Dateline v. Iron Man 3

Iron Man 3 (2013)

Rated PG-13: For Intense Violence and Mild Sensitive Themes

Running Time: 130 minutes (2 hours and 10 minutes)

Released on May 3, 2013 (US Release Date; Available For Worldwide Viewing)

Presented by Marvel Studios and Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

"Iron Man" Created by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, Don Heck, and Jack Kirby

Writers: Drew Pearce and Shane Black

Director: Shane Black

  • Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark / Iron Man
  • Gwyneth Paltrow as Virginia "Pepper" Potts
  • Don Cheadle as James "Rhodey" Rhodes / Iron Patriot
  • Guy Pearce as Aldrich Killian
  • Rebecca Hall as Maya Hansen
  • Jon Favreau as Harold "Happy" Hogan
  • Ben Kingsley as Trevor Slattery / The Mandarin
Countdown to Avengers: Infinity War continues with only a day left until this major crossover event comes around in theaters.

Many fans have reviled this film for its controversial plot twist and its supposed "mishandling" of the source material, as well as many other wasted elements that could have been used better. Wow, this is probably the only time before Star Wars: The Last Jedi when I saw just how easily "triggered" fans are. With God's good grace, we will determine the truth for you. Welcome back to Dateline Movies, and movie court is now open for the case of Dateline v. Iron Man 3.

Also, you ought to see this one coming, but spoilers, especially for one particular twist that I mentioned about awhile ago, are definitely ahead! 

What is the movie about?

After fending-off an alien invasion with his newly assembled superhero friends,  and after experiencing a near-death experience, Tony Stark, played by Downey Jr. (Wonder Boys), is left broken and paranoid, unable to let go of the protection of his armor and advanced technology. This once again creates some tension with his relationship with Pepper Potts, played by Paltrow (Proof). While this is happening, Tony's best friend Rhodey, played by Cheadle (Hotel Rwanda), is now the carrier of the "Iron Patriot" mantle.

A new enemy in the form of "The Mandarin", played by Kingsley (Eulogy), has been orchestrating bombings all across the United States of America, and after Tony's bodyguard Happy Hogan, played by Favreau (Chef) is nearly killed in one attack, Tony threatens retaliation. Out of reach from his gadgets, Tony must put an end to The Mandarin's terrorist operations, while also uncovering the mystery behind the "Advanced Idea Mechanics", composing of members Aldrich Killian, played by Pearce (L.A. Confidential), and Maya Hansen, played by Hall (Christine).

What we think of the movie?

The Defense:
  • Even if the movie spends much less time in the Iron Man armor, the action is still engaging, made more appealing by awesome visuals!
With updated visuals and upgraded versions of the Iron Man Armor, and a decent score by Brian Tyler to back-up the action, you would expect that the action should at least be as marginally as epic in scope as what we have seen in The Avengers. The film certainly does deliver, even if the film decides to take the bold step of not relying on the armor to make action scenes too much.

But armor or no armor, the action is awesome! Tony's fight against two of The Mandarin's henchmen with fire-based powers in a lowly town, with noting but his average civilian skills, and also the assistance of a youngster named Harley Keener, played by Ty Simpkins (Jurassic World), is pretty fun, and it shows how much Tony is still capable of fighting against threats without his precious technology. His infiltration on The Mandarin's headquarters is also a good one, as this is where we really get to see him make use of his intellect.

My favorite fight scenes are still the ones with the armor, of course, and they remain as the film's visual highlights. The best among these scenes is Tony's rescue of Air Force One, where he has to catch falling passengers before they fall to their graphic deaths. It really does keep you on the edge. That final fight sequence, with all of the armors against enhanced soldiers, is pretty fun, even if, like I said, did not get to show much of the other armors' unique features, save for brief glimpses. The attack on Tony's house is great, and it is pretty exciting, although I would have preferred it more if it featured all of the other Iron Man suits defending his home.

  • The acting is as fine as ever, and Sir Ben Kingsley makes for an intimidating presence.
Without sounding extremely repetitive for the past two movie reviews, all you just need to know is that Robert Downey Jr. still continues to bring the same amount of eccentric energy that he has carried over to all of his previous appearances. Although his more paranoid moments could be seen as some forms of exaggeration, at least Downey Jr. is able to embody once more the much more broken down spirit of the genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist. Gwyneth Paltrow and Don Cheadle are also given much more to do, and even Paltrow gets to join in the action, making for the two of them to do so much more in their limited amounts of screentime, although the screenplay does not really give any of them that much character development. Even former Iron Man director Jon Favreau is able to get one pivotal role, even if he disappeared halfway through the film, only to return at the ending. 

However, credit goes to Sir Ben Kingsley for being able to pull-off a rather controversial role. The comicbook version of The mandarin is nothing more than just a magic-wielding would-be world conqueror, and here, he is an actual face of terror. Kingsley is able to embody the spirit of chaos with his televised "lessons" that reflects modern day terrorism, and people, myself included, are truly at the edge of our seats at all of his scenes. The other part of his performance is linked to the plot twist, which we will talk about later, so for now, let us just appreciate just how greatly Kingsley managed to portray Iron Man's most persistent enemy.

For newcomers Guy Pearce and Rebecca Hall, I really cannot help but shake the feeling that they could have done so much more in their roles. Granted, that is mostly the screenplay's fault. At least these two manage to do decently in their roles, and even Pearce gets to be hammy for a moment when he declares his secret machinations.

    • The film (almost) doesn't go back to previously charted territory, and that plot twist is brilliant. (Fight me!)

    There is a huge emphasis on "almost", because the basic premise of Tony Stark having to deal with his near-death is already visited once in Iron Man 2, and also the idea that the sins of the past will come back to haunt you, also explored in Iron Man 2. But other than those, the film goes out of its way to keep the formula of Iron Man having to deal with incompetent copycats or basically anybody who steals weapons and other designs from him, and instead treat us to a more character-driven narrative. As much as I would really want to see Iron Man fight basically other ripoffs like he usually does in the comics, do we really need to revisit yet another Iron Man 2 situation, wherein we see Tony drink his way to victory against inevitable death, against someone who has the same technology as he does? There is the saying that "if it ain't broke, don't fix it", but there is also as something as not rehashing already explored ideas.

    I also enjoy how this film explored the startling reality behind comicbook movie heroic sacrifices, wherein at first glance, it is all about kicking intergalactic butt while just having fun, but the truth is it gets truly horrifying when you nearly die alone in space. Although, as mentioned before, it does come-off as silly or out-of-place whenever Tony Stark gets an anxiety episode, it does give a clear insight on just how devastating the life of a superhero can be. Also, I do appreciate for showing just how much of an arrogant fool the past Tony Stark was, seeing that he left Maya Hansen as if she was nothing more than just a source of pleasure for a one-night stand, and that he made Aldrich Killian, a man who idolized him, feel like he is less than nothing after Tony ditched him on a promised project proposal. While it does sound petty on paper, it does show that even the simplest, and the most petty of actions can haunt you in the future.

    Let me just put it out there and say this. The plot twist that Aldrich Killian is the real Mandarin, and that Ben Kingsley's Trevor Slattery, a drunken, drug-addicted washed-out actor, is just a fall guy for Killian's crimes, is amazing! Wait, wait, hear me out. I know that he is Iron Man's most feared enemy, but think about it. Would you rather choose a potentially racist caricature of a villain for the main antagonist of the story, or a contemporary revision of said stereotype that is both original and clever? Although I would really want to see that happen soon, considering that one of Marvel's One-Shots showed us that there is a one, true Mandarin out there, and he is not happy that someone just bastardized his name. While I can see why many are upset at this, Shane Black and Drew Pearce managed to do something that is unexpected, while not entirely crushing the spirit of the film.

    Okay, I might be just a little upset that the Mandarin persona is only just a fictional in-universe moniker, due to reasons explained earlier, and I really was a tad bit sore until the One-Shot was released, but like I said, they really did something new, and that is a major plus point for me.

    The Prosecution:
    • The film squanders a lot of its potential. (The first true sign of corporate meddling in the pre-independent M.C.U.)
    For all of the great things that Iron Man 3 provided, this movie has a lot of wasted potential, and I mean, a serious lot. The worst part is that this is really the first time that corporate meddling is increasingly becoming more and more prevalent in the franchise, and you might even consider the behind-the-scenes drama in Iron Man and Iron Man 2 as parts of it. We really are just lucky that, for all of the corporate meddling involved, Iron Man 3 managed to remain a decent enough of a movie.

    Let me list down all of the wasted, cool elements of this movie. Remember all of those cool Iron Man suits that were teased in the trailers? Yeah, they are only used for one fight scene, and they are all blown-up in the end. Rebecca Hall's Maya Hansen was originally going to be the main villain, which means she could have been the first female antagonist in the franchise, and would have made for a much more believable protagonist than Aldrich Killian? Too bad, because the committee heads say that a female villain would not sell enough toys. You wanted Rhodey to have an expanded role in addition to having a cool new suit? Oh well, just settle in for Rhodey without the armor for half of the movie, and just accept the fact that he did not even get to fight at all in the finale.

    I think it would have been better if they just set the entire movie in just one location, like a Stark Industries research facility, and just have Tony fight his way through Extremis soldiers with the use of the scattered Iron Man Armors all across the area. This way, people could get much more of those fun moments with the suits, given that the armors are the film's main marketing ploy anyway, and have Rhodey as Tony's partner-in-crime-fighting, with and without the armor, much like the episode of the animated series The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes "Alone Against A.I.M.", with the title alone being a pretty fitting story-line for this film. I have nothing against Ty Simpkins though, considering that he is alright here, but his role here just feels like a Rhodey substitute, although they can put him in a less important role to make way for Rhodey's development. And I really did feel that Hansen could have made a better villain, which we will explain earlier. But if you do not want the entire plot of the movie to change at all, then they could have just followed what this guy suggests here.

    • The real villain, Aldrich Killian, is rather disappointingly cliched.
    Many tend to associate the hatred of fans towards this film for its misuse of the Mandarin, and the reveal that Aldrich Killian, an evil corporate businessman who just wants money, very much validates the backlash. For one thing, what is worse than not changing an age-old stereotype that has been by many for so many times now? Tinkering with the said stereotype, and then just switching it up with an even more blatant, and less creative stereotype.

    I will admit that Killian's plan is pretty complex from an average cinema villain's plan, which involves making the Mandarin persona so as to cover-up the accidental explosions caused by the flawed Extremis programming and gain money in the process. I really do like the character's plan, but his motivations are pretty vague. Yeah, he is mad at Tony, but why even bother getting richer when all he wants is revenge?

    It really would have been much more fitting if Hansen remained as the villain, because at least the heartbreak caused by Tony, and some dialogue that suggests that she wants to be better than Tony in so many ways, could be enough to justify her motivations. That, for diversity reasons, and that Aldrich Killian rather feels forcefully included into the script, are my three main reasons as to why Hansen could have been better off as the main antagonist.

    • While the humor can tickle your funny bones, much of the gags are unnecessary.
    And finally, while this issue does not go completely overboard as it does in the next movie, and another movie that came after that, and while this might come-off as petty nitpicking, Iron Man 3's extensive emphasis on humor can be quite tiring. It only becomes more and more frustrating if it feels out-of-place, to the point that it ruins that moment. There are moments that the humor works, including that one scenes featured in the above .gif, and a little bit of the usual Tony and Rhodey banter.

    But there are also times that it really just does not have to be there, such as all of the moments involving the Mark 42 Armor, Tony's primary suit for the duration of the film. This includes having the armor dismantle after being hit by a truck, take a lengthy time in assembling in the midst of a hostage situation, and dismantling again during the final battle.

    The Ruling: Not Guilty!

    A creatively complex mystery-themed plot and updated visuals, plus the ever alluring presence of Robert Downey Jr., are more than enough to compensate for Iron Man 3's failure to meet its full potential.

    Yes, Iron Man 3 could have been so much more, but hey, it could have been worse, right? With that, we officially conclude this movie review, and it looks like we would not be able to finish all of the films before Avengers: Infinity War comes around. Oh well, we will just make an extended version, since we have already covered a lot of the films already anyway.

    Since we already showed "All Hail the King" once before, here is one more Marvel One-Shot, featuring Agent Phil Coulson, played by Clark Gregg (Live by Night). Stay tuned for more Dateline Movies!


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