Warning: There will be spoilers in this review!

I grew up with comic books. My parents owned a comic book shop. I remember when people considered it strange when adults still read comic books, or that was considered geek stuff, and it was particularly strange for a girl to read them. It’s been a fascinating study the past 5-10 years to see how those of us who were considered nerdy and geeky are now celebrated. I always argued that everyone’s a geek in their own way, but it’s the age of technology and media. I think the Tim Burton Batman movie for a short time brought superhero comics into a mainstream, but then it got increasingly blah, also the X-Men movies did this. And the Spider-Man. The truth is we love superheroes and all those stories, but somehow geek culture still turns out to be The Big Bang Theory in the way people look at us. I’m getting off track. Iron Man 3 just came out and I saw it opening weekend in the IMAX. I have seen every Iron Man and Marvel movie in the IMAX, and it’s been a wonderful experience. I wouldn’t want it any other way. I think it’s amazing what they’ve managed to do with that character, because he certainly wasn’t the most mainstream well known, not the way the X-Men and Spider-Man are. The Marvel movies are all exceptional, and I’m glad they’re getting back rights to Daredevil, Elektra, and a handful of others. Some day they will get back the others, I believe!

This movie is the start of the next stage for the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe). We have Thor 2, Cap 2, Ant-Man, Guardians of the Galaxy, and Avengers 2 on the way. But Iron Man is where this power house started. It’s all about Tony Stark and Robert Downey Jr.’s portrayal of him. How he manages to walk a fine line with Tony being a lovable asshole is damn impressive, and I feel that in anyone’s hands it just wouldn’t work. So just as a quick summary: Iron Man 1, Tony Stark made weapons for the US government. He’s a playboy genius generally apathetic to the world and just likes his women, booze, and money. Until he gets captured by a terrorist group and nearly dies, creating a super suit and stopping his weapon division. He becomes a walking weapon instead, and in Iron Man 2 is beloved by all. He is dying from the arc reactor in his heart, and he has to create a whole new element to save himself, thanks to a little help from his long dead father. In the Avengers, he joined the team to save the world and also to see what SHIELD was up to. Tony sacrificed his life to send a nuke into an alien ship, and he managed to survive by the skin of his teeth and thanks to the Hulk. This movie takes place only a few months after the Avengers. Tony isn’t alone though, he has three people: Happy, his former chauffeur and now head of security, Jim “Rhodey” Rhodes his best friend and army leader with his own super suit, and the love of his life Pepper Potts, former PA and current CEO of his company Stark Industries.

Tony’s in a bad way. He’s unable to sleep because he’s having night terrors about his experience in Avengers, and he’s using his manic energy to make an endless amount of suits. He also has found a way to use sensors under his skin and call his suits to him through his mind alone. Pepper’s moved in but his continued instability is causing some problems for them. The movie first starts to introduce us to the three major players on the antagonist side: Maya Hansen (Rebecca Hall), Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce), and the Mandarin (Ben Kingsley). Years before, Maya and Tony were a brief thing and she told him about her botany experiments with something she called Extremis. Basing her studies off of how the plants heal themselves, she was trying to come up with an equation for it to work with people. With Extremis, most people become super soldiers of a sort, part machine and unstoppable since they immediately heal themselves. Unfortunately every once and awhile they blow up due to a “glitch” in the program. Killian has funded her experiments and has a personal grudge since Tony humiliated him out of his callous cruelty. And the Mandarin is a terrorist holding the world hostage by bombing certain locations, although it becomes obvious the bombs are the Extremis rejects. Tony gives the Mandarin his home address and challenges him to attack after Happy gets hurt in an explosion. They take his dare and destroy his home. For a good portion of the movie Tony is without a suit and struggling to understand the truth about Extremis and the Mandarin.

REAL SPOILERS BELOW YOU ARE WARNED.

As a comic fan I’m well versed in the Extremis storyline, which is a really great one that has influence all the way through the current series. I was a little surprised to find Killian at the forefront as the bad guy, since he killed himself early in the first issue. I personally wondered why Maya couldn’t take more of a center stage here, and while I think they did a good job with her overall, I think they copped out a little by her changing her mind at the end. I could go on and on about the unfortunate implications they used with the Mandarin. Honestly most people seem to understand what they are, even people who aren’t well versed in social justice issues, so that’s a mark of an iffy story twist. That being said, it does make sense in context of the movie itself. Having Killian be the “real” Mandarin and Kingsley a silly British drug addict instead worked for the plot, but it made me side eye the movie a little bit. Plus of course there are the Iron Man fans angry that the Mandarin, one of the absolute best bad guys in Iron Man history, turned out this way. RDJ said in an interview he assumed each movie would have the Mandarin, and he was glad to have him in the movie, but that seems a little dishonest since this wasn’t the actual Mandarin. You can’t say you’re a fan of that character and think this movie represented him well. Honestly these are just in general things that made me frown at the movie, but I do understand the general reasons why for the sake of the plot they put it this way.

The real thing I want to comment on is a problem they have with the upcoming movies, or at least some of them, and I’m sure a lot of people are asking about. Here’s the problem with the Avengers: now that they’re in their solo missions, how do you explain why they don’t call in for help? RDJ said mostly you just have to go with it, because yeah logically Bruce, Steve, and SHIELD would be around to help Tony. But then it’s no longer Iron Man, it’s the Avengers again. So it has to be a suspension of disbelief. I can accept that, although I do think it’ll be easier for them to explain the other movies being outside of Avenger control. Thor is in Asgard. Captain America 2 does have SHIELD involved and the Winter Soldier probably won’t all take place in the USA. The reason I bring this up is the ending tag, which I get is supposed to be a laugh and a wink. But guys if you’re going to have Tony chatting with Bruce Banner, it really begs the question why he wasn’t in the rest of the movie. Okay maybe he was off in a third world country again, but it just seemed weird to introduce him there, but not address why Hulk didn’t show up otherwise. I felt like of all the movies they could use Hulk in, this was it. If they’re going to talk about the Avengers multiple times in the movies, they couldn’t just have one or two lines saying where the others are at and why they aren’t coming to save their friend? His house is demolished, he’s considered MIA and/or dead. SHIELD was right there in Iron Man 2 to save his life and no one knew he was dying but them. The President is kidnapped, how is SHIELD not involved? Yeah yeah yeah, suspension of disbelief, I get it, but I’m still going to be annoyed about it and you can’t stop me!

I will say I question the PTSD in this movie. That is what they seem to be implying with his night terrors and anxiety attacks. I actually think that’s an interesting idea, although they never seem to really … get into it? He does it a few times and then it’s over and not mentioned again by the end of the movie. Also why now is he panicking when he’s almost died about 15 times in the movies? I’d say that his first experience in Iron Man 1 was hugely traumatic. This could’ve easily be a plot they threaded through all three. I loved the idea of him struggling mentally with all that’s happened and his rising panic about Pepper and his future as Iron Man. I feel like every time they started to get deeper they only tipped their toe in but pulled back in order to get back to the action. Plus the end was wrapped up pretty fast, wasn’t it? I’ve heard people found Tony’s journey alone (and with the kid) in the middle was the best part of the movie, and I’d agree. Because that’s when they’re dipping their toe into the emotional development pool. I get they have to move back to the action, but I think the audience really dug that part too. More of that, plz.

Now I’m jumping off the nitpicks thing and saying what I loved about it. I loved Pepper, Rhodey, and Happy and how they used his support cast in this movie. It was fantastic. Especially Pepper, although I wish she had more time with Extremis because she was such a BAMF. In the comics Tony got Extremis, but I like that they gave it to her instead. I want to be smug at my fellow comic book movie geeks who whined that Tony would be less interesting when he was in a relationship. NOPE. HE IS BETTER. TAKE THAT. Rhodey, oh wow, did he kick some major ass. I love how lethal he is outside of the armor. It’s a good nod to the fact he’s an actual army guy and he’s well trained all on his own. Him saving the President without any armor and going up against the Extremist soldiers with no fear? Fantastic. As always Robert Downey is so good there’s no real way to explain it. His perfect performance goes without saying. I know he’s working out his new contract now, but I’m sure they will get it settled, because there is no Iron Man without him. I think this movie in general had a decent plot, great action and CGI, and sharp writing. It leaves us off in a place we can really wonder about the next step and look forward to it. So while I have quibbles up there, it doesn’t matter, because overall this was an excellent movie. I’d easily see it again and probably have even more fun the second time. I highly recommend it to everyone who loves the MCU and especially Tony Stark,  and I can’t wait for Thor to come up next. Ahhhh the geek in me is so happy these days. Feed the geeks, and you shall get billions of dollars. As Alec Hardison says: Age of the geek!

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Comments
  1. CMrok93 says:

    Good review Dee. Great way to start off the summer with loud action, funny quips, and Robert Downey Jr. at his finest.

    Like

    • Dee says:

      Thank you! I agree, it was a great way to start this blockbuster summer. I’m not sure that I think the others will top it, but I’m psyched to see them try.

      Like

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