Iron Man 3 is really fun and awesome, but can’t escape its own lack of importance.
The movie picks up with Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) where The Avengers dropped him off — suffering acute anxiety attacks after a near-life experience. Stark is called to action after The Mandarin (Ben Kingsley) takes responsibility for a series of explosions, one of which catches Stark’s old bodyguard, Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau). In other news, Maya Hansen (Rebecca Hall) and Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce) develop the extremis virus, and after a radical plot twist this becomes important.
This plot twist is the first thing that jumps out about Iron Man 3 — the violent plot twists. It’s difficult to examine them without spoiling them entirely, but suffice it to say the antagonists aren’t as advertised, even if you’re familiar with the Extremis storyline on which the film is based.
It’s really sad to see the Mandarin written off the way he is. He’s an important villain in the comics, and it would have been great to see him really strut his stuff here.
The second major factor is the high-octane action.
Iron Man 3 is a true blockbuster. It provides the kind of visceral excitement that you just can’t find in the January-through-April quagmire of productions. Summer really has arrived with this film.
Both of these attention-grabbing qualities keep the audience in its seat. But if you think about the plot for more than a few seconds, it all comes undone.
Nothing really happens in this story. The Avengers is nodded toward, but not built on in any meaningful way. All conflicts begin and end within the plot. Technically that’s a good thing, but the movie just feels inconsequential.
The best comparison to draw is to its predecessor, Iron Man 2. The two sequels both have the exact same problem — there’s no real reason to care about what’s happening on-screen.
This is a good movie, and it’s worth suspending disbelief for, but it doesn’t make suspending disbelief easy to do.
Joshua Knopp is a formerly professional film critic, licensed massage therapist, journalism and film student at the University of North Texas and a staff writer for the NT Daily. The playoffs just started, and he is already really tired of Pierre McGuire. For questions, rebuttals and further guidance about cinema, you can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. At this point, I’d like to remind you that you shouldn’t actually go to movies and form your own opinions. That’s what I’m here for. Be sure to come back next week for a review of The Great Gatsby.