"You'll never see me coming."
A cheesy throwaway line from Marvel's latest movie? Or a promise, more prophetic than any of us realized? Read more about my review of Iron Man 3!
The Armored Avenger is in a rut. After the events of Marvel’s The Avengers, genius/billionaire/playboy/philanthropist Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.) can’t sleep, plagued by nightmares about the Chitauri invasion. He holes himself up in his Malibu home building more Iron Man suits, much to the concern of his best friend Rhodey (Don Cheadle) and to the dismay of his new girlfriend Pepper (Gwyneth Paltrow). Unfortunately, Tony needs to man up because new threats are in the horizon, from the suave industrialist Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce) to the mysterious Mandarin (Ben Kingsley), the leader of the Ten Rings terrorist group, who has sets his sights on US soil...and Tony is the only one who can stop him!
Iron Man 3 can definitely be considered an upgrade. There's more superheroics here than Iron Man 2, and unlike the previous Iron Man films, this one has more armor action. Way more. Fans of the "Iron" in Iron Man will definitely spazz when the Iron Legion show up to kick metric tons of ass. I know I did! Director Shane Black seemed to know what fans wanted to see, and he didn't disappoint in that regard.
But it's not just about the armors. In fact, RDJ spends a lot of time without the suit than within, with Black going The Dark Knight Rises route and showing us what Tony Stark can do when he's lost everything...everything but his unparalleled intellect. How does Tony Stark lay siege to an enemy fortress without the Mark 42 armor? With swag and enough home-made gadgets to make MacGyver proud, that's how.
My biggest point of contention (and I’m sure the point of contention for the fans who will watch this) however is with what they did to The Mandarin. Arguably Iron Man’s greatest enemy in the comics, The Mandarin has been a character fans have been clamouring for ever since the words “Ten Rings” were mentioned in the first Iron Man film...and he's here, rings and all! All the news and hype surrounding Ben Kingsley’s role, talking about his motivations right down to the tone of voice he used, built him up into someone menacing, calculating. Oh the fanboy glee it must have whipped up! We're getting some ten-ring action here and now!
That is, of course, until you find out what the movie does with him.
It's the inherent nature of Kingsley's role that makes it difficult to give a review without spoiling the entire thing, but needless to say it was terribly disappointing. This was their chance to give Iron Man his penultimate challenge in the form of his penultimate nemesis, only to throw it away via a plot point that made the movie murkier than it already was.
But ultimately, this was a Tony Stark story, not an Iron Man one. In the end, Iron Man 3 isn't really about cool armors or colorful bad guys, but about reminding everyone that outside of the suit of armor, Tony is a freakin’ genius, and that we’re fortunate enough that he’s on our side.
If there’s anything I could credit Iron Man 3 for, it’s that it went and did its own thing, from start to explosive finish. Whether that makes for a better movie remains to be seen, but for all its faults, no one can deny that Iron Man 3 is funny, exciting and a pretty good send-off to the franchise.