With all due respect, Iron Man is a pretty hard character to adapt to screen. He doesn’t have a noteworthy rogues gallery and it’s difficult to create believable threats for him. Without a secret identity, there’s no worry of revealing who he is, which tends to be a heavy amount of most superhero drama. He’s also practically a one man army with unlimited arms and resources to. This makes it all the more impressive how well the Iron Man film series has turned out. I honestly believe that the series is the best comic book adaptation to date, managing to translate the franchise, which has a lot of issues, to modern film. The third film shares a good amount of the quality of previous installments, albeit with a few missteps as well.
In the film,Tony suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder due to the events of The Avengers ( 2012 ) His condition causes him insomnia and impaired judgement. By impaired judgement, i mean pissing off an international terrorist named the Mandarin, who declares war on Tony. Backing Mandarin is a new rival of Tony’s, a wealthy bio-engineer dabbling in human experimentation. The cast includes Ben Kingsley ( yes, Ghandhi ) as the Mandarin and Guy Pearce ( Prometheus, The King’s Speech ) as Aldrich Killian. The plot draws from several comic arcs, including Warren Ellis’ Extremis arc (the use of genetically modified super soldiers) and the Armor Wars ( Tony’s suit variations ) and the Joe Quesada’s ‘ Sentient Armor ‘ arc, which thank god didn’t factor too much into the plot since it features an armor who gets a mind of its own, falls in love with Tony,vthen becomes violent towards him.
The film acts as a reconstruction of Tony Stark as a character. Before the end of The Avengers, he was basically the world’s greatest man;not only having the wealth and brilliance of his own series, but also the love of his life and the admiration of the planet. This is a common issue in sequels; satisfying conclusions need to include character development of some kind. Therefore, the protagonist of a film should have already settled whatever problems he or she suffered from. One of the MANY reasons i found The Hangover Part 2 ( 2011 ) so stupid is that in order for the events of the film to take place, everyone would have to trust Alan enough to take him along ( despite his mistakes from the previous film ) and Alan would have to be the same reckless idiot he started as. Sure, one could say people don’t necessarily learn from every mistake, but growth of some kind is often a necessity for compelling stories. Since Iron Man ( 2008 ) is a decently written film franchise Tony Stark has loads of development, so much so that when Pepper asks what’s wrong with him in the beginning of the film, he just tells her. No lies,no drinking, he just acknowledges his PTSD. Big improvement over the guy who drunkenly beat up his best friend in the previous film in order to ‘cope’. The remaining challenge for Tony is reconciling the implications of a larger Marvel Universe. Both film and comic Tony Stark are men at the height of human potential, but they are still only human. How does someone like Tony stark cope with beings who’s abilities dwarf him soundly? He gets back to basics, which for him means tinkering and snark.
The film begins with him creating a new suit that can be summoned piece by piece onto his body via ” body computer ” ( which of course becomes a recurring Chekhov’s gun throughout the film ) which is just cool as hell. This is one of the first things i like about the film and the franchise as a whole: brand new shit every film. Yes, i know some dude at Mattel would probably make the filmmakers include new toys anyway, but for once it works perfectly for a franchise like this. Iron Man is always making new suits to do all kinds of shit, he even makes one to fight THOR of all people ( spoiler: it doesn’t work ).
Tony Stark, despite a few issues, is very much an escapist character, like James Bond. Iron Man is what every child with an erector set wishes he was making. Unfortunately, the coolness of being Iron Man and Tony’s general flippancy undercuts the ” PTSD ” he’s supposedly going through. In the film, Tony literally sees a woman get shot and a friend’s bruised body, yet still seems perfectly able to crack wise. I wouldn’t call this a huge fault of the film, however, this is Tony Stark, not Bruce Wayne we’re talking about. The character’s personality allows for his banter to be played as a coping mechanism.
In terms of pacing, nothing in the film is dragged on. There’s not too much exposition going on in the film’s beginning, which is appropriate given that this is the third film in a series. What might be a point of contention for many people is part of the reason why there’s no need to exposit: both antagonists are quite familiar.
Aldrich Killian, Tony’s rival industrialist, is a nerd who gets rich and sexy. He’s a character originating from the Iron Man Extremis arc. As the guys at spill.com pointed out, he’s basically The Riddler from Batman Forever ( 1995 ); an awkward scientist who is rejected by the wealthy protagonist and later uses his success to beat him at his own game. Some will probably say that another evil industrialist is getting redundant, and i would agree. Mind you, this isn’t a criticism of the film, it’s more of an acknowledgment about the nature of the franchise. Who the fuck is going to fight a billionaire with powered armor unless they had the same amount of resources? Due to the level of power Tony wields, he can only really be opposed by someone like him. Guy Pearce puts in an okay performance: it’s just enough for the film, but doesn’t really distinguish itself from similar characters. I could sum up his performance as a more reserved Tony Stark. Nothing more than that. As such, he’s not so much menacing, but then it’s kind of hard to be a sexy billionaire scientist AND a personal threat, so it’s passable.
Who isn’t like him is the film’s designated ethnic antagonist, The Mandarin. The Mandarin appeared not too long after the first issue of Iron Man’s series in 1963 and was intended to be his archnemesis, but due to the obvious racist overtones, was mostly overlooked. With he and Killian, we once again see the franchise’s habit of, without intending it i assume, having an American and a non-American antagonist. This is a carryover from the comic series, where the only threats Tony dealt with were either corrupt corporations or enemies of the state. In 1963, the boy reading an Iron Man comic would know that communist China is always fodder for villainy, and in 2013, the equivalent would be a (lets be honest) a bearded Middle Eastern dude makin’ movies. Yes the character’s racist, but without spoiling anything,the film manages to justify why so. Ben Kingsley basically plays a supervillainous version of Osama Bin Laden. I’m pretty sure a vocal coach told him that film supervillains have strange, unrealistic accents like Joker and Bane, so he sounds a lot like Richard Nixon. I find it kind of funny, to be honest, but it works in the context of the film. Since both characters are basically variations of previous ones, the film doesn’t need to build either of them. Even thought two villain comic films have become synonymous with shit, the combination of the two allows for it to avoid the pitfalls of the previous film in terms of action. In Iron Man 2 ( 2010 ), Ivan Vanko didn’t have nearly enough weapons or resources upon his first battle with Stark, so it barely manages to be compelling outside of the fact that he just jumps him. Justin Hammer wasn’t even a “supervillain”, just an envious industrial rival. It took till the end of the film before their combined threat managed to lead towards an exciting action scene. This film, on the other hand, manages to seamlessly integrate both villains into a viable threat from the moment Tony’s house is attacked. The two antagonists end up having a very logical connection that works brilliantly. This leads to the film having several exciting twists, even if some of the bigger ones might be somewhat predictable.
Overall, despite some initial reservations, i believe Iron Man 3 is a sufficient end to the franchise. The film is entertaining and a great conclusion to the character development of Tony Stark. He manages to reassert his significance to the world, even outside of Iron Man, and makes a ( mostly ) logical decision about what to do with his life at the film’s climax. Hopefully the character will continue to entertain in the almost certain cameos he will have in other Marvel films.
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