Iron Man 3 – Good, Bad & Ugly Review

Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 78% (Critics) / 84% (Audience)
Directed By: Shane Black
Written By: Shane Black and Drew Pearce
Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle Guy Pearce, Rebecca Hall and Ben Kingsley
Studio: Walt Disney Pictures

Synopsis:Marvel’s “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? (Source)


The Good:
An admission…I read comics, all sorts of comics and I have for more years than I care to share but in all that time of reading comics I have never felt anything more than total disregard for Tony Stark as Iron Man. The only time I enjoyed the Iron Man comic was when Stark become such a stumbling drunk that his best friend James Rhodes had to take over the gig. Comic book Tony Stark is just a dick and movie Tony Stark is pretty much a dick too. But I love the guy in movies and the credit for that goes entirely to Robert Downey Jr who infuses a asshat of a character with so much charm and wit that you find yourself overlooking the fact that he is an asshat. Downey Jr’s performance is the best cinematic effect of IRON MAN 3.
Having a more beefed up role for Don Cheadle as Rhodes was a good move too even though I would have liked to see more screen time devoted to him and Stark working together against the bad guys.
Kingsley’s performance as the enigmatic terrorist Mandarin was an oddly effective one and had me really looking forward to the big confrontation between him and Iron Man.
Shane Black’s decision to focus on Tony Stark, the MacGyver-esque genius more than Tony Stark in high powered armor ended up working a lot more than I expected it to.

The Bad:
Guy Pearce’s slick, souped up villain Aldrich Killian was not the most interesting bad guy and didn’t do much to make me care about his motivation or desires. Iron Man facing off with interchangeable evil businessmen is extremely tired and needs to stop.
Saddling Tony Stark with a kid sidekick for a good portion of the move was a bad idea.
Cutting around 30-45 minutes wouldn’t have hurt things either because this movie is way too damn long.
That after-credits scene was a total waste of time.
And Gwyneth Paltrow is never a welcome sight in any way, shape or form so her becoming the hero of this movie made me want to puke..

The Ugly:
The twist with The Mandarin was just about the dumbest plot decision I have seen in a movie so far this year. It took what was, up to that point, a compelling and original villain and just pissed all of that potential away in favor of what exactly? This may be the dumbest move I have ever seen in any movie and just ruined what was already shaping up to be a tough watch to begin with.

Final Verdict: A sometimes fun but at its core a deeply flawed movie that overcomes most of the things it does wrong pretty much entirely thanks to Robert Downey Jr.’s great performance as Tony Stark.I guess it is a semi-enjoyable way to spend 2 hours but it could have been much better if Shane Black had gotten out of his own way. Notnearly as good as the first IRON MAN but infinitely better than IRON MAN 2 which is pretty much damning IRON MAN 3 with feint praise..

Rating: C+

9 thoughts on “Iron Man 3 – Good, Bad & Ugly Review

    1. I debated giving it a lower score based on the awful Mandarin reveal but RDJ did some seriously heavy lifting that made up for some of the bad stuff.
      But man this was not the best 1st step in Marvel Studio’s Phase 2.


      1. I was hoping they would start being a little riskier at marvel, now that they will be making money off these franchises no matter what. However it felt very safe and just didn’t wow me 😦

        Marvel need to kill and get better villians going or it will begin to seriously faulter.

        What do you think Thor the dark world?


      2. I think that now that they are owned by Disney that Marvel will become even more safe and predictable with these movies.
        And I am hoping that the Thor sequel is good because I like Hemsworth as Thor and Huddleston is great as Loki (even though I think they should have given the character a break for this movie) and Christopher Eccleston (as Malekith the main villain) is a favorite of mine. However the trailer seems to be showing a bumped up screen time for Natalie Portman’s Jane and I found her to be the worst part of the original Thor.
        So I am being cautiously optimistic about this one.


      3. I am waiting for a full trailer before I judge but I fear a little disappointment on the horizon 😦

        Disney can be a little unpredictable so I am not sure its their fault. Let’s see what happens in the coming phase 2 😀


  1. Once I saw the swerve, I knew this Mandarin thing was going to be polarizing. Yes, they killed off a classic Marvel villain with… A JOKE… but it shocked me and threw me back on my toes as I watched. After reading soooooooo many comics, and seeing the previews ad nauseam, we could have imagined Iron Man 3’s plot beats in our heads. So for that reason, I loved the smoke and mirrors. I agree on your Killian point though. If he was a stronger villain, I think the Mandarin turn might have come across better for some people.


    1. The Mandarin reveal makes me wonder why Shane Black bothered to use the character at all considering how he talked about all of the problems with the character (he was a racist caricature, too over the top to be taken seriously) in interviews. It just seemed like a waste of a potentially major recurring villain especially when the villain Black made the main bad guy was so underwhelming.


  2. I think you answered your own question there, Derek. If Black thought Mandarin was too racist and over-the-top to be taken seriously, it makes sense to me why he’d completely throw the guy away. Although, I was really getting into the jihadist spin the character was given in the first half of the movie. So he kinda “fixed” an outdated, broken character before breaking him in half with a great update to Mandarin, and if they kept going with that, I’d have been okay with it. But I’m not a big Iron Man fan in comics, so taking liberties with his continuity doesn’t annoy me the way something like X-Men movies do. (If I had no sense of perspective, I would have jumped off a bridge after First Class.)


    1. If I was one of those “stay true to the comics” fans I would have probably had an aneurism right there in the theater while watching First Class.


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