Man armor on. I just wish I had a more concrete opinion of the film as I wanted to walk out of the movie full of energy and excitement from what had happened on the screen. Instead, I walked out of the movie having enjoyed what I saw but also feeling a little conflicted by some of the elements in the movie. The first Iron Man is still my favorite one so far but Iron Man 3 is a fun, but unexpected, way to kick off the summer season.
Okay, enough about my thoughts, read on for the second part of our dual review! Here is Horrorella and her thoughts on Iron Man 3!
Happy Summer, everyone! Blockbuster season is officially upon us, and it looks to be the most kick-ass summer we have had since 2008. Starting off four months of awesomeness is Marvel’s latest offering – Iron Man 3.
As excited as I was for a new Iron Man film, I was also curious to see what they would do with it. It is the first film that Marvel has done since The Avengers tied all the previous Marvel movies together. I wondered how they would tell a single, focused one-off story after Whedon combined all the individual threads into a spiderweb of awesome. Would the single-character films continue to float on their own?
Not surprisingly, Marvel handled it really well. While the events of The Avengers are referenced, well-known and obviously play a part in Iron Man 3, they stay more in the background and don’t overshadow the events taking place. Actually, their main purpose here serves to give us some additional development to Tony Stark’s character. He has been deeply affected by the events that took place in New York and he is struggling to deal with them. That’s what made it work so well – watching Tony Stark come to terms with everything that has happened and seeing him deal with how the world as he knew it (as well as his role in it) has been affected. The world is a different place now that there is danger from alien life and powerful gods, and while he may try to go about his daily life, Stark knows that it will never be the same again.
This internal struggle and the impact that it has on our hero is one of the most interesting aspects of Iron Man 3. Instead of being the biggest badass on the block with all of the cool toys, Stark is now feeling vulnerable and is trying to combat that feeling by any means necessary. He no longer feels untouchable. In no way does this diminish his character, instead, it really deepens it. Robert Downey Jr. is still able to give Stark his trademark swagger (made all the more brilliant by some of the freaking AMAZING dialogue that Black has written for him) but now we get the chance to see this invulnerability brewing underneath it.
So much of what gives Iron Man 3 much of its charm is the fact that it reunites Robert Downey Jr. with Shane Black. Black redefined action when he wrote Lethal Weapon, but it was his work on Kiss Kiss Bang Bang that really made him stand out as a writer and much of the tone and rhythm in that film is emulated here. Downey and Black are a perfect match. Black writes fantastic dialogue and Downey knows how to deliver it perfectly. Ben Kingsley as The Mandarin really gives Downey a run for his money as top performance of the film though as he was outstanding. The trailers make The Mandarin look very much like a one-note character, but I am happy to say that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Is this a different Iron Man movie compared to what we have been getting so far in the franchise? Absolutely. But that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Sure, Black’s tone and direction is a departure from the previous films, but in the third movie of a franchise you run the risk of the material being stale. Black not only manages to keep it fresh, but he brings a new angle and depth to the character, which is perhaps the most exciting part of it all. I can’t wait to see it again.
*I was reminded by Stephen Welch on Facebook that the fire-breathing aspect of the Extremis capabilities is in fact something that happens in Warren Ellis’ Extremis comic mini-series. It felt out of place because I didn’t remember that from the book (it’s been a really long time since I read it) so I suppose its existence is actually warranted.
by Ben McBride
Follow Ben on Twitter @monsterpopcorn