Okay, so funny story: I’m feeling deja-vu right now. Why? Because exactly one year ago today I was sitting in my kitchen, pounding out a quick list of “lessons” learned from the midnight release of “Avengers.” Now, a full year later, I’m sitting in my bedroom, about to pound out some wayward thoughts about another Marvel movie, Iron Man 3. Wow, thing’s don’t really change for the geek blogger, do they?
So last year, in my list of lessons, I made it a point to state that fans of the comic book heroes should forget Iron Man 2 ever happened. Iron Man 3 only drives the final nail into that coffin. Seriously, I watched the second movie about two weeks ago, trying to remind myself what was wrong with it. Was it the performance easily phoned in by Downey, Jr? Was it the utterly ridiculous accent affected by Mickey Rourke? Was it the over-the-top Justin Hammer, or the blatant overcompensation of the Stark Expo? No, it was ALL of that, and what should have been an amazing look into the day-to-day psychosis of Tony Stark ended up being a cartoon movie on par with Phantom Menace, just sans a motion capture fan-pandering and the utter brilliance of Liam Neeson.
Iron Man 3 is quick to shed any vestiges of that previous misstep. Borrowing heavily from the same character development and loss that worked so well in the Dark Knight Rises (yes, I am making that comparison here), Iron Man 3 manages to capture both desperation and the bravado of Tony Stark, while still showcasing that the man can feel pain. Actual, legitimate pain. Remember, this is a character created specifically to be unlikable, and now we the audience not only see his vulnerable side, but we see him suffer because of it.
We watch as he loses not just his home and armor, but his peace of mind. We watch him dream up nightmares of what he has seen and done. We witness the stress of actually BEING Iron Man finally take its inevitable toll on what is in fact just a man. A brilliant, arrogant genius of a man, but ultimately still just a man. We watch as it robs him of any sense of security he might have had, and cast him into a well of self-doubt and fear that takes actual effort to claw out of. This Tony Stark cannot, and will not, just buy himself freedom from his demons. No, now he has to actually face them, and surpass them, before he loses himself.
No more chasing shadows and suppressing his shortcomings, no, this time we get to see the real Tony. And, as he puts it so eloquently in the film’s closing moments, we watch as he realizes the suit wasn’t his obsession, nor his therapy, but rather it was his “cocoon.”
That, my fellow comic fans, is a story worth seeing. Never you mind that we saw it play out to utter perfection last summer with Bruce Wayne, this time we get to see it again, and watch it happen to quite possibly the most deserving douchebag in the entire comic book canon. Hell, its so worth seeing, that I’ll probably go again next week, just to see if I missed anything.
Some random tidbits now, before my coherence leaves me:
Ben Kingsley, OMGWTF. The man still has it, and in droves. Ditto for Gwyneth Paltrow, who proves, and quite definitively, that she has an inner badass that just needs the right method to convey.
While I am aware that this film’s plot was culled from the “Extremis” storyline in the comics, the entire time I watched Aldrich Killian “do his thing,” I kept picturing Blight from Batman Beyond. Not that I have a problem with that, Blight was awesome. I just couldn’t shake that notion. (Which, in hindsight, is also probably why I started thinking of Dark Knight Rises…tenuous connection, I know, but one that my mind is already predisposed to making.)
Obligatory post-credit scene? Check. We get to see Ruffalo again. Do not miss out on that, especially all you Tony/Bruce shippers.
And lastly, one does not mess with Don Cheadle. Seriously, don’t mess with him, OR his toys. WARMACHINEROX
This rant has been brought to you by the letters S and D, for sleep-deprived.