Turning away from the cosmic grandiosity of the Avengers, Iron Man 3 deliberately brings us back down to Earth where a post-Avengers Tony Stark tries to cope with everything he's been through after saving New York and his near-death experience. The scale of the story also comes closer to home to deal with more worldly realities such as terrorism; a timely topic given the recent tragic events in Boston.
The United States is under assault abroad and at home from a villain dubbed 'The Mandarin' played to great effect by Sir Ben Kingsley. People are being killed by explosions, but there is never any evidence of a bomb at the scene. Investigators are mystified as to how the Mandarin is pulling any of it off. Meanwhile, an anxiety driven Tony Stark, who spends his nights un-sleepen, tinkering with his armor, is content to just leave these occurrences to the military and the government. He's a superhero now, and thus there are bigger concerns than mundane terrorism to deal with. That is... until someone close to him gets caught up in an explosion. When confronted by the press, Stark makes a hasty display of bravado against the Mandarin daring him to come after someone like him instead; a challenge the Mandarin accepts. As a result of this ill advised thinking, Stark's home received a surprise attack, his loved ones are endangered, his facility is destroyed, and his armor depleted, leaving him alone and vulnerable. Thus beaten so thoroughly, Stark learns to pick himself off the ground, deal with his anxiety and broken pride, and find a way to unravel the mystery of the Mandarin and put an end to his reign of terror.
Iron Man 3 acts as a clever commentary on topics surrounding terrorism today. The film is not simply dealing with the reality of such acts as a pretence of a plot for our hero to fight against, but also delves into the politics and policies behind them. A key theme of the film involves 'the monsters we create'; an illusion to past U.S. History and its agencies involvement in funding and creating men like Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda; and also goes a bit further to involve more conspiratorial views and Orwellian deceptions.
However, it will be here that purist fans of the Iron Man comics shall take issue in the portrayal of the Mandarin, and by the end it will be about more than just a change of race to suit the character of a Middle Eastern terrorist leader. There are surprises in store that allude to more than just what is shown in trailers that while definitely making for a more interesting theme within the film, may anger some fans who'd have wanted to see a more faithful depiction of the Mandarin from the comics; and to a point it will even disappoint some audiences expecting something else entirely. There is sleight of hand at work, and your reception will depend on how you take the statements the film alludes to about terrorism. At the same time, there are plenty of things that make the film work on another level involving a whole other plot line that is best left for you to discover without being spoiled.
While Iron Man 3 does overcome the shortcomings of Iron Man 2 there are of course other issues at work in terms of how our expectations have been raised post-Avengers. Or even set up by Iron Man 2 for that matter. For one, the 'Iron Patriot' suit design, something comic readers are more familiar with as belonging to Norman Osbourne and the Dark Avengers, is simply a re-skinned War Machine. It is there for nothing more than a somewhat throw-away visual juxtaposition between representing the American military machine and Middle East insurgencies. Also noticeably missing in its entirety is any mention or involvement from any of the other Avengers cast, and certainly nothing at all that hints at or even seems to bridge towards stuff like Thanos, nor even any of the other upcoming films involving Thor or Captain America. While that stuff is also understandable to a point, the biggest missing piece of the puzzle is the total absence of S.H.I.E.L.D. Wouldn't they of all people certainly be interested in the Mandarin and its terrorist operations, especially after Stark gets involved, or do they function solely with regards to superhuman activity? You'll definitely leave the theatre with many of these questions in your mind as shortcomings given everything that's already been established.
I will also mention that, yes, there is a post-credits scene, right at the very end of the entire credits list. But it's more for comical effect and in no way hints at anything larger. If Iron Man 3 is supposed to whet our appetites for further films in Marvel's Phase 2, then in that task it fails. Which is not to say the film isn't worth watching. It's a good and plenty satisfying movie. Debate-ably the best out of the three. But there's nothing noticeable here to keep your anticipation for what is coming. And maybe that's unfair to hold against it, and who knows, maybe it works the other way around in that things set-up in this film will have repercussions in the others. But as a point of perception this is ultimately how all Marvel's films are going to be judged now; not merely as stand alone superhero trilogies, but rather as to how they all tie into one another leading up to the inevitable Avengers 2. We're all coming in expecting more than simply Iron Man, even if only in the background details. But certainly by the end you'll be left wondering what Tony Stark's role will be going forward.
Iron Man 3 is certainly worth the ticket price if you're looking for a neat action film to kick off the summer. I did not see it in 3-D, so I can't comment on that. Judging from past experiences, the Marvel films have never impressed me that much with their stereoscopy; especially given that they are post-converted and never shot with 3-D in mind. But even as conversions they aren't too amazing either. I certainly never feel like I'm missing out by watching them again in 2-D; unlike other films like Dredd, or Life of Pi, or Hugo where the 3-D is impressive and really elevates the movie to such an extent that taking it away actually feels like you've diminished them. So I'll let you make up your minds depending on how much you enjoyed previous films in 3-D and whether its worth the effort or extra price.
So all in all, if you really dig Robert Downey Jr. and the comedic nature he brings to Tony Stark, then this film's still got it! If you want to check out a film with an intriguing plot and lots of action, then you certainly won't be disappointed! And if you really dig all the new crazy Iron Man armory you'll see in the movie, then check out the official art book of the film at our store!