I’m always someone who reads as many reviews of things as I can before I see or play them. After having a terrible experience with a video game many years ago, I became obsessed with reading reviews and it still hasn’t really left me.
However, I am quite loyal to franchises. When I get into one, I feel almost duty-bound to keep watching, even if the reviews of sequels turn out to be terrible. I still watched Pirates of the Caribbean 3 and Spider-Man 3 even though both were not good (particularly the latter).
So it was with the Iron Man franchise. I was blown away by the first movie, and even though I knew reviews for Iron Man 2 were bad, I watched it anyway and was disappointed as the critics. I didn’t know what to expect from the third installment in the franchise, but it turned out to be presently surprising.
This iteration was not directed by Jon Favreau, director of the first two movies, but instead by Shane Black, who directed the excellent Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (which also happened to star Robert Downey Jr.). In fact, I was thinking of Kiss Kiss when the movie opened, featuring Tony Stark repeating some line from a famous person (or maybe not) but then messing it up and deciding to start over.
What follows is a huge improvement over the second movie, a movie I can barely remember now over all the CGI and frantic energy. I think Mickey Rourke was the villain or something, right?
Iron Man 3 excels in taking Tony Stark down a few pegs. This happens after the events of last year’s The Avengers, and Stark isn’t the same after experiencing the insanity of Thor and Loki, interdimensional travel and a whole slew of other craziness. He’s so haunted that as soon as anyone mentions New York or wormholes he experiences a crippling anxiety attack.
To cope with this, he’s built a whole slew of Iron Man suits, many with various individual functions. When his now-girlfriend Pepper Potts comes to visit him in his mansion, she says “What is this one, MK 15?” Stark replies something to the effect of “Yeah, something like that,” casually glancing at his armour and noting the MK 42 emblazoned in black.
Iron Man truly goes into action once he finds out more about the Mandarin, a villain who has been responsible for numerous bombings. The American government recruits the Iron Patriot (formerly War Machine, played by Don Cheadle) to try and deal with the threat, but Mandarin (Ben Kingsley) is far too elusive.
Throw in a couple of scientists (Rebecca Hall and Guy Pearce) and you get a whole slew of people who could cause Iron Man some real harm. And indeed some of them do.
What I disliked about Iron Man 2 was how much it upped Stark’s quirks to a level where there was no room to breathe. This film tones everything down to the point where Stark is still really snarky but not annoying. This is a real story about redemption, and Stark will find it (I hope that’s not spoiling anything).
After the incredible film that was The Avengers, Iron Man 3 probably won’t be held up as the signature Marvel movie that all must see, but it’s one well worth your time.