By: Muneeb Arshid
Can you feel it in the air? Yes, we’re mere hours away from the general release of Captain America: Civil War but we still have two more films to cover in this section of our reviews of the MCU. Iron Man 3 which will be the topic of this review and Ant-Man in the next day or so.
Iron Man 3 is the third of the stand-alone stories about Tony Stark and picks up just after the events of New York in The Avengers. The film captures a very different Tony Stark, one who has become quite reserved within himself and his research (a fact made none too apparent than by the number of Iron Man suits that he has now created) and is ultimately allowing that to affect his personal and social lives in a negative manner. The entire film is about his struggle combatting against the effects of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD); however, the film does not shy away from the classic personality that we have become accustomed to from past MCU films that involve Mr. Stark.
The story of Iron Man 3 is that there is a new villain in town as per usual for the MCU films. This villain is terrorizing the citizens of the world with a new style of explosive device, one that leaves no trace of evidence after the fact. This supposed villain is depicted as The Mandarin (supposedly played by Ben Kingsley). We are also introduced to two new characters who come back to haunt Tony Stark from his past. Guy Pearce plays a rival genius named Aldrich Killian who has connections to not only Stark but also his girlfriend Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) and Rebecca Hall plays Maya Hansen, a one-time fling of Tony Stark who is involved in the creation of Extremis, an experimental regenerative treatment which ultimately becomes the basis of the narrative of the film.
One of the problems with this film, that many have attested to themselves, is that the character of The Mandarin ultimately is a caricature of what the character actually is portrayed as in the comics. The way he is seemingly portrayed on camera may not be what is actually occurring behind the scenes. Once the reveal is made towards the latter part of the film regarding the true nature of The Mandarin and who he actually is, it’s a moment of slight disbelief and anger as to why that was the direction that director Shane Black wished to pursue. Even though the film is nothing special compared to others in the MCU, it was doing a perfectly serviceable job up until that reveal. However, once the reveal occurs and we head towards the final action set piece, the film takes on a very familiar pattern that has been seen with previous Shane Black films, which consists of the film losing its credibility and realism in favor of employing a darkly comedic touch which is completely unnecessary.
Another major criticism of this film is the reasoning behind the creation of this film. If you look back at the film and analyze its role as a stand-alone film, it’s a perfectly serviceable Iron Man story that has been adapted for the big screen that appeals to a large audience. A film should always, regardless of whether it’s a sequel, prequel, pre-sequel or not, be able to stand on its own to be regarded as an average film or above. The circumstances, however, dictate a little different when it comes to Iron Man 3 since it is part of the bigger Marvel Cinematic Universe and, more importantly, was the opening film of the Second Phase of this universe. So, the film is fine if it is regarded as a stand-alone only, but in the bigger picture (which needs to be considered), the film doesn’t exactly do a whole lot in terms of explaining what may have happened after the events of New York or what is to come in the future. To clarify, it does not explain the make-up of the universe post-New York apart from the effects that Tony Stark is left to deal with following the conclusion of The Avengers. Now, normally I wouldn’t have a problem with that, but when a Universe is being so heavily marketed as steering itself towards a much larger encounter or incident waiting to happen, I would’ve liked there to be a little more set up or better utilization of the story itself so as to not feel that the film is just being shoe-horned in as possible fan service.
As my previous review of Iron Man 2 alluded to, there have been some great films in the MCU like Captain America: The Winter Soldier, which got a glowing review from my colleague Samar Khan. There have also been some bad ones as well, not completely reaching “I would never watch those films again” levels of terrible, but they have been on the lower side of the rating scale. I’m sad to say that two of those films have been the latter two Iron Man flicks. Which one of Iron Man 2 or Iron Man 3 is worse is completely a subjective call; however, there’s no denying that they are two of the weakest of the MCU and for completely different reasons. I will personally go with Iron Man 3 being a little worse for wear because at least with Iron Man 2, I can say that I had a little bit of fun with the film and its characters. Such a sentiment I cannot hold for this film as I was quite bored from start to finish.
Iron Man 3 will still get a fresh rating from yours truly but just barely, as I grace the film with a grade of C (6.1/10).