With the release of Iron Man 3, so begins Marvel Studios’ Phase 2. Well, that’s just a fancy way of saying that you’re going to get three sequels and one original movie in Guardians of the Galaxy. But it does have some significance with the stories. No longer will the filmmakers have to be primarily occupied with introducing the main characters and setting them up for The Avengers. Combined with this new freedom, was also a new Iron Man director in Shane Black. Gone, but not very far was Jon Favereau.
Directed by Shane Black
Written by Drew Pearce & Shane Black
Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark/Iron ManGwyneth Paltrow as Pepper Potts
Don Cheadle as Colonel James Rhodes/Iron Patriot
Guy Pearce as Aldrich Killian
Rebecca Hall as Maya Hensen
Jon Favereau as Happy Hogan
Sir Ben Kingsly as The Mandarin
See, Iron Man 1 and 2 director Jon Favereau didn’t go far. He just didn’t direct. But anyways, the movie begins in Berm, Switzerland on New Year’s Eve 1999. There, Tony Stark is hitting on “botanist” Maya Hensen, all while ignoring Aldrich Killian, from Advanced Idea Mechanics. In Hall’s room, she shows her ferns (yes, the actual plants) that are part of her experiments. Despite being told to leave it alone, Happy breaks off a small branch. Shortly after, it’s shown growing back, but there is then an explosion in that room. But this doesn’t keep Tony from spending the night with her, and not saying good-bye in the morning. He also told Aldrich that he’d meet him on the roof, but never did.
Back in the present, Pepper is running Stark Industries, Happy is now head of security at Stark Industries, and Tony is suffering from what can best be described as PTSD after the events in New York. You know the ones. The end of The Avengers when he flew through a wormhole, and barely made it back. So yeah, pretty much when anyone brings it up, he freaks out. Meanwhile, a terrorist know as The Mandarin has been setting off bombs at American targets around the world. Iron Man has so far stayed out of it, as it’s a governmental issue and not an Avengers issue. Between you and me, that sounds like a fancy excuse as to why no one else showed up to help.
While Aldrich is at a meeting with Pepper, Happy gets a bad feeling about Aldrich and his bodyguard, so he follows the bodyguard to Mann’s Chinese Theater. There, the body guard meets with someone else, and drops off a briefcase. It turns out that what is in this briefcase is an injection that causes the person that took it to glow, and eventually blow up in a massive explosion. This explosion puts Happy in a coma, while Aldrich’s bodyguard is shown healing as he walks off. The Mandarin takes credit for the attack, and this pulls Tony into the fight as he issues The Mandarin a challenge. Shortly later, helicopters show up and destroy his house. Pepper escaped with Maya Hensen, who had shown up saying she needed to see Tony, and Tony barely escapes and ends up in Rose Hills, Tenn., because of a previously programmed flight plan. There, he continues to work on getting to the bottom of who The Mandarin is.
From there, it’s pretty spoilery, so I won’t go into any further details. And it gets a bit complicated. But something that stuck out to me was how little time Tony actually spent in the Iron Man armor. Sure, it might be more than he did in Iron Man 1, but it just didn’t seem like much. You could have almost just titled the movie “Tony Stark.” Granted, that’s not a bad thing. It was refreshing to see something different. We’ve seen Iron Man go out and have fights against villains that were essentially Iron Man rip-offs. The Mandarin is something different entirely.
Sir Ben Kingsly as The Mandarin is fantastic. It’s really indescribable. You just have to see it. The other new additions are passable. Rebecca Hall doesn’t get a lot of screen time, and Guy Pearce is kind of generic. Sure, he’s someone you want to punch in the face, but Sam Rockwell as Justin Hammer was a better man that that you want to punch in the face. Of course, I probably like Iron Man 2 more than a lot of people.
This is a bit of a darker movie. Well, maybe that’s not the best way to put it. It’s definitely more serious than the previous installments. I think part of the fact is the ability to dig deeper in the character of Tony Stark. What makes him who he is. And how does he react to the life changing events that transpired during The Avengers. Tony’s just a man, and there he was dealing with otherworldly beings and Gods. Sure, he seems fine at the end of Avengers, but this movie allows for some time to pass, and once the adrenaline of the situation is gone, the realization of what just happened is allowed to set in. And it scares him. And coming to grip with those events are what makes this a serious movie. Oh sure, there is plenty of comedic relief, but the overall tone of the movie is a bit more somber.
In the end, I highly recommend that you see this movie. It is well worth the price of admission. And as always, stay for the after credits scene.