Iron Man 3 - Review

Next to Batman, Iron Man is probably the most successful and most cherished comic superhero nowadays. Thanks to a strong and well told origin story, the man in the iron suit quickly gained a lot of momentum, which sadly got slowed down quite a bit with a very polarizing sequel.
After Joss Whedon's tremendously amazing Avengers movie, Marvel kicks of Phase 2 of its superhero movie lineup with Iron Man 3.
The trailers show that this third installment has a much darker tone than Tony Stark's previous adventures. With seemingly only little to laugh at in the trailers, one may wonder if Iron Man 3's serious approach is the right thing for a franchise like this.
But with great trust in Robert Downey Jr.'s acting abilities, the Extremis storyline and just plain fun action, Iron Man 3 has big potential to start Marvel's Phase 2 with a bang.
Can Tony Stark regain the lost loyalty of some fans after Iron Man 2?  

The plot:
Marvel's "Iron Man 3" pits brash-but-brilliant industrialist Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) against an enemy whose reach knows no bounds. When Stark finds his personal world destroyed at his enemy's hands, he embarks on a harrowing quest to find those responsible. This journey, at every turn, will test his mettle. With his back against the wall, Stark is left to survive by his own devices, relying on his ingenuity and instincts to protect those closest to him. As he fights his way back, Stark discovers the answer to the question that has secretly haunted him: does the man make the suit or does the suit make the man?
(source: IMDb)

Iron Man 3 mainly follows the "Extremis" story arch of the Iron Man comics, which is widely known to be one of the best Iron Man stories to date.
As i am writing this review, i am currently reading the Extremis comics and therefore will avoid making comparisons between movie and comic. This review focuses completely on the movie "adaptation".

The third installment in the Iron Man franchise has one big theme, which already got mentioned in the Avengers movie: "What is Tony Stark without his suit?".
After the alien attack on New York, seen in the Avengers movie, Tony Stark is a troubled genius. Suffering from insomnia and trying to escape and forget his panic attacks and nightmares by working all night long on the many Iron Man suits in his lab.

Right from the start it gets clear that Iron Man 3 puts a big focus on Tony's character development. Tony himself mentions that he is not the playboy that he once was after the all that happened to him as Iron Man. Although still being a mechanical genius, Tony Stark is depicted as a hero that after encountering aliens, gods and other supernatural threats, realized what great responsibility lies on his shoulders.
And just like any other human being, Tony has troubles dealing with this fact.
Coping with his demons, his responsibility of protecting the ones he loves and finding out whether its the suit that makes him a hero or whether it really is himself, are great themes, which get very well executed and pursued throughout the entire movie. It's a question that every Iron Man fan secretly asked himself and which get answered in Iron Man 3.

Hard times for Tony Stark.

Just when Tony Stark happens to be the most vulnerable and troubled, the terrorist mastermind "The Mandarin" takes action and attacks Tony Stark's home and leaves him with nothing else than a broken Iron Man suit.
This is where the movie differenciates a lot in terms of storytelling compared to the other Iron Man movies - it becomes a "back-to-basics-story".
An astoundingly big amount of time is spent on Tony trying to fight the evil terrorist forces, enpowered by the power-giving Extremis serum, without his trade mark suit.
While this doesn't mean that there aren't plenty of action scenes, it makes Tony Stark even more relatable than he already was. Even without his suit Tony has to prove that HE is the hero, not the suit.
Seeing Tony in danger and fighting without his suit additionally makes several scenes that more engaging and exciting to watch.
With that said, sadly the movie happens to occasionally lose focus on Tony's problem of coping with his panic attack and fears towards the action-heavy second half of the movie.

But don't worry, this is still an IRON MAN movie and there's still a good load of Iron Man action in there.
However, different from Iron Man 2 or Avengers, Iron Man 3 doesn't focus that much on Iron-Man-action-spectacle but rather uses Iron Man action scenes more wisely to make their impact more intense.
Seeing Tony struggle throughout most of the movie without his suit gets the viewers excitement pumped when Tony finally gets to use it to beat up the baddies.
Action scenes are expectedly very well executed and thrilling, with the final showdown being easily one of the best showdown scenes of all of the recent Marvel movies.
To mention that the CG effects are top-notch is a no-brainer. 

Furthermore, another new aspect to the franchise is the inclusion of several interesting plot twists. While Marvel movies most of the time tend to follow a specific blockbuster formula, Iron Man 3 tells a story whose first minor plot twists are fairly predictable and "been-there-done-that" just before knocking the viewers out of their seats with one huge plot twist that most likely nobody saw coming. This major plot twist for the most part turns the story upside down and washes away every predictability related prejudices towards the movie. No other Marvel movie had that many welcome twists ad turns so cleverly and often subtely implemented as the ones in Iron Man 3. With that said, considering how off canon this major twist is regarding the Iron Man comics, it has huge potential to anger hardcore comic book fans.

Don't worry. You'll still get your healthy dose of action.
The villains and some consistency issues with the Extremis powers are the only minor downpoints that bugged me in Iron Man 3.
With the Extremis substance, people are given (a specific) superhuman power that might seem a bit too far fetched for an Iron Man movie. Yet, considering that the Avengers movie put Tony Stark against aliens from another dimension and gods, make the X-Men-like superpowers of the Extremis easily forgivable and somehow even fit into this universe.
However, sometimes i encountered problems grasping the limitations of the Extremis powers and a very specific scene, where the power is shown in one of the goofiest ways ever (gladly only once).

Another thing that was generally present with the villains was a slightly over-the-top acting performance. While i am glad that Tony Stark has to fight superhuman terrorists and not machines for once, Guy Pearce and Ben Kingsley's over-the-top (sometimes even a bit cheesy Bond-villain) performances as the main villains turn out to be dissappointingly unthreating at times. A good notch more three-dimensionality would've done wonders to them. But without nagging on that too much, you can clearly see that both actors are just having plain fun playing the bad guys, which also transcends onto the audience.

Once again, these are all minor nitpicks on a generally great movie.

Curtain man strikes back!

Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark/Iron Man is excellent as always. A once again very well developed script makes his character development for the most part convincingly work with plenty of awesome comedic moments in between.
Just as with every other Iron Man movie, the audience is always entertained once Robert Downey Jr. is on the screen. He shows that he can not only pull of a wisecracking genius but also a Tony Stark with deep personality- and confidence issues. Downey completely sells this new facette of Tony Stark in a pretty much perfect fashion while simultaneously staying true to the original Tony Stark characteristics.

With Tony Stark's journey to fight his demons being the story's primary focus in Iron Man 3. Other characters quickly get shoved to the side into minor plot-driving roles and are barely worth mentioning compared to the focus that Tony is given. Still, most of the cast generally does a solid to great job delivering the credibility of the story and performing as supporting characters with Gwyneth Paltrow's and Rebecca Hall's characters being the weakest of the bunch.

Kickin' ass for 'Murica! The Iron Patriot.

Overall, Iron Man 3 ranks up there as one of the best Marvel flicks to date and is easily the finest Iron Man movie yet.
Effectively connecting Iron Man 3 with the happenings of the previous Iron Man movies and the Avengers, it puts Tony Stark into understandable characteristic troubles and fears that he has to face.
With its back-to-basics approach it impressively shows new facettes of Tony Stark and a mostly convincing character development that actually evolves his personality.
The inclusion of several fairly surprising plot twists throughout the acclaimed Extremis story arch are further strong points that make Iron Man 3 stand out.
Topped up with amazing special effects and a good amount of action, this third installment is anything fans wanted and now ultimately got.
Iron Man 3 indeed kicked of Marvel's Phase 2 with a bang.
If this will be kept as the standard for every other movie of the lineup, then we are in for a blast. 

Final Verdict: 7 out of 10 

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