It’s been out for over a week now and my impression is that Iron Man 3 has gotten some mixed reactions. This is true at least for the people in my circles that I listen to. I initially had some concerns about this film. First, it had the unenviable task of being the first of the “Marvel Cinematic Universe” movies to follow The Avengers. It also is a “part 3” and there is a stigma against those in general. But as production progressed, bits of news were released, and a very vocal sign off was given by Joss Whedon, I let go of my concern.
I know I’ll get grief for this, but in this blogger’s opinion, Iron Man 3 is the best of the Iron Man movies. That’s not to say the other two weren’t good. Quite the contrary. But for me, this was a more solid movie and here’s why:
1. It built on its history without relying on it or buckling under the pressure of it. This is a more overt dig at Iron Man 2 than the first movie as the first movie had nothing previous to build upon. Iron Man 2 was a good rewrite away from being a solid movie. But the need to begin peppering in (no pun intended) more Avengers references into the movie detracted from the film rather than add to it. Here, not only the events of The Avengers, but things from the previous two movies bring Tony and the supporting cast to where they are and help point them in a direction for where they go in this film. Nothing feels grafted on as an afterthought. The references to events in The Avengers or the guy with the big hammer don’t feel like throwaway lines, but rather paint a picture of what the world is like now.
2. The supporting cast actually, you know, supported. Again, this is more of a dig at Iron Man 2 but to some extent, the first one was guilty of this, too. While I loved his team up with Black Widow in Iron Man 2, John Favreau’s Happy Hogan character helped advance the plot more in this than he did in the previous two films. Pepper seemed more justly frustrated with Tony in this film than in Iron Man 2. And James Rhodes finally seems like a guy I could see being friends with Tony. He comes across as a jerk in Iron Man 2 and isn’t given much in the way of character development in Iron Man 1. Even more impressive perhaps was the new supporting cast. From the kid character of Harley to the super-fan Gary, there is a fun interaction between Tony and these people that isn’t just there to be a vehicle for laughs, but also helps advance the plot and show us something about Tony at the same time.
3. Finally, a villain worth giving Tony some trouble. Jeff Bridges as Obadiah Stane/Iron Monger was a good first villain and did it’s part to give us the Iron Man action we were wanting to see. But on subsequent viewings, the first movie sort of dies for me at the big final action sequence. And there is something a little disappointing about seeing him face off against a version of himself. With Iron Man 2, I was looking forward to a better villain situation but instead Mickey Rourke’s Whiplash and Sam Rockwell’s Justin Hammer was just Tony Stark split into two (Hammer with the swarmy charisma and Rourke with the tech know-how). Whiplash’s plan to destroy Stark seemed ill-conceived and more like a suicide plan initially. Only out of sheer luck, did he have a second chance to try again.
Iron Man 3’s villain situation finally moves away from armor and robots and into super powers. And with the previous movies in the Avengers series, a super-powered villain and set of henchman feels like it could fit where it might not have before. And the entirely villain cast line up is great. Guy Pearce and Ben Kingsley are delights to watch. Even 24‘s James Badge Dale was a great henchman. And while I saw the twist coming, I thought it was a great plot device and fit the movie perfectly even if it went against what was in the comics.
3.5. Great music. Hey, one more quick reason just for good measure. No slight to the scores of the previous Iron Man movies intended, but Brian Tyler’s score was excellent. The end credit main titles were a blast to watch especially with that peppy 70s sounding music.
Okay…so you’ve seen it. Tell me how I’m wrong. Or do you agree and think this was the best of the three films?