Oh Iron Man 3. I can’t even begin to explain just how excited I was for this movie. While Iron Man 2 injected more fun, and a bit of ridiculousness, into the Iron Man series, it looked as though Iron Man 3 was going to take a more serious approach. At the very least I had hoped that Iron Man 3 would fall somewhere between the first Iron Man movie and Iron Man 2 in terms of how good it was. It was easy to compare Iron Man 3 to Dark Knight Rises after the initial Iron Man 3 trailers were released. Both looked to be darker films with a somber tone, showing our heroes with their backs to the wall. There are certainly parallels to be drawn from Dark Knight Rises, but it unfortunately wasn’t the somber tone that Iron Man 3 echoed.
If one were to judge Iron Man 3 based off the trailer you’d think that it was a movie which explored how Tony Stark would cope without his Iron Man suit, that it had a menacing and compelling villain and an overall dark tone to it. Well, it had two out of three of those elements. Not unlike Dark Knight Rises, Tony Stark spent most of the movie without his suit. We got to see how Stark was still able to be a superhero without being Iron Man. While I certainly felt that Iron Man 3 would have benefited from having more Iron Man in it, I did enjoy seeing Stark prove that he’s more than just a suit. I wish I could say that this is my biggest gripe with the film, I really do, but unfortunately, much like Dark Knight Rises, Iron Man 3 is plagued with the type of plot holes that will leave you face palming.
From the very beginning we have to buy into the idea that Tony Stark is even more reckless that he’s been in the past. So when he gives the Mandarin, a terrorist who’s killed tons of people, his home address we can chock it up to his arrogance and shortsightedness. I can buy that. What I can’t buy is that afterwards he’d take absolutely no precautions, especially after pointing out that Pepper Potts is more important to him than anything else. If he wasn’t going to bother to strengthen his defenses, he should have at least had Pepper whisked away by Agents of SHIELD or something to that effect. Except SHIELD is completely absent from this film, save for a brief mention of them. I’m fine with Iron Man 3 divorcing itself from the rest of the Marvel’s movie universe, but not without explanation. I understand that not every post-Avengers Marvel film can have every character in it, but it’s silly to have a terrorist threatening the president of the United States and have Captain America no where to be found. It simply leaves room for far too many questions; why weren’t Hawkeye and Black Widow tracking down the Mandarin? Why didn’t SHIELD dispatch agents to keep an eye on Tony Stark after he just gave his home address to a terrorist? Admittedly, by the end of the movie, these criticisms feel more like nitpicks compared to the huge problems the rest of the film has. Still, it’s frustrating that they didn’t even attempt to toss in a couple lines of dialogue to explain the absence of such pivotal characters.
I recognize that Iron Man 3 requires a suspension of disbelief. I also recognize that Iron Man 3 has a different director from the first two, so changes to the movie should be expected. However, it feels like the writers not only didn’t see the previous films, but it feels like someone completely different wrote the second half of the movie without even bothering to read the first half of the script. I’m referring of course to “Operation: House Party”, where Tony Stark suddenly calls for backup and a ton of A.I. controlled Iron Man suits come to the rescue just in time for the big finale!
Essentially, we’re supposed to believe that these suits have just been hanging out in the rubble, formerly Tony’s house, this entire time, simply waiting to be activated. So let me get this straight, Stark couldn’t have activated them when Pepper Potts was nearly blown up by missiles? He couldn’t have activated at least one of them after he crash landed and was hunting down the Mandarin? He couldn’t have called just a handful of them when Air Force One was being attacked? There were plenty of moments where it would have been more prudent to do so. I’m sorry, but after that scene the entire movie just fell apart for me.
I could deal with the disappointing twist that was the Mandarin, the inconsistencies of Iron Man’s suit being recharged by a car battery, Stark somehow forgetting that he could regain control of Ronnie’s suit after it had been hijacked but “Operation: House Party” was just a step too far. Even though those other moments took me out of the movie momentarily, they weren’t so egregious that I couldn’t enjoy it. But ”Operation: House Party” is absolutely inexcusable. It’s far beyond lazy writing, it’s insulting. It’s as if they thought we’d be too brain dead to notice.
Look, plenty of people managed to enjoy Iron Man 3, in spite of its flaws. I found it ultimately disappointing but that’s not to say that it’s not without its highlights: Robert Downey Jr is excellent. He brings a level of hilarity to Tony Stark that I don’t think any other actor could. The first half of the movie was done very well, the set up was excellent. Everything up until they introduced Harley Keener was, for the most part, done well. And Hell, even though I found that Stark having a kid sidekick to be contrived, I never felt Ty Simpkins did a bad job. He and Downey played off of each other very well. If anything his part in the movie suffered, not because he was bad, but because he overstayed his welcome. Iron Man 3 also managed to take a character in the Mandarin, who was a joke of a character, riddled with Asian stereotypes, and transformed him into a terrifying villain. That is, up until he then transformed into Russel Brand.
Iron Man 3 had all the elements to be a great film and even the best of the trilogy. Instead, it was a mess, marred by sloppy writing and insulting plot holes. Despite its many flaws, Iron Man 3 is worth watching if you’re invested in Marvel‘s movie universe, or the Iron Man franchise as a whole. That said, Iron Man 3 is not a movie that I plan on giving a permanent home in my DVD collection. If anything, I’d only recommend picking up a home release to check out the Agent Peggy Carter short that’s included on the Blu Ray.
Iron Man 3 is available on DVD and Blu Ray and is in stores now!