Marvel is moving on to “Phase 2” and that starts with this film which in many ways feels like the end of Iron Man… Do understand that reading on you will experience EXTREME SPOILERS… This is your only warning…. I lied here is another one… I will be diving deep into the plot of this film so be warned I will be SPOILING MAJOR PLOT PIECES. Okay, shall we begin? The film is set right after the events that happen in the Avengers… Which means the world knows of these super heroes… Loki and aliens attacked New York City. Not only is Tony Stark dealing with what happened but everyone else is too. He cannot help but run into someone asking about the invasion or about other Avenger members like Thor. Stark has panic attacks from the fight in New York and doesn’t see very nasty events unfolding right before his eyes. It takes his house exploding, his girl friend being placed in extreme peril and a lot of rebuilding for him to shake it off.
I really enjoyed the first two Iron Man movies. The first film is a solid set up movie. The villain ended up being rather weak. Iron Monger deserved more screen time. The second film failed because it was being used as a launching pad for the Avengers, it simply had too much on the plate. Still Whiplash’s entrance and fight scene was fantastic as was the use of War Machine. This third film isn’t structured like the others though which is great. We start off in 1999 where we see Tony Stark(Still in drunk dick head mode) blow off a bio engineer named Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce) and from there the story evolves. Set today Stark watches as a terrorist named The Mandarin(Ben Kingsley) take credit for explosions happening around the world. Iron Man does nothing to stop him. So the President of the United States makes War Machine(Don Cheadle) become “Iron Patriot”, basically War Machine painted red white and blue to go fight The Mandarin.
When one of the terror attacks hits Tony personally he decides to threaten the Mandarin on live news, this leads to his house being blown up by helicopters. With the world(including the bad guys) thinking he’s dead he must use his wits and big ass brain to solve what is going on. All of this works on many levels when it really shouldn’t. Downey gives his best performance as Stark here, it’s deep and more than him just being a drunk who finds a soul. He’s a man on a mission who doesn’t have his money, suits or Avengers as a crutch to help him. Shane Black is directing this time and his work with comedy makes this movie flow and ends up actually being pretty hilarious. The action is also solid across the board.
The movie stumbles when the plot unfolds… The Mandarin ends up being just a drunk actor. Killian is using something called Extremis to grow back people’s limbs/make them invincible/makes them spit fire/make them explode… I’m not kidding. He decided to create a public menace in the Mandarin to get the focus off him and his evil organization. This is the films glaring issue that holds it down… The villain Killian to me doesn’t make any sense, his ultimate plan seems almost pointless and unnecessary. We get tones that why he focused on Stark so badly was due to just jealousy, which is tired and has been done before. The fact that Kingsley plays the Mandarin so well in the first half makes the audience prepare for some ultimate show down, but it just never happens. Killian is the big bad here and his evil plan is just not explained very well. It also doesn’t help that his army of Extremis soldiers just seem like super powered zombies and have no depth.
Still even with this glaring hole the film is still very fun. The actors blow it away here, Kingsley and Guy Pearce are frankly amazing here, both very much enjoying their roles. Gwyneth Paltrow returns as Pepper Potts and has a lot more to do here, her scenes are the best frankly and you can’t help but cheer for the character a little as all the events unfold.
I will give this movie credit for having one of the best twists since “The Sixth Sense” or advertising since “Scream”. I never saw The Mandarin coming as he even claims in the movie. They caught me off guard, problem is the movie didn’t even seem to know what to do with the twist. The plot needed some help towards the end, a clear goal, the best super hero movies have strong villains with a plan. Loki in the Avengers was interesting because he was a pawn, but a dangerous one that the audience understood needed to be stopped. Killian on the other hand, I still am not clear on what he was even about. He was just bad and had to be stopped. The movie is witty and visually stunning and that alone is worth the ticket price but in the end you feel cheated, this could have been the best comic book movie ever, instead you feel like even it doesn’t know what it is half way through. The movie ends in a way that makes it seem like will never see an Iron Man 4… I doubt it of course but it’s interesting. I wish I would say this movie was amazing but really in the end “interesting” is the only word you can toss at it.