Iron Man 3 (or IRON MAN THREE as the end credits would have us believe, as if including the whole word as opposed to a digit makes it a more imaginative title) is a lot like those episodes of Mad Men or Angel where the lead character participates in voiceover narration for the first time ever; they’ve still got the same key elements and everything moves forward the way it normally would…but something’s not quite right.
That something has, I think, a lot to do with the inclusion of Shane Black as director and co-writer, replacing Jon Favreau who directed the first two installments, and results in THREE feeling like a tonally inconsistent movie due to Black’s constant bait-and-switch method of storytelling and undercutting serious moments with mistimed humour and occasionally hugely misjudging entire characters – not to mention woeful errors in casting.
Yes, I’m looking at you, Sir Ben. I won’t spoil the plot for you (except the fact that there’s far too much of it), but I will tell you that the Mandarin is the most pointless thing in the movie.
We go from moments that feel like Lethal Weapon to moments that feel like Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and even moments that feel like The Last Boy Scout, which is funny because Shane Black wrote ALL of those movies and clearly has no qualms about ripping off his own back catalogue. I think I mentioned a plot earlier, as well? I saw the movie yesterday and couldn’t exactly tell you what the villain’s motivation was, which is a testament to the strength of the new characters.
Also a criminal undersight: not giving Gwyneth Paltrow nearly enough to do. Pepper’s perfectly capable of carrying large chunks of the film herself, much more interesting than anyone else (bar only Tony himself) and the fact that she’s reduced to damsel-in-distress status by the end shows that someone at Marvel isn’t really paying attention.
Despite all this, I think I actually really enjoyed the movie, thanks in no small part to Robert Downey, Jr. as the titular Man of Iron. I found him far too abrasive in the first 30 minutes but quickly warmed to Stark as his armour was taken away metaphorically and literally…before remembering that these movies have always played that trick. Still, RDJ makes the zippy dialogue sing and pulls off flippant and heroic like no-one else on screen. The action was inventive and fresh for the series, proving that it and Stark are at their best when given limitations (no flight capability, only having access to certain parts of the armour were all welcome nuances to fight scenes) and the post-credits scene didn’t make me feel like I’d wasted my time, which is nice.
…So why do I feel like I’d much rather watch Kiss Kiss Bang Bang instead?