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Iron Man 3

Year: 2013
Directed By: Shane Black
Written By: Drew Pearce and Shane Black

RYAN’S REVIEW

I have been a little obsessed with the MCU lately. Along with Iron Man 2 I revisited this film too as it is the only other movie within the MCU that we didn’t own a copy of. Having not added the second film to the collection I didn’t add this one either because I can’t stand gaps within trilogies even if one of the films isn’t very good. When this movie came out I didn’t think it was good enough to warrant purchasing both films. I thought it was OK when it was released and I’ll maintain that impression after seeing it again. This movie is just OK and far from the best of the bunch when it comes to the 14 movies now within the MCU.

I remember when this film came out the tagline was something like “does the suit make the man or the man make the suit.” That was a huge theme within this movie as Tony again spends far too much time as Tony and not enough as Iron Man. It’s cool that Tony Stark can still be heroic without his armor but I didn’t go see the Iron Man movie to see Tony in James Bond mode outside the Mandarin’s house. I wanted more Iron Man after feeling like the second movie didn’t offer enough Iron Man action either. While I like the second film more now than I did years ago I still feel like this one had a lot more problems.

The problem with the scope of the MCU now has to be making these individual movies when they aren’t all together. For example where is Captain America when the President’s life is being threatened? Where was Iron Man when S.H.I.E.L.D. turned out to be heavily infiltrated by Hydra? Yeah it’s all about budget and contracts and you can’t have every character in every film but that doesn’t change the fact that it doesn’t really make sense. We are seeing that change as there is far more crossover with characters these days. I’m totally psyched for the third Thor film as it will feature appearances from both the Hulk and Doctor Strange.

I have always been a fan of Shane Black’s action films from the 90s. While usually credited with writing he has had a hand in many classic action films like Lethal Weapon, Last Action HeroThe Last Boy Scout, and one of my household favorites growing up The Long Kiss Goodnight. He was also the writer for one of my childhood/lifetime favorites The Monster Squad. So I’m a big fan of his work, but I don’t know that this Iron Man film lived up to some of those classics. Getting behind camera this time around Shane Black gave us a cool enough movie but nothing spectacular.

This movie doesn’t have the feel of a real MCU movie barring the presence of MCU characters. For example it doesn’t have a mid credit sequence that alludes to the coming films or future of the MCU. Its setting during the Christmas season for a summer release seemed an odd choice, out of place in the MCU which is usually has no association with holidays.

I think the problems with this movie in general starts with the story. It just isn’t big enough and too isolated to Iron Man specifically. After the second film there should have been more cross over with other characters. For example, Captain America’s third film featured an iconic comic storyline and turned into a huge spectacle. I think they could have put more thought into what to do for Iron Man’s second sequel. Granted you have Don Cheadle on board as War Machine/Iron Patriot but it just doesn’t seem like enough. After introducing Black Widow and featuring Nick Fury in the second movie this one is just too absent of other characters.

I also hate that Ben Kingsley was wasted as a pretend bad guy. He could have been much cooler than what they ultimately got with Guy Pearce. I don’t really care for Guy Pearce and nothing about that changed with this movie. I liked Sam Rockwell as Justin Hammer in Iron Man 2, but felt another rival weapons manufacturer for this movie to be redundant. I did like James Dale Badge as the top henchman. I have been a fan of his since he played Jack Bauer’s partner in season 3 of 24. Ben Kingsley isn’t just a top grade actor but he is capable of playing a great villain, if in any doubt check out this. This movie could have used a little Don Logan if you ask me, such a waste.

I consider this one of the weakest installments to the MCU, not a bad movie but simply not up to par with the other films. It just feels too isolated for a third installment. Tony has too many friends at this point to take on this problem on his own. Even if they couldn’t include other characters somebody else should have at least been referenced with the President’s life at stake. I think this movie is worth your time but it’s far from the top of the pack in the 14 movies now within the MCU.

 

Iron Man 2

Year: 2010
Directed By: Jon Favreau
Written By: Justin Theroux

RYAN’S REVIEW

This movie has long since been one of the few Marvel films that didn’t have a place in our collection. I saw it in the theater when it came out back in 2010 and I wasn’t overly impressed. I thought the lack of action and story direction was a problem for a sequel that didn’t live up to my expectations at the time. However, having recently watched Grace Randolph list it so high in her ranking of Marvel movies I decided to give it another chance. I found that I enjoyed it much more this time around and think I’ve been too critical of it over the last several years.

I think I was just too impatient as a viewer back in 2010. I wanted more from this film than it offered and the disappointment overwhelmed the whole movie for me. I always think a sequel should be bigger than the original and by extension have more excitement as well. This movie is a bigger story as Tony Stark struggles with the life threatening nature of his power source as well as trying to maintain what he has created with the Iron Man. Yet the movie is seriously lacking in action. The action scenes on hand are all great but there is a long lull in the middle with little actual Iron Man action baring his in house fight with War Machine. The fight between Whiplash and Iron Man on the race track was incredible and I think the climax battle in the end really pays off well.

I never care for a storyline in a comic book film when a character loses the ability to be the hero. Same thing in Spiderman 2 when Peter Parker loses his power and gives up being Spiderman for a while. For me, when the hero ceases to be a hero and becomes a regular person it takes away all the excitement. You know they will eventually get their powers or abilities back and the time in between is just something to wait out.  This is a different situation but when I watched this movie back in 2010 I felt like Iron Man slowly being poisoned to death took away from what could have been more actual Iron Man action. Watching it this time around was different though and I could find more appeal to the film.

I initially hated the scene in which Tony gets hammered, pees in the suit, and then fights his newly cast best friend. It was just such a low point for our hero that it rubbed me the wrong way. Yet weighed against potential death it makes much more sense. Wouldn’t we all lose it a little bit and get crazy if we knew we were going to die? I can appreciate it more this time around too knowing that it echoes a story line in the comics in which Tony Stark was struggling with alcoholism.

I am not a huge Terrance Howard fan by any means but I didn’t care for the recasting of Rhodey. In truth I am a bigger fan of Don Cheadle but his casting breaks the continuity of the films. I didn’t care for the recasting of Edward Norton in the MCU either but that proved to be a success as Mark Ruffalo did a fantastic job with the part of the Hulk. I think it’s impressive how Marvel can do that and maintain success. Guys like Terrance Howard and Edward Norton were cast early in the process of building a cinematic universe. Hindsight is 20/20 though and given a chance to go back I think both would have done whatever necessary to make the relationship work.

I am a big fan of Sam Rockwell and liked him in the role of Tony’s rival Justin Hammer. I think it was really cool that the character was name dropped recently on Netflix’s Luke Cage and hope that means there is a potential return to the MCU in the future. Don’t know how he would be utilized but the MCU is really in need of more recurring villains. There’s no chance of return for Mickey Rourke’s Whiplash but he made waves with some really cool scenes within this movie. The fight on the race track with Tony’s briefcase suit was specifically awesome.

This movie was critical in the advancement of the MCU on the road to The Avengers. By introducing Black Widow and giving more screen time to Nick Fury they started laying the foundation for the connective tissue of these movies. There is also a reference here to Captain America’s with Tony using a prototype version of his shield at one point. It expanded the role of S.H.I.E.L.D. and gave it more history with Howard Stark being one of the founding members.

I don’t think this movie measures up to its predecessor but I do think the movie is better than I gave it credit for when it first came out. This movie led directly into The Avengers as arguably the most important stepping stone in creating the MCU. I don’t know that I agree with how high it was ranked by Grace Randolph but I can at least see now why she had it so high. This movie is worth your time if for no other reason than if you see one movie in the MCU you should have really seen them all. Marvel has made history with their creation of a cinematic universe and everyone is trying to copy them now.