The Marvel Cinematic Universe: Iron Man Three (2013)

| April 12, 2019

For better or worse, a generation is now growing up with the movies of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and whatever that says about the direction of Western Civilization will be left to history depending largely on who writes it.  Avengers: Endgame brings the hammer down on this series on April 27th, so for the next few weeks I am going to take a look back at the films that have built a massive phenomenon.  Are they any good?  Let’s take a look . . .

Image result for Iron Man Three

Here is a question that no one seems completely able to answer: In Iron Man Three, why does Tony Stark go on live television and give his home address to his arch nemesis?  Why would he do that?  What is the point, particularly when he doesn’t have a plan to combat the enemy once they start lobbing missiles at his front door?  There.  I’ve gotten that off my chest.  Moving on.

I have seen Iron Man Three at least twice since 2013 and in both cases I have come away with the same feeling: this is a very convoluted movie.  It’s odd.  It has a narrative structure that feels unfocused and surprisingly flat.  It is a movie that I find extremely difficult to immerse myself in largely because I am not exactly sure how I’m suppose to feel about it.

Certainly the problem is not Robert Downey, Jr. who has a natural gift for comic wordplay.  He can twist his way around a smartass quip like few actors that I’ve seen.  Certainly it’s not the production design which is colorful and effectively apocalyptic.  Certainly its not the visual effects, which seem to have improved even from the first movie.  Perhaps the problems is that the movie promises so much, delivers so little and makes turns that make no sense (see above).  There are ideas here but there doesn’t seen to be an effort to want to carry it through.  Elements of the film just sort of lay there.

This is the third solo go-around for Tony Stark and this time he’s faced with his arch nemesis The Mandarin (Ben Kingsley).  That should be epic.  The Mandarin has organized a highly efficient terrorist group that can kill and destroy and disappear without a trace.  That’s a pretty tall order and, I thought, maybe the movie will be a commentary on the real-life issues of global terrorism.  But, no.  In a development that I won’t spoil, the movie tosses The Mandarin in the garbage – a middle finger to the audience and a waste of a good villain!

In the middle of this mess is a sort of compelling story about how the events of The Avengers and his previous adventures are causing Stark to have panic attacks.  Again, there is an idea there but the movie won’t carry it through.  It plays a big part in Tony’s inability to face the threat that is coming after him.  But there isn’t a moment when it all comes together.  The third-act climax more or less just happens because it has to and when its over I’m not sure how to feel about what I just saw.  I’m still questioning that thing about Tony’s house.  I shouldn’t be thinking about that.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.