POPBACK: Iron Man 3 (2013)

Written By: Rick Masters
Marvel’s ambitious Phase Two begins with a confident bang as Tony Stark returns for his latest solo outing. After the phenomenal success of The Avengers it was always going to be interesting to see how these solo stories would fair, and despite numerous references to the New York showdown in Whedon’s movie it was going to have a hard time matching the sheer epicness of the previous film but, as it turns out… it couldnt even match the quality of it own previous two solo outings.
Iron man 3 strips the character bare. Never has Stark been so vulnerable both physically, mentally and emotionally. He’s not quite the man we remember from his previous appearances and the once cocky and arrogant Stark is really feeling the effects of the Avengers alien invasion. Its refreshing to see this more vulnerable side to Tony now that he come to terms with the fact he’s not the unstoppable force he thought he was. Another very notable point of Iron man 3 is that his suit makes a lot less appearances and when it does its seems a lot more fragile. It puts Stark, and Downey Jr, front and centre which is welcome from a character point of view but does rob the film of some of its energy and dips the excitement levels somewhat.

The film is also packed with plot and characters to the point that it can be rather uneven, particularly during the first half which struggles to balance the introduction of characters with the emotional baggage Stark is now carrying. The villains were pretty damn forgetful in my eyes and I just dint buy into the whole mutant, gene regrowth nonsense that was thrown at me. Ohh and boy do I remember the uproar that came from all comicbook fans as the Mandarin’s true self is revealed. Ouch.
Another criticism would be the sheer amount of armour malfunctions, power-downs and comedy failures. Pieces falling off and shattering became tiresome, (especially considering in the previous film he could take multiple hits from Thors Hammer) I found it excessively overused and really weakened the character that has been built up so well in previous Iron Man outings. (The excuses that they were prototypes and the such felt very much like a cop out). Frustratingly I just wanted to see him kick more arse and so it lacks that ultra-coolness present in the other instalments.

There were some great moments to be found in here though.. A highlight for me was the army of remote controlled Iron Men turning up towards the end, which gave the 12 year old boy inside of me goosebumps! His relationship with both Colonel James Rhodes (Don Cheadle) and a young boy named Harley Keener (Ty Simpkins) feel very natural with great chemistry and are always witty. Of course Downy plays his role as fantastic as ever and is an absolute joy to watch.
Overall Iron Man 3 is a fascinating dive into the real emotional guts of Tony Stark and gives us a much better understanding of how the man ticks, setting up his motivations going into Age of Ultron and Civil War which is arguably one of the strongest elements of the two films.
Robert Downey Jr is once again impressive but as his character stumbles he lacks that old Tony Stark spark which made these films so much fun. It has its moments of greatness but the story stutters and ultimately disappoints.
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