This weekend I saw Iron Man 3 which finishes probably the best trilogy in super hero movies. Tony Stark is back and he is a bit of a mess.
Since the events of The Avengers, he has been suffering from severe bouts of anxiety as to his role in being a self-appointed protector of mankind. Things get even more complicated for Stark as he has to fight off a new global terrorist known as the Mandarin, who has struck at him first by attempting to murder Stark’s longtime driver/bodyguard/assistant Happy Hogan and then launching an aerial attack on Stark’s Malibu home.
It turns out that this latest threat to Stark and the world at large is tied to Aldrich Killian and his quasi research company/terrorist group Advanced Idea Mechanics. Unfortunately, no one in the movie version of AIM wears the beloved yellow bee keeper’s suits. Killian is upset that Stark blew him off at a millennial New Year’s Eve event and has spent the last thirteen years perfecting a regenerative healing technology (kind of like Wolverine) that was coincidentally developed by a scientist that Stark had a one night stand with that same night. Unfortunately, this bio-tech called Extremis is extremely volatile and can be used to make explosive soldiers. Not to mention, Killian has kidnapped Stark’s love interest Pepper Potts.
This all leads Stark to face the biggest challenge of his life, stopping both Killian and the Mandarin and rescuing Pepper while not having access to his usual arsenal. Our hero is able to save the day with more than a little help from his friends James Rhodes (sans his War Machine armor) and Pepper (who has gained some extraordinary abilities of her own after becoming infected with Extremis). But the battle that Stark had with himself in overcoming his own fears was much more important than his struggle with Killian and AIM.
I loved how they made the hero seem so vulnerable, but only in his own mind. Yes, he’s Tony Stark, one of the smartest and most successful men on the planet. But in his own mind he was done for. He pulls himself together at the right time to protect what is most important to him. The resulting story is very compelling and isn’t overshadowed by robotic armor and a billion explosions.
Plot aside, there were a lot of other details that I liked. Here they are in no particular order.
- The movie borrows a lot of concepts from Warren Ellis’ “Extremis” storyline. This gets acknowledged by the filmmakers in a roundabout way, as the movie’s president shares a last name with the writer.
- Don Cheadle was awesome as War Machine and I liked how they were able to tie the Iron Patriot armor into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, especially since they don’t have access to the Norman Osborn character.
- The scenes with Stark hiding out in Tennessee and befriending the kid inventor Harley were really funny and sweet at the same time, with the younger one being more optimistic of Stark’s skills.
- The Ben Kingsley Mandarin character had an unbelievable plot swerve and was acted so well. If you haven’t seen the film yet or have no interest in it,
What I also liked was how they tied up the loose ends of the movie series. For now it seems like another Robert Downey Jr. Iron Man film may be unlikely, but they smartly found a way that satisfactorily ends the trilogy that can allow Downey to revisit the character or relaunch the franchise with someone else. But until that happens, Iron Man 3 finishes the greatest super hero movie trilogy of all time.