IRON MAN 3: What Went Wrong? (SPOILER WARNING!!!)

Iron Man 3 has exploded into cinemas the world over. Despite its critical and commercial success many of its story elements aren't sitting well with fans. Find out why here.

Feel free to read the article below or click on the short embedded YouTube video for a comprehensive look at the what went wrong with Iron Man 3.

Allow me to preface this article by saying, on the whole, there is a lot to like about Iron Man 3 It’s by no stretch a bad film, it’s got some terrific action sequences, fantastic cast performances all round, an initially intriguing premise and some genuinely funny moments. All that aside Iron Man 3 does have its missteps that hold this movie back from being truly classic comic book movie. I’m aware that it is easy to stand back and criticise a project that a lot of creative input and genuine talent went into, and perhaps it would be more constructive to offer ways in which to improve the franchise. However, I’ll save that for another day. This is what perhaps is not sitting right with people about Iron Man 3.


Iron Man: Extremis is a fantastic comic book story arc that examines what makes Tony Stark the man he is and has him pitted against a Neo Nazi psychopath injected with a powerful serum. It enables him to have strength and speed beyond that of all Tony’s suits, to the point where he can easily obliterate any incarnation of Ironman. Tony Stark realises his lost the arms race and must take drastic actions in order to stop this man killing his way across the country. Iron Man 3 only borrows elements from this story line and slaps them together haphazardly. What’s great about the comic is that its pits Tony against a villain unlike he’s faced in the past. This is no technological genius, or rival businessman, or guy…who is a dragon. He’s simply a crazy person who can easily outmatch Ironman. Its two very different men, pitted against each other.
Iron Man 3 has the extremis formula given to dozen, possibly hundreds of people, each with identical abilities. Aldrich Killian has the same abilities as each of his minions, which is a dull and uninspiring use of a terrific plot point. Without elaborating further, go grab yourself a copy of Iron Man Extremis if you haven’t already, and you can see for yourself the story telling opportunities missed.


Jesus where do I start. Probably the most common complaint concerning this film was the perceived handling or mishandling of The Mandarin. It’s safe to assume no-one saw the twist coming that Ben Kingsley is merely a goofy actor working for Guy Pearce’s Aldrich Killian. But just because a twist can’t be predicted though doesn’t make it a satisfying one. It could be said that if no one was aware of the comic book history of the Mandarin then it works, and sure that’s most likely true. But the Mandarin does have a complicated and lengthy history connected with Tony Stark, stretching all the way back to 1964 and the movie doesn’t do the character justice. Having the reveal that Ben Kingsley is an actor and just having Guy Pearce at the end saying, IT IS TRULY I WHO IS THE MANDARIN, is not enough. His character shares virtually nothing in common with whom he is based on, not his race, his abilities, his facial hair, none of it. In fact Aldrich Killian is an entirely different character altogether pulled from Extremis. A character who sells the Extremis formula at the beginning of the narrative then immediately kills himself.


The Airforce one rescue is the only scene is Iron Man 3 where Tony Stark feels truly like Iron Man. Every other action sequence is him battling in fragments of his armour or operating with a malfunctioning suit. Not necessarily a bad thing, all the action sequences on display here are pretty great. But even in the final confrontation he’s never in a suit for more than a few seconds before it’s damaged and he’s forced to scuttle for another one like frightened hermit crab. On the topic of his suits, the way they were so easily dispatched made for an unsatisfying and weak use of his armoury. It was like they were tissue paper the way they were torn apart by the T-1000 style army and Killian himself. And getting back to that air rescue I mentioned earlier and how it’s the only point where he feels like Iron Man, it turns out, he’s not even in the suit!


Iron Man 3 does a great job setting up Tony Stark at the beginning of the movie as a complete mental wreck. He’s not sleeping, living in a constant state of paranoia and resolving to always have a suit on hand. Coupled with this is an identity crisis that he feels not so super at all without his suits. But then, after multiple panic attacks, the end of the movie roles around, Gwyneth Paltrow kicks an explosive at Killian, or something, I don’t remember, but she probably kills him then Tony says something like “well, we did it, now I’m going to explode all my suits.” And he does thus. That had me scratching my head for two reasons, when was it that he mentally cured himself? He didn’t appear to have that moment of mentally clarity where he decided he didn’t need them anymore, so he just what, got better? Plus, mere second ago he witnessed his arch nemesis survive an exploding Iron Man suit encasing his body. There is the possibility that he could have survived a second explosion. No movie character should ever turn their back on a villain’s corpse. Michael Myers doesn’t keep coming back because someone is keeping a close eye on him. And neither is Mike Myers. He’s not really relevant to this piece, I just wanted to include both Michael Myers.


So as mentioned, there are problems with Tony’s sudden and seemingly magic fix to his anxiety problems. But I also take issue with the way the story resolves itself. Villain’s dead, that’s great, that second explosion worked despite my reservations, then Happy’s out of his coma, all well and good. Not to mention Tony cures Pepper of her Extremis virus totally nonchalantly, making the passing comment that “yeah, I can probably fix that,” and true to his word, he totally does. Everything just kind of resets, nobody really learns anything, except Tony learns that he is still Iron Man without the suit, a concluding sentiment that I actually take issue with.

Tony Stark in an Iron Man suit can battle Thor. Tony Stark without an Iron Man suit is splattered by Thor. I can see that the filmmakers recognised that this could be the final Robert Downey Jr Iron Man, so they wanted to wipe the slate clean. But having everything go back to the way it was is not a satisfying conclusion. I liken it to the end of The Dark Knight Rises, which on the whole I did enjoy, but what, Bruce Wayne is just not going to be Batman now? That’s who he really is. And John Blake is just going to look after the city? Is that it? Let me tell you something, if that movie had have run for another ten minutes it would have showed John Blake, in a Bat costume, leaping off a building, not being able to operate that glide cape and dying.


I was of the understanding that the Marvel Post Credit scenes were in place to tease the introduction of a new character or film. This scene did neither. Just having Bruce Banner chat with Tony Stark is not enough. Why couldn’t we have a look at Thor: The Dark World, or Captain America: The Winter Soldier, or Ant-Man, or Guardians of the Galaxy or The Avengers 2. Don’t get me wrong, you can have your amusing scene, just include two, that can work. The Avengers did it and it worked great. That’s it. Now I’m off to watch Iron Man part two in order to appreciate part three more.

At the end of the day these are all minor complaints from a genuinely entertaining comic book film. That said, what was it you liked and what didn’t you like about Iron man 3? Leave a comment below, via twitter @MrSundayMovies or visit my YouTube channel linked below for comprehensive reviews, movie news and my ongoing series Making Movie Franchise Not Terrible.

Marvel Studios’ Iron Man 3 pits brash-but-brilliant industrialist Tony Stark/Iron Man against an enemy whose reach knows no bounds. When Stark finds his personal world destroyed at his enemy’s hands, he embarks on a harrowing quest to find those responsible. This journey, at every turn, will test his mettle. With his back against the wall, Stark is left to survive by his own devices, relying on his ingenuity and instincts to protect those closest to him. As he fights his way back, Stark discovers the answer to the question that has secretly haunted him: does the man make the suit or does the suit make the man?


Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark/Iron Man
Ben Kingsley as The Mandarin
Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper Potts
Don Cheadle as Rhodey/War Machine
Guy Pearce as Aldrich Killian
Rebecca Hall as Dr. Maya Hansen
Ashley Hamilton as Jack Taggert
James Badge Dale as Eric Savin
Jon Favreau as Happy Hogan

RELEASE DATE: April 25th, 2013 (UK). May 3rd, 2013 (US).

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