Release Date(s)2013 (September 24, 2013)
Studio(s)Marvel Studios/DMG (Walt Disney Studios)
- Film/Program Grade: B+
- Video Grade: A+
- Audio Grade: A+
- Extras Grade: B
Iron Man, Iron Man – does whatever an iron can... ahem. Yeah, that doesn’t quite work. Oh well. But, hey! Wanna know what does? This movie. And who-boy, in some remarkable ways it really shouldn’t. Who ever made the decision to take Tony Stark out of his costume for… what, 6/8ths of the film… was a friggin’ genius. BUT! They are also the owner of some giant balls (you can’t see me, but I’m making that vibrating hands ball shape with my hands to emphasize just how big they are) for the same exact reason. Seriously, who makes a film called Iron Man where the guy who plays Iron Man is only in costume for maybe 20 minutes of the movie? That’s bold, yo. Our best guess is both decisions were most likely Robert Downey, Jr.’s. And even if it was for ego, it still worked gangbusters. Making Tony into a sarcastic, stress-addled James Bond makes this film so much better than it really should be. Another stroke of genius was bringing in the king of sarcasm (and creator of the best henchmen ever), Shane Black. Handing the reigns of such a huge film to a relative newcomer director, well that was probably Downey and his balls’ doing as well. So end of day, the best thing to happen to Marvel’s film unit may not be that Joss Whedon fella – it’s a pretty sure bet that it’s RDJ.
Let’s talk about the film, shall we? The big deal for comic book fans is, Iron Man 3 finally brings the major villain The Mandarin into the story. It’s months after Tony and the other Avengers thwarted the Chitauri/Thanos Earth invasion in NYC. Realizing that he is protecting the Earth along-side actual Gods and Monsters, Tony’s squirreled himself away in his workshop making every sort of armor he can think might come in handy. There are spacesuits, underwater suits, construction suits and suits for fighting The Hulk. A suit for this, a suit for that. Suit, suit, suit, suit, suit. There’s a long list of suits is what I’m saying. We pop into the story proper just as he’s putting the finishing touches on a self-mobilizing suit attracted to pods he’s injected into his body: the Mark XLII. It works, but not so great. Now before the review gets too far ahead of itself, we should discuss the rather brilliant opening. The film opens at a convention hinted at in the first film and laying out the simple fact that, before he was a super hero, Tony was a super dick. To everyone. And sometimes that behavior has a tendency to blow-back. Okay, so back to the story. While Tony has been busy feeling inadequate and slightly paranoid, the world has continued turning and a super-terrorist has reared his head – The Mandarin (played weirdly, but well-enough, by Ben Kingsley). The Mandarin is teaching the world a lesson and right now it’s America’s turn to learn. In a divine coincidence, The Mandarin’s latest attack on U.S. soil lands Tony’s bodyguard/chauffer Happy (Jon Favreau) in a coma. Enough being enough, Tony calls The Mandarin out, tells him exactly where he lives and to bring it. It gets brought. Big time. Tony gets separated from his vast collection of awesome armors (having to rely on his brains and a faulty Mark XLII armor which, being a prototype, is saddled with limited power and functionality), his plucky girlfriend (who is stuck having a B-story adventure) and apparently The Avengers (who are all doing their own thing, we can only guess). But that’s okay; this is when the flick gets fun. Tony gets to out-think a whole gaggle of super villains and henchmen in his pursuit of the truth about what’s going on and how his past dickish ways have landed the whole world in a pile of doo-doo. Other high points include: digital butler J.A.R.V.I.S. (Paul Bettany) essentially becoming Iron Man for all intents and purposes; all verbal references to War Machine and Iron Patriot; AIM’s founder Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce) and his tie to Tony; the hot-bodied scorcher (in more ways than one) Ellen Brandt (Stephanie Szostak); James Badge Dale making a fine turn as a baddie; each and every interaction between Tony and Harley “The Kid” (or should we say Peter Quill... hmmmm) and sure, why not; Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) getting her time to shine as a hero herself (twice no less). Iron Man 3 is a happy accident of a movie. It works specifically because of the insane choices and the people making it. It’s watchable and fun and allows for some repeat viewing. If this is the last solo Iron Man film, it ends the run perfectly. I seriously doubt it is, but you never know do you?
To review the video and audio of this film is rather asinine. Color, black, tones blah blah blah – it looks awesome and sounds even better. Are you buying this because I tell you it’s 1080p/AVC-encoded and 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio? No. But both of those things are true, so do with it what you will. I have nothing bad to say about the presentation of this Blu-ray and I doubt anyone could. If Bill knows something I don’t, there will be an editor’s note right below this paragraph. On to the extras!
[Editor’s Note: The A/V quality here is actually FOUR blah-worthy. Possibly five. So: blah… blah. Carry on.]
Extras are a bit light. Is this because Disney is holding back for the Marvel Cinematic Universe Phase 2.0 Collection box? Probably. What we get is okay, but nothing Earth-shattering. First up is an audio commentary track with Shane Black and his co-writer, Drew Pearce. They talk about everything they thought about, tried-out and invented. It’s actually one of the best tracks I’ve heard in a while and highly recommend you dive into it after you watch the film again at home. The next feature we can talk about is something I won’t do myself, so I have no review of it: The Restore the Database Second Screen Experience offers you the opportunity to download the JARVIS app and then you have to hunt for encryptions on the disc and scan and *snore* done. Not doing that. (Eff you Disney SE producer.) Next up is the best thing on the set: Marvel One-Shot: Agent Carter, which is a fifteen-minute short film focused on Steve Rogers’ girlfriend coming up on her own as a SHIELD agent (which I thought based on the first Iron Man film wasn’t the name of the organization when first started – hmmmm). It’s a really fun short and if rumors are true that it might be a back-door pilot to an ongoing series focused on Carter and the early days of SHIELD – count me in. Joining in is a behind-the-scene featurette (Iron Man 3 Unmasked) where it’s interesting to see how involved RDJ was involved in directing the film. Deconstructing the Scene: Attack on Air Force One shows how they filmed the spectacular action sequence and how much of it was shot for real as opposed to using CGI. There’s a selection of deleted and extended scenes, which include alternate takes, improvs, outtakes and deleted sequences – though nothing is here that would have made the film any better. There’s also a Gag Reel (by now a Shane Black standard) and a look at Thor: The Dark World. See? Pretty standard and you know there has to be more. But for the short and commentary track at least this disc is well worth owning.
If you’re an action film fan, an espionage thriller fan, a super hero film fan, or simply love RDJ, Iron Man 3 comes highly recommended. It’s fun and entertaining, and it’s simply a marvel that the film came together the way it did with so many things working against it in terms of logic. It’s way more entertaining than Iron Man 2 and, in many ways, it’s even better than the first film (though there’s some of the same magic at play in that one). I look forward to seeing how the rest of Marvel Phase 2 plays out. And I can’t wait to see how Iron Man plays into Phase 3.
- Todd Doogan