I realize that much of the world has been waiting to see this flick because you wonder what I have to say about it.
Your wait is over. Finally, you’re released to see it. I’ve digested the movie and found it to be a delightful feast.
Overall – The Big Picture
I enjoyed the movie. A lot.
In liking it as much as I do, I’m in the minority with some people I know who love comic book-related movies. But my opinion is the only opinion that matters to the world…
Some things to consider:
I went early, on a mid-weekday afternoon, to a theater that is the least-attended theater in town. The result? I was the only person in the entire large theater. I had the perfect seat: perfect center, perfect row, and no distractions from narcissistic teens and narcissistic third-generation welfare adults. In other words, the movie was there Just. For. Me.
I grew up not being a Marvel comics fan… but an ultimate Marvel comics fan. By the time I was 14, I had the original issues of Spider-Man #1, Fantastic Four #1, Daredevil #1, and about 3,000 other issues, many of which were extremely rare also.
Just so you know I grew up normal! That means, when I found out that girls existed in late junior high/early high school, I completely overnight lost interest in comic books. But the fact I was such a fan early means they stay in a special place in my heart and I love comic book movies, especially those based on Marvel Comics.
Overall, I left the movie high on it. I was thrilled with what I saw.
I always dislike the standard superhero movie formula where the movie spends half its time on the villains.
Movies such as Spider-Man 1 (I never cared for the first three Spider-Man movies as much as I could have because of the incredibly bad selection of Toby McGuire as Peter Parker) and the Batman/Dark Knight movies, especially DK 2 and 3, spend way too much time developing the villains.
Do you remember those 1970s shows where you’d watch every second of each hour of those incredibly boring shows like Kung Fu and The Incredible Hulk and you’d as a kid watch every bad second so you didn’t miss the two obligatory action scenes where the hero would make mincemeat out of the bad guys? We still sort of have that hero-doesn’t-appear-much dynamic in modern superhero movies because the producers consider the villains far more interesting than the heroes.
Iron Man 3 turned that formula upside down. It is virtually all Tony Stark and Iron Man. The hero is the movie.
That to me makes Iron Man 3 one of the most satisfying movies in superhero movie history.
The enemy and the enemy’s technology – the threats promised and delivered by the enemy – were over-the-top, not explained well. You sort of have to take it on faith that Tony Stark somehow instantly understood the enemy’s technology and could work to overcome it as the movie progressed.
I prefer a more believable explanation of both the heroes as well as the enemies. The bad guys were so powerful and their self-reconstructive powers were too automatic, except at the end when they weren’t.
Note: I am guessing, or at least hoping, that the extended Director’s Cut, when released on DVD, will fill in some of these gaps. Movies such as the superb Daredevil movie had such gaps that the Director’s Cut explained completely. The studios and their cutting-room floor decisions are almost never to help a story.
We love a superhero who jokes and stays positive. Yet, we need some darkness also. Superman just gets way too simple which is why his sales waxed and waned over the years. Only when his stories got dark, once when he actually died, did sales pick up. A hero who is too good is boring.
But a hero who is too dark is too depressing to be a hero.
In the comics are long runs where Tony Stark had severe drinking problems. This was an important part of the Iron Man legacy and development. This movie didn’t mention alcoholism, although Iron Man 2 did began to allude to it and show a drunk Tony Stark. Iron Man 3 used an equally-dark problem of “depression” throughout. Tony had his own inner-demons to fight as well as the real-world enemies.
I didn’t think this was over-done as it could have easily been. I didn’t think it was done all that well either but to ignore Tony’s inner problems by the third movie would not be being faithful to the original source. We purists want faithfulness to the original source material always.
So it was time to put more of this in an Iron Man movie and they did it here. Yet, in the battle scenes, he still kept that old Tony Stark charm and humor. Some fans don’t care for all the witticisms as he battles in this movie but anybody who read the Stan Lee-written runs of almost every Marvel comic in the 1960s and 1970s will know, humor during bad battles is the foundation of a traditional Marvel hero and I always like seeing it.
Comparing Superhero Movies:
Many of my friends who get into the comic book genre love to update their Top Ten Superhero Movies or Top Ten Comic Book Movies lists every time a new one comes out.
I tend to stay away from doing that. First of all, I have a life. But…
Also I have a tendency to count only Silver Age comics (from the 1960s to the late 1970s) as true “comic book” movies. That isn’t valid but it’s what I do because that’s when I read them as a kid and teen. So to put The Watchmen in your Top Ten Comic Movies of All Time list doesn’t seem right to me, even though you are correct in doing it and I understand. I’m narrow in my time frame for what counts in such Top Ten Comic Book Movie lists. (And I am a huge fan of The Watchmen movie.)
Iron Man 3 would be in my top three or two favorite comic book movies ever if I were to break my rule and create such a list. It was a little disjointed at times but not too much so. I still didn’t like the villains having so much unexplained technology as I state above in The Ugly section but it wasn’t a deal-breaker at all for me.
Bonus Reason to Love this Film:
Not one homo or homo-related innuendo was present. It’s always so refreshing – and rare – to see two hours of homo-free movie fare out of Hollywood.
I heard one curse that was strong. There may have been more but only one hit my radar. It was said by a bad guy.
The Fans Hated It Because…
<Spoiler Alert: if you haven’t seen the movie, don’t read this.>
The villain turns out not to be the villain.
I wasn’t a huge Iron Man fan growing up – just a fairly big fan – but the issues I always hated were the ones with The Mandarin.
This overuse of Asian villains is primarily why the old Shadow pulp stories from the 1930’s and 1940’s were so less entertaining than Doc Savage. Asian enemies for some reason just don’t cut it for me. Much of my distaste has to do with all the “intriguing, exotic, mystical Orient” stuff with all is faux-spiritual mysticism… it just bores me.
So… in Iron Man 3, The Mandarin is the lead villain, the guy running the show… <Spoiler Alert is really about to happen!>
But it turns out he’s a patsy. It’s not The Mandarin whose calling the shots. The Mandarin is really just a guy used as a pawn for publicity. Another guy is behind the scenes being the real villain.
For me, that meant that the third act would not be Iron Man in Asia battling it out with mystical Oriental magic along and The Mandarin’s oriental mystic henchman. I was thrilled he wasn’t really the villain.
It’s a surprising turn. Why would Marvel make the number one, most important Iron Man villain in history turn out to be phony and not actually a real villain? It is akin to saying there really never was a Doctor Octopus who fought Spider-Man or there never was a Joker who fought Batman.
I have a suspicion that The Mandarin was the one behind the scenes and that the patsy was actually The Mandarin being coy. I suspect The Mandarin will come back huge in a future Iron Man movie. That’s just a guess, I’m no prophet.
The fact that the Number One Opening Weekend Box Office totals of all time are Marvel movies: The Avengers and Iron Man 3, is like a gift to me from God given how important as these stories were to my early life. In my wildest boyhood dreams, never would I think I’d be seeing all my heroes, even the second-tier ones such as Thor and Black Widow, on the big screen done well.
If you haven’t seen Iron Man 3, you should. And as with all Marvel movies, you need to wait until the credits end before leaving your seat. There are almost always extra gifts after the final credits roll in these movies.
Iron Man 1 was a better overall movie. But as I alluded to earlier, you really can’t rank “superhero” or “comic book” movies. They are each good and bad for so many different reasons. Comparing one to another just isn’t possible.
Many will unfairly compare Iron Man 3 to Iron Man 1 in the same way they compare X-Men 3 unfairly to X-Men 1. “Too over-the-top, too many Iron Men robots show up, too hectic of fight scenes,” and so forth.
But what those critics don’t realize is every 25 or so issues of any comic book there was a massive, huge, chaotic storyline where many heroes had to get help from others to battle massive, huge, chaotic enemies. The purists need to recall their fondness for these big stories.
Iron Man 3 is big and chaotic, Iron Man 1 was a perfect story and perfectly executed. Both are good for different reasons.
Iron Man 3 is better than Iron Man 2 for all reasons by the way (and I enjoyed 2.)
If you haven’t seen Iron Man 3, go see it. And again, sit there past the final credits.