Friday, October 29, 2021

Iron Man 3 (a movie review post)


MCU #7

Wow! It has been a long time since we had an actual Iron Man movie and, of course, there will be no more Iron Man movies. It's easy to forget how long it has been, though, since we've had a solo movie with Tony Stark considering how integral he has been in the MCU. Now I'm kinda sad...

My feelings for this movie have a changed a lot since it first came out. You can read about those here. Basically, though, I've come to terms with the changes they've made to the Mandarin and the Ten Rings. You can read a bit about that here and get an understanding of the changes to the Ten Rings. At least, I think I talked about that there. I didn't actually go back and re-read my Shang-Chi review.

The tone of Iron Man 3 is a bit different than that of the first two, primarily because John Favreau chose not to come back and direct 3. Instead, we get Shane Black, who also co-wrote the script, which is fine, but I am blaming him for the narration. It's just not a thing I'm fond of in movies, generally speaking, though it does mostly work in this one. I say "mostly" because it doesn't but, then, he makes it work at the end. Is it worth the joke? Evidently, I didn't think so when I first saw the movie, but I feel better about it now. It's "I'm not that kind of doctor" that does it for me. And Mark Ruffalo. So great.

The three Iron Man movies are an interesting arc from a character perspective: Tony becomes Iron Man (I'm going to call this the man vs man story), Tony battles being Iron Man, which is killing him (I'm going to call this the man vs himself story, especially since it's in lieu of the substance abuse story line from the comics), Tony is stripped of being Iron Man and needs to build a fire (yes, I'm making a reference to Jack London) (I'm going to call this the man vs the environment story). This is where we really get to find out who Tony Stark is or, at least, whom he has become since becoming Iron Man. Is there anything of Tony left?

Tony has come to rely on Iron Man almost as a separate entity... well, exactly as a separate entity, as we see when he sends the armor to have a date with Pepper because he's busy doing something else. Of course, there is a separate entity involved: Jarvis, the AI that Tony has created as a... personal assistant? butler? lab assistant? All of those things. And I think that Paul Bettany, the voice of Jarvis, really gets overlooked. Sure, later, he gets a chance to shine, especially in WandaVision, but I think the audience, much like Tony, forget that there is a person behind the voice of Jarvis. The question, really, is whether Tony can make it on his own without the assistance of Jarvis, whom Tony has had with him, basically, always. It's an interesting question. Of course, we all know that Tony became Iron Man without Jarvis, but does Tony remember that he is his own person?

From an intellectual standpoint, I think Iron Man 3 is terrific. It asks interesting questions and goes about trying to answer them. And Tony has become someone who takes ownership of his mistakes, something younger Tony would never have done. And I don't mean just the big ones. Well, maybe they're all big, but, when he messes up with Pepper, more than once, he is quick to acknowledge his mistake(s) and apologize and endeavor to do better, so it's on a personal level, too, not just an "Oops, I accidentally created Ultron" kind of level. I also love his relationship with the kid, Harley, and that he has to deal with his PTSD from what happened in Avengers in large part because of his interactions with Harley.

I'm less crazy about the ending, though. I like that he can't manage to get into and stay in any of his suits. I don't like that he has 40-ish suits of armor flying around taking care of the fight. It is both over-the-top and underwhelming at the same time, which leaves me feeling unsatisfied. Also, after the big ending of Iron Man 2 with Iron Man and War Machine fighting side by side, I don't like that Rhodes' contribution to the fight is to save the president and fly away. Yes, yes, this is Tony on his own. I get that, but I feel like there is something... intangible... that is missing to make the ending really work for me. Not to mention a denouement of "I fixed everything" to wrap up the loose plot threads.

Maybe Ben Kingsley makes up for all of that? He's amazing. It does, though, make me wish that he got to play the version of the Mandarin from the comics, too. He's so sinister. But... but... I am happy with the changes to that character. The MCU needs the Shang-chi version of the Ten Rings.

Then there's Guy Pearce. He's one of those guys that I find, always, completely believable as a villain. He makes my skin crawl. He's smarmy. He comes across as someone who needs to be punched. I don't mean the character; I mean him. Have you ever seen him in an interview? I'd prefer for him to not be in my movies but, if he's going to be there, it should be as a villain, so he performs adequately in this role.

It's interesting to me that, in a lot of ways, Iron Man is the only character in the MCU who gets personal stories. Small battles without the world at stake, though I suppose the stakes are higher in this one since we have AIM trying to take over the government. It feels like a grudge fight, though, between Killian and Stark, mostly because Killian makes it that way. The whole thing is a bit ironic, actually, since everything that's happening is intended as a coverup because they accidentally exploded some people.

So here I am trying to weigh this movie against Iron Man 2 and decide which I like more, and I'm having trouble coming to a decision. I guess I am going to go with 3 because I like the concept more, that of stripping Stark of Iron Man and making him survive in the wilderness on his own. That part even starts with him out in the snow, which makes me wonder if the writers were also thinking about Jack London or if it was just a happy accident.

The new MCU rankings!
1. The Avengers
2. Captain America: The First Avenger
3. Iron Man
4. Thor
5. Iron Man 3
6. Iron Man 2
7. Incredible Hulk (apologies to Mark; it's not your fault)


  1. I definitely didn't like the Mandarin here. I thought it didn't work, and it was an attempt at making the character less offensive that failed because it was written by white people, unlike Killmonger. It was cringy and uncomfortable and ruined an otherwise good movie.

    1. Jeanne: Which they address in Shang-chi, actually. It's at least partially redeemed.