Frazer joins me once again to talk about the latest, greatest superhero movie in town.
F: After the mildly disappointing Iron Man 2, a change of director had the potential to either reinvigorate or continue the deterioration of the legacy of the stand-alone Iron Man films. I entered Iron Man 3 expecting it to fall on the disappointing side of the spectrum, but it turned out to be the best of the franchise so far.
C: Anyone can admit it to some extent: Iron Man is awesome. Robert Downey Jr. basically is Tony Stark, and the suits look great on screen. Iron Man 2 was unsatisfactory due to its pacing and villain issues, so can Iron Man 3 match the heights of the other film it’s a sequel to, The Avengers? Absolutely.
‘Nothing’s been the same since New York’: the events of The Avengers have led Tony Stark to experience anxiety attacks triggered by his near death experience flying into and falling out of the wormhole into space. This has led to tension with Pepper, insomnia and the creation of dozens more suits, and soon unfortunately clashes with Happy Hogan’s involvement in a bomb attack by The Mandarin’s cronies.
F: RDJ continues his fantastic stint as Tony Stark, now in the grips of PTSD following the events of The Avengers. Now filling his time creating a further 35 variations of his Iron Man armour as he can no longer sleep, Tony finds himself once more in the crosshairs of the Ten Rings terrorist organisation, the group responsible for his becoming Iron Man.
C: Other than the obvious spectacular set pieces- from the Malibu mansion collapse as seen in the trailers to the final act- one of the most effective things for me was seeing Tony’s anxiety attacks. He has always been so self-assured and arrogant that seeing him confused by his emotional reaction and his need to flee to his suit (comically parked outside a restaurant!) was stirring to watch. Whenever one of the kids insists on repeatedly asking questions about the wormhole, I just wanted to shout at him to shut up. This human element to Tony Stark was an essential element to add to his character, and it made me love him more than I already did.
I also loved the opening where we got to see Tony, Pepper and Happy in Switzerland back at New Year’s Eve 1999, as well as seeing Yinsin who was with Tony in the cave in Iron Man and who had said he’d met Tony before; don’t you just love it when stuff ties together! Seeing Guy Pearce’s Aldrich Killian before years of physical therapy was good fun, and it was interesting to see an arc set into motion over ten years before the events of the movie.
Rebecca Hall was unfortunately a bit annoying, but through no fault of her own due to her open-mouthed, slightly feeble characterisation even though she’s an extraordinarily clever scientist (is one strong woman in the form of Pepper enough for them?) but even she has her moment of confrontation with Killian.
The final act’s battle of suits vs. Extremis was also great fun to watch, especially when the ‘prodigal son’ Mark 42 suit kept trying to help Tony and failing; in Happy Hogan’s absence throughout much of the film, J.A.R.V.I.S. takes the place of comic relief as he so effortlessly did in the first film. The question was begged, however, whether Rhodey has a version of J.A.R.V.I.S. in the Iron Patriot that he could talk to like Tony did; it would be fun to see some of these finer details but there was plenty enough going on in the film as it was.
F: Online fandoms have dubbed the darker seeming film Iron Man Rises, a dig at the seeming similarities between IM3 and last summer’s hit, The Dark Knight Rises, and the comparison is an easy one to make. With both films revolving around a broken hero, they are inevitably stripped of what makes them ‘super’- from Bruce Wayne’s strength to Tony Stark’s suits.
C: Luckily, Iron Man 3 has a lot more fun with the superhero genre and is an enjoyable ride whilst still taking itself seriously with such dark thematic material. If this is indeed Iron Man’s last stand-alone adventure- Robert Downey Jr. will thankfully at least appear in Avengers 2– then at least it finished on a high.