Okay I apologize, I’m writing this review super duper late. I saw Iron Man 3 the second day it was out in theaters and there’s really no reason for the delay of this post. I actually started this review a month ago, but put it on hiatus. I’d like to blame my finals, graduation, and the ensuing summer, but really it was just laziness. Anyway, better late then never, right? Again, with all my reviews SPOILERS ENSUE.
In the first five minutes of the film we witness a flashback, back before Tony Stark, played by Robert Downey Jr., created Iron Man, back when he was more douchey and sleeping with a new girl each week. We are introduced to Maya Hansen, played by Rebecca Hall, a botanist with an explosive plant (we’ll get back to her later), and to a physically disabled character who goes by the name of Aldrich Killian (seriously weirdest fucking name ever, Killian is a first name, but whatever), played by Guy Pearce. Killian invites Tony to become a part of his company. Of course Tony, being the douche that he is, falsely tells Killian that he will meet him outside to discuss this business proposition, leaving Killian to wait outside in freezing temperatures alone.
At this point it’s already obvious that Aldrich Killian will be our main villain for the next 2 hours. Why is it obvious? Because Killian is introduced as a new character, Tony is a dick to him, and while this flashback is occurring, Tony is monologuing about his “inner demons.” The writers are setting up past actions that lead to consequences that take place later in the film. The flashback ends and, in present time, we are introduced to Aldrich Killian again, but he has cured his disability under unknown circumstances. Pepper Potts, played by Gwyneth Paltrow, notices this change (he honestly looked like a bum in the flashback), but doesn’t question how he cured his disability. She just says he looks great. Er… Pepper? Your’re not gonna ask him how he can now stand with perfect posture? No? Okay then…
Killian wows Pepper with technology that his company, Advanced Idea Mechanics (A.I.M.), has developed, resulting in a brief moment where Pepper looks like she might have the hots for him, which could possibly form a romantic rift between her and Tony. This goes nowhere and any sexual tension between her and Killian is never brought up again. If anything, the scene just helped solidify the nature of Killian’s character (evil!ahem).
While this is happening, a terrorist known as the Mandarin is planting bombs throughout America and is hacking public television programs to taunt American citizens and the President. Happy Hogan, played by Jon Favreau, picks up on Killian’s sketchiness and follows Killian’s henchman to Hollywood Boulevard. The henchman gives a drug to an unknown man – this drug causes the man to explode, which results in Happy becoming hospitalized for the remainder of the film. After this incident, Tony publicly challenges the Mandarin, causing an attack on his house by the henchman. Due to suit malfunctions, Tony is unable to save his home and plummets into the ocean, while Pepper and the public believe him to be dead.
Tony’s suit then autopilots him to Tennessee, where one of the Mandarin bombings had previously occurred. Alone and out of batteries, Tony shacks up in a garage, where he meets ten-year-old Harley, played by Ty Simpkins, who helps him recharge his drained Iron Man suit. The moments between Tony and Harley are great, they have a really funny chemistry and the audience laughed at almost all of the dialogue the two of them had together.
Interestingly, I was reminded of The Iron Giant once Harley was introduced. He has a single mom who works at a diner (similar to Hogarth’s mom), he has to help hide Tony from the bad guys (similar to Hogarth hiding the Giant from the government), and there’s even a scene when parts of Tony’s Iron Man suit are flying out of Harley’s garage (similar to when the Giant’s body parts fuse back together at the end of the film). I don’t know if the writers were trying to do this on purpose, but I liked the similarities.
In a mansion located somewhere in Miami, Killian is patiently waiting for the Mandarin to arrive and send out a broadcast about their attack on Tony Stark. As the Mandarin is approaching, everyone keeps saying “The Master is approaching”, “Get ready for the Master.” During this scene, it’s made kind of obvious that the Mandarin is not actually the guy leading the attacks. We know Killian is the main villain, he has a more personal conflict with Tony, while the Mandarin is merely the face of a terrorist. The writers were really trying to set up the Mandarin as this powerful character, but they kinda ruined the surprise by forcing it. “The Master” my ass.
Harley takes Tony to the site of the bombing where several people lost their lives. Tony discovers that the bomber was involved in an Extremis experiment, which is an experimental regenerative treatment intended to allow recovery from crippling injuries. However, a subject explodes when their body rejects the experiment. The Mandarin was set up to cover-up the flaws of Extremis as terrorist attacks.
Tony heads to Miami without his Iron Man suit and discovers that the man who calls himself the Mandarin is merely an actor hired by Killian (big shocker). Tony is captured and finds out that Maya Hansen helped create Extremis (remember the botanist with the exploding plant?) and that she and Killian captured Potts and were subjecting her to Extremis treatments. Hansen has a last minute change of heart and Killian kills her immediately. Nice knowing she was an important character and all that…
During this time, James Rhodes, played by Don Cheadle, the superhero Iron Patriot (formerly known as War Machine), is kidnapped by Killian. Killian uses the Iron Patriot suit to infiltrate Air Force One and kidnap the President of the United States. Tony escapes and reunites with Rhodes and they head to an oil tanker where Killian is holding both Pepper and the President. Tony reveals that he has built a small army of Iron Man suits, controlled remotely by JARVIS, which he releases on the oil tanker to face off against Killian’s Extremis minions.
Rhodes saves the President while Tony finds Pepper. Before he can save her, the tanker falls apart below them and she falls to a fiery death. OR DOES SHE?!?! Tony doesn’t mourn too long over her fall and the movie promptly moves on, making it obvious that she survived the fall due to the Extremis treatment.
Tony and Killian face off. Tony gets the upper hand and blows Killian up. Interestingly, Killian survives and his body reforms. Pepper shows up, no surprise there really, revealing that she too has powers given to her by Extremis. She fights Killian and is able to kill him. Later, through Tony’s narration, Pepper is healed of her Extremis treatment and Tony himself gets the shrapnel pieces in his chest removed. Despite not needing the reactor in his chest anymore, Tony says that he will always be Iron Man.
Iron Man 3 is a badly written film hidden under a veil of funny dialogue and a charismatic Robert Downey Jr.
The biggest issue I had with the movie was that it was incredibly predictable. Killian isn’t a subtle character and we’re able to determine that he’s the villain the moment he appears on screen. The writers forced this idea of “The Mandarin” too sloppily for us to fall for it. The reveal that the Mandarin was an actor the whole time didn’t come as a surprise and was underwhelming , though I did like the character, Trevor Slattery, played by Ben Kingsley, when he wasn’t acting as the Mandarin (he has some funny lines). There’s even a surprisingly dumb moment where Tony is slow to realize that confidential documents from an organization called M.I.A actually belong to A.I.M (really Tony? Slow day there?). Even the scene of Pepper’s death isn’t dramatic enough to ensure us that she’s actually dead, making it obvious that she’s fine. Because of all these predictable moments, the movie sufferes by becoming boring.
The powers that the veterans receive through Extremis are often inconsistent. I don’t really understand why their powers cause the Iron Man suits to malfunction. As far as I understand Extremis powers consist of pyrokinesis and regeneration abilities, so how can they render the suits useless? Also, the henchman character survives multiple wounds and beatings, but then he dies after getting a hole shot through his chest. Later Killian’s entire body gets blown up, but he recovers from it only to be killed in a similar fashion by Pepper. And speaking of Pepper, not only does she get the Extremis powers after treatment, but she also becomes a martial arts master or something. Seriously, she starts flipping around and punches right through an Iron Man suit in mid-air. It looked cool and all to see her suddenly become kick-ass, but it was more ridiculous than anything. It also really bothered me that curing her of Extremis was an easy fix and didn’t have any serious consequences.
One part I liked about the film was that it focused on the psychological backlash Tony received after the events of The Avengers. He now suffers from anxiety attacks. Robert Downey Jr. acts out his attacks well (I have experienced anxiety attacks myself, and he portrays their effects pretty accurately). What I like most about this development was that, despite Tony being a superhero, he can still buckle under stress over the things he encounters. He fought aliens and almost died in a different dimension, so I’m glad that the writers touched upon his recovery from such an experience.
Overall, I felt like the writers didn’t really care about the plot enough to make it interesting in any way, that or they weren’t trying very hard. I think the writers knew their plot was lacking severely and did their best to make the film incredibly funny, which it was. I was laughing out loud to most of the dialogue, and of course having Robert Downey Jr. as the leading actor made the film enjoyable enough. Iron Man 3 is not a film that I’m going to attempt to watch again, but if you enjoy watching Robert Downey Jr. being the awesome actor that he is, it will be worth your time.