IRON MAN 3 nearly ruins a franchise

Posted on May 3rd, 2013
Posted on May 3rd, 2013

by Coop Cooper

The first disappointment of the summer season, “Iron Man 3” suffers from similar trilogy woes in which films like “X-Men 3” and “Spider-Man 3” diverged too far from the canon and fell flat with fans. I’ll blame some of this on writer/director Shane Black who took the reins from Joss Whedon to add his “Lethal Weapon” flair to the story, but obviously didn’t have enough respect for the original “Iron Man” comics.

Shaken after the Avengers vs. aliens battle in New York, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) barely sleeps and spends every waking moment designing new Iron Man suits for every dangerous situation imaginable. This strains his relationship with Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) who is fostering a professional relationship with Advanced Idea Mechanics (AIM) founder Aldrich Killian (Guy Pierce) who has developed a frightening new technology with the help of scientist and former Stark flame, Maya Hansen (Rebecca Hall) to create instant-healing human cells. Meanwhile the international terrorist The Mandarin (Ben Kingsley) boldly attacks U.S. targets and pressure for Stark to do something about it intensifies when one of his friends is gravely injured in the crossfire.

Done right:

  • The production value was top notch and looks like a summer blockbuster all the way through.

  • Fantastic acting as usual. Robert Downey Jr. owns this role and his chemistry with Gwyneth Paltrow is stellar even though barely present in this film.

  • The Iron suits. Tony Stark has been very busy since the alien attack in New York in “The Avengers” and has created nearly 50 new suits to add to his arsenal. Fans of the comics will recognize many of the designs – all which are fantastic – including the “Hulkbuster” armor and my favorite, the infamous “Silver Centurion” suit which appeared in the comics for most of the 80’s, makes a prominent appearance in the finale.

  • The suits now double as drones. They should have saved this upgrade for “The Avengers 2” but Stark giving his supercomputer ‘Jarvis’ remote control over his remaining 50-odd suits was overkill but also a stroke of genius. This essentially gives Stark an all-too-powerful, invincible army, but the idea is so fun, it’s difficult to fault.

Done wrong:

  • In anger, Stark dares the terrorists to come and fight him… at his house… and gives them his address. Their response: They air strike his house and Stark isn’t even remotely ready for it. This has to be one of the dumbest plot decisions in superhero movie history.

  • Stark spends far too much time on the run and out of suit. His James Bond spy routine is kind of clever, but it feels like he’s wasting time when he could be suited up and fighting.

  • Nobody likes the “Iron Patriot” suit, including the characters in the film who constantly make fun of it. The government tries to soften War Machine’s profile by making him red, white, blue and silly. Plus James Rhodes (Don Cheadle) barely does any fighting while in armor which is a further insult.

  • Stark gets a kid sidekick. While on the run, Stark hides away in a little boy’s garage around Chattanooga, TN. The boy shelters his damaged armor and is allowed to annoy him in exchange for not telling on him. Harley the kid will wear on you after his first smart-mouth comment and only gets worse from there.

  • The super-powered bad guys are ridiculously overpowered. The ‘Lava Men’ as I will call them are super-strong, can’t be killed and can melt indestructible armor with their bare hands. So Stark can destroy an entire invading alien army with one suit in “The Avengers” but needs 50 to beat Lava Men? Since these baddies can’t fly, why not blast them from a safe flying distance? Apparently Shane Black didn’t think anyone would notice.

  • Pepper Potts gets superpowers. It happens, it’s awful and I refuse to mention anymore about it.

  • The evil supervillain The Mandarin is completely misused and ruined. In the comics he was Iron Man’s arch-nemesis who used both magic and technology in the form of ten powered rings to try and conquer the world. In “Iron Man 3” they started him off nicely as a powerful terrorist (played by Ben Kingsley) who cannot be stopped, but a twist two-thirds of the way in reveals the biggest insult to Iron Man comic fans ever devised. If dedicated fans condemn the film, it will be for this reason.

  • The end gives the impression that the filmmakers and stars don’t care to make anymore “Iron Man” films. It’s callously dismissive and the entire story strays so far from the original source material, it doesn’t bode well for the franchise or for those who care about the character.

Critics will give it high marks and action movie aficionados will have a great time watching it. Most people will probably love it, but for true fans of “Iron Man,” this one is a massive misfire and a step completely in the wrong direction. I didn’t love “Iron Man 2” like I loved the first one but it is a masterpiece in comparison to this one. I don’t know how they will salvage enough of the Iron Man storyline for “The Avengers 2” but I’m personally going to pretend this sequel doesn’t exist.

Iron Man 3” rating: 2 out of 5 stars

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