The Road To Endgame – Part 7: Iron Man 3
Full Spoilers Ahead For Iron Man 3
You know what? I’m just gonna come out and say it. Get ready for what is probably my most controversial Marvel, or indeed comic book movie in general, opinion: I think Iron Man 3 is the best Iron Man movie.
Indeed, not only do I think it’s the best Iron Man movie, I think it’s the sixth best Marvel Cinematic Universe film out of every single one released so far. I think Shane Black is the best writer Iron Man has had in any of his solo movies and I think the Mandarin twist (which we’ll discuss more in-depth later in this review) is one of the greatest twists in the entire MCU. Iron Man 3 is a character piece, and in-depth analysis of Tony Stark, and a deconstruction. It’s thanks to all of this that I absolutely and unequivocally adore this film.
Iron Man 3 is about Tony Stark dealing with the resulting PTSD from flying the nuclear missile through the portal in The Avengers (the previous film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and indeed in our retrospective) and almost dying due to that act. While he deals with his growing mental insecurities, he must also deal with the threat of the rising terrorist organisation ran by The Mandarin and, as revealed later, the true villain of the piece, Aldrich Killian.
You see, The Mandarin in universe it turns out is simply an actor, hired to play the part of a domestic terrorist so that Killian can go about his nefarious ways undetected by the world. I love this twist so much, it’s surprising to see how many people dislike it. I guess I can see why, it’s due to the fact people really wanted to see the true to comics magician Mandarin in the film, but I feel this works just as well.
At this stage, do you really need me to deal you that Robert Downey Jnr is excellent in this? Well, he’s excellent in this. The way he shows Stark’s internal struggles with small nuances such as facial expression and gestures is spectacular. Jon Favreau is great once more as Happy Hogan, despite (again) being woefully underused. Marvel, if you’re reading this, please give Happy his own TV show, I’m begging you.
Gwyneth Paltrow is also at her finest as Pepper Potts, finally actually doing something of importance in one of these films. Don Cheadle is great as Colonel James Rhodes, known in this film as the Iron Patriot. He’s funny in this film, yet he also manages to lend gravitas to some of the weightier scenes.
The villains are also equally excellently cast and portrayed. Ben Kingsley is wonderful as “The Mandarin”, alternatively known by his real name as Trevor Slattery. He’s super creepy during the scenes where he’s playing a terrorist, yet when he’s playing the actor Slattery he seems harmless and is less creepy, more laughable.
It’s a testament to the quality of Kingsley that he can do this. We also have Rebecca Hall as Maya Hansen, a seemingly benevolent scientist who it turns out is helping Killian create the EXTREMIS virus (a virus that allows superhuman strength and superhuman healing). Finally, we have Guy Pearce as Aldrich Killian and I absolutely adore him here. He’s sinister throughout the movie and Pearce makes the character more than the script could ever hope to through his mannerisms.
Overall, Iron Man 3 is a sublime film, a wonderful character examination of Tony Stark while never feeling like its too heavy handed, and never letting the subject matter, which could have easily caused this film to feel far too dark, distract from the action and the humour of the film.
Easily the best Iron Man film and one of the greatest MCU films in our retrospective so far.
Oh and the new Iron Man suit? Utterly beautiful.