As a casual, but still devoted, fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, I have to say I was unsure about Shane Black’s Iron Man 3. This past summer’s The Avengers was undoubtedly one of the biggest film successes of all time, deserving pretty much all of the praise it received and blowing box office records out of the water. Many fans agreed: there simply could not be a better superhero movie. To follow such a film seemed like a feat only a superhero could handle.
Luckily, Iron Man was there to save the day.
Iron Man 3 is the kick-off of Phase Two of Marvel’s epic cinematic universe, but instead of attempting a bigger story than The Avengers, it did the smart thing; it assumed we knew enough about Tony Stark to completely obliterate him as a person. This movie beats the stuffing out of Stark and then puts him under a microscope, forcing the audience, as well as Stark himself, to examine the man he really is and fight his internal demons. It does this by using a simple, but so very well-done, metaphor of “inner child” vs. “adult vice” by means of a young boy Tony meets who helps him work toward fixing and regaining control of the Iron Man suit, as well as his life.
But it wouldn’t be a superhero movie without an external villain, which is where The Mandarin, Iron Man’s arch-nemesis, comes into play. And here is what separates the comics with the films more so than anything in the Iron Man films (except for maybe the Tony/Pepper relationship). There is a twist in this film that blindsides the audience, whether you’ve read the source material or not, and it has caused what will inevitably become a huge uproar with die-hard comic fans. I won’t give away said twist, but I will say that I absolutely loved it (since I haven’t read the comics, nor was I particularly attached to Iron Man before this film). Whether or not it will be this film’s downfall at the box office is yet to be seen.
To me, Iron Man 3 is the best film Marvel has put out in this franchise in terms of character study and development. It is my favorite Marvel film in the entire Cinematic Universe movies, hands down. Switching directors may have seemed dangerous at first, but it certainly paid off. That, along with the fantastic special effects, versatile acting from Robert Downey Jr. (he’s more than just a rich, sarcastic, narcissist this time around!), oddball humor, and multi-suit showdown makes Iron Man 3 not only my favorite in the series, but one of the best films I’ve seen this year so far (on the list withThe Place Beyond the Pines and Spring Breakers…wow).
In short: go see Iron Man 3 with an open mind, and get ready to see a surprisingly great standalone superhero film, as well as a fantastic addition to Marvel’s grandiose cinematic undertaking. Oh, and seeing it in IMAX is definitely worth the extra coin.