Warning: This review will contain spoilers for Iron Man 3. Amazing, huh?
Iron Man 3 was a fun-fun movie but I'm not sure I enjoyed it as much as Iron Man or Iron Man 2. Worse than Iron Man 2? You fiend, you're saying it's worse than an asteroid hitting Earth! No, I'm not. I liked Iron Man 2 even if it didn't really say anything new about Tony or his character. Which, frankly, this movie didn't.
This movie exists to get Tony Stark to fight a ****load of cyborgs. It also exists to critique the Yellow Peril nature of the Mandarin as well as the War on Terror. Just as Iron Man 2 had two or three clever things (Justin Hammer is a poseur, the Black Widow's introduction, Howard Stark as Walt Disney) do did Iron Man 3.
In Iron Man 3, these clever things were the Mandarin fake-out and getting Tony to realize his unhealthy dependence on the armor. In fact, two isn't all that clever since Tony said he was awesome without the armor in the Avengers.
What did I think of the Mandarin fake-out? That the world's most powerful super-terrorist was a drugged-out British actor in service to the Military Industrial Complex's nastiest maniac? I loved it, personally, and felt it coming from the moment of the Mandarin's first broadcast. In a series which had avoided comic book theatricality, the Mandarin chewed the scenery from beginning til end.
I loved the social critique behind the Mandarin. That America's media raised Osama Bin Ladin from a criminal like Timothy McVeigh to a Cobra Commander figure conducting a shadow war against America. Al-Qaeda was a real threat to the world but it's probably safe to say that a lot of the actions ostensibly taken to dismantle the organization had nothing to do with it or Bin Ladin.
Aldrich Killian is also intriguing to me as a comics fan because he's the Caucasian Mandarin. When you strip away the Fu Manchu elements, the Mandarin's story was always about a poor man with great potential who raised himself to wealth through terrorism and technology. There's a neat little bit of foreshadowing that Aldrich wears an abnormally large number of rings for a man.
|I would have preferred all of the armors against something worth fighting rather than expendable mooks.|
I also felt the AIM was rather wasted here. We already have the Ten Rings organization from the first movie, so transforming Advanced Idea Mechanics into the corporate front of terrorist sponsors wasn't bad but it left me feeling nonplussed. I would have preferred AIM to show up as the public face of the new Hydra.
Did I like the inclusion of the dozens of Iron Man suits from the comics? As a fan of the 90s Iron Man cartoon, I'll say that it was nice to see the movie make a nod toward them. However, as awesome as it was to see them all together, I think a lot of the coolness factor was deflated by them blowing up by the dozens facing the Extremis soldiers.
Really, what bothered me most about this movie was the fact they felt the need to sweep all of Iron Man's legacy under the rug without it being true to the characters. Iron Man is needed more than ever and Pepper is more in danger without him than with. Yet, Tony is retiring as Iron Man because he wants to protect her. That just didn't make sense to me and felt forced.
I wasn't too fond of the standard "damsel in distress" plot into the movie either. Pepper Potts managed to avoid that for two movies, being intelligent and proactive without being a superhero. Having her kidnapped by Aldrich Killian for what is implied to be sexual reasons leaves a bad taste in my mouth.
Despite this, Iron Man 3 has a lot going for it. It's a continuation of Tony's character arc, which is still relevant despite him "resolving" it several times. Likewise, as a critique on the War on Terror, it had quite a few interesting things to say. My score remains unchanged and I think people should definitely see this movie. Could it have been better, though? I believe it could have been.