Iron Man is Tony Stark and Tony Stark is Robert Downey Jr.. When Iron Man burst on the scene in 2008 it vastly surpassed expectations. It was smart, fast and funny for the genre and blended the “realism” of Nolan, with the fun of the traditional comic for what seemed a perfect blend of action and light-hearted adventure. The second installment didn’t meet expectations, but those expectations had been raised perhaps to an unreasonable high, based on how much the original had surpassed initial expectations.
Iron Man 3 is both a sequel to the Iron Man series and a sequel to massively successful Avengers blockbuster and it will surely be a hit. It’s getting positive reviews, and some are hailing it as the best Iron Man adventure yet.
They are wrong.
Iron Man 3 has enjoyable moments, mostly powered by the charisma of its stars Downey Jr and Gwyneth Paltrow rather than the iconic suit of armor. But the script is lost in spectacle as robotic “Iron Men” do battle in the skies, malfunction, and melt. It never quite feels as vacuous as “Transformers” but it has an “Avatar” feeling to it in that if you pause and look away from the action, you’re fairly certain to wake up to the inconsistencies of what you are watching. So don’t get up for the popcorn.
In Iron Man 3, the United States is facing the threat of the Mandarin, an Osama Bin Laden-like terrorist who take the war directly to our hero. Without spoiling too much, the Mandarin turns out not to be the only threat our hero is facing, nor is the Mandarin everything he appears to be.
Minor Spoiler Alert: Plot wise, I am weary of the Hollywood terrorist staple in which terrorism is inspired by, or backed by, or conducted by, our own government or our prominent businessmen. It seems like we would do better to point out villainy from other sources particularly as the popularity of our films around the world reaches a saturation point. No need to make our own anti-U.S. propaganda.
It would also be nice if we acknowledged the real-world destructive power of the family breakdown and didn’t feel obliged for our film heroes to have their ultimate romantic commitment be the willingness to allow their love-interest to move in with them. It’s jarring, particularly in a movie designed to appeal to kids.
All-in-all, Iron Man 3 will thrill fans and be a mega-hit, but Marvel would do well to take a closer look at the increasing emptiness in their scripts before this suit of armor suffers the same fate as Batman and shows up with a set of nipples.