I am a big fan of the Marvel “movieverse.” I was on board as soon as Marvel admitted to their plans to bring the Avengers to big screen in a unified cinematic universe. I thoroughly enjoyed Incredible Hulk, but Iron Man solidified my trust in what Marvel had envisioned. In fact, Iron Man has been the glue holding all of Marvel’s franchises together as Thor, Captain America, Hulk, and the Avengers have all been introduced or expounded upon between the first and last frames of the billionaire-playboy philanthropist’s solo outings. On the tails of the success that was The Avengers last summer, how does Tony Stark’s third adventure fair?
[I include the spoiler warning as a just-in-case precaution, but, seriously, if you don’t know what the big spoiler / twist is at this point, you haven’t been on the Internet in three weeks – HERE BE SPOILERS]
I was hoping for an awesome showdown between Iron Man and The Mandarin, but instead I got a swerve that I wasn’t really expecting at all. I managed to see this movie before the Internet erupted in flames, and thankfully, those flames have mostly died out from what I can tell. Mandarin is not the Mandarin most of us know from the comics, and the truth is, that is perfectly OK. While I do feel like Ben Kingsley was a little underused as the Mandarin, the fact that he isn’t The Mandarin but instead a poor nobody swept up in an act for the money and the girls is just hilarious, and Kingsley clearly had lots of fun playing the role. The classic depiction of the Mandarin simply would not be very good on screen. Marvel was also trying to reach out to the Chinese audience in a big way; they failed, but not because of the depiction of The Mandarin.
The showdown that we do get between Tony Stark and Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce) is deeply personal and extremely fun to watch. The movie event preceding that final confrontation is full of spectacle and character development. While far from perfect, many of the flaws are relatively minor considering that is film is a summer blockbuster. I would say the biggest flaw, or source of flaws, is the necessary acknowledgment(s) that the Avengers movie happened. Otherwise, it was nice to see more interaction and teamwork between Tony and Rhodey. It was also great to see Pepper get in on the action. Beyond these bits of character exploration, The action doesn’t disappoint. The Air Force One rescue sequence in particular is amazing, as is the final action sequences involving all 42 Iron Man armors verses Killian’s Extremis soldiers.
See this movie if you haven’t already. The movie doesn’t spend time at all in overtly setting up anything in Phase 2, but the coda at the end of the credits ties the entire film together in a nice package that is both humorous and smart, revealing that the film is a flashback – spilling of the heart from one brilliant mind to another, and once again, Ruffalo’s Banner is spot on. Fun times.