Iron Man 3: A Fun Film with Rewards that Outweigh the Risks
Our resident movie expert, Gary Sundt, was killed in a horrific comic book signing accident, so I have decided to carry the torch and finish his legacy. First up: Iron Man 3.
You know why sequels are so hard? Because you’re damned if you do, damned if you don’t.
Follow the formula of the predecessor, and you’re a talent-less hack churning out a mindless, formulaic retread. People will crap on you.
Change things up, and you’re a disrespectful fool, abandoning the “magic” that made the original so special.
And people will crap on you.
Well, Iron Man 3 is not Iron Man. It does change the formula up, and while you still have the camp that hates all changes and thinks the film should adapt the comic panel by panel, it still works great. It’s darker. It’s gutsy. And it might even be funnier.
That’s not to say the film is without its faults – there are certainly hiccups and tonal inconsistencies. However, Iron Man 3 embarks to tell its own story, and in doing so, makes it a worthy successor to the film that started it all for Marvel.
Iron Man 3’s main strength is in its ability to acknowledge various elements – plots, relationships, and character development from previous films are all adhered to, and the explosive, world-shattering finale of the Avengers continues to haunt Tony. Mr. Stark is as good of a character as he has ever been in Iron Man 3 because he’s still the charming, snippy, witty genius we’ve come to love, but he’s maintained the lessons he’s learned over the course of his journey.
Tony Stark possesses one of the more dynamic superhero arches, and Iron Man 3 puts that development at the forefront. This lends itself to a slightly more solemn tone, but that is effectively offset by the film’s generous dose of humor. This combination of pathos and comedy weaves together to create a very unique tone that helps the film stand apart from the first two, but also feel like a natural extension of the series.
All of this matters little if the action sequences are a chore, but luckily, that’s not the case. Many worried that the change in directors from Jon Favreau to Shane Black would disrupt the series kinetic action, but fear not – if you’re an action whore like me, IM 3 will give you your fix. From a heart-stopping aerial free-fall sequence (shot with actual sky-divers) to a ridiculously elaborate, mult-suit finale, IM 3 is a visual, adrenaline-filled spectacle, and a huge step up from Iron Man 2.
From a story-telling perspective, IM 3 takes some serious risks, but most are executed very well. A snowy excursion through a small town could have fallen completely flat, but instead features some of the most touching, hilarious moments in the film, and further cements Tony as a badass superhero, with or without his suit. And while I’ll avoid too many spoilers, I will say the twist regarding the film’s villain was totally unexpected, but genius. Hardcore fans will bemoan it, as they tend to bemoan these sorts of things, but the twist is consistent with the film’s more modern tones, and actually manages to offer relevant, meaningful social commentary.
As is the nature of many things that take risks, however, not everything is perfect. The central villain fails to develop any real connection with the audience, and the ending of the film feels rushed and unintentionally ambiguous. The filmmakers were given the unenviable task of both wrapping up a trilogy while also leaving their eyes to future Avengers installments, and while they mostly manage to pull it off, it’s hard not to think they missed an opportunity to truly drive the finale home. In Iron Man 3, fans get a wonderful cake, but the final layer of icing is noticeably absent.
Unlike some fans, however, I can forgive it its small shortcomings – with its tight action, great writing, and emotionally charged characters, Iron Man 2 is the summer blockbuster it needed to be. While it’s not quite the masterpiece the original was, Shane Black’s film serves as a fitting, epic conclusion to Downey’s trilogy, and manages to instill its own sense of excitement for how the character will continue to evolve in the future. Gary would have enjoyed it. But he can’t now because he’s dead.
I give Iron Man 3 four RIP Garys out of five.