Iron Man 3 – Review

2/5 – The curse of three continues for Marvel franchises

The person next to me fell asleep early on during Iron Man 3 and woke up late in the movie. “What did I miss?” she asked. “The entire movie,” I responded, “and it’s terrible.” Okay, maybe terrible is an overstatement, but it is definitely a disappointment.

What is it with Marvel being unable to make a good third movie in their film franchises? X-Men: The Last Stand was terrible. Spider-Man 3 was all over the place. And now that Iron Man joins that club, delivering a very disappointing sequel with Iron Man 3.

I should have known it was going to disappoint when it was announced that Jon Favreau wasn’t returning as director. Or maybe when Robert Downey Jr and Gwenyth Paltrow said they didn’t think there would be an Iron Man 4 while promoting Iron Man 3. Tobey Maguire, James Franco and Kirstin Dunst all had the same attitude about another Spider-Man movie when they were promoting Spider-Man 3. Is Iron Man 3 Spider-Man 3 bad? No. But it was nowhere near as good as any other Marvel movie that Iron Man has appeared in to date.

There’s going to be plenty of spoilers in this post, so if you haven’t seen Iron Man 3 yet, you make want to not read further until you’ve seen the movie. 

The first two Iron Man movies are two of my favorite superhero movies. They were nuanced, with a great mix of action, plot and humor. Tony and Pepper had real chemistry. But here, their magic is gone. Yes, they care for one another, but the perfect banter they had in Iron Man, Iron Man 2 and The Avengers is gone.

Tony Stark is in a doldrums throughout Iron Man 3 because of “New York.” He’s questioning his place in the world because he’s now met gods, monsters and aliens. Are you kidding me? This isn’t Tony Stark. Tony Stark has one of the most curious scientific minds of any character in fiction. If he encounters things that fall outside the norm, he doesn’t retreat into a shell. He gets answers.

Remember that scene in the Avengers where Tony Stark is falling and the Iron Man races in and attaches itself to him? I thought it was awesome. Apparently, so did Iron Man 3 screenwriter Drew Pearce and director Shane Black. That scene happens over and over again throughout Iron Man 3. The armor attaches to Tony, to Pepper. The Iron Patriot armor vomits out the President at one point. Side question: Why is the President a generic crusty, old, white guy? Marvel knows that Mitt Romney lost in ’08, right?

Take a shot every time someone falls into or out of some armor.

And the Iron Patriot armor. Can we talk about the Iron Patriot armor for a minute? This armor was clearly put in the movie just to sell another action figures. At least the War Machine armor in Iron Man 2 was integral to the story. But in Iron Man 3, the Iron Patriot armor is brought in because “it tests better with voters than War Machine” and is then relegated off-screen until very late in the movie.

Iron Patriot was in the movie just long enough to get a good shot for the blister card.

But who has time to have Jim Rhodes in his new Iron Patriot suit? That would have taken time away from Tony Stark’s kid sidekick. That’s right, in case you haven’t seen the movie yet, IRON MAN GETS A KID SIDEKICK! I’m pretty sure this was the scene where I threw my hands up and said, “Oh, come on!” I didn’t realize those Verizon Fios ads were canonical. Iron Man, say hello to Cousin Oliver. He’ll be joining you for the next 20 minutes.

No, seriously. What the fuck?

When I first heard that Iron Man 3 was going to be pulling a lot of its story from the excellent Warren Ellis penned Extremis story, I was excited. But, wow, the Extremis bad guys in Iron Man 3 come across as if the producers asked “What if we cross the Human Torch with a T-1000?” Unfortunately, the answer is not “It’s awesome.”

The bad guy, Aldrich Killian’s entire motivation is this: Tony Stark ignores him when Killian tries to cock block Stark on New Year’s Eve with a botanist that looks kind of like Alanis Morissette . To get back at Stark, Killian gets really good looking and plans his revenge. I get “bros before hoes,” but this is a little extreme. In a plot twist that should have haters of Dark Knight Rises saying, “You know what, that whole Ra’s Al Ghul daughter thing kind of works,” Killian enlists the botanist that Tony Stark banged that fateful NYE 13 years ago to help him make human bombs.

Jagged little plot twist.

In another Batman-franchise move, the Mandarin and Killian’s relationship is ripped off from Ken Watanabe/Liam Neesan Ra’s Al Ghul plot twist from Batman Begins filtered through the 1960s Batman TV show and telegraphed very early on in Iron Man 3. It’s interesting that Killian is the true Mandarin. In the first Iron Man movie, Tony Stark is abducted by the 10 Rings, which leads to Stark creating his first Iron Man armor. That’s the Mandarin’s (aka Killian’s) organization. What the Killian/Mandarin Iron Man 3 plot twist reveals is that if Tony Stark didn’t snub Killian in order to have sex with a botanist, the world may not have Iron Man to protect it.

The Mandarin never reaches the coolness of this poster in the movie.

Did you stick around for the scene after the credits? The one where Tony Stark is telling Dr. Bruce Banner about all his problems, and Banner completely zones out. It’s like Banner just watched Iron Man 3 too.

Man, I really wanted to like Iron Man 3. But I just can’t. Looking at Twitter, I seem to be in the minority. People are raving about this movie. I just do not get the love that people have for this movie at all. I’m giving it 2 out of 5 stars and hesitating, because I feel like I might be rating it too high.