While the first two Iron Man movies had the combined value of action, humor, and a lean storyline that was digestible with no unwanted extras, you can forget about all of that in the third addition.
We begin in 1999 when “Stark” (Downey Jr.) and his then-girlfriend “Maya Hansen” (Rebecca Hall) have a chance encounter with a disabled man by the name of “Aldrich Killian” (Guy Pearce). Stark decides not to back Killian’s budding project AIM (Advanced Idea Mechanics = genetic enhancements with nanotechnology originally intended to provide cures for war vets and those suffering from serious disabilities).
Meanwhile, Stark has seen better days. His hotheaded arrogance is there, but with the world at his fingertips, he isn’t sleeping well and is having panic attacks. His time is spent trying to best his own efforts with the creation of new and more powerful Iron Man units, but his relationship with “Potts” (Paltrow) has taken a nose-dive.
After an attack on a friend, Stark rashly calls out for vengeance on the parties responsible, which unknowingly puts him on a path to Albrich…and his red-orange, spotted, glowing henchman with surprisingly undefined powers that somehow make them a serious threat to a fully-suited Stark or “Col. James Rhodes” (Don Cheadle) known as “War Machine” or “Iron Patriot.”
The script may be smart, but it’s a traffic jam of loud, colorful, and flying pieces of smoldering steel. The extravagance is in explosions, helplessly kidnapped presidents, bizarre mutations, and even Pepper who does her own share of ass-kicking. But aside from a made-introspective Stark with an epiphany, there is not really a lot for us to think about.
Iron Man showing his “iron” in character may be an intelligent way of showing Stark’s strength outside of his suit, but it simply wasn’t the best direction in which to take the film. It seems Black was more concerned with wrapping up the series (and why was there a need for this?) than in just doing something novel and cool. This makes the third addition, at the very least, not as inspiring as the previous two.
Iron Man 3 just doesn’t abide the dignity that one of Earth’s elite defenders deserves. And in addition to leaving us with questions about certain plot mechanics (like how Don Cheadle’s Iron Patriot suit could be so easily hijacked by Albrich when they are supposedly coded to the individual), we don’t even get to quench our superhero thirst, as Stark’s latest suit is a non-combat-ready piece of junk!
I wonder how long it will take people to see past all the hype and realize that it falls way behind the movies that came before it.