Robert Downey Jr. returns to the big screen again as Tony “Iron Man” Stark in Iron Man 3. It’s the flagship title of Marvel Films “Phase 2”, kicking of another series of movies leading up to Avengers 2. In the wake of the events of The Avengers, Tony finds himself having a hard time adjusting to his experience fighting of a legion of aliens, lead by an angry Norse God. Acknowledging his own mortality, and the fact that he’s just “a man in a can” has left him sleepless and reclusive. Adding to the troubles is the appearance of frightening cultural Hodge-Podge of a terrorist, The Mandarin (Ben Kingsley), who’s been linked to 9 mysterious explosive attacks on American interests around the world.
Distracted and distant, Tony is once again at risk of losing the one thing he fights so hard to protect, Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow), when a man from their past, Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce) returns with a business proposal. Between blowing up all the bad guys, Tony once again has to set himself on a course of learning personal responsibility and what it means to grow up.
My head’s rolling around after this one. It really is. By all rights, this movie should be fucking terrible, and I should hate it. I don’t know how to write this review without spoiler-upon-spoiler, but I’m going to try. I want to rip it apart and then explain why none of it matters. I’m bordering on making another Red Pill/Blue Pill set of reviews here. Instead, I can only say what I feel: I had a fucking blast watching this movie. If you can turn off your brain, and just enjoy RDJ being Tony Stark, and like watching big explosions, then this is the show for you.
This movie’s not without problems. The plot is terrible. Characters make choices that run against their character. The characterization of almost anyone other than Tony is handled outright poorly. But none of it mattered for me, because I went into the movie wanting to:
B) See FUCKYEAH levels of action and/or badassery on screen.
A & B were true.
All the rest tried to flicker on little fanboy lights in my brain, but I shut that shit off. It tried to power back up more than once, but shortly after that something would blow up. And as long time readers will know, if something blows up well enough, I’m willing to be a bit more forgiving.
If you’ll allow me to sound like I’m making excuses for the movie for a second, the flawed plot and divergent characters almost made it a more enjoyable Comic Book Movie. What Nolan has done for the genre in terms of creating a view of legitimacy is great… but Nolan’s story doesn’t feel like a comic book story. Creating a gritty, realistic version of a Comic means you’re white-washing–well dark-washing, I guess–over the fun and camp that made comics fun to read in the 70s and 80s. Plot holes, McGuffins, Deus Ex Machinas, side kicks, immersion breaking comedic one-liners, shit that just can’t happen… that’s all stuff that adds to a comic book feel. Of course, this movie also goes the other route, with the grounded, realistic early portrayal of The Mandarin.
Anyway, the plot sucked. You get it, and I didn’t care. Here’s why.
This movie is the Robert Downey Jr. show. He’s pretty much constantly the focus. He’s practically the only character with any development. He’s always hilarious. Seriously, I don’t think he’s ever been funnier than in this movie, and he’s been really great in a lot of movies. When stuff’s not blowing up, he’s throwing out one-liners like crazy. Or, from time to time, RDJ’s even showing us Tony’s vunerable side. It’s nice to see that he’s slowly travelling deeper and deeper down a stressed out path that he can’t cope with.
When we’re not getting glimpses of Tony’s many issues, we’re treated to excellent performances from Guy Pearce and Ben Kingsley. Even if the story that surrounds them is lifted from the pages of the Star Wars prequels, they still give it 100%.
And when they’re not trying to sell us on the shitty excuse for a plot, stuff is blowing up. The action sequences in this are fantastic. They’re fun, exciting visual spectacles. They run through almost every trope and cop-out in the book, and for me, it only adds to that old school comic book feel.
Speaking of adding to the old school feel… I love, love, loved the credits. The scene after them was great, but the beginning of the credits themselves is a 70s/80s action movie/tv show intro style montage that is absolutely fantastic. When it was over, I was wishing they were making an Iron Man series, instead of S.H.I.E.L.D. *
Anyway… if you want to watch Tony Stark and the Explosions, you’re going to be pleased. If you think there’s going to beyond that here, I think you could very well end up sorely disappointed. This one’s teetering on the border of a 5/5, but it can’t quite get there.
*That’s not entirely true, I’m still really stoked for S.H.I.E.L.D.