Countdown to Avengers Endgame: Iron Man 3
We’re in the Endgame now. Just 14 days to go before Marvel Studios unleashes the biggest theatrical event in a generation (if not ever), capping off a story that is 11 years and 21 films in the making. There’s no denying that what Marvel has done here is unprecedented. As we approach the big day lets take a look back at the films that lead us here.
Let’s just get it out of the way. Iron Man 3 gets a lot of crap it doesn’t deserve. Being the first film to follow The Avengers it was always doomed to comparison. Comparison it never could win. It also took a couple of big risks. Iron Man doesn’t appear much in Iron Man 3 (so much so it could have been named “Tony Stark”). Marvel also decided to twist expectations on a major Marvel villain in a major way. People expecting an Avengers style film were disappointed by the former and fan boys were sent into a rage by the latter.
Iron Man 3 was exactly the movie that needed to follow Avengers though. Not only is it a more personal, grounded story (compared to Avengers) it helped to give The Avengers some added weight. This is the MCU, characters don’t just “shake off” an event like an alien invasion where they nearly died just because it’s a new movie. Telling a smaller story in which the focus is on Tony’s relationships (both with those around him and with being Iron Man) really was the best way to follow up the popcorn spectacle of The Avengers. Iron Man 3 is Tony’s personal journey to find himself after the events of The Avengers and about him coming to terms with the Iron Man later ego he had created for himself. All through the lens of some fun action scenes as Shane Black quips.
While most characters got some tweaks in their journey from comic to film the Mandarin represents arguably the biggest departure from the comic book version of a character in the MCU. What’s more, there is a misdirect on top of a departure from source material. Ben Kinsley’s turn as the classic Iron Man character is chilling, disturbing and also totally fake. Turns out the Mandarin is really just an actor name Trevor. Serving only as theatrics meant to cover up explosions being caused by experiments the “true” Mandarin, Aldrich Killian, is performing. This also introduced another classic Iron Man comic concept; Extremis (a biological “upgrade” that can repair damage to the human body but also sometimes results in violent explosion). In the list of comic book villains, Mandarin is admittedly a character I’m just not familiar with. So coming at this with my limit background I enjoyed the twist (I didn’t see it coming) and didn’t hate Killian being the Mandarin (though Marvel did make clear in the one shot “All Hail the King” that Killian probably just stole the name). For those really upset though that it seemed out of left field, Tony remarks very early on that everything about the Mandarin felt very theatrical. It was right there in front of us the whole time.
In the end Iron Man 3 also confused some folks because they thought it meant Tony was retiring from being Iron Man. In reality the “revelation” Tony has in the film is that Iron Man isn’t the suit or an alter ego. Even without the suit at his disposal he is able to build and engineer his way to success (which is a great scene, for the record). Tony isn’t the tech, the tech is an extension of Tony. Iron Man established that Tony Stark is Iron Man, Iron Man 3 establishes that Iron Man is Tony Stark.
Tomorrow I take on what is generally agreed to be the last popular MCU film, Thor: The Dark World.