Iron Man 3 (2013) Semi-Short Review (PG-13)


This is called.. foreshadowing.

Let me start off first by going back to when I heard that the basis for the next Iron Man film (this one), was going to be pulled from a storyline in the comics called ‘Extremis’. I can’t remember EXACTLY what I was thinking at the time, but I’m sure it was something like “Aw, crap.” I really hated Extremis. It was written by comics scribe Warren Ellis, seemingly desperate to sound sophisticated by using Iron Man as the left wing propaganda spouting ventriloquist’s dummy. It was one of those vain atttempts to be ‘cutting edge’ while remaining embarrassingly politically correct. The story was filled with Extremely juvenile dialogue and illogical actions. The villain wasn’t interesting in the least being a redneck ‘terrorist’ who… Gets powers. Destroys stuff. That’s it. He wasn’t even visually interesting. He was just this shirtless guy with red glowing eyes. The art, now that I think about it was fairly bland… but usually the traced variety of comic book art is. The worst part was that Tony Stark’s face (as everyone else’s) face kept shifting from panel to panel… probably because the guy was having trouble finding the right photos to trace from. I spotted Tom Cruise as Stark once or twice, which to me just took me right out of the story, even as hokey as it was and it WAS hokey. When Tony Stark gets momentarily defeated by the redneck, he just invents new better stronger more powerful technology to defeat the B-lister (I’m being generous). That kind of takes any suspense or tension out of a story when you have a guy (your protagonist) that can just invent new (currently) implausible technology in a matter of hours to defeat the bad guy with. So, anyway I hated the Extremis story. Back to the present…


Despite my feelings, I went into Iron Man 3 with an open mind. Thankfully, the story bears very little resemblance to the comic books, at least as far as I remember, starting with replacing the explosive redneck as the main villain… Sort of. Iron MAn 3 is at its best as both previous films (and the Avengers) were; when its star, Robert Downey Jr. is cracking wise through each scene. Downey (and maybe Ben Kingsley) saved this one for me. That and the fact that I didn’t hear “Shoot To Thrill” the entire film… But that may be because the director of Iron Man 1 and  2, Jon Favreau, was replaced, even if he’s still acting as his character ‘Happy Hogan’ in this one. That must’ve been Extremely awkward on the set.


So the movie begins on New Year’s Eve in 1999, where Tony Stark is having a liaison with a geneticist named Maya. While making his move, a nerdy scientist named Killian (Guy Pearce) tries to peak Stark’s interest in Killian’s company AIM (that all comicnerds will be familiar with)… Stark tells him that he’ll meet Killian on the roof in five minutes, but never gets there. I don’t need to tell you that a nerdy scientist being stood up by a superhero protagonist in the first 5 minutes of a film, especially when it’s a flashback, is at some point going to come back in the ‘present’ to make sure that that superhero rues the day. It’s a given. I’m not spoiling anything here. The fact that the Extremely nerdy scientist turns back up as Mr. Extremely Super Suave with teeth that gleam when he smiles… Well, I’m not really sure that’s ever really explained. He does mention that he has one of those Lex Luthor moments, where Superman interupted an important experiment that causes Luthor to go bald and to start down the path of crime because of it… but, I still didn’t feel like I got an explanation. Anway, back to Tony and Maya (played by the Extremely lovey and talented Rebecca Hall)…  and Happy, Tony’s ‘bodyguard’ in a very forced plot contrivance. While Tony and Maya are making their way to the bedroom, it’s revealed very casually that Maya has invented this drug called Extremis that probably hasn’t passed all of the FDA regulations yet. She has a plant that has been given the drug and when leaves are plucked, things explode. Tony, the genius, forgets about this occurrence  during the film… The Genius. Tony Stark. He forgets about this drug that causes the recipient of the drug to become explosive, He forgets that. Would you forget something like that? I digress…


So now we’re back to the present, where the country/world is being terrorized by a villain calling himself the Mandarin, who (shockingly for Marvel) resembles some kind of Middle Eastern terrorist. Sadly, for me, I immediately began to think of the PC story this was based on and… Well, I knew there was a curve ball coming. And really, again for ME, story-wise things started unraveling rather quickly. Killian shows up (with a shady goon) at Stark Enterprises, asking Pepper Potts to invest in his company. She turns him down, however (Strike Two!), but he should feel fortunate. From what I remember, he’s already lasted longer in the story than he did in the comics. Happy, now the head of Security for Stark Enterprises, somehow finds himself in the location where a transaction of the drug Extremis is being made (all because Pepper Potts still seemed enamored with Killian and Killian’s bodyguard was a bit of a jerk… I swear). This also turns out to be where one of the Mandarin’s suicide bombers happens to ‘strike’.  Happy manages to point in the direction of a clue (that Stark would probably have found anyway since he magically has a 3D hologram of the site right down to the last pebble) before he conveniently falls into a coma. So, outraged by his friend’s injury, Stark publicly challenges the Mandarin to a fight, even going so far as giving his home address. Naturally, the challenge works (writing for Marvel must be so easy… “How do we have Stark find the villains?” “He’ll issue a public challenge and they’ll show up at his house.” “Genius! But why do they need to take on Iron Man to further their own plans?” “Ummm, we could blow up his house and it would be really cool.” ” But that doesn’t answer—” “Extremely big explosions! And Gwyneth Paltrow could wear the Iron Man suit.” “Well, you’re the writer. Big explosions do sound really cool.”) But, when goons show up, they aren’t The Mandarin’s goons, but Killian’s. Or. Are. They?


That’s as far as I’ll go with the plot. There are quite a few lapses in logic in the film, but much like all of Marvel’s films, as long as they’re hurrying things along, they figure you won’t think too much about it (or maybe they’re just not thinking about it, either). There is much to cover up here, but it helps to have a great cast in order to do that (which this movie does). Guy Pearce has had somewhat of a low key career, despite being such a great actor. He does what he can here with a very generic villain. Ben Kingsley has his moments almost entirely in the second half of the film. I’d say the villains were pretty weak, though, especially when you throw in the big red herring of the film. The entire franchise really can’t boast any great villains, other than maybe the Iron Monger (Jeff Bridges) of the first film. Robert Downey Jr.’s characterization of Tony Stark has carried all three movies on his back.


I think the final act of this film, although entertaining, was just a huge misstep. Without spoiling too much here, I think the decision to have dozens of Iron Man suits flying around fighting all of the bad guys a la Transformers at the end was just DUMB. For one, there’s nothing at stake for a suit of armor. Two, it diminishes the heroism of the main character. Three, MORE is not necessarily better. They also broke a cardinal sin when it comes to a superhero’s supporting cast, giving one supporting character super powers. It could have been worse, I guess, if this person had changed into a gamma irradiated harpy. And we’re treated yet again, by someone other than the title character defeating the major villain, which is also Extremely DUMB.


I won’t say that I hated this movie. I was entertained by it and if you liked the other films and ‘Marvel’s The Avengers’, then you will, too. But, to me, this is yet another forgettable Marvel film. It has a disposable soundtrack (including the awful ‘Blue (Da Ba Bee)’… It made me yearn for Shoot To Thrill… Wait, no it didn’t. There seems to be more and more FX and jokes to hide the fact that there isn’t an actual story. I still can’t get my head around the logic and motivations of all of the villains in this one. I also don’t like the continuing soap opera aspect of Marvel’s films. Soap operas don’t require logic, which may explain things.  Their stories seem to have much less of a point than DC’s movies (to be fair, Christopher Nolan is responsible for most of that). But, if you’re not looking for anything deep, then this one should still fit the bill. It’s not the ‘Best Iron Man  Yet’ as I’ve seen stated on the trailers, but it is Extremely adequate big screen summer fare. Was that too negative? I really didn’t mean it to be…


3 of 5



2 Responses to “Iron Man 3 (2013) Semi-Short Review (PG-13)”

  1. Good review. It’s a lot of fun to watch if you just want a fun summer blockbuster and still need some Marvel flavor.

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