A Disappointing Avengers Follow-Up
In the wake of the excellent Avengers film, it was always going to be difficult for the next Marvel title to match up to the lofty heights of the Phase 1 blow-out. While Iron Man 3 isn’t a bad film per-se, it’s not a very memorable one either. Between destroying the credibility and mythos around The Mandarin in Iron Man lore, and its consistently uneven pacing, Iron Man 3 gets Phase 2 off to a rocky start, a start that adds some crucial characterisation into the mix but not a whole lot else.
On paper, Iron Man 3’s meaty plot could so easily be the deepest and most thought provoking of all Marvel titles. Between the threat of Tony Stark’s arch-nemesis The Mandarin and the world consequences following The Avengers’ fight on Earth, the building blocks for a deeply provocative title were certainly here for the taking. The story here begins with Stark suffering horrid flashbacks from his time in the void during The Avengers.
As the threat of The Mandarin takes centre stage in the story, almost all of Tony’s mental anguish dissipates in favour of a more straight forward action title. Across the span of two hours, the plot meanders between these two narratives, with some nicely worked characterisation for Pepper and Tony’s relationship but an otherwise apathetic tone to capitalizing on its various ideas. All of this builds toward a climactic finale that sees Stark and The Mandarin go toe to toe.
In true Marvel fashion, the slick action set pieces and witty dialogue continue to weave its way through the film but with Tony’s PTSD dominating large portions of the first hour, this does take a while to get going and holds the film back from being a better title. It’s particularly problematic too as Tony’s progression from mentally suffering to being a capable Tony Stark again feels a little abrupt and is not helped by The Mandarin himself who fails to instill the same fear and menace that his Comic Book counterpart managed so effectively.
On its own, Iron Man 3 is a perfectly serviceable comic book movie that ticks all the boxes but never quite does enough to stand out. As an MCU title and a sequel to what’s come before, Iron Man 3 delivers a disappointing follow-up that meanders along at an uneven pacing and worse, mishandles the menace for one of Iron Man’s most prolific villains. It’s not a bad film per-se but by Marvel Cinematic standards, this is far from the illustrious heights one may expect from a follow-up title to Avengers Assemble.