The darkest times are upon us in an otherwise fun, event-filled, and growing Marvel Cinematic Universe. To celebrate the coming release of Marvel's "Captain America: Civil War," where two ideals will come to a head, let's reflect on the "marvellous" films that this studio has put together. I will be going in order from 2008 - 2015, ending with thoughts and predictions for "Captain America: Civil War." These will be minor reviews and more of a re-evaluation of my thoughts on these films, how they hold up now, and how well they connect/impact the films that came after. Here we go.
WARNING: THERE WILL BE SPOILERS THROUGHOUT!!
Part 7: Iron Man 3 (2013)
From the very first frame of "Iron Man 3," you knew that director Shane Black had taken the helm to create his own film, kind of separating it from "The Avengers" in a way that would make it feel like a fresh story, while still acknowledging that incident. Beginning with a narration from Tony Stark (this is something that had been done by Shane Black before in "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang," which also starred Robert Downey Jr.), audiences knew this would be a slightly different and more serious approach to the character. While this film is still a lot of fun and has some good humour, the controversy surrounding this film upon it's release, due to it's plot twists, was just outrageous to me. More on that later, let's dive into the story and why I think the film as a whole, is an improvement on "Iron Man 2."
Picking up shortly after the events of New York in "The Avengers," the team has separated and Tony is off on his own. While he deals with the haunting of that past and almost dying, he is also revisited by a few old friends who have more up their sleeve than one might think. The core villain of this film, played by Guy Pearce (whether you enjoyed his performance or not), was a very interesting character, until his motives ultimately became predictable in the end. Falling for Pepper and ultimately having to take down Tony all felt inevitable. Going into this film, I never once expected it to live up to the greatness of the original "Iron Man," and in having that mindset, I was definitely not disappointed.
Now, the big promise set by the trailer was that fans would be able to see their first big-screen live-action version of one of the most well known villains in the Iron Man comics, the Mandarin. Menacing in the trailers and downright brutal when he appears sparingly in the first act of the film, audiences could not wait for his big reveal in person. Little did they know that it was all a ruse and that they were not planning on having a real Mandarin villain in this film. Instead, he is a drunken actor, acting out for the bad guys, unless Marvel has more up their sleeves in the future to surprise us. Now, this is where the internet went crazy and stirred things up with the fans. I personally think that there is more down the road for this character and now looking back on it, I really enjoyed the plot twist and I think it was handled very well for this particular story. Was it the best choice? Probably not, but it works in the context of this particular story.
Don't get me wrong, I was actually shaking my heading in the theatre during my first experience, thinking it was some kind of joke by Marvel and that I had been played a little. Personally, I think that in doing this, it changes the game slightly in how Iron Man doesn't just need to go against a powerful villain, but instead, finally upping the anti on spectacle in the final act, which really has not been the strongest suit of these films until now. Going up against villains that have created their powers themselves and having all of the Iron Man suits come in to help out, all while having a buddy cop feel to the film with Tony and Rhodey, made for a very, very entertaining climax.
As always, Robert Downey Jr. solidifies himself as the titular character and reminds us of why there will never be an actor better suited for this role. Don Cheadle as James Rhodes definitely kills it in this film, and the friendship between these two characters has never felt more real. Wrapping up, this film concludes with a very conclusive ending, which has all of his suits destroyed, along with his house in ash. It is almost as if he is hanging up the cape for good and leaving this universe. Seeing the films to come however, that will not be the case for a long time, which is why I think (while it does have a nice ending) this film could have benefitted from a different conclusion. Also, the post-credits scene does not really set up anything other than saying he had been still hanging out with Bruce Banner all this time, reminding us that there will be more team-ups in the future.
"Iron Man 3" is not the best film it could have been, but it is an incredibly entertaining one that I choose to ignore the criticisms on. A lot of people despise this Marvel film, but I think it set up Phase 2 on a very high note. This film is fun, engaging, helms terrific action sequences, the characters are as lovable as ever, and the direction took this film to an entirely new place for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Aside from the first "Iron Man" film, I believe this film to be better than any of the solo films in Phase 1. I could not wait for more of Phase 2 to come to fruition, and to my eventual surprise, Phase 2 turns out to be a much more satisfying arc in this universe. What a blast this film is.
Review By: KJ Proulx