Iron Man 3 (2013)
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iron-man-3Director Shane Black loves Christmas. Hell, the finale to “Iron Man 3″ is a loving tribute to the classic “March of the Wooden Soldiers,” but in the end what makes “Iron Man 3″ is not the finer Shane Black touches, but the purely intelligent and utterly volatile commentary on terrorism and the American government that really plants this final entry as the most mature of the “Iron Man” films by far. While “Iron Man” is the most entertaining, “Iron Man 3″ has a lot to say about the war on terrorism.

Tony Stark is a man whose spent most of his life spent in the logical, the technical, and the scientific. Such a self-involved egomaniac was he that his experience in “The Avengers” confronting the army in New York left him shell shocked. He’s an insomniac now, and finds himself overly dependent on his suit and technology. Not only is he convinced another intergalactic threat is imminent, but he’s become a victim of frequent panic attacks. The world is now being held under the threat of the Mandarin, a Middle Eastern warlord who is committing planned terrorist attacks across the world much to the government’s confusion. Meanwhile, Stark has been approached by Aldrich Killian, a scientist with a new genetic technology that promises to re-invent the human body. If I have a few gripes with “Iron Man 3″ is that the writers of the third film in the series never know how to handle the themes it confronts.

Black explores the notion that the Avengers war left him traumatized and with crippling panic attacks, but he seemingly recovers within the course of the film. Even during the big climax, he’s still the dashing adventurer never quite held back by his anxiety once. Anxiety and mental illness surely isn’t a disease cured in a matter of months, and it’s a shame Stark is left with a fairly untarnished ego that should have been fractured by his experiences. There’s also little in the way of exploring Stark’s affliction and what it is brought on by. Surely, we’re explained that it’s mostly due in part to his brush with death in New York, but the details are scant. It’s also hinted that the impotent business savvy Tony is the impotent romantic Tony with Pepper, but there’s also not too much emphasis in that corner of the conflict.

In either case, “Iron Man 3″ presents very relevant and interesting commentary about the idea about the war on terror, with a premise that presents us with the villain Mandarin. Writers Black and Pearce have a lot to cover in the way of the iconic Iron Man villain, and they completely re-invent the character while side stepping the Asian stereotypes. “Iron Man 3″ takes a lighter and less dependent approach on The Avengers film series, as Stark is still just a lone wolf completely enamored with his tech and his genius. Black uses the villain of the Mandarin to stage a very welcome twist for Stark’s journey of overcoming his disease. When the Mandarin attacks Tony’s empire and destroys his machines, Tony is left at a small town in Tennessee to figure out a way of re-building and bringing down the terrorist overlord once and for all.

“Iron Man 3″ introduces an array of exciting moments that truly build on a moment that will decide Tony’s future once and for all. With dynamic special effects, Black turns the Iron Man armor in to a fun and unique character all on its own, all the while focusing on the relationship between Tony and James Rhodes, both of whom learn to rely on their natural instincts when their armor is disabled and rendered obsolete by Mandarin’s armed forces. Rhodes is given much more of an active role this time around as Black realizes the character’s potential and allows Don Cheadle a chance to play hero on all fronts. “Iron Man 3″ is a different kind of film from the first two. Though not as heavily dependent on the Iron Man mold as the first two entries, Black is wise enough to focus on character for the last outing, offering an insight in to Stark and the universe surrounding him.

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  • Nite Owl

    It seems out of character for me to have Tony become afflicted with PTSD after The Avengers. This is a man that built an IRON MAN suit to escape captivity after being blown up in a convoy, and having his heart damaged. Tony’s a scientist, he would be more focused on the fact that other realities exist, and interested in exploring them. The fact that they played it all for cheap laughs turned me off on the idea as well.

    I had no problem really with the Mandarin twist, as it were, either. It was bold, and had the potential to be something great. I just felt it wasn’t handled well, like they took this huge risk, and then copped out halfway through. To me, it would’ve been more interesting/topical, if IRON PATRIOT was flying around the World actually attacking various terrorist factions in looking for The Mandarin, thereby creating more enemies around the World and perpetuating the War on Terror so that AIM could continue to profit off of Government funding. Instead, they played every interaction between IRON PATRIOT and the locals as comical misunderstandings, just as they used the actual reveal of The Mandarin for comedy, and the PTSD Tony was suffering from. The first movie had the perfect balance of humor to heart, but for me the humor here just killed any tension/emotion that the movie tried to create.

    • FlixtheCat

      Black carried on the formula of Favreau. Favreau side stepped Tony’s dependence on alcohol, while Black went more for comedy and adventure only touching on the war on terror slightly. However I felt the entire idea behind Mandarin in this movie was well crafted, personally. It was a very sharp metaphor.

  • Nite Owl

    I agree that the approach they took to the Mandarin was a bold, interesting one in concept. But by turning it into a joke it’s like they completely defanged the idea so as not to offend the IRON MAN brands broad fan-base by doing/saying anything to political with it. They completely played down any political connotations of having a terrorist boogeyman to scare the American public so that corporations can get rich from war profiteering, in favor of wacky Trevor and the fire breathing molten men. The whole thing just clashed for me tonally, and felt like it wanted to be The Dark Knight, but with campy Schumacher elements shoehorned in. That bit in the beginning with geeky pimple face Killian was like Edward Nygma and Bruce Wayne all over again. Anyway, that’s just the way I felt about it. It’s certainly not the worst movie ever, just a frustratingly disappointing one for me. The ideas presented in it have so much more potential than they were allowed to have, but I guess that’s just the downside of big success.

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