Oh I did it fam. In preparation for my viewing of Avengers: Infinity War on April 26th at 7PM, I went back and rewatched the previous 18 films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, from Iron Man to Black Panther. Every day leading up to Infinity War I’ll be posting a short piece on each film and my most recent hot takes on nearly a decade of the MCU. I’ll also be linking back to whatever old nonsense I wrote about the movies at the time, if applicable. And if that isn’t enough, check out my ranked listed of the MCU to date on my Letterboxd account here.
Iron Man 3 had the unenviable task of being the first solo outing after The Avengers, which gave it the equally unenviable responsibility of explaining to audiences why they should give a shit about any one single Avenger hanging out by themselves after Marvel proved they could not only bring a bunch of Avengers together, but also do it really well.
I liked The Avengers when it came out enough to see it twice in theaters, but for me 2012 was undeniably the summer of The Dark Knight Rises (six times). Avengers was great, but it wasn’t Christopher Nolan and I had not yet drank the Marvel Kool-Aid. Iron Man 3 did not get me closer to the punch bowl then, and even now, lips stained sugary crimson, I don’t love it.
I love director Shane Black’s movies, and I love Marvel movies, but when you put the two together you get my least favorite entry in either canon. Iron Man 3 boasts the sort of neo-hard-boiled characters and tropes of a Shane Black film without the R-rated, bleak hilarity that makes those tropes and characters feel fresh and alive. Iron Man 3 also has superheroes, but it doesn’t feel like it particularly likes them. The result is a weirdly masculine, immediately outdated flick that is at its best the farther away from Iron Man it gets. Iron Man 3 is a lot like Amazing Spider-Man 2 in that way. The less it involves itself with superheroics the better it is.
There’s some great stuff here for sure. Tony dealing with the emotional and psychological fallout of the battle for New York City is truly compelling stuff, and his DIY assault on a lavish Miami estate is one of the cooler action sequences in the MCU to date. But as a Marvel film Iron Man 3 seems disinterested at best and as a Shane Black film Iron Man 3 feels nerfed. Add to that yet another Iron Man movie that shoe-horns in scantily-clad women, Rebecca Hall’s utterly pathetic pseudo-femme-fatale and Gwyneth Paltrow’s consistent state of sitcom-wife emotional distress and the veiled threat of her seduction (veiled only because Marvel didn’t let Black and company have her coaxed via pheromones into making a sex tape with Tony’s nemesis. No, really) and you’ve got a movie with large swaths of uninspired material that become harder to stomach the older the film gets.
Folks seem to dig Iron Man 3. You won’t have to look that far for someone who thinks it’s the best of the Iron Man films, but from my seat it failed in its task of maintaining the footing of the MCU on the new plateau it reached with The Avengers.
Somewhere out there in the multiverse there’s a world where Shane Black got to make his own film with RDJ and Don Cheadle and Iron Man 3 was directed by, like, Werner Herzog. But here we got Marvel’s very own Cousin Oliver and Guy Pierce literally setting fire to Warren Ellis’ Extremis source material. Not to mention that the bigger character moments for Tony in the film are all but entirely undone within the first minutes of Age of Ultron. RDJ has never turned in a bad performance as Tony Stark, but for my money Iron Man, Captain America: Civil War and Spider-Man: Homecoming make a far more compelling Iron Man trilogy than the actual Iron Man trilogy.
There’s plenty I like about Iron Man 3, but it ultimately feels like two separate films and cinematic ideologies that would have been better had they gone their separate ways.
And with that we are in the realm of Marvel films that came out after I established this blog. Which means that you can look back on the excessively brash and sassy commentary of a younger man just trying to find his way in the blogosphere. Sorry, I guess…