This weekend I joined the masses of people who went to watch Robert Downey Jr.’s autobiographical movie: Iron Man 3. Seriously, it’s hard to think of an actor who’s embraced his character as much as Downey Jr. has, but it seems to have been a good thing, as the role’s made him as rich as Tony Stark. Anyway, Iron Man was the Marvel film franchise that birthed the whole Avengers cash machine, and in my opinion is one of the only Avengers standalone films that stands on its own two feet and doesn’t feel like just a setup/promo for the BIG Avengers movies. Was Iron Man 3 strong enough to wash Iron Man 2 from my memory?
Short answer: Yes. It’s got a new director, endless one-liners (almost too many), and pretty sweet action sequences (at least sweeter than an old guy swinging two whips). It even has a sequence in my good ol’ hometown of Chattanooga (more on that in a few). Robert Downey Jr. and pretty much everybody else seems be having a blast (though I would be too). Guy Pearce is surprisingly effective as a pitiable character and a villain. However, is it perfect? “NOO!” would scream a surprisingly large number comic book fanboys (also more on that in a sec).
I’m not one of those fanboys (I mean, Bruce Wayne could beat up Tony Stark, right guys? Oh shoot, don’t burn down my Batman fortress, Marvel followers), but I did have a few reservations about parts of the movie, but first how about a big (SPOILERS) tag? My main beef with the Iron Man films is how seriously two-dimensional nearly every female character is (with the usual exception of Pepper Potts). Rebecca Hall’s character was no exception, which is a shame because anyone who’s seen movies like The Town or The Prestige knows she can act, but there’s just not much to her character (besides a plot device). On another picky note, martial arts Pepper Potts at the end didn’t quite do it for me (what does that stuff give, strength and training?). Also, the Avengers references, while I guess are necessary, aren’t handled very well, leading to an almost tacked-on feeling.
One part apparently rustling some fan’s feathers is the film’s treatment of The Mandarin (AGAIN, SPOILERS FOR THE UNINITIATED). Personally, I loved Ben Kingsley as both Evil Mandarin and Comic Relief Mandarin, not to mention the reveal of the facade being an extremely effective plot twist. Yeah, I get it. If they had portrayed The Joker as a washed-up actor who wasn’t even a real villain, but the invention of say The Penguin, I wouldn’t be wearing this Christopher Nolan fanboy shirt right now. But The Mandarin’s not The Joker, is he? Outside of comic book readers, I doubt anyone would recognize him (I didn’t), and I think the writers’ choice fit the movie. If anything, his early propaganda videos were kind of cheesy, but it makes sense later when you realize the whole thing was a sham.
Finally, what’s with Chattanooga and movies lately? Water for Elephants, 42, and now Iron Man 3 all either filmed in Chattanooga, TN (the first two) or actually were supposed to take place there (this one). However, short of putting “Chattanooga” on a couple of signs, they really didn’t bother at all trying to make it look like the city (sorry, this is a personal rant).
Instead, we got an unimpressive small brick building that represents what the writers thought a city in Tennessee should look like. (Ahem) I think I’m done now.
Anyhoo, Iron Man 3 isn’t the most profound movie, but it’s an epically fun blockbuster with some great stylized action (finally). And of course, stay after the credits.