Sometimes it’s just about fun. Iron Man 3 isn’t a great film, but damn I had fun while watching it. It has some pretty good action, but mostly it has Robert Downey Jr. getting out of scrapes and making quip after quip. I watched with pure pleasure.
The film, directed by Shane Black, is really a James Bond film. We have the wealthy, brilliant, megalomaniacal villain, with an industrial lair for the finale; a secondary and tertiary villain, our hero bound as he listens to the villain’s plans, a femme fatale, lots of gadgets (though in this case Bond is his own Q), and the hero’s coolness under pressure, with a joke for every occasion.
Of course, James Bond never had a iron suit, but in this film Tony Stark, the billionaire behind the mask, is out of the suit much more than he’s in it. In fact, the suit is rendered almost superfluous, as, by my count, six different people in the course of the film wear one of them. At the end of the film there are so many of them, flown by Stark’s computer, Jarvis, that you wonder if a person even needs to be in one. These are the drones of the comic book world.
The film’s two villains: Adridge Kililan (Guy Pearce) who as a gawky and crippled young man gets dissed by Stark and then plots his revenge, in what seems to be an homage to The Incredibles, and the Mandarin, a quasi-Arab terrorist (Ben Kingsley) who is setting off bombs all over the country. Then there’s the guy with red eyes (James Badge Dale) and who’s hands get really hot.
Stark issues a challenge to the Mandarin and gets his house blown into the water. I do hope his homeowner’s insurance covers helicopter attacks. During this sequence Stark’s girlfriend (he’s monogamous now) Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow), dons the iron suit for a few moments, a bit of girl power, but then at the end of the film she’s trussed up a prisoner of the villain so nothing is really new.
The overall theme of the film seems to be Stark’s struggle with his own demons. He’s suffering PSTD after the events that occurred in The Avengers. Luckily, in this film, he only has to deal with people who can breathe fire and melt things at the touch. The hot-shot playboy also is forced to team up with a kid in rural Tennessee, and the sentiment is kept a minimum. I do find it interesting that Stark, at the end of the film, doesn’t reward the fatherless boy with companionship, but with things. A lot of comic book heroes, such as Batman, Professor X, The Fantastic Four, etc., are filthy rich, but none so ostentatiously so as Stark. He’s the hero for Wall Street.
But that’s all for the college class on comic book films. For the rabble, including me, are lots of funny lines, some great action scenes (my favorite was a terrific one involving Iron Man saving 13 people that have fallen from Air Force One while name-checking the old game Barrel of Monkeys). There is probably a bit too much here–Don Cheadle is back as Rhodes, this time wearing a red, white and blue iron suit and now called The Iron Patriot, and a bland white guy president that seems quaint in the era of Obama (although they do have Miguel Ferrer as Vice-President). The finale, with all of the iron man suits at once, is too busy, but I was kind of mesmerized by the all the sound and fury. It was like watching fireworks, and I was tempted to go “ooh, ahh.”
This was my favorite of the Iron Man film,s and it’s due mostly to Downey Jr., who just grabs hold of the film and doesn’t let go. When they cast him way back when it was an atypical move, and it’s turned out to be a master stroke. Downey Jr. clearly loves playing this character: when he says, “I am Iron Man” it comes directly from the actor. He’s just so much fun to watch.
My grade for Iron Man 3: B+