How to watch an Iron Man movie:
- Go to the theatre wearing a superhero t-shirt
- In my case, a Superman t-shirt, since I feel he symbolizes the genre
- Avoid sitting by loud people who have to comment on everything
- Have fun
The film starts out with a favorite 90's song of mine. I won't spoil it, but the way it just unexpectedly came up was doggone hilarious and was one of my favorite gags of the movie. It certainly set a tone. Meanwhile, the song is in the 90's because Tony treats us to a flashback to "where it all started", which was in 1999 at a New Year's party. This is where he "creates his own demons" by being the playboy philanthropist he is. He rejects a poor little looser and stands him up. That guy looked suspiciously like Guy Pearce, who is supposed to be the villain in the film. Simultaneously, Tony has his way with a woman who works with something called Extremis, which causes organisms to heal super-fast at the expense of blowing up. I wonder if either of these details will become important later.
Alright, so it's obvious at this point where some things go from here. That guy who Guy plays (just because of the way that statement came out, I'm going to take the time to say that Guy is one of the weirder names out there) will take on a new level of competency, become a villain, and become a real problem for Tony later. The Extremis experiment will become a major plot mover. Check. This is not something that they are trying to hide.
Back in the present day, we're introduced to post-Avengers Tony. The trailers let this on a little bit, but I'm going to elaborate a little further. See, since "nothing has been the same since New York," Tony has changed. It affected him, and in ways that he would not have expected. Just mentioning New York gives him major anxiety. Press the issue, and he will suffer a panic attack. I recognize his reactions from footage I saw in a psychology class. He suddenly panics, and he has to literally run away from the conversation. The whole fight with the Chitauri and his near death experience traumatized him. I found this to be an interesting bit of realism, something that I've never really seen in a superhero movie as of yet. It means that we get to see him act very vulnerable from time to time in ways that genuinely make him sympathetic.
He's up for days on end. JARVIS makes this pretty clear: "You haven't slept in 72 hours." Tony has an obsession with making more "toys". How far has he come? Well, let's just say that the number of Marks he has under his belt now fits the answer to life, the universe, and everything. Even without his sleep, he does a fairly awesome job, even if he seems a bit oblivious to the outside world or how reckless he's being. Still, he comes up with an awesome suit that disassembles and flies to him, and that he can control with his mind. Some of his experiments go wrong, but it turns out to be a brilliant idea, as we all know.
Still, it creates tension in his life. I won't explain the full details, but his suits become a major distraction.
Then the villain comes, kicks his butt, and for a while Tony Stark is without any power. He still has tricks up his sleeve, because he's a genius, but for a while he has to make due without the suit.
This is where I have to warn purists of the comic that the villain, the Mandarin, is absolutely nothing like he is in the comics. If you complained about Nolan changing Bane's backstory, then you're going to hate what they do here, because the departure from the comics is even more drastic. He's literally another villain with the same name with almost no real resemblance You don't have to be a fan of the comics to tell that he's a complete rewrite. The trailers lead you to believe otherwise, but he really has none of the mandarin's iconic or essential elements. Perhaps something in the way of personality, but ultimately he's a different villain. That doesn't mean he's poorly written in this script, because he's definitely the best villain of the Iron Man film franchise (which isn't saying much, because I can't really credit Iron Man's coolness as having anything to do with his villains), but I'm not going to put him up on a pedestal and say that this was a villain that inspired awe. This wasn't a film where it was the villain's time to shine, even though this one pushed Tony Stark the most, both psychically and emotionally. What I can say is that the movie has a good conflict, and that's good.
Another thing that might irk purists is that Iron Patriot is James Rhodes instead of Normal Osborn, who doesn't exist in this continuity of the Marvel cinematic universe. However, it seems that the characters often joke about that. Tony much prefers War Machine and thinks that Iron Patriot is a wimpy name. James secretly agrees. The banter that goes on about that throughout the film, I think, hit the right comedic notes. People who haven't read the comics won't mind. I can't speak for people who have, however.
Meanwhile, over the course of the film, Tony Stark befriends a little kid who helps him with some of the problems he has with his suit. You can tell Disney made this movie. Some people might take issues with this. I know another reviewer thought it was cheap, and my friend thought it was cliche, but I personally didn't mind. This is Disney, and they know how to handle these sorts of relationships onscreen. Ultimately, your mileage may vary. I enjoyed it because it forced Tony Stark to interact with people in a new way, all the while without him necessarily breaking character. I mean, he was nice to the boy, because I almost forgot that he's a philanthropist, but he was still a narcissist. He was rude, arrogant, but at least he was funny. The kid seemed to understand. After all, Tony's reputation precedes him. There were times I wanted to slap him, but he had enough common sense to lighten up when it mattered. That derogatory sense of humor of his is certainly a difficult habit to shrug off, though. I can relate to that, since I tend to needlessly insult people.
The situation that led him to this kid is rather interesting, too. I'm just going to say that, based on movie precedent, Iron Man is a better detective than Batman. Take that, Bats.
Fast forward to the end, and Tony gets his suit working again. Proceed to tons of fun Eventually, the final battle with the boss takes place, in which Tony calls in all of his suits for support, as seen in the trailer. I'm going to be honest here: the villain never stood a chance. He had the power to destroy several of Tony's Iron Man suits, but he had enough of them that it didn't matter. Tony's victory was inevitable, and not just because he was the protagonist. When he had the full gang of suits and engaged the villain in a straight fight, no holds bar, winning was only a matter of time. However, it was still fun. It was the reason why people go to see superhero movies, because we got to see a bunch of different outfits and experimental designs that each had their purpose, and each was cool in their own way. It also allowed for a very creative fight between Tony and the Mandarin revolving around the unique strengths each possessed. It was ten times better than any of the final battles in the other Iron Man movies.
If people walk away from this movie remembering anything, it's going to be the ending. It was solid, sound, and it completed Tony Stark's character arch. As Entertainment Weekly put it, the movie "ended on a definitive note". It's really where I think that the story of Iron Man should end. It's going to be difficult to make another Iron Man movie after this. I can see him appearing in The Avengers 2, but definitely not in the same way that he did in the first film. His character has changed a lot. The status quo is completely changed.
As if the director knew that this was the end of the series, the credits role and play clips from the three films, wrapping everything up. One thing that got at me was that, in-film, the title of the movie is Iron Man Three instead of Iron Man 3, but that's a minor nitpick. As the montage rolled away, I found myself liking the Iron Man character much more, and I've finally decided that he's one of my favorite superheroes (not quite in the Top 3, though). The movie made him more human, added depth to him, and did a good job of adding character change while staying true to the essence of Tony Stark. As I said, I don't think people will be in awe, but the ending will definitely make an impression, and overall the movie was a very fun experience.
Oh, and as the kid suggested, if they do make another Iron Man film, he needs to add a cloaking device.