Skip to main content

Iron Man 3: Quick Thoughts

As a long-time comics aficionado, I have delightfully enjoyed the renaissance of the superhero movie. Arguably, you could say that it started with Bryan Singer's X-Men, Christopher Nolan's Batman Begins, or even Sam Raimi's Spider-Man. But the one that I feel has really started the absolute frenzy was Jon Favreau's Iron Man: Not only did it do a great job of making a fun movie, with a somewhat believable premise, but it was a perfect blend of characters, action, and, most importantly, comic book story arcs that culminated in the blockbuster, The Avengers.

The third Iron Man movie came out a couple of weeks ago, and I finally got to see it. I was pretty excited, as, unlike the previous two, it was written and directed by Shane Black. Who the heck is Shane Black? Glad you asked: virtually every great buddy cop action adventure movie in the 1990's was a Shane Black creation: the Lethal Weapon films, the vastly underrated The Last Boy Scout, the truly magnificent The Long Kiss Goodnight...the list goes on. Hell, he even starred in one of the all-time classics: Arnold Schwarzengger's Predator. But two of his films were both underappreciated, and yet so very good for his mastery of not only the buddy/action/comedy genre, but the clear understanding of when its ok to laugh at yourself: The Last Action Hero and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, the latter of which he also directed. Don't believe me? Go watch Iron Man 3, then watch either or both of those. Tell me it's not a direct progression.

In any case, the film was fun, enjoyable, and utterly watchable. Just some short thoughts below. Beware; some spoilers may be included. Warned? Ok, let's go:

  • This was very much a Shane Black movie, not just or maybe even, an Iron Man movie. The disjointed narration of Robert Downey Jr.? Straight outta Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. And, of course, it's not a Shane Black film unless it's Christmas, especially in Los Angeles. 
  • The characters were a little more believable and developed, compared to the two dimensionality of Iron Man 2. Tony never seemed all that emotionally affected by what seemed to be a more imminent mortality in the previous film, other than the over the top stuff; this one had a real resonance from The Avengers. And Pepper was finally able to seriously kick butt; nice touch. 
  • This was more of a Tony Stark film than an Iron Man film, and that actually worked out ok. Loved the scenes with him and Don Cheadle doing their best Shane Black storming the fortress while cracking wise and showing each other up. 
  • My major disappointment was with the culmination of the Extremis storyline. Comic geeks know this one well (you should definitely read the short series that led to this), and I thought they adapted it well for the movie. I was only disappointed with the very end, where Tony goes under the knife, his electromagnet is removed, and he wakes up fine. In the comics, Tony "hacks" the Extremis virus to essentially incorporate the Iron Man armor to be generated right out of his skin, as well as other improvements. The fact that they showed Tony opening his eyes after surgery, with his monologue about how he successfully engineered Extremis to heal Pepper "as well as other things," set it up perfectly. All they needed to do was show the Jarvis display on that close up of his eye at the end, and you have the perfect set up for Iron Man 4, The Avengers 2, and more. It was right there. I feel like it's what the Marvel folks wanted and, for some reason, backed off. 
  • Much was made of the fact that this was the first major studio film with a significant investment from China, to the tune of $158 million. There was also significance to the fact that some of the film was filmed in China. Did we see that? Outside of a blurry background of Shanghai in the last fleeting sections of the film, I feel like it wasn't even there. Of course, there was an additional 30 minutes of the movie made specifically for Chinese markets, featuring a storyline that was practically reduced to a minute in this movie, and Chinese-favorite actors. Remember the Chinese doctor introduced to Tony in the Switzerland flashback? And notice the folks doing surgery on him at the end were all Chinese? Yep, connected...and nothing else. Guess we'll have to wait for the BluRay to see it all. 
  • Some nice continuity of the comics universe, as well as the Marvel movie universe. "Subtlety kinda went out the window when the big guy with the hammer showed up." I was disappointed that Tony's unarmored combat scenes didn't get a callback to Captain America showing him a few tricks; would have been believable and consistent with the comics. 
  • We have to talk about the two villain thing. Iron Man 2 tried it; failed. Pretty much every superhero sequel has tried it and failed; outside of The Dark Knight, I've never seen it work. Shane Black got it perfectly: we know one of the villains will come up short, so why not make that a central premise? Sir Ben Kingsley pulled it off magnificently.
Overall, a really enjoyable film, and I hope it does for Shane Black what The Avengers did for Joss Whedon: make Hollywood realize that these guys can be given free reign, and they will both honor the material, and make it even better.


Anonymous said…
Does Thor make a cameo appearance? If not, I'm not going to see it =P
Anonymous said…
Good review Josh. Following the Avengers is hard to pull off, but at least this movie does it quite well.
Sorry, sarahuaboston: no beefcake in this one. Guess you'll have to wait until The Dark World.

Popular posts from this blog

Loyalty Review: Kohl's Yes2You

 As some of you know, I've spent over 15 years in the customer loyalty space. So, when I come across a new retail loyalty program, I can't help but see the pluses and minuses. After this many years, it's kind of ingrained. Periodically, I'll share my thoughts with you. Today, it's Kohl's turn under the scope. Let's have a look, shall we? I've divided the review up into three sections: what's good about the program, what's bad about the program, and what I'd change about it. That last one has some actual value: I charged hundreds of dollars per hour for loyalty program consulting, and had over a dozen clients, before I moved to JustAnswer FT. But, being a pandemic and all, I'm giving it away for free here. Kohl's, you're welcome. Here we go! The Good Sign up is opt in Seems odd to praise Kohl's for this, but in department store loyalty, this is a rarity, and a smart one. It means the customers who are opted in are already prime

San Diego: Day 1

Coronado Island is home to some of the most tranquil harbors and beautiful Southern California beach land ever. Of course, it's also got the requisite tourist village and some fun restaurants; we ate at a 50's joint, called the Beach-N-Diner : nothing special but HUGE salads. Really loud music they were accommodating enough to turn down so we could all catch up. After filling our stomachs, we headed to the main draw of the island: the Hotel Del Coronado. A sprawling, beautiful wooden hotel, it evokes the '30's sense of splendor. Everything too perfect, with the Pacific as the ideal backdrop. We toured the lobby, then headed to the deck to sit with drinks and take in the scenery. After, we peeked in the courtyard: the architecture is magnificent. Like the Levi Strauss building grafted to an oceanliner. Private decks, soaring palms, and a gazebo. Magnificent. A short drive around Coronado to see the naval installations, then back to the Inn for some respite. Then, dinner.

Revisiting Star Trek: The Next Generation: Season 1

I recently started rewatching Star Trek: The Next Generation from the beginning. I have nothing but fond memories of the original run in the 1980s, given how excited I was for a new Trek series in my lifetime (I had only reruns and the movies to stoke my Trek interest), and it recently occurred to me that, while I diligently consumed every TNG episode, I had not experienced the series since it's original run.  Why did I do this? Well, a few reasons: With the triumphant return of Sir Patrick Stewart to the smaller screen as the venerable Jean Luc Picard , I thought it would be interesting to contrast this version with the previous, and see how far he has come. It would add color to the character, as well as Sir Patrick. Frankly, with the COVID19 lockdown, the series I have binged upon have been intense, dark, and disturbing. Combined with the activity of the world, including insane politics, homicidal police who seem to view people of color as "prey," rather than their ch