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Why It’s Better Than You Remember

Dec 24, 2022


Directed by Shane Black, 2013’s Iron Man 3 marks Robert Downey Jr.’s last solo movie as Iron Man, though he would have many more appearances throughout the MCU franchise. The movie sees Tony dealing with the aftermath of the attack on New York, as seen in The Avengers, along with facing a new threat of terrorist attacks from the Mandarin (Ben Kingsley).

After an attack on his house, Tony is left assumed dead with a failing suit, and must use all his abilities to uncover the truth and survive. The movie was a hit financially and critically, though many fans have since come to regard it as one of the worst MCU movies. However, it has strong writing, characters, and action sequences that still make it worthy of praise. Here’s why Iron Man 3 is better than you remember.
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Related: Iron Man: 6 Actors Almost Cast as Tony Stark in the MCU

A Deep Dive Into Tony’s Character

Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Iron Man 3 deeply explores Tony’s character with a portrayal of anxiety and PTSD, consequences of the superhero experience that aren’t often shown. Early on, Tony has a panic attack after a fan mentions New York. We also see him building numerous suits to deal with his insomnia. This puts him at odds with girlfriend Pepper (Gwyneth Paltrow), which is worsened when he has a nightmare and scares her by inadvertently calling for an Iron Man suit to protect him. This goes further when he goes to Tennessee to investigate the Mandarin, and is stranded with a non-functional suit.

It’s a definite low point for Tony, one that sees him lost without Pepper or his suit. It deepens his character, and shows that even at his lowest, he still finds a way to survive. He works on restoring his suit, and investigating the Mandarin even without his technology. It allows him to shine even without his armor, figuratively and literally, and shows him working through the trauma of the past. Though the representations of trauma recovery weren’t totally accurate, Gamerant shared that professionals did have praise for how Tony’s PTSD was handled.

The serious emotions are a sharp, heartbreaking contrast to Tony’s usual carefree nature. This different tone may not be enjoyed by everyone, but it illustrates how much Tony has been impacted by the past, and brings depth to the movie. It also makes the ending – where Tony destroys his Iron Man suits and gets the shrapnel removed from his chest before affirming that he is still Iron Man regardless – even more rewarding. We see how much he has suffered, and how he’s still a hero after it all. Similar to the depictions of grief in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, it’s a rare and realistic look at mental and emotional health in the superhero genre.

A Surprising Villain Twist

Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

The movie’s big twist is that the Mandarin as he’s been shown, does not actually exist. Rather, the face of the Mandarin is Trevor Slattery, a clueless British actor who has no idea what he’s been doing in performing as Mandarin in the terrorist videos. Another twist comes with the reveal that the man behind the Mandarin is Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce), a scientist who uses the Extremis program, which was created by scientist Maya Hansen (Rebecca Hall), to cure his disability. The cure also gives him super strength and healing abilities. He begins testing the program on soldiers, who explode when the drug overtakes and destroys their bodies. Killian then created the Mandarin to take the blame and cover up the bombings he caused. Aldrich being the true villain is a twist, but also wasn’t originally intended. Director Shane Black had intended Maya, as the creator of Extremis, to be the villain. However, according to Comic Book Resources, her role was reduced to Killian’s assistant because Marvel didn’t believe a female villain would have successful toy sales.

Maya’s cut storyline aside, the Mandarin twist is unexpected and different, and is often poorly received. Many fans didn’t like how the movie essentially erased the Mandarin, who is a large villain for Tony in the Iron Man comics. On the other hand, it does deserve credit for how it subverts expectations and challenges ideas of villains. It takes the expected view of terrorism, and the expected villain, and shows how it’s been used to cover up the real villain. It’s a bold, clever twist that surprises and challenges what we expect, completely changing the movie.

Related: Best MCU Movie Villains, Ranked by Strength

Strong and Unique Fight Sequences

Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Fight sequences, whether on small or large scales, are a staple of the superhero genre. After so many of them, there are some that still stand out. Iron Man 3 should be praised for its unique and memorable action sequences. Many of these come when Tony is without his suit, and relying on his own skills, like bombs made from ornaments and a winter glove modified with weaponry from things at a hardware store. There’s also the longer “Barrel of Monkeys” sequence, where Tony rescues the President and his crew from a plane by grabbing the President and linking everyone together. It’s tense and fun at the same time, exaggerated by the characters falling through the sky.

Finally, the movie’s finale is also memorable, and celebrates Iron Man in the process. Tony and James Rhodes (Don Cheadle) follow Killian to an oil tanker, where he plans to kill the President. After getting the President to safety, Tony takes on Killian, and uses JARVIS to call in his remaining Iron Man suits. Suits of various styles, colors, and designs fly through the air, and Tony jumps from suit to suit during the battle. It’s an exciting fight that also celebrates Iron Man, and the various forms he’s taken.

Iron Man 3 stands out in the MCU for its deep and serious focus on its protagonist, a major villain twist, and surprising action sequences. Some of the things that make it stand out also make it disliked. However, the movie is a worthy end to the Iron Man movies, and a celebration of Tony that makes it better than you remember.

Disclaimer: This story is auto-aggregated by a computer program and has not been created or edited by filmibee.
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