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Iron Man 3 (2013)
Tonight's Feature Presentation

IRON MAN 3 (2013)

Starring: Robert Downey, Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Ben Kingsley, Guy Pearce, Don Cheadle, Jon Favreau

Written By: Drew Pearce, Shane Black Directed By: Shane Black

The Short Version

This is a good story.

It plays more like Tony Stark 4 than it does like Iron Man 3.

The cheese does not stand alone; this loses a lot without what’s come before.

Our villain jumps the shark.

I like Iron Man 3… but it’s a “like” with a lot of baggage.

The Long Version

What Kind Of Cheese Is It?


Because Pepper deserves credit, too.

Pairs Well With...


It’s more fun if you don’t think about it.

“Is that all you've got? A cheap trick and a cheesy one-liner?”

“Sweetheart, that could be the name of my autobiography.”

Let’s start with this: Iron Man 3 is a good movie with a good story.  As someone who appreciates good movies with good stories, I like it.

I’m just not convinced that it should be called Iron Man 3.  Tony Stark 4, sure, but Iron Man 3?  I think he needs to spend a little more time inside the suit for that to be justified.  And then there’s that whole thing about “having fun.”  That’s what comic book movies are supposed to be about, right?

While Tony Stark is having his identity crisis on the screen, I’m in the audience having mine.

As for the whole “having fun” thing… well, let’s just say that while I probably will buy a copy of Iron Man 3 on blu ray, it’s not going to happen until it hits the “significant price drop” stage.  It’s not that it’s bad; it’s just… well…

For me, one of the least entertaining things about Iron Man 2 was watching Tony Stark have a personality crisis (brought on during that film by being terminally ill) that he chose to deal with by being – at least outwardly – an obnoxious frat boy schmuck.  In Iron Man 3, Tony Stark has yet another personality crisis, this one brought on by the realization that during the course of The Avengers, he was fighting actual extraterrestrials alongside an ancient Norse god.  (In other words, a one-man version of the collapse that the real-world US Government predicts would happen if the population in general ever discovered that intelligent alien life exists.  Really; it’s public record.  But anyway.)  This time, however, his crisis is presented in a much more serious, adult vein: he can’t sleep, he has panic attacks, and he even dials up enough courage to explain his feelings to his Significant Other.  As someone who enjoys smart scripts that take roads less travelled, I should love this, and part of me does, but… dammit, it’s just not the brand of fun that Marvel has spent three movies and change identifying with Iron Man.  I’d expect this from Bruce Banner and the Hulk (hell, I loved it in The Incredible Hulk), but from Iron Man?  No.  I don’t care how many “Iron Man” comics this pulls from; it’s just doesn’t feel right, and spending major dialogue to tell me as a member of the audience that Tony Stark is always Iron Man whether he’s wearing the suit or not feels like a hard sell.

Is this to say that I never cracked a smile?  Of course not.  When Iron Man 3 is funny, it’s really funny, and when it’s cool, it’s really cool.  But one starts to miss the AC/DC after a while, you know?

And the suit, for that matter.  For most of the movie, it’s either malfunctioning or completely broken (and thus unworn).  Where’s Iron Man?  Charging in the shop while Tony Stark has panic attacks in the alley, thanks.  And when the suit finally is good to go… remember what I just said about the script spending important dialogue to declare that Tony Stark is always Iron Man?  Well, it kinda lies, because it turns out that there are 42 functioning versions of the suit, and Stark’s supercomputer, Jarvis, can fly them all by remote control, simultaneously.  I know that this was supposed to be cool, and maybe it is, but now that the Iron Legion has come out, what’s Marvel going to demand next time?  Between that Tony Stark going human, I’m not sure there should be a next time.  Robert Downey, Jr. has signed on for two more Avengers flicks, and that’s cool, but as for flying solo…

Of course, he doesn’t really do that in Iron Man 3, does he?  Though I know this is inaccurate, in terms of how the movie felt as I was watching it, it felt like I was seeing the Iron Patriot suit in action (I do truly love all the cracks about how stupid the rebranding of “War Machine” to “Iron Patriot” is, by the way) just as often as I was seeing the Iron Man suit at work.  Rhodey is starting to feel like Robin, and we all know where that leads.

And then there’s the villain, whose identity is smartly handled in a way I won’t spoil for the six people who haven’t heard already.  Again, I appreciate the detail, and I appreciate the writing, but when the dude spits fire out of his mouth… um, yeah.  I know that we opened every possible floodgate with those gods and aliens and that even before that we were happy accepting the Hulk, but something about this particular villain and his cadre (all of whom are given the “human” names of villains from the comic books, by the way, even though they don’t actually come out as those villains; pretty sure that’s just nerd baiting) just feels like an unreasonable shark jump.  Maybe it’s because unlike The Avengers, which turned the real world into a comic book, Iron Man 3 goes back to trying to play as a comic book in the real world.  Maybe it would be okay if this wasn’t happening during the same movie in which Tony Stark is having panic attacks over the existence of Norse gods, but this is the same movie.  Maybe it’s because Iron Man 3 tries to have its cake and eat it, too.  I know that’s a dumb phrase and always has been, and yet, for this smart story, it fits.

I want to reward the breaking of the mold, I want to reward the human character study… but dammit, I wanted a comic book movie first.  Guess I want to eat my cake, too.

Fortunately, there are enough pieces on the table to keep it some kind of party.  Butts are kicked and jokes are cracked.  Stuff goes “boom” and looks good doing it.  Ben Kingsley slings poorly-masked Budweiser in truly hilarious fashion.  Gwyneth Paltrow gets to try something new, and now that he’s out of the director’s chair, Jon Favreau gets to have more fun playing a briefly be-mulletted Happy Hogan.  The post-cred scene is laugh out loud funny.  Yes, there is a good time to be had here, and I did enjoy it… just not as much as I’d expected to.  Maybe the key is to watch it at home with friends and to be at least one beer in before pressing “play.”

I like Iron Man 3, but… I don’t think I’ll be reaching for a copy and pressing “play” for a rewatch anytime soon.

Bottom line, Iron Man 3 has a good story, and it is a good movie, but it doesn’t feel like it should be called Iron Man anymore.  I look forward to seeing Tony Stark again in the next Avengers flicks and in whatever cameos he’s up for in other parts of the Marvel universe, but I think the main message of this film is that his solo career is ready to come to an end.

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- Reviewed by Ziggy Berkeley, July, 2013

You can email Ziggy at ziggy@cinemaontherocks.com. You can also find us on Facebook.


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