Having seen the first two Iron Man films and really enjoying them I was quite excited to see the third one when it was released. Sadly I had exams when it was first released and so I had to wait until last Tuesday to go and see it. I was looking forward to it, and once again, it didn't disappoint. Too much. There were good things and bad things about Iron Man 3 and all-in-all I think it balanced out to be a fairly good film.
On the positive side, Robert Downey Jr. is still the same eclectic and charismatic Tony Stark that made both Iron Man and Iron Man 2, as well as The Avengers, so very enjoyable. His unique character makes him immensely likable, when really he shouldn't be. However, his attitude in this film was a bit too controversial for me. There was one moment when he told the kid in the film not to be a ‘pussy’ because his dad left home. I thought that this was too far. Apart from that though he was still at his funny and quirky best. I thought it was fantastic to see some worries and vulnerabilities creeping in as well. After what he saw and did in New York, anyone would struggle and so it was good that he was visibly affected by his experiences in a way that doesn't normally get shown in such films.
It was also good to see some level of continuity with The Avengers. There were obvious references back to the 2012 film and this made the whole Marvel series feel a lot more inclusive. Before The Avengers the five prequels were completely stand-alone around four characters, and there was a risk that afterwards they would return to being stand-alone films. I was quite pleased that they did incorporate some aspects of the last film into this one. I also really liked the post-credit scene with Mark Ruffalo (I wonder how many of you will have stayed behind to watch that one).
The final positive point that I want to raise was how original most of the story felt. I am led to believe that it was based on one of the Iron Man comic books, but it was presented in a very refreshing way. The story also didn't seem to follow the same pattern as the first two Iron Man films where there was a bad guy who wrecks havoc and then the superhero swoops in and stops him. Here it unfolded and was slowly revealed, and this made for a much more enjoyable experience compared to Iron Man 2 at least. The visual effects were excellent as well, as a small side note. The scale of this Iron Man was much greater than the first two and the budget obviously reflects the success of the other three films involving this character. The climax scene of the film was immense and absolutely gripped me, largely due to the scale of the special effects.
However, there were in my eyes a couple of drawbacks with Iron Man 3. Firstly, despite being relatively fresh and original, there were a couple of clichéd moments too. Tony Stark giving his home address to a known terrorist was beyond stupid, and so everything that followed from there slightly reduced my sympathy for him. I found the scenario that he found himself in for the majority of the middle of the film a bit clichéd too. I mean how many times before have we seen the superhero abandoned on his own in the middle of nowhere having lost everything? However, I did that making this part of the storyline softened the cliché. Another problem I had (spoilers) was that when Pepper fell from the crane thingy we were obviously meant to be rocked by her death. I mean no-one could survive that could they? However the guys I saw this with were all in complete agreement that they were certain she was fine. While I didn’t want them to kill off Gwyneth Paltrow’s character, I did think that this bit was weak.
The only other bad thing I have to say about the film relates to Ben Kingsley’s character. Ben Kingsley was absolutely brilliant as the terrorist The Mandarin (or Trevor), and was not only ferociously intimidating and genuinely sinister at times, but also brilliantly zany and quite funny when his character was revealed. He has a certain manner about him that makes each role completely different from any other Ben Kingsley role. However I did think that his character could have been so much more. He played the terrorist threat throughout the film but (spoilers) this was revealed to be a false ruse set up by Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce) in order to provide a target for the backlash against his schemes. Yet I always felt that his character never really fulfilled the potential that he had. I guess it is quite difficult to see how, but maybe the threat his character posed could have been greater. In the comic books I think The Mandarin is the archenemy of Iron Man, whereas here he is presented as a bit of a joke. This is a shame, and presumably has annoyed a large number of Iron Man fans, and this is the main thing that I felt could have been better about Iron Man 3.
Before I end this review I just want to mention quickly how good Guy Pearce was. His character seemed to pose a genuinely unstoppable force to Tony Stark and was much better than the previous two villains Iron Man has defeated. His character seemed permanently angry, and this was something that Guy Pearce managed very well. I can’t for the life of me work out what it is about Tony Stark that seems to really annoy some people to the extent that they try to destroy and dominate the world (sarcasm of course).
Iron Man 3 is not the film to watch if you want to be introduced to the franchise, but if you have seen the last two Iron Man films then it is worth a watch. Having seen The Avengers is not a prerequisite either, as much of the continuity isn’t critical for the plot. I did really enjoy Iron Man 3 – it kept me gripped and entertained for a while, and I didn’t fall asleep in the comfy chair I watched it in (which after the long day I had on Tuesday was quite a surprise).