As a serious fan of Tony Stark and his metal alter ego, I’d avoided all Iron Man 3 trailers to fully engage myself with the whole story (resulting in some embarrassing eyes-shut/fingers-in-ears moments in the trailers of other films). All I knew was that the villain was to be the Mandarin, Iron Man’s arch-nemesis from the comics. Potentially Marvel Studios’ first realistic villain, combining symbolism of real anarchists to create a realistic contemporary terrorist. I was excited for a film with Tony in a brand new, fully-working suit, (because apparently it’s a crime not to upgrade him in every film) versus this chilling guerrilla terrorist and his army. Sadly, (without spoiling the plot) this was not the film we got.
So what did we get? After six Marvel Studios films including last year’s The Avengers, the third bestselling movie of all time, no one would have expected any less than an action packed, dramatic storyline with stunning cinematography, and if that’s your criteria, it delivered. There were some scenes that were particularly memorable, including a fantastic rescue of twelve people falling from a plane. However, part of me can’t help feeling that the film was constructed to sweep from one of these stunning scenes to the next, without thinking enough about the story in between: If you take comic book films seriously like I do, it’s easy to notice a list of gaping plot holes.
But the film has obvious merits other than iconic action sequences: a refreshingly non-robotic villain, interesting character development meaning there is more going on under the armour than the controlling of repulsor blasters, and classic comedy moments in true Marvel’s “not-taking-themselves-too seriously” style.
The film does attempt to acknowledge the impact the Avengers had on the world, but not completely successfully – why does the team of superheroes not turn up to help Tony? Fans who have committed to all of the films so far deserve an explanation. This question of Iron Man retaining his importance as an individual character does not stop there. With an army of suits that are worn by others/can work by themselves, and an ending that leads us to question the future of Tony Stark, it is hard to see where they will go from here. Robert Downey Jr, whose portrayal of the titular character transformed him from a C-List comic book character into the third most profitable superhero after Bruce Wayne and Peter Parker, may have picked up on this: there are talks about him not returning for the Avengers 2, scheduled for 2015. And you can bet that if he does decide to come back, he’ll be asking for a figure that’ll make him nearly as rich as his character. Bearing all this in mind, an Iron Man 4 seems questionable at best.
See Iron Man 3 if you haven’t already, it’s the fast paced, exciting blockbuster you’d expect that’s hard not to enjoy. It’s just not quite the movie this die-hard Iron Man fan wanted.