Iron Man 3 is an interesting beast. The film, directed by Shane Black instead of Jon Favreau, is the first of Marvel’s “Phase Two” films that deals with a post-Avengers universe. Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) is sick, he cannot sleep,and instead tinkers in his laboratory. He suffers panic attacks when people try to talk to him about what happened in New York. It’s affecting his relationship with Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow). Overall, Tony Stark is a mess. Things only get worse when Happy Hogan, Stark’s former head of security, is caught in a brutal terrorist attack. Vowing revenge against “The Mandarin” (Ben Kingsley), Stark draws himself into a conflict with an enemy he’s not sure he can handle.
The problems start off almost immediately with the question of: where are the Avengers? If the Mandarin’s plan is a global as he claims, wouldn’t the Avengers be involved? While Thor can easily be explained away, nothing is said of Captain America or S.H.I.E.L.D. As a movie that takes place post-Avengers, this is something that should have been handled with a little more grace – or any at all for that matter. Especially considering the movie references the Avengers several times and an entire subplot is based off the events of that movie.
The film starts with both a voice over and a flashback to 1999. We’re about to head into the new millennium. Tony is still typical Tony. He sleeps with hot girl scientist Maya Hansen (Rebecca Hall), and blows off the nerdy guy (Guy Pearce) who wants to work with him. From here though it isn’t hard to figure out where the plot will go next. I’m sure the movie is trying to establish some theme about the past coming back to bite you and being nice to everyone you meet, but if that’s the case I didn’t see it, I can only speculate.
The plot remains more or less predictable up until a twist that will absolutely divide fans. It’s easily the make it or break it moment of the film. Not everyone will love it, especially comic book fans. Personally I found it to be unique take on things that only helped improve a film with a myriad amount of problems. It then proceeds to go back to being predictable after that, but still manages to be fun to watch.
Guy Pearce plays the second villain of the movie, Aldrich Killian, a fun, mustache twisting kind of villain. It works all up until the point you realize that the movie never takes the time to establish why he is a villain. Is it for money? Is it just to teach the rich fat cats of America a lesson? Is it because Stark blew him off nearly fifteen years ago? No one knows, not even the movie it seems.
The movie is paced pretty well for the most part. It’s only the second act that falters when we take an odd diversion that involves a kid nobody wanted in the movie. Sure there are a couple of funny moments, but otherwise it felt like wasted time.
Thankfully not all is lost. The movie is very funny and the comedy is always well timed. There are very few moments (if any at all) where it doesn’t work. There are also several standout action pieces, especially towards the end of the film where the action piece is finally something more than a giant IM suit versus a regular IM suit. It’s fun to watch and has a great ending to cap things off.
The acting is very good all around, everyone knows their parts by now. Unfortunately certain characters are unwritten and have very little to do except banter with Stark (I’m looking at you Colonel Rhodes) or sleep with him (Maya Hansen).
If you didn’t like Iron Man 2, there’s definitely more here to enjoy but as something that’s supposed to lead us off into the Phase Two of Marvel’s universe, it’s a bit of a letdown. Underwritten characters and lack of motivation for the villain bring down a potentially interesting film.