Iron Man 3 brings us back into the life of Tony Stark, but this time it is not all glitz and glamor. We find out truly how hard and stressful being a super hero can be, as the toll of attempting to bring peace to the world and stopping the alien invasion (from The Avengers) in New York brings on serious anxiety attacks to Mr. Stark, attacks so swift and so strong, that Tony believes he may be dying or having a heart attack.
However, Stark’s anxiety problems are overshadowed by the forthcoming evil: The Mandarin. The Mandarin appears and creates chaos and havoc to the world. He even brings it into the home of Tony Stark, literally, as his mansion on the water is destroyed and nearly kills Tony himself.
Life is very difficult for the self-proclaimed Iron Man, as he is constantly tinkering with his suits and trying to perfect them. It is evident that this “tinkering” is less about the Iron Man suits and more about the man in the suit. He is trying to perfect something that is already perfect, because he is having these emotional problems and does not know how to properly deal with them. He has trouble sleeping. He ignores Pepper. He gets jealous of Pepper. He even has a “drone” glitch and attack Pepper while in bed, setting her off to the couch to sleep. So, he turns to the only thing he knows: his Iron Man suits and works with them to a maddening degree. His life does not seem all that great at this point.
Unfortunately, this film gets bogged down by a listless story of terrorism. The first two Iron Man’s had convincing and meaningful villains. There was the back-stabbing right-hand-man in Iron Man and the out-for-revenge genius in Iron Man 2. But in Iron Man 3, it is essentially a run-in-the-mill anti-terrorism plot, with a glimmer of revenge and Tony Stark is barely in his suit. Apparently, demographics wanted less of him in his Iron Man suit, as Stark is seen running around suit-less for quite a few action scenes. Even when he is in the suit, he’s really not in the suit. Yes, it does add an interesting and different element to the series, but it runs its course by the end of the film.
Shane Black, who wrote “Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang,” the reintroduction of Robert Downey Jr. into our lives, c0-wrote and directed this film. There were great action sequences, as expected, but the wit of Tony was seemingly absent in the film. A man who usually jokes at times when a joke is inappropriate, was rendered joke-less for a majority of the film. Instead, he is left pondering his own mental health. Again, an interesting and different element, but it, too, runs its course by the end of the film. The plot from ‘The Avengers” is constantly mentioned as well, which is also refreshing at first, but it, too, is tiring to hear by the end.
Then there’s the relationship with Pepper Potts, which was a nice undertone in Iron Man, but too over-the-top in Iron Man 2. In Iron Man 3, it is difficult, as is any relationship with Tony Stark, but it not the overriding presence that it was in Iron Man 2. It knows its place. Pepper is important to Tony and the audience knows that, so it is nice that it is not really shoved down our throats this time. Their relationship ca breathe and grow and mature, which is exactly what it needs.
Robert Downey Jr. and Gwyneth Paltrow are both solid in there returning roles and Jon Favreau also does a good job again as Happy Hogan, Stark’s ex-chauffeur now security officer. Don Cheadle returns as James Rhodes and War Machine (or should I say Iron Patriot?). He, too, follows suit by, well, not being in his suit enough, but he does do a good job as the reassuring presence for Tony, as he helps him with his mental issues. Ben Kingsley is not what you think as the Mandarin, but his performance is enjoyable nonetheless. My biggest concern is with Guy Pearce, who plays Aldrich Killian. It has more to do simply with the character of Killian than how Pearce portrays him. Without giving away too much, Killian just has too much power than is explained and a little bit of the authenticity of the film is lost. There are a few too many questions than are appropriately answered.
In the end, Iron Man 3 is exactly what you expected. An action packed film, with an extra side of special effects. However, the effects do not overtake the film, as I’ve already explained that Tony is rendered suit-less for large portions of the film. The film does show a human side, as Tony suffers from his anxiety attacks. But the story simply is not strong enough to support everything. We are left wandering around, almost aimlessly, as this film tries to find a meaning other than the prototypical terrorist plot and once we get to that point where we move beyond everything, it’s too late, we really do not care anymore and Tony Stark is fighting again without a suit. Get back in your suit, Tony!