Hello and welcome back to the Geekdom, I will be your Guide. Unless you have been living under a rock, you may have heard that Iron Man 3 is a little conflicting for die-hard comic book fans. As a major comic book fan, and an Iron Man fan, I knew that I was going to be conflicted about some of the choices in the film…which is why I saw it twice. I don’t normally see a film multiple times in theaters due to money constraints, but I knew that there are some films that I like more the second time around. I knew that my review of Iron Man 3 was going to be extremely biased towards the negative if I went by just my first viewing. So did my second viewing change my opinion? Let’s review Iron Man 3.
The humor was a little off in this film. I know that humor is in the eye of the beholder, and not everyone will laugh at the same jokes. For an idea of the humor, this is the Iron Man film where Tony Stark spends a good portion of the movie wearing a limited edition Dora the Explorer watch. That statement alone should make you question some of the thoughts that were put into Iron Man 3’s sense of humor. The whole film is taken over by humor that is only funny because of its bizarre nature, such as Tony bad mouthing a little kid, or Tony attacking a mansion security using random stuff he picked up at a hardware store. In some places this humor really works, but it gives the film a really bizarre feeling to it.
Stark’s Iron tech was absolutely dreadful in this film. We kind of spent the last two films going over how Tony Stark was the greatest tech genius in the world and how his technology as well as his ingenuity was beyond anything else. The Iron Man suits were slightly functional at best. They broke apart fairly easily and they just seemed clumsy while in use. I understand that the new suits were supposed to be prototypes that Stark built in rapid succession, but I feel like even his first prototype was more competent at times than these models.
The following will feature major spoilers regarding the main villain. If you don’t want the plot spoiled, skip to the Positive section. If you don’t care about spoilers or have already seen the film, continue reading.
This section is meant to talk about the controversy surrounding the main villain, The Mandarin. I was a big fan of the 90’s Iron Man animated series, which starred The Mandarin as the main villain. While that version of the Mandarin suffered from Saturday Morning Cartoon Villain Syndrome, he still commanded a powerful presence on the screen and thus became one of my favorite super villains. I knew that whatever they had in the film for the Mandarin, I was going to be disappointed. I don’t know, something told me that they probably weren’t going to go with the origin story where the Mandarin is a banished Chinese terrorist who stumbles upon a crashed spaceship, that once belonged to a race of inter-dimensional space dragons, and harvests the ship’s energy core into 10 magic rings that each hold a separate super power for him to command. I don’t know what it was, but something told me they weren’t going to go in that direction for the film.
What I didn’t expect was that they decided to not really depict the Mandarin at all. Instead the Mandarin we have seen advertised is actually a bizarre actor named Trevor Slattery who is being used as a front to cover the actions of Aldrich Killian, the head of AIM. The film tells us that Killian is the actual Mandarin, but in reality I would say his character was closer to the leader of AIM in the comics, The Scientist Supreme. I ended up really liking Aldrich Killian he was a great villain and I found him to be a major positive of the film. I’ll mention my favoritism of him here because his being the main villain is a part of the major plot twist.
The reason I have a problem with The Mandarin in this film is the adaptation of the story. Now I’m going to say that I am not one of those people who complain about any change done to a character or story just because I liked the original more. I am complaining about this adaptation because they changed The Mandarin too much, to the point where he wasn’t recognizable. The Mandarin is considered to be Iron Man’s greatest archenemy of all time. The battles they have had in the comics are legendary, but instead of adapting this iconic character, they used his image as a joke and claimed that he was actually the rogue businessman, Aldrich Killian. I don’t think that the public at large is going to leave the theater with a good idea of who The Mandarin is. The general public could easily tell you who Lex Luthor or the Joker are because of the fantastic adaptations the two characters have gotten. The adaptation of these characters, while changing various things about the original character per film, still remained generally faithful to who these characters are. This was a chance to introduce non-comic book readers to Iron Man’s greatest enemy. My problem with this adaptation of The Mandarin, is that they didn’t adapt him at all.
The final fight scene was amazing. The action scenes in general were a highlight of the film, but it was the final epic battle that was the best. Tony unleashes his greatest weapon yet while in combat with his greatest foe. A large amount of super powered enemies, a few hostages, and a political assassination are all a part of Iron Man 3’s final battle. It really is a fantastic scene to end the film on.
Tony’s personal story arc was incredibly well written for this film. Coming right off of the events from The Avengers movie, Tony is suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from having face a giant alien wormhole and the possibility of his death. It was really nice to see something like that addressed. There are so many big action films where the heroes just smugly walk away and get on with their lives without any worries. The first Iron Man film had Tony caught in a terrorist attack only to wake up in a cave with a car battery strapped to his chest and I’d say he came out mostly fine. To see Tony have to deal with the events of the Avengers film really felt like a realistic continuation of his story arc and it made the film great.
I won’t say that Iron Man 3 was the best film in the series, but it was another good installment for the character. The action scenes and character stories were fantastic, I only wish they had followed the source material closer as well as take their own subject matter more serious. If you enjoyed the first two Iron Man films, I’m sure you’ll enjoy this one. 4 out of 5.