That’s the first thing you should know going into this movie. I don’t think anybody walked into the theatre, or popped in the DVD expecting to get this kind of a movie, and expectations were pretty varied from the beginning. Iron Man 3 has a (so far) unique position in movie history of being a sequel to two movies (Iron Man 2 and The Avengers). Where does a film maker go from there?
I can tell you what I was expecting. I was dreading the typical lame-ass third act where it’s all talk, talk, talk and drama and no action building up to a climactic final battle that ultimately disappoints. Iron Man 2 followed the tradition of Part 2s by having more action than the original while sacrificing story, so I feared Iron Man 3 would become the classically disappointing Part 3. I can tell you instead that Iron Man 3 has more action than the first two combined, while not sacrificing a well-written story that is actually engaging. This movie set a new precedent for what a trilogy of films can look like, and I hope Hollywood takes note.
I did not know this until afterward but Iron Man 3 was made by the same guy responsible for the Lethal Weapon movies – which made a lot of sense. It isn’t just that there’s more action in this movie, there is a particular tone and flavour to it that sets it apart from the kind of Iron Man action we’ve seen before, while still being uniquely Iron Man. This presentation of elements that are fresh yet familiar is probably why IR3 resonates with audiences as well as the first one did. This is what reinventing the wheel looks like.
I am particularly impressed with the mechanics introduced in the new suit. It is the perfect, next logical step from the Mark 7 in The Avengers, and I can see it being referenced or copied in future sci-fi tales. The only drawback is the extreme vulnerability. It seems to come apart more easily than it should for the Invincible Iron Man. As you may have seen from the previews, there is more than one new suit, but only one suit in particular gets extensive camera time – not including Iron Patriot (right) which is described as being War Machine with a paint job.
I know Pepper fans went ballistic over her character stepping up in this movie, in a number of ways. I especially noticed the change in relational dynamics between her and Tony now that they’re an item. She had an authority to her before, but now he actually listens to her. That’s a definite switch.
Let’s address disappointments. IR3’s portrayal of the Mandarin is a divisive factor between audiences. I think it works brilliantly if you’re looking to Iron Man 3 as just a good action movie, but if you are familiar with the Iron Man comic books (which it’s fair to say a lot of Iron Man fans would be) then there’s a lot of confusion and disappointment over not seeing a more classical portrayal of the Mandarin. My own conclusion on it this is: it was a brilliant idea, but the wrong movie. This was something to be done with a new character of the writer’s own invention, not a well known and beloved character who is completely different. It meant dropping a huge disappointment on the core audience in order to appeal to a more general audience. That being said, if you can get past all that, it is a very interesting villain that’s worth watching.
Personally, I was disappointed that there wasn’t more of the work of progressing through the different kinds of suits, which was a heavy element in the first Iron Man movie and has been displayed less in every movie since. IR3 features it even less, though I recognize that a theme in this movie is taking Stark back to his roots, forcing him to get outside of his “shell” and handle things from there. I realized quickly that this was a different kind of movie.
There is a section of the movie where a kid shows up. That part gets everybody worried, but it doesn’t last that long, and Tony maintains his personality throughout this middle act, so, try not to panic.
Cautions for Christians and parents
If you’ve seen the previous Iron Man films then you know what to expect. If not then, well, innuendo. There isn’t as much of it this time around, nor is it as strong. The innuendo is reserved mostly for references to his past as a playboy. Which reminds me that I’m also happy with the way the movie acknowledges his past without diminishing his satisfaction with now being in a committed relationship. I thought they balanced that well.
There is also some profanity and mild language. There is violence including people exploding, but it is kept mostly cartoonish.
Then there’s that giant stuffed bunny… with those things that are either paws or boobs, and you can never quite tell which. Maybe it’s one of those things where you see what you want to see.