2013-05-03

Iron Man 3 – Does Iron Man Exit With Style?

by Yo Snyder

We all have demons of our own making, or so Tony Stark
somberly intones at the start of Iron Man
3
. He points out that it was said by some well known guy, and now that two
well known guys have said, well, that’s helps make it important. This opening
helps set a different tone for the film, letting the audience know that that
this one will be different; darker, more introspective, and intense. However,
it also lets us know that the trademark wit and charm of Tony Stark, put on
sparkling display by Downey Jr., is still intact. The series still understands
who the character is and that Iron Man films above all things should just plain
be a good time. Still, it’s nice that this one starts with a different tone.
The first film was a perfect fizzy mixture of fun, humor and comic book action
adventure. The second film probably tried to be a bit too much like the first,
trying to recreate everything that worked so well without delving too far into
any new territory. The third film is willing to take risks while still
retaining much of the heart of the first. So, I guess you might say the Iron
Man trilogy will end up being regarded as one of few truly successful film
trilogies.

Of course the star of the film is without a doubt Downey Jr.
His roguish charm carries the film just as affably as ever (though Ben Kingsley
steals a few scenes of his own, but we’ll get to that). Whenever Downey Jr. decides to step away from
the role, Marvel is going to have a super hard time replacing him. He’s perfect
for the role. Perhaps too perfect. Replacing him will be like trying to replace
Christopher Reeves as Superman, and we all know how well that has gone. As he
says at the end of the film; he is Iron Man. This movie cements that even more.
What’s great is this time around that fantastic charm is paired with a darker
story with more of an edge. It helps the Tony Stark wit stand out even more,
but also raises the stakes to make this chapter feel like a truly perilous one
for the character; both physically and emotionally. That’s just the kind of
challenge Iron Man needed, and this film delivers…for the most part.

There is one key are that has me a bit concerned, and let me
just say that you want to avoid anything even minorly SPOILERISH, you may want
to skip this point. There aren’t any SPOILERS in the traditional sense here,
but if you believe ignorance is bliss when it comes to movies, you’re best off
not reading any further. Still with me? Right, so Ben Kingsley plays the
Mandarin in this film; which is one of Iron Man’s main baddies from the comic
books. It’s sort of like his Ra’s Al Ghul (one Batman’s chief adversaries), to
an extent. However, the version here on screen isn’t exactly like the version
in the comics, and I imagine that some fans may be disappointed, and indeed,
even upset with what’s done with this character. Now, let me say that it works
for this particular story. For this movie universe of Iron Man and for this set
of circumstances, it’s a pretty good plot point. However, I’d know how I’d feel
if a character like Ra’s Al Ghul was radically changed like this, and I can’t
imagine hardcore fans of Iron Man being too happy with it. Here ends anything
SPOILERISH.

And as long as we’re talking about flaws, let me mention one
other that kind of bugged me. As I was walking out of the theater, I realized
that I couldn’t remember why anything that had happened happened. Oh, I know
the villain talked about it at some point, but it seemed so insignificant in
comparison to the grand events taking place that his motivation was almost
non-existent. Now, this didn’t ruin my enjoyment of the film, but I still can’t
help but wonder if a more thought-out, better explained motivating factor for
the villain might have helped this movie be even better than it already is.

However, that’s okay because this story really isn’t about
the bad guys; it’s about Tony Stark. It’s about him facing the demons of his
own creation. It’s about him finding a way to start over with a clean slate in
order to finally be free of those demons. The film is really bookended with
that concept of the demons of our own creations and how to find freedom from
them. I think we can all admit that we’ve said or done some things in the past
where we just didn’t think much about the far reaching consequences. We all
have demons of our own creation, and when they come back to haunt us, it’d be
nice to find a way to get free from the, to truly have a clean slate to start
over with. Tony Stark takes some pretty drastic measures in his own “Clean
Slate Protocol”, but I have to wonder if it will be enough (mainly because I’m
fairly certain he’ll show up again in Avengers 2). Can any of us really do
enough on our own to make up for the past and to give ourselves a clean slate?
Well, the Bible would say no, we can’t We can never do enough on our own to get
that clean slate and to be free of those demons of our own making. However,
there is still hope. There is one thing that can do for us what we could never
do on our own; the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The sacrifice
of God’s only Son, his perfect life, his conquering of death through the
resurrection, his spilled blood on the cross on our behalf is the only thing
that can give us the clean slate we truly desire. We can be washed clean from
the past (Isaiah 1:18) and we can get that fresh new start we so desperately
need (2 Corinthians 5:17). It won’t happen through our own efforts, it only
happens when we accept that what we couldn’t do, Jesus did for us. Tony Stark’s
“Clean Slate Protocol” is likely to prove to not be enough. However, Jesus’
“Clean Slate Protocol” is more than enough to handle those demons of our own
making and to give us the freedom we desire.

As the first of Marvel’s “Phase Two” films, there really
isn’t a lot here to help tie The Avengers
to these movies and its upcoming sequel. Oh there are mentions here and there,
but for the most part this story stands on its own. That may disappoint some
fans, but I liked the fact that this was less of a bridge and more a bringing
Iron Man’s world full-circle. There are fun little call-backs to the first two
films sprinkled in throughout, and Tony is given a nice conclusion, even if it
is a fairly open-ended conclusion. A quick note on the 3D, it looks great and
in particular helps the scene with Air Force One to become truly immersive, but
for the most part, as with so many films, I don’t know that it really enhances
the experience and once again I’d say I’d rather see the brighter, crisper
picture without the 3D than experience the few enhancements that come with it.
Also, be sure to stay for the end credits Easter-egg. It’s a good one; probably
not quite what you’re expecting, but highly enjoyable nonetheless.

Score: 6 of 7 –
Despite its flaws, Iron Man 3 is a
fun, exciting, super-hero romp that this time as more of an edge to it. Indeed,
take that PG-13 rating a bit more seriously than the other two films. This
isn’t dark like Nolan’s Batman films, but the violence and action is more
intense and brutal. Even Pepper Potts at one point says, “Wow! That was really
violent!” There’s also a light sprinkling of language, and some mild sensuality
as well. Iron Man 3 is really more
for the older kids; certainly more so than the last two films.