Godzillafart's Amazing Spoilerific Iron Man 3 Review

Does Iron Man 3 round out the best comic book movie trilogy of all time, or does it continue the downward trajectory of Iron Man 2? Read on to find out. Major spoilers ahead!

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By GodzillaKart - 5/7/2013


Iron Man 3 shines in large part because Shane Black spends more time focusing on the Man than the Iron. The movie begins with Tony suffering from insomnia and panic attacks after the events of the Avengers. He has thrown himself into his work and his relationship with Pepper is hurting for it. Simultaneously, a terrorist calling himself The Mandarin, played to terrifying effect by Ben Kingsly (more on that later), has claimed responsibility for a number of bombings around the country. When Tony’s Head of Security, Happy Hogan, is injured in one of the blasts, Tony issues a public challenge to the Mandarin. This ends up being a foolish choice as the Mandarin responds by promptly blowing up Tony’s house, which, through a chain of events, leaves Tony presumed dead and without a functioning suit in rural Tennessee.

Tony ends up enlisting the help of a young boy to get back on his feet and plan his return. This part of the story uses a potentially dreadful Hollywood trope, but thankfully Tony’s friendship with the boy never falls into the dangerous pit of gooey sentimentality. Every time it seems to be going in that direction, the script does a summersault and the resulting twist of tone is both unexpected and uproarious. A shining example of this is Tony’s response to the boy telling him that his father ran out on him and his mother 4 years earlier. “Dad’s leave. No reason to be a pussy about it”.

Tony spends much of the film in deep in self-reflection and Black manages to use Tony’s brooding to do the same with the series. At one point Tony, musing over Killian’s decent from passionate scientist to evil megalomaniac states “You start with something pure, something exciting. Then come the mistakes, the compromises.” The monologue plays the duel role of demonstrating Tony’s growth and burgeoning humility while simultaneously being a thinly veiled swipe at the flawed Iron Man 2.

Downey and Paltrow have perhaps the only compelling romance in any comic book film and the chemistry between the two continues to be one of the best parts of the series. Thankfully, Paltrow’s Pepper Potts is given a lot more screen time and she excels at bringing action as well as emotion. While never getting in the way of the drama, the film is seriously funny. Black is a master of writing smart, hilarious banter and RDJ is a master of delivering it. Most of the humor comes from Tony’s wit, which ends up not only being incredibly entertaining but also furthering a main theme of the film: What makes Tony special is his mind, not the suit. The suits themselves become expendable. As extremis soldiers tear through the remote controlled suits of armor, you can almost hear Tony speaking the old Doritos tag line “Crunch all you want, I’ll make more.” I won’t spend much time here on the action. Suffice to say it’s breathtaking and just about flawless. Especially great are the attack on Tony’s house and the rescue of Air Force One.

And now the twist: Half way through the film we discover that the diabolical Mandarin is actually a theatrical decoy created by Killian, the real villain in our story. The man who has been appearing on videos threatening and mocking the President and the American people is actually a washed up actor playing a part. Kingsley is flawless in both roles and absolutely riveting whenever he is on screen. The only fault is that we could have used more of the threatening Mandarin before the switch. In the world of comics, the Mandarin is Iron Man’s arch nemesis. Not surprisingly, the common response from hard-core fans of the character was outrage that Marvel and Black would even consider such blasphemy.

I, for one, thought it was brilliant decision.

For most of his literary existence, the Mandarin has been portrayed as a clichéd stereotype of a Chinese villain. From Fu Manchu to Ming the Merciless to Big Trouble in Little China’s David Lo Pan to the Mandarin, the character of an insane, power hungry Asian, sporting long fingernails and facial hair and wearing a theatrical version of the robes of a Chinese Emperor has been with us for a century. Born out of racism and xenophobia, this character, in all its incarnations, has become the bigoted archetype for the villainous “other”.

Although there have been many attempts to evolve the Mandarin over the years, he has never quite been able to shake his racist roots. Many at Marvel have made it clear since the first Iron Man film that they would wisely never bring this version of the character to the screen. Magic and aliens have already been introduced into the Marvel cinematic universe, so they certainly could have made the Mandarin a version of the power-ring wielding maniac from the comics. The decision to instead turn him into a fictitious red herring was bold and inspired.

The Iron Man films have always been about American industry and military might, and how both can be used for both good and evil. The idea of the red herring fits with that beautifully. In the last presidential race it seemed like we spent more time talking about Romney’s dog being strapped to the top of a car twenty years ago, the price of John Edwards haircut or conspiracy theories about Obama’s place of birth than how any of them planned to improve the economy. Fossil fuel interests have spent millions fabricating the absurd boogyman of a hoax perpetrated by the world’s climate scientists instead of addressing the issue of global warming. The list could go on and on but the point is clear: We are in the age of the red herring. The Mandarin in Iron Man 3, portrayed through the duel characters of Kingsley’s ranting, flamboyant terrorist and Pierce’s suave and corrupt businessman captured this beautifully. While the Iron Patriot is bumbling around Pakistan looking for a terrorist who doesn’t exist, Killian is back home creating real terror.

Iron Man 3 brilliantly mixes drama, comedy and action to create not only one of the most entertaining comic book movies to date, but also an eloquent social commentary. This is Marvel studios at its best.

4.5/5 Stars.

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GodzillaKart - 5/7/2013, 6:47 AM
@Monkeyballs: I missed the product placement. Just out of curiosity, what was it?
GodzillaKart - 5/7/2013, 9:22 AM
@TheYoungMan: I'm not sure Nolan's bat films even take the second spot. BB was poor and TDKR was goodish.
GodzillaKart - 5/7/2013, 9:40 AM
Young Man! That is an uncharacteristically base insult coming from you!
GodzillaKart - 5/7/2013, 10:05 AM
Hmmm. I like that gif.
GodzillaKart - 5/7/2013, 11:21 AM
@Levitikuz: Hmmm. IM2 was a good movie with terrible editing. Batman Begins was poor, Spider-Man was OK. TDK and Spider-Man 2 were great...but TDKR was good and SM3 was a mess.

I don't think the IM trilogy is perfect, but it's the best we've got so far.
BasedThanos - 5/7/2013, 12:11 PM
I don't see how this movie gets 4.5/5 stars. For one, the PTSD was stupid and dropped not even halfway through the movie. SO being held captive by terrorists in Afghanistan for months, getting AK-47's shoved in your face, doesn't psychologically affect you, but battling aliens with a bunch of superheroes, and falling from a wormhole gives you panic attacks? No way. And with that said another thing is the armor. It was a piece of shit that fell apart every 5 minutes for the butt end of too many awkwardly placed jokes.
MrCBM56 - 5/7/2013, 12:56 PM
Lets see abou Iron Man being one of the best Superhero Trilogies ever-

Iron Man vs Batman Begins

Iron man wins

The dark knight vs Iron Man

The dark knight wins

Iron Man 3 vs The dark Knight rises

On par with each other.

So to end this topic, They are equal with each other.



Phlegmbot - 5/7/2013, 2:14 PM
Interesting opinion on The Mandarin.

I couldn't care less about what the comics do in relation to the the movies. However, this red herring, this idea that the villain is not at all a villain, was a major weakness in that you get your audience vested in somethiing, and while I LIKE the idea of a red herring, what this turned out to be was simply not satisfactory to the story.

That is, anytime you write a script, or direct a movie, you ask yourself, "Is this ending satisfying to the characters (and thus, the audience)?" I don't mind that The Mandarin wasn't in charge (in spite of the subtle reference to him in, what, the first movie was it?), but to have him be a doofus who's just an actor, was ridiculous.

And, within the MCU of the movies, it seems a bit sad that an out-of-work actor couldn't be found out by the authorities, especially SHIELD.

There are a lot of issues like this w/IM3. Basically, in order to enjoy it, you have to check your brain at the door -- the same can't be said for either of the previous Iron Man films (even IM2, which literally, within a few minutes had Tony Stark say "The armor is keyed only to accept me in it" followed by Rhodie jumping into a piece of armor keyed only into Stark and fighting him for no reason at all).
GodzillaKart - 5/7/2013, 3:39 PM
@Phlegmbot: I found the villain incredibly satisfying. I'd go so far to say that, although I loved Kingsley's portrayal of the evil Mandarin, I found it more satisfying than if that character had been the villain. I went in expecting fun and got a surprising level of sophistication.
GodzillaKart - 5/7/2013, 3:42 PM
Much more, I might add, than TDK's juvenile “comment” on the Patriot Act. “Is it OK to infringe on the privacy of every citizen of Gotham?” The bold answer: “Only sometimes.”
GodzillaKart - 5/7/2013, 3:43 PM
It's not the point of my post, but I will never understand how you guys can accept a twerpy douchebag like Bale as Batman. I am seriously embarrassed whenever I see him on screen in the role.
BasedThanos - 5/7/2013, 3:44 PM
@Phlegmbot
That's exactly what I said about SHIELD! So you're telling me that SHIELD didn't discover that Mandarin was really an out of work actor hired by somebody else? I CALL BS! Seriously of all the IM movies that should have had SHIELD involved in it, this one needed it the most. And since SHIELD was in both of the other IM movies, I thought they're presence (to some extent) in this one was a given. Guess I was wrong.
GodzillaKart - 5/7/2013, 3:51 PM
@ArmoredAsgardian: It was explicitly stated that he had plastic surgery. He had been a stage actor so you have to assume they made him look vastly different.
GodzillaKart - 5/7/2013, 4:03 PM
@Squaremaster: Nobody cared about Bale as Batman, just like nobody cared when Rachel was blown up. They are not movies one becomes emotionally invested in. Bale was truly great in both The Fighter and The Prestige...but that might be it. I haven't seen the Machinist but when talking about his performance it often seems like people are confusing an eating disorder with acting ability.
marvel72 - 5/7/2013, 4:04 PM
after watching iron man 3 again on download this time,i found it more a 3/5 than a 4/5 movie.

best comic book movie trilogy

1st the dark knight trilogy (10.5/15)
2nd spider-man trilogy (10.5/15)
3rd iron man trilogy (9.5/15)
4th x-men trilogy (9/15)
5th blade trilogy (8/15)
GodzillaKart - 5/7/2013, 4:10 PM
@Marvel72:

I think I would go:

1st the iron man trilogy: 12/15
2nd the superman trilogy: 10.5/15
3rd the Spider-Man trilogy: 10.5/15
4th the dark knight trilogy: 10/15

Although Superman three is garbage, the first two films, dated though they are, are gems.
GodzillaKart - 5/7/2013, 4:48 PM
@Squaremaster: You strike me as a religious man.
GodzillaKart - 5/7/2013, 4:55 PM
People didn't go to TDK films because they cared about the characters, any more than people go to a Bond film because they care about the characters. TDK, which is a great film, was great for a number of reasons, but character empathy was not one of them.
GodzillaKart - 5/7/2013, 4:57 PM
The caped crusader has yet to be brought to the big screen in a way that does justice to the character. Iron Man, on the other hand, exceeded his comic book presence when he hit Hollywood.
GodzillaKart - 5/7/2013, 5:35 PM
I think that is incorrect in the case of Tony/Pepper. Not to mention the first half of Cap.
ElmoTheThird - 5/7/2013, 6:10 PM
Drew Pearce tweeted that the Ten Rings is a real terrorist group that Killian wasn't associated with. He only used their name the same way he used Cap's shield and other symbols to inflict terror. Their may be hope yet for the Mandarin in the future I believe.
marvel72 - 5/7/2013, 6:25 PM
@ Godzillafart

just look at squaremaster avatar,of course his gonna rate iron man as the worse trilogy.
Durf - 5/7/2013, 8:47 PM
Great review sir. Very well done and thorough.
Starkasm - 5/8/2013, 1:32 AM
@levi and one that includes TDKR shouldn't be considered the best either. I enjoyed IM2 more than TDKR so its #1 for me also. Just my opinion. But youve already said you dont care about that.

@Elmo
YEp. Plastic surgery for a reason my friend! Distressed fanboys will be eatinf their words when it drops.
@godzilla
Great review!
Brainiac13 - 5/8/2013, 2:17 AM
Nice review...but the film was just bad even without the twist!

This has not hurt the box office....it was riding on the Avengers success.

I'm looking forward what MS do with IM in the future.
TheAbaryMan369 - 5/8/2013, 4:38 AM
What about the Back to the Future Trilogy!?! Those movies were awesome!!! Or the original Star Wars Trilogy!


¡Olé! ¡Olé! ¡Olé! ¡Olé!
GodzillaKart - 5/8/2013, 6:16 AM
@Durf&Starkasm: Thanks, gents!
GodzillaKart - 5/8/2013, 7:59 AM
@TheYoungMan: I didn't really want this to be the point of the article, but I guess I asked for it in the tagline.

I fully understand that if you add up all the critical scores of both trilogies, Nolan's films come out on top. I'm not really interested in that, however. And in my book the Iron Man trilogy is far superior, not in small part because I think Bale was an painfully bad choice for the lead role and also think Batman Begins was a mediocre film. I give it 2.5/5 stars and list as #24 in my list of best superhero based CBM.

I can clearly articulate all the problems I have with the films if you are interested in that. However, I know you feel differently, and more than that know I won't ever change your mind, or you mine. If you want to debate it with well thought out positions, that would be great. I love the mental exercise.

In your above comment you basically say nothing except that you prefer TDK. To state "just entertaining the idea that the Iron Man trilogy or the Spider-Man trilogy is in the same league as TDK trilogy is downright laughable" gives no support to your position and is about the same as a "Is not! Is too!" argument.

I've often praised TDK, even with Bale's performance, at it is certainly the best of the three. In my mind, however, IM tops it and is a greater cinematic achievement. Again, we can have that out if you choose.

Heck, this was my first article. Perhaps my next will be "Why Nolan's Bat-films are overrated".

If not we can simply carry on with our "Nolan is a God!" "Yeah, well Bale is a shitty Batman" jabs when the subject comes up.
Stumblin - 5/8/2013, 8:32 AM
I'm with you Godzillafart, I think Iron Man trilogy is now the best CBM trilogy so far. TDKR was a huge let down for me, and Bale's Batman was getting pretty obnoxious.
GodzillaKart - 5/8/2013, 10:08 AM
@TheYoungMan: Alright. I consider myself warned. :)
Pitt - 5/8/2013, 10:59 AM
4.5/5 really??? But like you said your opinion
GodzillaKart - 5/8/2013, 11:31 AM
@Pitt: Yup. I put it above Avengers.
GodzillaKart - 5/8/2013, 12:38 PM
Hmmm. I missed them.

I may be in the minority that I generally don't mind product placement if it makes sense as it can add to the realism of the film.

The Donner Superman films were criticized for product placement, but I prefer that Superman was thrown into a Marlboro truck instead of "Smokey Joe's Cigarettes". I also think the scene with the Cheerios box is down right beautiful.

GodzillaKart - 5/8/2013, 1:55 PM
Hmmm. Well, I can't argue with you. I just missed it.
SamuraiHairMaster - 5/8/2013, 4:36 PM
Focuses on the Man than the Armor?

Umm. . .the whole personal demon thing didn't work. First, Stark himself says that his PTSD arises from his contact with "gods, dimensions" and magic. He is confronting the fact his brilliance doesn't begin to understand reality. Then, he has to fight is personal demons because he left a Guy on the roof?

By the time the movie ended, he says "I'm a changed man." But how? I didn't belive it and whats worse by the end I didn't care.

It just seemed that his movie was on auto-make money function. I found the switch to be a lazily created and executed schtick, just like the confused peronsal demon - personal growth part of the movie.

If you really need to see this movie wait for the video. . . .

NeoBaggins - 5/8/2013, 8:17 PM
Thanks for visiting my review and contributing. Our reviews are kind of on the opposite so, I'll just touch on two things as not to be redundant.

Stark the man, is only interesting if Stark is presented in an interesting light. There is a single scene in the film that portrays Stark in a new and more intimate angle. Probably his best performance and it's short. That scene is when he wakes up from a nightmare reminding people about the Avengers movie. He looks genuinely rattled and this was the first and only scene where the element of the Robot/remote suit made an impact. This was a great scene. The best in the film before it went back to being, well, obviously different from it's previous installments.

Stark is the same Stark he always is, but now his comedic side is written to the forefront. I don't see any character study with the man. That was explored in Iron Man 2 and it was done very well. This Stark could have kept his suit and been Iron Man for the movie if this is someones idea of showing us, the man.

Now, the Mandarin. Just real quick. People keep presenting this straw-man argument about how he can't be Fu Man Chu. No one asked for a classic stereotype. There are many ways the Mandarin could have been done close to the comics without being Big Trouble in Little China. And I think people know that before they start defending the films representation of the character.

I'm to believe this logic: Hey, Mandarin can't be an Asian stereotype and the best way to do him is to make him a crackhead actor portraying a terrorist stereotype. Then, reveal him to be a blonde white dude with Dragon tats.

I guess we're ignoring how drastic the distance between the original Mandarin and Kingsley/Pearce is. They didn't HAVE TO do it that way. There's several interpretation that could have been implemented before it came to this. Ultimate Mandarin doesn't even look like a stereotype, or at least isn't any more a stereotype than other villains we've seen in MARVEL films. If you like it, fine. But don't insult everyone's intelligence with the Fu Man Chu argument. By the same logic that says original Mandarin is ridiculous, the version they've created is as equally silly in a different way.

lol I said "real quick"
GodzillaKart - 5/9/2013, 5:53 AM
@NeoBaggins: "They didn't HAVE TO do it that way."

They certainly didn't, but I thought it was great. Very smart and entertaining.

My pleasure to read and comment on your review. Until I posted this (my first contribution to CBM) I spent almost all my time on the main page and don't think I had come here ever. Shameful. Lot of good stuff here that doesn't make main.
GodzillaKart - 5/9/2013, 9:00 AM
@Squaremaster: Upon 5th inspection:

BB: 2.5/5 stars. Not horrible. Just mediocre.

TDKR: 3/5. stars. Goodish.

But hey! Never forget that I will give you TDK. A solid 4.5/5...heck, I'll round it up to 4.6/5. And that is even with Bale's embarrassing performance. :D
NeoBaggins - 5/9/2013, 9:55 AM
@Zilla "They certainly didn't, but I thought it was great. Very smart and entertaining."

And that's fine. That's the core point I was trying to make. If a person digs it, cool. But justifying Mandarin's portrayal as a necessary deviation from a stereotype is a very weak position. The character didn't have to be butchered to deviate from a stereotype. They're two completely different items.

I gave Shane Black fanboy-level approval just from the trailers. Said it was the best Iron Man yet. Joke was on me. lol smh He got me.

Great review. Hope to see more of yours.
GodzillaKart - 5/9/2013, 10:10 AM
@NeoBaggins: Thanks Man. It was fun to write.

@TheYoungMan: I'll try to get on my review of TDK trilogy. If I do it, it might take a while as I'll want to be as clear as possible and as un-trollish as I can be. Sometimes it's just to easy to drop a stink bomb or two. :)
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