IRON MAN 3Iron Man 3 is a fun film, not as good as the first Iron Man, and slightly better than the second which I happened to enjoy.   It is a solid film but it also has its flaws.   The highlight once again is Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark.   He is Tony in much the same way Harrison Ford was Indiana Jones, or Kurt Russell was Snake Plissken.   Given that the basis for Iron Man this time out is very character driven, the fact that Downey embodies Tony Stark helps to hammer that point home and amplify the reactions.   Iron Man 3 does the character pieces very well from all points including Don Cheadle’s James Rhodes and Gwyneth Paltrow’s Pepper Potts.   Heck, even Favreau’s Happy Hogan gets a slight story arc.   Rebecca Hall is stunning as Maya Hansen but really doesn’t get much to chew on here while Guy Pierce is great as Aldrich Killian but I’m never really invested into why he’s doing what he’s doing other than a power corrupts dynamic.   All that leads to the character that will alienate some — Ben Kingsley’s The Mandarin.

iron-man-3-mandarinLet’s be clear in that while I have grown up a fan of comic books and have had ties in the industry, I really do not care when changes are made to fit the medium.   For instance, many fans of The Watchmen movie were up in arms that the ending was not like the book; I liked the movie and felt it was a genuine solid outing — different ending or not.   Some elements just work better in comics, or on film, or on television, or in a novel or short story.   The material needs to fit the medium while staying true to the source.   It is also why I have never understood films like The Dukes of Hazzard, Starsky and Hutch, or Charlie’s Angels — changing things is fine but when the Starsky and Hutch television series aired I am sure their intention was not a comedy nor to demonstrate that their two male leads were morons.  If that’s your intention, fine, but call it something else.   Same thing here with The Mandarin — it’s a great idea, but if that’s the intention call it something else.   Either that or have some balls and do the damn Mandarin.

IRON MAN 3This is my problem with Iron Man 3 — for all it’s great action, compelling story, and deep character elements it refuses to have any guts.   No one of significance substantially changes through death or otherwise except villains or throwaway baddies and no real changes are made even though the opportunities are there — play it safe wins in the end.   Some see it as a solid stand-alone movie that does not require prerequisite viewing of the first two Iron Man films nor does it simply leech off the success of The Avengers.  I agree, but too often IRON  MAN 3 feels like Tony Stark’s/Iron Man’s Avengers epilogue because for as solid as the film is, it almost refuses to take any chances and just ends with the status quo.   Sure a mansion lay in ruins, and Tony has a new lease on life, but like he himself said, he is Iron Man, even if another actor may take up iron-man-3the role eventually , and I for one hope those rumors are not true, so it’s really just back to business as usual by story’s end.   I don’t mourn the loss Maya or her genius because no one else does, I am not changed by a Happy or Pepper demise because we find a way out of that, and I don’t care about another brilliant but corrupt villain’s death because he’s just there to set up comic book A.I.M. anyway so we should all be happy.   In narration Pepper is “fixed” and Tony needs no longer worry about shrapnel piercing his heart — I assume Extremis plays a role in this but it isn’t really explained well along with Extremis itself so who cares if it’s creator is dead and buried.   It’s odd to me that a movie with solid story, acting, and action, can seem to pander to the masses but at the same time not.

ironman3posterfinalIRON MAN 3 kicks off MARVEL Studios’ Phase two in grounded character fashion with a B grade.   It would be nice to see Cap and Thor follow suit in preparation for a space opera Guardians of the Galaxy and an explosive spectacle as Avengers 2 promises to be.   That being said, I do hope Phase 2 doesn’t shy away from having the guts to tell the story that needs to be told with the characters that need to tell them.   Too often of late the comic book genre has failed to do so and opted for gimmicks or cheap story elements instead of quality story telling which is the real reason these new mythos have endured.   Characters who die for a cause should remain dead, and heroes sometimes need to grow and adapt in the face of change, so maybe this time around the movies can teach the comics a thing or two even though because of IRON MAN 3 a comic book Mandarin is eager for some screen time and some revenge against those that have wronged him.

The Guy in the Hat

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