**A long form review originally posted in 2013**
_Iron Man 3_ brings us into the so called “Phase 2” of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. But it does so in a flawed way. I’ve said it before and reiterate it here, there is no such thing as a perfect film. But since _The Avengers_ set the bar so very high, following that up proved to simply be too much for Black’s entry to handle.
There are a great deal of inconstancies, plot holes, stupid moves, illogical choices, and weak moments (though less than much of the internet would have you believe). These issues are not enough to lead to _Iron Man 3’s_ complete and utter downfall, but they do force a sour taste into the piece overall.
This isn’t to say it’s a bad movie though. In fact it’s actually quite good. It surpasses the quality of _Iron Man 2_ and plants itself firmly in the MCU rather successfully. A move which only _The Incredible Hulk_ failed to make, but still. Yes it has its problems, yes we’d hoped for better, and yes I’ve got complaints, but the movie is not at all a failure. Manages to come full circle in a way that still leaves Tony Stark & Iron Man a future in the Marvel Universe.
Shane Black and Drew Pearce manage to bring in a sense of vulnerability that was barely touched on in the past MCU works. Even the minuscule Steve Rogers of _Captain America_ seemed in control of every situation. But here we see Tony Stark as not only a breakable man, but a man in general. The most human of any Super Hero appearance in the MCU to date. Yes the Robert Downey Jr. wit that all have come to expect from the piece is still on the table, but in between and beneath that there’s an insomniac with extreme anxiety disorders living separated from the real world, too invested in his work and shattered identity to live as the Stark everyone expects him to still be.
Pepper and Rhodey are even given a chance to pick up the slack. The three form this sort of protagonist trinity, Saving one another in a round-robin Super Hero-y way with a little more depth than I’d expected.
The _Iron Man_ movies famously have had the most disappointing bad-guy-show-downs in the genre. And though here Black gives us much more of a delivery on this front than Favreau ever did, the issues I had with _Iron Man 3_ came (almost) exclusively from A.I.M, the Mandarin and Extremis (which form the antagonist trinity now that I think of it).
So, we’ve got better a better final confrontation, but from less integral bad guys. A more human hero, stuck in a less human adventure. A better interlocking of characters, with less to do on screen. I could go on with this roller coaster, but that word essentially sums up the film. Not in that its a cliched “thrill ride”, but in that it’s a constant mess of ups and downs, with the final destination just barely justifying the start point.
Speaking non-comparitively, _Iron Man 3_ makes a good movie. Not great. But so very, very worth the watch. It’s hard for me to think objectively separate from the other films in the MCU, because I’ve seen them all so many times that there’s no way for me to forget all that’s come before when watching the movie. I’d be interested to hear from somebody who’s watched _Iron Man 3_, but not _Iron Man 1_ & _2_ or _The Avengers_. I’m sure such a person exists somewhere, and if so your input would be greatly appreciated.
I think I might have made it seem as if I disliked Iron Man 3 more than I actually did. Here’s why. From _Iron Man 2_ until _The Avengers_, I watched all the MCU films in cinemas. After each one, I immediately got that feeling of wanting to go back and watch it again, a feeling that steadily grew as time passed. Each film that Marvel released had me feeling this more strongly than the last, culminating in _The Avengers_ which I saw six times in theatres, and immediately pre-ordered the whole set on Blu-Ray the moment it became available (I bought a PS3 for the sole purpose of watching them). But with _Iron Man 3_ I sort of dropped back to a pretty low interest level once I’d left Hoyts. It seemed that although it was a really good watch, it just didn’t have the staying power I’d come to expect from these incredible Super Hero films.