Iron Man 3 is the first Marvel movie after The Avengers and makes frequent mention of Tony Stark’s part in helping to fend off alien invaders in that movie, especially his slipping through the “wormhole” in the final scenes of the film.
At one point, a character in Iron Man 3 asks Tony, “Do you have PTSD?,” and given all he’s been through – and his behavior in this film – it’s a reasonable question. He’s having panic attacks, horrible nightmares, and whopping doubts about his ability to protect the ones he loves. This is perhaps the most human (and humble) we’ve seen Tony Stark, and it’s refreshing. It also begins to beg the question: Who IS Iron Man? Is it the suit? Or is it the man?
While Iron Man 3 spends some time delving into the superhero psyche, the writing is also as funny as ever, and provides some bright, spontaneous moments where the audience can breathe a little. The brightest moments, in my opinion, are Tony’s interactions with a young boy he befriends while undercover; the two of them play off each other beautifully, and you see Tony totally out of his element, but again, more human than ever.
I wouldn’t say the story in Iron Man itself is all that tight or compelling – bad guys do bad things, big surprise – but it’s adequate, and I appreciate the theme of being careful how you treat people, as the past can come back to haunt you (or blow you into thousands of little bits). There were a few BIG points in the story that completely contradict the comic book history of Iron Man (one big surprise was actually kind of funny, another big surprise was…confusing, and definitely left more questions than answers), and my 16yo daughter – a near Marvel encyclopedia – was not pleased. I imagine some feathers will be ruffled here. But on the plus side, Pepper Potts gets some cheer-worthy scenes in Iron Man 3 which make you kind of wish we could get more strong female characters in these superhero movies.
My biggest caution with Iron Man 3 is that it is very, very violent. Like, really violent. This is not a film I recommend you let your 5, 6, or 7 year old Iron Man fans see before you screen it first. Things are exploding, people are exploding, limbs are severed, people are routine being shot and broken in two, etc etc and etc. This movie is loud, and the action is almost relentless. I’m a little surprised filmmakers took the violence as far as they did; it’s definitely more intense than either of the first two Iron Man movies. Also? Don’t bother watching it in 3D. In my opinion, nothing is added to the film by paying the extra $$ for it.
Finally, most Marvel fans will know to do this, but STAY UNTIL AFTER THE CREDITS! First of all, the credits themselves are pretty darned cool – showcasing some great comic book-style art, and scenes from all three Iron Man movies. But the payoff after the credits is probably my favorite from the Marvel movies to date.
*Disclosure: I was given two tickets to an advanced screening of Iron Man 3. No other compensation was received. All opinions expressed are honest and my own.