Let’s get this over upfront; there will be NO SPOILERS in this review. So read on without fear. However, I will say that there IS a scene at the end of the credits, so – there.
Phase 2 of the Marvel Universe’s, multi-franchise universe has officially begun – at least, I think it has. It’s hard to say, because at the end of this flick I wasn’t quite sure where it was going to go next. Suffice it to say, I wasn’t really sure how I felt after I left the theater and that’s saying something for a guy like me. To say that I was blown away by the film would be a lie. To say I was underwhelmed by this last installment (for now) in the Iron Man lore would also be overstating things a bit. I was left with the unrelenting position of being in the middle of the two feelings. I was in a word – indifferent. The keys to making a great superhero movie is one part a good story, two parts a cunning and convincing villain and a healthy dose of a hero(es) you care about – with a good dash of action, suspense and adventure thrown in. If that recipe made a cake so delicious you’d slap your momma (*cough*The Avengers*cough*)… then Iron Man 3 would be in my estimate – a kind of muddy loaf with a good taste, but with a mushy texture.
My main gripes with this installment were two-fold: 1) I kind of figured out a key element of this movie about 30 minutes in. I mean, I wasn’t 100% sure, but my hypothesis was proven to be 100% correct half way through the flick. This sort of miffed me because I had already seen this element used in the Christopher Nolan “Batman” trilogy and was shocked that Marvel Studios (who had been putting out pretty good character-specific stories) would rehash a fairly recent concept. Again, it’s not that it was bad, but it was not – unique or even spectacularly played out when revealed. 2) Tony Stark is arrogant, charismatic, the man you love to hate to love and a bit of a jerk (deftly played out in the movie), but this movie took those attributes and gave us a Tony Stark didn’t really endear me so much as I wished he’d just do something besides say every one-liner known to man. I wasn’t even really interested in his story so much as I was in the new features of his new armor, Mark 47. If I had to say what the real bright spot was in this movie – it was the armor, or armors and his A.I. system, Jarvis. It’s weird to say, but there were parts of this movie where the armor and Jarvis stole the show. There was more character to Jarvis and the armor(s) than even Tony Stark at times.
Outside of Jarvis and the armor(s), what I also liked about this film was Sir Ben Kingsley as The Mandarin. There was a menacing, visceral and lethal charm to him that was believable from the start. Adding in the mercenaries that carried out the various attacks, there was a sense that terrorism had truly come to the Marvel Universe and The Mandarin was playing for keeps. The Mandarin has a plan – a plan that is meant to destroy what we believe and know about justice and freedom. A plan designed to turn democracy on its head and destroy the world’s heroes in the process. Thus the movie takes you on a ride with Tony as he takes on this threat that’s hit too close to home, as he seeks to understand his place in this world, tries to grapple with the fears of threats known and unknown and rise to become the hero he must become to save the ones he loves the most. Tony is put through the ringer and the question becomes – how will this experience shape him? What will Tony Stark find when he looks into the pit of his own being and something looks back at him? Is Iron Man just a symbol, or is Iron Man much more?
This movie will do gangbuster in the theaters, regardless if it’s worth it or not. Phase 2 (for me) has started off with a shrug, but – Thor The Dark World looks promising and from what I’m seeing – Captain America: Winter Soldier is shaping up to one heck of a blockbuster.
Enjoy the movies.