Thomas takes a retrospective look at the last Iron Man solo movie.
Iron Man 3 was the most successful movie of the Iron Man trilogy reaching the $1.2 billion at the box office worldwide, which is quite an elusive club and it even scored an Oscar and BAFTA nomination for Best Visual Effects. It was well-received by the press and the general audience. However, it’s the fans of the comics who had a problem with it, because the Mandarin wasn’t the “real one” and it was just an actor pretending. I often find myself rewatching this one, it’s always been my favorite Iron Man movie and after my look back at Black Panther, I thought it would be a good idea to talk about this one!
Even though, Tony Stark’s story didn’t end with Iron Man 3, it did conclude his character development arc that had started with the first movie. He is Iron Man and he said it so at the end of the first chapter but what he really came to understand in this one, he didn’t “all his tricks and toys” to be that because he IS him. It was such a beautiful theme to explore and it set up a complex character exploration, which I love to see in superhero movies. The conclusion lead to Tony removing the piece of debris in his chest meaning he didn’t need his ark reactor anymore to survive. That’s the moment he finally embraced that he is Iron Man. The perfect way to end the trilogy! Obviously, all of that meant that he wouldn’t have his suit all the time in the movie but it was really cool to see Tony in new situations and how he handled them. Working without the armor for a lot of time in the movie meant learning new ways to work for Tony and that was really challenging. The character didn’t stay in his comfort zone, he went further than that.
To this, they built up from The Avengers and we saw the consequences of it with Tony having PTSD. With Star Wars, there’s this tradition of having the second movie of the trilogy being darker than the first and challenging their characters to their hardest while being separated. With Iron Man, it’s the last of the trilogy that does that and it really works for a conclusion because you don’t simply bring back stuff that people love, you also add new stuff and layers to the story and the characters. A big evolution you saw with Tony was how he saw women. In the first movie, we saw him as a Casanova but as he realized his true love was right in front of him and he decided to commit to her. We saw someone more grounded and more respectful of women and that also lead to changes for him as a better person. He became less self-centered and more selfless which made his sacrifice in Avengers Endgame even more powerful. At the beginning of Iron Man, you could never have imagined him sacrificing himself for the universe to live.
Pepper Potts who is played by the talented Gwyneth Paltrow (one of my favorite actress) got a bigger arc in this movie. By having her the head of Stark Industries since Iron Man 2, she was more than just the love interest of the hero and that’s what made her an interesting character because she got to be her own character living outside of the hero. When you have an actress like Gwyneth Paltrow, you got to give her something great to do. Iron Man 3 even gave us a badass scene with Pepper and it was actually her who defeated the villain and she saved Tony. That’s a strong female character right there and that’s why I love this character so much. So you can imagine how happy I was to see her with the Rescue armor in Avengers Endgame!
Happy Hogan started with a very minor role in Iron Man and throughout this trilogy his character got more importance and was actually developed. Iron Man 2 was the one where we see him the most but Iron Man 3 is the one where we saw him do more things and have more responsibilities. I love what they did with this character and what they’re still doing because, with the Spider-Man movies, he got more to do and built a relationship with Peter Parker giving us the most emotional scene post-Endgame where the two characters have to deal with Tony being gone. Happy also brings a lot of humor in these movies. That’s a great way to be thankful for Jon Favreau who started the MCU, this man is a visionary and he always keeps pushing boundaries with movies like The Jungle Book and now with the TV series The Mandalorian!
So now about that Mandarin twist. I loved it because it was unexpected. You had Ben Kingsley who was a perfect fit for the role and then boom, it turned out it was an actor who pretended to be the Mandarin and the real villain was Aldrich who just created the Mandarin and was using him to get what he wanted. Plot twists like that are the ones that work best because they’re the ones that surprise you and it definitely surprised me when I first saw the movie! Throughout the movie, we saw this growing threat being the Mandarin but the threat was the guy behind the curtain and that was actually exciting to have a villain like this. Aldrich was a mastermind, you got to be careful and patient to plan this and have it in the long run, a very compelling villain. Guy Pearce was great as Aldrich and much like Whiplash in Iron Man 2, he got a small villain origin story. It’s always better when you develop your villain and give him a precedent for hating the hero.
Iron Man 3 gave us Iron Patriot and that’s pretty awesome because it’s such a cool armor, I love the mix of red and blue! More of Rhodes and Tony working together was what I needed and that movie gave us that! What started with Iron Man 2 – giving more screentime to Rhodes and having him on mission continued here. The Iron Man movies were about Iron Man but more than that they were also ensemble movies with Pepper, Rhodes, Happy who got their own development! Now that Iron Man is dead, I think it’s more than about time to give Colonel Rhodes a limited TV-series!
Iron Man 3 was also the movie where the character got his most iconic theme. Brian Tyler did a great job with the soundtrack, it had this epic superhero feel that worked fantastically with the character and the tone of the movie.
You obviously can’t talk about Iron Man 3 without talking about the Mark suits assemble scenes. That was as BADASS AND EPIC as it gets. I was in awe in front of this scene, we got to see so many different armors, that was a great action sequence! And the crew deserved their Best Visual Effects nomination at the Oscars, it was a lot of hard work put in the VFX! The sequence where Tony goes from armor to armor was pretty spectacular!
Iron Man 3 remains my favorite Iron Man movie. It challenged its character to give us a great conclusion to this story arc. And the Mark suits assemble scene is a classic MCU scene, you can’t beat that!
“My armor was never a distraction or a hobby, it was a cocoon, and now I’m a changed man. You can take away my house, all my tricks and toys, but one thing you can’t take away – I am Iron Man.” – Tony Stark
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Thomas Storai is the Senior Collectables Correspondent for The Future of the Force. He is passionate about Star Wars, Marvel, DC, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, and a wide range of movies. Follow him on Twitter @ThomasStorai where he uses the force frequently!