In The Avengers, there’s a scene between Captain America and Tony Stark where they’re arguing (of course), and Captain America snaps, “Big man in a suit of armor. Take that off, what are you?”
Tony responds, “Genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist.”
It’s played for laughs in The Avengers, but in Iron Man 3, it seems like they’re setting out to answer that question seriously: without the suit, what is Iron Man? And who is Tony Stark?
In this movie, Tony Stark is dealing with the fallout of the events from The Avengers. He’s not sleeping. When he does sleep, he has nightmares. Even the mere mention of New York can send him into an anxiety attack. His only escape is his work—specifically, tinkering with his Iron Man suits—and so he works. A lot.
When a new terrorist with a new kind of explosive targets America with the intent of teaching our President a lesson, Tony can’t help but get involved. But there’s more to this terror plot than meets the eye, and quite a bit of Tony’s past is about to come back and bite him in the ass.
Robert Downey, Jr. is, as always, absolutely perfect as Tony Stark. He’s just as brash and egotistical as he always is, but we also see him a lot more vulnerable as he tries to cope with what happened in New York with Loki and the alien invasion. He has at least two anxiety attacks in public places, and the fact that it’s in public shakes him almost as much as the attacks themselves.
Throughout the film, the goal seems to be to take Tony apart, breaking him down until he has nothing left but himself and his aforementioned genius. I loved watching him figure out how to handle things without being Iron Man.
Also, at least one subtitle for this movie should have been “Don’t Mess with Pepper Potts.” Seriously, the woman really gets a chance to shine in this film. She’s pretty much the one running Stark Industries now, and I liked seeing how she handled both the company and Tony. (And yes, there was one scene near the end where I wanted to stand up and cheer for her.)
Fans of the Mandarin, be ye warned: He may be in the movie, but he’s certainly nothing like he is in the comics. However, what they do with the villain really works in the film, and since I knew absolutely nothing about the Mandarin before this, the changes didn’t annoy me. For what they did, Ben Kingsley was a great choice.
One thing that did bother me, though: Where the hell was S.H.I.E.L.D. during all this? I can buy the other Avengers not showing up—like Tony’s actually going to call for help—but Nick Fury? Hell no.
S.H.I.E.L.D. has been all over Tony Stark, to at least some extent, since the moment he said “I am Iron Man.” Given everything else that’s happened in-universe over the past few movies, I can’t imagine that they wouldn’t know a terrorist blew Tony’s house off the side of a cliff (not a spoiler; it’s in the trailer). Surely Fury would send somebody to investigate.
But really, that’s a nitpick I believe comes more from the “Marvel fangirl” part of my brain rather than the “casual moviegoer” side.
And don’t forget to stay for the coda at the end of the credits. It doesn’t have anything to do with any future movies, but it’s a funny little scene. (Highlight below if you want to see what it is.)
That doesn’t stop Tony from continuing to use him as a therapist, though.
I don’t know if it’s on par with Iron Man—of course, that may be the nostalgia factor talking—but I would say Iron Man 3 easily outranks Iron Man 2 in the trilogy. Shane Black did a great job taking over directing duties from Jon Favreau (who once again returns as bodyguard Happy Hogan). The action scenes were great, and I loved what they did with the characters. Overall, it was a great way to kick off the summer movie season.
But one of the best parts about Iron Man 3? I now have another movie to pair with Die Hard for a Christmas double-feature. 😀