The first film to be released following The Avengers Assemble in 2013, Iron Man 3 sees Robert Downey Jr. reprising his role as Tony Stark with Gwyneth Paltrow returning as Pepper Potts. This is the first film to be released in Marvel’s Phase Two of the cinematic universe with Phase One finishing with The Avengers Assemble.
So with The Avengers Assemble having lived up to its hype, I, like many audiences, were wondering how and where the Marvel Cinematic Universe was going to go following the characters teaming up in Avengers. I was more than a little curious to see how a single character was now going to be able to carry a story and how much weight that story would have without the other members of the Avengers being present.
The film starts off with a flashback of the jerk Tony Stark in which a man, named Killian (Guy Pearce) who clearly has more than a little hero worship for Stark approaches him and tells him about a technology he has that will help regenerate injuries that he wants Stark to help him develop. Stark rejects Killian and subsequently humiliates him.
Cut to several years later when, following on from the events of The Avengers Assemble, Tony Stark is struggling with post traumatic stress disorder brought on after the attack on New York but more accurately it is what he saw briefly when he carried the nuke through the portal glimpsing the armada on the other side. He doesn’t sleep so spends his time designing new Iron Man suits which has created friction between himself and his girlfriend Pepper.
At the same time a terrorist known as the Mandarin has been waging a war on the world and is becoming a real threat. During one subsequent attack in which Stark’s faithful security chief and friend Hogan (Jon Favreau – the director of the first two Iron Man films but not directing this one) is severely injured Stark declares war on the Mandarin. He gives the terrorist his home address and invites him to come after him [Stark].
Stark’s home is attacked and destroyed with Stark barely managing to escape. Stark must then try to piece together what the Mandarin wants with him, and how he can stop the attacks before anymore of his friends are put in harm’s way.
Robert Downey Jr. seemed at one time to be having a ball playing the role of Tony Stark, he stole the show in The Avengers Assemble and I had heard at one point that in an interview he said that he would quite happily do nothing but Iron Man and Sherlock Holmes films for the rest of his career. In this film I get the impression that he is not giving the proceedings his all. Now this might be to do with the fact that this time around his has to play a more straight faced Tony Stark, after seeing what was on the other side of that wormhole in Avengers Stark truly knows what is poised out there in the void looking to come after Earth. I miss the fast-talking quipping Stark seen in the previous films, the comic relief gags are still here but they don’t work as well because the film is trying to be more gritty so tongue-in-cheek humour doesn’t work that well.
I have a lot of issues with this film and one of the biggest is the plot because it is the plot of The Incredibles, a young idealistic person looks up to someone else Increda-boy to Mr Incredible in The Incredibles and Killian to Stark in Iron Man 3. After being rejected Increda-boy became Syndrome to get his revenge and in the case of Killian, he has created a terrorist in the Mandarin, I won’t go into too much detail but is a really bad idea. I don’t read the comics but I heard that the Mandarin was serious threat in the comics whereas here he is…well…not. Once I got that idea in my head I just couldn’t shake it, Iron Man 3 has ripped its plot line off from a Disney Pixar Film, surely with a wealth of comic book stories to draw inspiration from, the writers could have come up with something more interesting.
War Machine, or more accurately The Iron Patriot, James Rhodes (Don Cheadle – reprising the role he took over from Terrance Howard in Iron Man 2) has a larger part and is being actively used by the government to try and demonstrate to the American people that the government is capable of dealing with threats without turning to the Avengers.
Now that I have mentioned them I did spend a lot of the film wondering about the whereabouts of the other members of the Avengers. Okay, Thor is in Asgard, fair enough, but where are the others?? Nick Fury?? Black Widow?? Hawkeye?? Bruce Banner?? and perhaps most importantly Captain America. I say Captain America most importantly because he is a superhuman, Banner has the Hulk, but the Hulk is unpredictable. The attack on Tony Stark’s home is national news, so why don’t any of them come to his aid?
Personally I have gone to the ends of the universe for friends, and when I say the ends of the universe I mean that to be literally true. My friend Xeronieploeddxxed (or Bob as we call him) once had his house invaded by a horde of Derachnicough (they’re like Jehovah’s Witnesses), he called me and after I arrived with my ray gun in hand, I proceeded to disintegrate the ones who did not leave when I politely asked them to. So why does Captain America not go to his friend’s aid when he has just declared war on a terrorist?? It makes no, donkey-bollocking sense, I get that this is an Iron Man film but Marvel you have created a shared universe and these characters have been on screen together so where is Captain America or even Shield in this film what they appeared in Iron Man 2??
The film’s climax is quite impressive but again it doesn’t really make much sense in context, basically Stark summons an army of Iron Man suits all being controlled by Jarvis and Stark jumps in and out of them as one gets damaged. If he had so many suits why didn’t he activate them when his house was attacked?? Surely if you have dozens of Iron Man suits why are they not utilised until the very end after Stark has almost been killed a bunch of times. Also the Suit seems to now be one size fits all. Stark has designed a suit that he can summon to him with flicks of his limbs and commands but when his home is attacked he directs the suit to attach itself to Pepper instead. I mean look at this picture of the two of them together…
Can you see it??
Their body types are different, Stark is taller, broader, and you know, Pepper has Boobs, so if Pepper is inside the Iron Man suit isn’t she going to have her boobs squeezed into her chest and wouldn't she be rattling around in there anyway because the suit was not designed to have her inside it??
The plot and details like Pepper not fitting into the suit are all niggles, big niggles yes, still I was hopeful that the film would be epic in the climax or was just a slow burner. I’m not interested in the comics so I don’t really care if the film ruined the character of the Mandarin, it is the ending in which I really felt that this film dropped the ball.
One of my favourite scenes in The Avengers Assemble is when Stark is talking to Bruce Banner regarding the reactor that Stark has in his chest which keeps the shrapnel out of his heart. Stark says that initially the reactor was a burden, it was killing him in Iron Man 2, but now it has become a part of who he is. Just like the fact that the Hulk is a part of Banner. It is a really great scene because just as the reactor in Tony’s chest was initially there to keep him alive, he has accepted it as a part of himself, it saved his life and continues to save his life. Just as the Hulk absorbed the gamma radiation that would have killed Banner, it gives the two a shared bond, and makes Banner pause and think about the Hulk in another context other than a burden. The reactor is also the reason that Loki could not brainwash Stark using his sceptre, but then Iron Man 3 takes a massive shit on that, because at the end of the film Stark has the shrapnel removed from his body thus meaning that he no longer needs the reactor to be in his chest so also has that removed. What about all that “it is a part of me” stuff??? Now one of my favourite scenes has been ruined because whenever I watch Avengers and see that scene I know that Stark is talking crap because he has the reactor removed in the very next film and surely that takes away his connection to Banner. Stark decided he was tired of having the reactor in his chest and shrapnel in his body so had both removed, Banner can’t do that, he cannot get rid of the Hulk, so what was the point of that scene in Avengers?? It really bugs me because I am a big fan of the idea of dual sides of a personality having as much right to exist as the other, some of the novels I have written (oh yeah I forgot to say I also write novels) are centred around this very idea.
I wanted to like this film but as it wore on I was starting to get bored. Sequences that had looked so cool in the trailer did not live up to their potential. The scene in which Air Force One is attacked and Iron Man must rescue people who have been blown out of the aircraft despite the fact that the suit can only carry less than half of those plummeting to their doom. This scene was really cool but then it turns out Tony wasn’t in the suit at the time and had been piloting it remotely from within the plane. It kind of takes away the hero element of the scene when the hero didn’t actually put himself in danger to rescue any of these people because if the suit had failed, ah well, Stark wasn’t in it anyway.
I hate to say it but this film is suffering from Tired Trinity Syndrome, it seems to be going through the motions and lacks the fun of the previous ones and like I said I kept wondering why none of the other Avengers thought they should show up to give Stark a hand.
I don’t want to do this but I think I am going to have to rate this as a Thumbs Down, it had so much potential but as the film that directly follows the excellent Avengers Assemble it is not up to scratch with its recycled plot, gritty tone and really doesn’t put in as much effort as fans of the Marvel films have now come to expect.
4/10 – This film is below average, if it had been taken as a stand-alone film I would probably have been kinder to it but it is not a stand-alone film. It is part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and considering what films like the original Iron Man, Captain America: The First Avenger and of course The Avengers Assemble are capable of giving audiences Iron Man 3 is nothing more than a waste of potential that is ultimately just disappointing.