If you want to read my completely spoiler-empty review of Iron Man 3, click here!
This may be a little messy, and really long, sorry. I’m just very excited!! And there’s so much to write about!!!
Yo listen up, here’s a story
About a little guy that lives in a blue world
And all day and all night
And everything he sees
Is just blue like him
Inside and outside…
– Blue (Da Ba Dee) by Eiffel 65
This song starts off the movie as Robert Downey Jr, the actor who “brings something so unique and idiosyncratic to every role he does. And his brand of wit humour as Tony Stark is so brilliant and mentally brilliant” (entertainment video review with Rebecca Hall), returns again as Tony Stark and begins to narrate his story, setting the scene up as a big backflash like the Avengers-that-almost-was. First stop is 1999, the year that Tony-the-playboy-in-a-party-hat goes to a conference in Switzerland and gets to know (intimately, in the biblical sense) Maya Hansen, who is played by Rebecca Hall and has an extremely temperamental house plant. It’s also where we catch a quick glimpse of Yinsen (The scientist/doctor who saves Tony in the cave in Iron Man 1, and who is basically the foundation of the creation of Tony Stark Version: After Cave) and see Tony being approached with a very geeky, disabled Aldrich Killian, played by Guy Pearce, who wants to set up a project called Advanced Idea Mechanics (A.I.M.) and ends up being stood up and abandoned by Tony…who is enjoying the night with Maya, a one-off that comes back later as a memorable what-if? that was never even a possibility with previous Tony Stark one-night stands, and causes some fun friction between his relationship with Pepper Potts. As Robert Downey Jr puts it, “The relationship between Tony and a girl from the past that he just shared a night with is also really cool to motivate some changes and drama for him and Pepper. But it’s also nice because we always saw Tony as a playboy but we never thought that there was someone he actually maybe would have spent a little more time with“.
We are then fast forwarded to post-Avengers, post-New York day, where Tony is finished up on the Mark 42 (I wonder who suggested this number…) and is testing it out, working on his 72nd hour without sleep. I absolutely adore this sequence, as we get to see Tony really interact with his ‘bots in ways which have been alluded to in previous films but are demonstrated outright here: Dum-e is wearing a dunce cap because “that’s right, [he] deserves it!“. JARVIS, who is voiced by Paul Bettony, also takes a sassy turn, with gorgeous lines that are full of irony such as “As always, it is a pleasure watching you work, sir” after Tony has accidentally ends up trashing his workshop again.
Jon Favreau, no longer at the helm as director, returns as Happy Hogan, the new and incompetent-but-well-meaning head of security of Stark Industries, who worries about Pepper being impressed by Killian’s “big brain” and Tony losing the greatest thing that’s ever happened to him. Quite early in the film, Happy once again tries to take on more than he can chew, this time without Agent Natasha Romanoff (The Black Widow), and so ends up incapacitated for the duration of the film, only waking up at the end to watch a crucial episode of Downtown Abbey. He does, however, help Tony in his quest to find The Mandarin, and also gives the special effects people a great excuse to do a very cool digital re-creation of a scene that shows some more of Tony’s innovative advancements.
“One of them was we always felt like Tony and Rhodey should be at Neptune’s Net because it is up the road from where Tony lives and it’s a biker bar...” (Robert Downey Jr, in this extensive and interesting interview on Iron Man 3) This happens in Iron Man 3, where while Tony and Rhodey, who is again played by actor Don Cheadle, are having a conversation on why Tony should keep his nose out of The Mandarin business because it isn’t superhero stuff, it’s America stuff, Tony is approached by siblings who’d like an autograph. Here we experience Tony’s first anxiety attack following a question about how he survived the you-know-what in you-know-where. These attacks are induced several times throughout the film, and are a way of making sure the audience is aware that “nothing’s been the same since New York!” Coupled with Tony’s recurrent nightmares and new vulnerability due to his new awareness of alien life forms that could invade Earth at any time, it makes Iron Man 3 quite a psychological-threatening film, rather than just physically violent, which adds to the tenseness of Tony’s situation and the intenseness of the film.
The audience is definitely encouraged to look at Tony as human in this film, and are shown that his actions in previous Marvel movies have had serious consequences; that he is not a ‘god’ whose accomplishments and risks just slide off without repercussions. One of the reasons I love the Iron Man story arc so much is that, unlike a lot of superheroes like Captain America and Superman, Tony Stark did not have a good beginning. He was The Merchant Of Death. And he killed a lot of people, directly or indirectly, and he was a playboy, and he was a rich, spoilt boy. But then he pulled through and became Iron Man, and while his character developed and became (marginally) more mature and responsible, he kept his blunt wit and his quintessential ‘Tony Stark’ core. He still messes up and he is still completely, utterly human. I think that it is this humanistic approach to Tony Stark by the scriptwriters, director and actor that influenced the decision not to inject Tony with Extremis, as happens in the comics. As Robert Downey Jr. explains, Iron Man 3 is the journey of Tony having “perfected a heart without actually dealing with the wound to begin with. So once you have all those things in play you go, ‘Okay, with all of those plates spinning at the same time, what is he supposed to do?’…[We] tried to be practical, in a post-Avengers world. What are his challenges now? What are some limitations that might be placed on him? And what sort of threat would have him, as usual, ignore those limitations?”
I think you can tell that I liked what they came up with. 😛
I also liked Shane Black’s blurring the evil/good dichotomy, as we have Maya Hansen, who is involved in what she thinks is Nobel Prize work, but is aware that it is being utilised by her employer as a weapon. Her complex morality issues cause her, in the end, to sacrifice herself to try to save Tony, but throughout the film we are also cognisant to the fact that it is her research and knowledge, freely given to Killian, that has allowed The Mandarin to be so successful a ploy. The Mandarin himself, played by Sir Ben Kingsley, was a highlight for many of my friends and I, as Shane Black turns this ‘terrorist’, who is presented as the ultimate enemy in the Iron Man 3 trailers, into a farce, concocting Trevor Slattery the “act-tor” in an epiphany of genius. This twist produces some hilarious moments, such as [“you didn’t press the panic button“] “Well, I panicked, but then I handled it” and “don’t hurt the face!” as expected, but also has a deeper message, similarly to other subjects that Black picks up on in this ‘darker’ Iron Man film.
Gwyneth Paltrow, who was voted by the People’s magazine to be the most beautiful woman yesterday, reprises her role as Pepper Potts, the CEO of Stark Industries, “the one thing” Tony Stark “loves most” and “the most important thing” in his life. “It really is like putting on a pair of comfortable shoes…I feel like I know [Pepper] really well.” says Paltrow “She does get to do more than she’s ever done [in this film]” (entertainment video review with Gwyneth Paltrow). This becomes obvious to the audience during the explosion of the Malibu mansion, as Tony, using some new hand gestures, causes the Mark 42 prototype to enclose Pepper rather than him, ensuring she stays uninjured. Gwyneth Paltrow said, on being in the Iron Man suit: “I loved being in the suit. I thought it was really fun and novel… ” This means that Pepper is now in the position to protect Tony, although this is a point of debate, as seen by his answer of “I got you first!” to her “I got you“. We again see Tony bow to Pepper’s wisdom (eventually) and then claim it as his, when he abruptly changes his mind and backtracks on his decision not to leave the mansion, saying “like I said, we can’t stay here“.
I absolutely love Pepper’s story arc in this film, as she gets to be very independent, “warm and super-intelligent and playful“, saving Tony several times, but also shows her devotion and love to Tony as she, in the aftermath of the Malibu mansion blowing up, believes Tony to be dead. Actually, this seems to be a recurrent image in Iron Man Three, as Tony almost drowns as he is pulled underwater by the mansion, only to be saved at the last moment by JARVIS detaching the Mark 42 glove and pulling Tony out of the wreckage. He is then flown, unconscious, by a pre-recorded flight plan, only to land in Tennessee, in the snow, as JARVIS gives out and takes a little nap. Another near miss is when Tony is on a rescue mission in a suit, and seems to get run over by a truck…as it turns out, though, Tony wasn’t IN the suit at the time; he was doing remote control flying from somewhere nice and safe. Another new technological advancement, Tony now doesn’t have to be actively controlling the suit from within it, and can also easily separate parts of the armour and use them as individual weapons. In fact, for most of the movie, he’s not in full armour!
So, in gorgeous 3 dimensional snow, Tony drags the armour out to a gas station, where he leaves a message for Pepper and steals a poncho off a wooden Indian. He then breaks into what is revealed to be 10-year-old techno-geek Harley’s (played by Ty Simpkins) garage, where he seats the armour, rearranges it, and asks if “there. comfy now?” This film has, in general, got a lot of Tony to robot/armour/mechanical object interaction, which is always very well-played and, at times, hilarious. JARVIS seems to be much more independent in this film, and Tony appears to treat him as a friend. Tony also talks to his various suits, going to the lengths of defending them “He’s in pain!” and naming them all, as we see in the final battle (one is called Heartbreaker). Like I said about the Dum-e scene, I loved this synergy between Tony and his tech.
In the middle section of the film, we have a lot of Tony Stark ‘the mechanic’ and Harley the ‘cynical kid’, who comes into the movie bearing a potato gun that is both armed and dangerous, as proven. Here, Ty Simpkins, an American child actor (see here for an interview with him) plays foil to Tony Stark, playing a precocious and sometimes manipulative kid who helps Tony to investigate the Mandarin attacks and connect them to Extremis. Harley says “Admit it. You need me. We’re connected“, and this is in some ways true, as his actions force Tony to keep going and encourage him. Full of one-uppmanship between a kid and a billionaire, this section gained a few “oh no you di’in’t“‘s from the audience, especially Stark’s line: “Dads leave. No need to be such a pussy about it.” Inspired by Harley’s “you’re a mechanic. Why don’t you just build something?“, Tony storms The Mandarin’s headquearters with home-made weaponry that initiates a doctor-gadget like scene, only to discover that all is not as it seems.
Now a captive of Aldrich Killian, Tony realises that The Mandarin is a creation of Killian, who used Hansen’s Extremis research as a cure for his own disability and then expanded the program to include injured war veterans. Killian reveals he has kidnapped Pepper and subjected her to Extremis as leverage to gain Tony’s aid in fixing Extremis’ flaws. Killian has also manipulated American intelligence agencies regarding the Mandarin’s location, luring Rhodey into a trap to steal his armour.
Well, this doesn’t go down very well. After multiple countdowns, he manages to summon the prototype suit, which has been charging in Harley’s garage and so got a bit stuck, unable to open the shed doors (“well, better late than never“) and escape, sparing a worker who puts down his gun and says “honestly I hate working here they are so weird“, and meeting up with Rhodey, who has had to leave his suit in captivity.
Now, we’ll pause the action for a word on Rhodey, shall we?
In this film, like with Pepper, Colonel Rhodes gets a lot more screen time and action scenes going on for him, as the audience sees the extent of Tony and Rhodey’s relationship. Very pragmatic, Rhodey acts as a contrast to Tony, which is set up humorously, such as in the above scene, but also in a more serious matter – whereas Tony just wants to rescue Pepper, Colonel Rhodes is more focused on the big picture. Back in Iron Man 2, Rhodey ‘confiscated’ one of Tony’s suits, the War Machine. Now governmentally owned, the War Machine is renamed Iron Patriot and given a paint job in Iron Man 3. Needless to say, Tony is not pleased with the name change, despite Harley’s enthusiasm for Iron Patriot. This name-argument comes to a head when Tony needs to hack into military files using Rhodey’s password, which is revealed to be “Warmachinerox. With an x“. At the end of the film, Rhodey is officially asked by the President to remain as the Iron Patriot, the government’s “American hero” in response to the events in The Avengers. Basically, he’s a BAMF.
So. In a barrel of monkeys (and I bet there’ll be an Iron Man 3 version of them coming out soon :P) air-rescue, Tony remote-control rescues the passengers of the plane President Ellis is on. Unfortunately, he doesn’t get to the President himself on time, and so they have to trace Killian to an impounded oil drilling platform where Killian intends to kill Ellis on live television. The Vice President, who is in on the plan, will then become a puppet leader, following Killian’s orders in exchange for Extremis to cure his (possible) daughter’s disability.
Once there, the final action scene starts. And is it amazing??? Yes, it is! Tony is a bit inept with a gun, but he more than makes up for it with his back-up, called House Party Protocol, which makes Rhodey pretty much speechless.“Is that?” “Yep.” “Are those…?” “Yep! Merry Christmas, buddy”
Marvel Studios President of Production Kevin Feige explains about the Iron Legion; Tony’s collection of suits: “Once, throughout the course of the movie, all that rubble gets pulled aside by construction cranes, just when he needs him, he calls them to the rescue and we have what I think is the biggest most action packed finale we’ve had. I showed the film to Joss Whedon, who is our writer-director of Avengers and who is currently working on Avengers 2, and he saw the finale of this and he goes, now what am I supposed to do now? What am I going to do in Avengers 2?’” It is an incredible sequence, with Rhodey rescuing the President, and the music and 3D, as well as the incredible special effects, really enhancing everything. Tony, meanwhile, is fighting in various states of suit, leaping from suit to suit (the suits are remotely controlled by JARVIS) and using hand gestures to direct his fleet of armour.
There is the fated Tony Stark with tech versus Aldrich Killian with Extremis battle, which is very cool, even as Tony berates Killian for trying to change Pepper “Here’s where you’re wrong: she was already perfect!!” However, Tony is quickly at a disadvantage, especially when Mark 42, encasing Killian and self-destructing, doesn’t work. And in comes SUPER-PEPPER! Because Extremis worked on her, and so now she is more than a match for Killian, defeating him and saving Tony once more, although afterwards she concedes “that was really violent”. Paltrow, on Pepper as a female heroine and love interest, says “It’s nice to be a women in such a popular film that so many people see that’s such a good role model…she’s really a lovely woman“, and I completely agree. Another reason for loving Iron Man 3 – girl empowerment! Because as Shane Black makes clear, there is absolutely no way that Tony would be able to survive without Pepper.
Now for the resolutions…
Well, I was very satisfied with them. First off, we have Tony and Pepper reunited, with Tony reassuring Pepper in his blunt and truthful way that no, everything won’t be okay, she’s still associated with him, but that it will be alright, he’ll fix her…and then to show how much he cares about her, uses the Clean Slate Protocol, because “screw it. It’s Christmas!” causing all of his suits to self destruct as a fireworks display.
True to his word, we hear, now once again as a voice-over narration, about how Tony successfully has Extremis removed from Pepper, but then, in a move that I think surprised us all, especially considering that there is definitely going to be an Avengers 2…Tony has the shrapnel and arc reactor removed. The last scene in the movie is Tony throwing his reactor into the sea and collecting Dum-e, musing that his suits “weren’t distraction, they were a cocoon, and now I’m a changed man“.
The last line is…”I am Iron Man“.
But wait! There’s more!!!
Because Marvel always does a post-credit scene!
Although, first of all, with their montage of fast changing snippets and frozen collage shots, the credits themselves were pretty cool.
So, after 20 minutes of credits, the tidbit came on, starting once again with a Tony Stark voice-over in a black screen, thanking a mysterious someone, saying “Wow, I had no idea you were such a good listener. To be able to share all my intimate thoughts and my experiences with someone – it just cuts the weight of it in half, you know. It’s like a snake swallowing its own tail. Everything comes full circle.” His eyes open, and the audience can now see Tony on a classic psychiatrist couch, with Bruce Banner (a.k.a. the Hulk, and played by Mark Ruffalo) asleep in a chair opposite him. Tony is indignant, and Bruce, waking up, apologises, saying “I’m not that type of doctor“. After a brief discussion on where Bruce fell asleep (elevator in Switzerland), Tony starts off again, and Bruce (looking well fed and grey), who has clearly been collared into playing reluctant psychiatrist, exasperatedly looks at the ceiling…
And That Is The End, Folks.
except for the large
Tony Stark Will Be Back
caption as we left the cinema….
So, if you’ve seen Iron Man Three, and you liked it/hated it/loved it, tell me why!
What were your favourite lines, or the most memorable sequences in the film?
What did you feel about The Mandarin plot twist? And the Extremis one?
Do you think that there is going to be an Iron Man 4, as discussed by Shane Black here?
I would love to hear from you, and I hope I haven’t ruined the experience for you in any way,
Let’s call me Lily