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The Best & Worst Moments Of 'Iron Man 3'

Features
by The Playlist Staff
May 6, 2013 1:29 PM
46 Comments
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The Climax And Drone Army Overkill
As the trailers gave away, the conclusion of "Iron Man 3" sees Tony Stark finally unveil his greatest tech yet: a drone army of fully equipped Iron Man suits that can do his bidding. And at first, it's admittedly kind of cool watching this backup crew swoop in and save the day. But the longer it goes on, the less effective it is. What starts as a pretty nifty idea, quickly turns into a whole bunch of Iron Man suits flying around being conveniently available either to save Tony Stark or suit him up when required. And it's not really clear how many there are either, so while some of them are shot down, Tony and Pepper are never in any real danger, because there always seems to be one around right when they need it... except when Pepper really does fall to her "death" which winds up coming off as a bit of audience manipulation to heighten a finale that by point feels nothing more than fireworks. A point underscored by Tony blowing up drones to create actual fireworks. The entire climax feels like a mess of CGI and flashy cuts with little sense of coherence, geography or stakes, putting up a lot of window dressing around what is a pretty mediocre showdown between Tony and Aldrich (who dies rather vaguely and unmemorably for what is supposed to be the centerpiece baddie of the movie).

3D
So none of us have yet seen the film both in 2 and 3D to be able to directly compare, but we're pretty sure the 3D adds very little to anything but the ticket price. The whiz-bang strength of the action sequences when they are good (like the skydiving sequence above) is that they are well cut together, and clearly motivated: innocent people falling to their deaths... Iron Man must save them. It's the old-fashioned skills of clearly establishing geography and creating coherent beats that make these sequences sing, nothing to do with the odd bit of rubble flying at you through the air. And when the action doesn't work (as in the climax covered elsewhere in "worst"), the 3D just serves to add another (strangely shallow) layer of visual confusion to an already over-cluttered scene. And it's not like we're set in some odd alien landscape in which the 3D can reveal unimagined wonders: this is Florida. Most centrally, though, the film's greatest assets are (some of) its characterizations and its comedy, and neither of those need another dimension to work.

Breathing Fire

Dunno about you, but we were happily going along with the glowy-people-sometimes-explode nonsense until Guy Pearce loosed a jet of fire from his mouth, dragon-style. The way the beat was played, with James Badge Dale's henchman looking on with surprise/ jealousy it seemed like something else was meant to happen with this ability, beyond abruptly shattering our suspension of disbelief. But no, it never happened again, was never even referred to and ended up just being used for a little meta moment for Rhodey. ("Uh, you breathe fire?") Note: if the only reason something silly exists is to give a character a self-aware line about how silly it is, perhaps best to leave it out?

The Fallout From "The Avengers" Isn't Really Explored
Of course the events of "The Avengers" are referred to a few times throughout, but they exist almost solely as motivation/back story for Tony Stark, and are usually referred to as "New York" as if the fact that an alien invasion happened on the other side of the continent makes it kind of irrelevant to people living on the West Coast. We get very little sense of a world that has been fundamentally changed by those events (seriously, wormholes! Aliens! Gods! Rage monsters! Defrosted WWII super-soldiers! Surely that would fundamentally change our idea of ourselves?), something highlighted by the relative weakness of the villain plot. In a world where all the craziness of the Universe has seeped through, one guy's lust for earthly, governmental power (by kidnapping the president, how old-fashioned!) seems kind of quaint. In fact, Killian himself never really (that we can recall) refers directly to the off-world threat humanity had just faced, though it would surely have to factor into any self-respecting super-villain's plans one way or the other. 

Hasty Wrap-Up
So after the (flawed) climax when Tony has given Pepper the only Christmas present a girl could ever want by turning his life's work into a really, really expensive fireworks display, the films runs out of steam very abruptly. Stark "cures" Pepper in voice over and suddenly decides to get surgery to have the life-threatening shrapnel removed from his heart. Yes, we get that they want to establish that the superhero resides in the man, and is nothing to do with a suit of armor or a chest-mounted life-saving arc reactor, but it all spins out a little fast and a little throwaway for it to have the weight it should. Did he just now remember that the whole basis for his Iron Man persona (the shrapnel) could be whipped out in Tokyo? Also, by "cure" Pepper, did he mean make her altogether non-glowy and rob her of the pretty neat power to grow back limbs and be practically un-killable, if occasionally warm to the touch? Or just the thing where she might explode? So many questions that the hasty and uncharacteristically pat end voice over narration leaves unanswered.

Parting Shots

A few other brief observations, firstly, on the negative end of the scale:

-- There's no way any kid thinks "Iron Patriot" is a cooler name than "War Machine," is there?

-- The climax is a letdown in general, but at the point at which Killian inevitably rises from the dead and stands over the trapped Stark bellowing, inexplicably "I AM the Mandarin" it just goes outright silly and the even the dialogue, usually so surefooted, goes out the window.

But to leave on a positive note (because actually, we mostly enjoyed the hell out of it):

-- There are a hundred great jokes and quotable lines (though we still think Joss Whedon may shade Black in terms of giving Stark the funny pop-culture comparisons), but the one that gave us the biggest belly laugh was the unnamed henchman who immediately surrenders to Iron Man with "No, really I hate working for these guys, they're so weird" and gets to walk away.

-- And to end, the opening! Eiffel 65's europop smash hit "Blue" which claims a high placement on our all-time most disliked ear-worm songs, actually goes over like gangbusters at the start here. Coupled with RDJ's faltering opening voice over (a direct nod to "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang"), the song sets up exactly the kind of loopy tone and breakneck pace the rest of the movie captures so effortlessly, and had us smiling even before the logos had faded down.

What did you all think? We know you've seen it, so sound off below. -- Jessica Kiang, Kevin Jagernauth, Drew Taylor

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46 Comments

  • hairyplums | July 30, 2013 6:33 PMReply

    I thought the movie was OK but I couldn't help but feel slightly let down when I left the cinema unlike the other movies where I came out looking forward to a sequel. I was so looking forward to seeing all the suits in action but even they weren't even as I expected compared to the hype it just seemed like they were all just the same suit in different shapes and colours with nothing more special about them than the average suit in the first film. But the main reason I felt a but let down is the end. If he could have had the shrapnel taken out with surgery then what was the point of ironman 2 and him creating a new element to stay alive? And where is the acdc back ground music in the movie? Everything I lover about ironman in the first film as well as the second and the avengers had gone for me now.

  • divan | July 5, 2013 4:39 AMReply

    This movie was, interestingly, more intelligent than I expected it to be. Certainly better than the Man of Steel crap-fest.

  • kate | June 30, 2013 11:16 PMReply

    hello

  • WardoyoArdo | June 19, 2013 6:25 AMReply

    Great movie, widely big bang, yes agree with comments before, my idol, Rebecca Hall is poor, nothing to do with her short show. Instantly killed by gun. She deserve to get more. Maybe there will Iron Man-4. I believe people out there still waiting the next story of Iron Man.

  • Santos | June 8, 2013 6:46 PMReply

    Thanks for giving Ben Kingsley some credit here. I personally preferred him as Trevor than as "The Mandarin". He was just going through the cliche super-villain motions as Mandarian, but as Trevor you could tell he was having fun and I had fun with him.

  • V G | May 31, 2013 5:50 PMReply

    ummm ......most of your "best" moments should be in the "worst" category. Starting with Shane Black--the whole Mandarin being an actor thing was extrememly lame. Downy was good-- he owns that character.

  • Eoghan Hughes | May 14, 2013 2:45 AMReply

    Killian directly references the blonde guy with the hammer and how subtlety has gone out the window.

  • Dnice | May 10, 2013 12:37 AMReply

    Just like to point out that The Mandarin did not shoot the guy in the head. It was off screen and during the ending montage they show the guy starting to get up. All for show I suppose.

  • Alex | May 9, 2013 11:05 PMReply

    The ending was really disappointing. He's more than likely going to be in the next avengers, he's not going to be hopping around with hawk-eye, he's going to have a suit. He blew up his suits as a gesture and he's gonna either build a new one or be like "hey pepper... 'member how i blew up all my suits? well..." WHOOSH into battle. It soured the extremely enjoyable experience for me. I hope there is an alternate ending on the DVD, because I'm starting to feel that itchiness I got at the end of Spiderman 3.

  • 4ndyman | May 9, 2013 11:52 AMReply

    The little gripe about Tony not having an anxiety attack during the big ending battle isn't medically sound. Panic attack is probably more apt than anxiety attack. A major part of a panic attack is the unexpected release of adrenaline into the system. Adrenaline is usually triggered by the fight or flight instinct, and it helps set a person in motion. Panic attacks occur when the adrenaline is release when there's nothing to fight or flee from. But if someone is already pumped up on "legitimate" adrenaline -- i.e., they're already pumped up and and either fighting or fleeing -- then you can't have an anxiety attack.

  • John_Boy | May 8, 2013 11:21 PMReply

    The writer needs to do some research. Fire breathing is an extremis ability. It cracks me up reading the comments by butt hurt nolan and DC fan boys lol :p

  • 4ndyman | May 9, 2013 11:47 AM

    Research? You mean in the original comics?

    There is no research to understanding a movie. The movie needs to be self-contained. If it relies on outside knowledge to make sense, it has failed.

  • cronball | May 8, 2013 11:11 PMReply

    The writer and some of the comment posters need to read warren ellis series "extremis" that a lot of this was based on. Fire breathing was an ability the extremis villain had and stark had his heart repaired and chest reactor removed ages ago. The kid scenes were awesome and the "house party" ending was cool as hell. people should learn the source material before complaining about it. Oh and killian does reference previous events when he brings up thor. thank god they didnt spend tons of time dwelling on avengers events.

  • Umi Q | May 8, 2013 8:05 PMReply

    SPOT ON analysis, but the well-done but weirdly out of place 60's style end credits also deserve a (dis)honorable mention here.

  • Black | May 11, 2013 9:36 AM

    Sometimes the comic book source material is too ridiculous to stick to. They ditched the Mandarin from the comics because it was so ridiculous. Then they had a guy spit fire.
    Warren Ellis is a great writer but this is just an all-around silly idea.

  • Hector | May 7, 2013 11:21 PMReply

    I'm a big Iron Man movies fan, I love the duality of the flawed, yet charismatic playboy genius, against the unselfish armored hero, but mostly because of Downey Jr. take on the character. This one's unrepeatable and unique to the comic adaptations universe. Those things are still here, and they give so many enjoyable moments, but still, the plot has so many holes and incongruences it's actually distracting. That said. It still is better than most comic heroes movies.

  • Hector | May 7, 2013 11:21 PMReply

    I'm a big Iron Man movies fan, I love the duality of the flawed, yet charismatic playboy genius, against the unselfish armored hero, but mostly because of Downey Jr. take on the character. This one's unrepeatable and unique to the comic adaptations universe. Those things are still here, and they give so many enjoyable moments, but still, the plot has so many holes and incongruences it's actually distracting. That said. It still is better than most comic heroes movies.

  • Hector | May 7, 2013 11:20 PMReply

    I'm a big Iron Man movies fan, I love the duality of the flawed, yet charismatic playboy genius, against the unselfish armored hero, but mostly because of Downey Jr. take on the character. This one's unrepeatable and unique to the comic adaptations universe. Those things are still here, and they give so many enjoyable moments, but still, the plot has so many holes and incongruences it's actually distracting. That said. It still is better than most comic heroes movies.

  • Hector | May 7, 2013 11:20 PMReply

    I'm a big Iron Man movies fan, I love the duality of the flawed, yet charismatic playboy genius, against the unselfish armored hero, but mostly because of Downey Jr. take on the character. This one's unrepeatable and unique to the comic adaptations universe. Those things are still here, and they give so many enjoyable moments, but still, the plot has so many holes and incongruences it's actually distracting. That said. It still is better than most comic heroes movies.

  • Hector | May 7, 2013 11:19 PMReply

    I'm a big Iron Man movies fan, I love the duality of the flawed, yet charismatic playboy genius, against the unselfish armored hero, but mostly because of Downey Jr. take on the character. This one's unrepeatable and unique to the comic adaptations universe. Those things are still here, and they give so many enjoyable moments, but still, the plot has so many holes and incongruences it's actually distracting. That said. It still is better than most comic heroes movies.

  • Hector | May 7, 2013 11:19 PMReply

    I'm a big Iron Man movies fan, I love the duality of the flawed, yet charismatic playboy genius, against the unselfish armored hero, but mostly because of Downey Jr. take on the character. This one's unrepeatable and unique to the comic adaptations universe. Those things are still here, and they give so many enjoyable moments, but still, the plot has so many holes and incongruences it's actually distracting. That said. It still is better than most comic heroes movies.

  • Hector | May 7, 2013 11:18 PMReply

    I'm a big Iron Man movies fan, I love the duality of the flawed, yet charismatic playboy genius, against the unselfish armored hero, but mostly because of Downey Jr. take on the character. This one's unrepeatable and unique to the comic adaptations universe. Those things are still here, and they give so many enjoyable moments, but still, the plot has so many holes and incongruences it's actually distracting. That said. It still is better than most comic heroes movies.

  • woopy-doo | May 9, 2013 7:55 AM

    Hey, Hector, you can stop hitting the 'return' key now. We hear you, loud and clear. And as for Pamela... words fail me. Well, actually, they have obviously failed her too, badly. 'Are' for 'our'? I've never seen that. And God damn indeed (thanks Joesnyderwalk), can I suggest one thing you could do to impress Him, Pamela? Get a good book, or should I say Good Book, on PUNCTUATION. And read it, and then use it. And don't worry about 'the word,' it won't hurt you. Or anyone.

  • pamela davignon | May 7, 2013 7:31 PMReply

    im really upset i have been a fan and so is my son my husband took are son and when he came home he said that one word is in it the word gd last time i talk to God his last name is not dam every movie that has been made based on marvel comics was safe for my son to watch and we did't have to worry about that word that will be one movie we are not adding to are collection no im going to question every movie after this there is no reason to use tha word you can make a great without cursisng God like i said his last name is not dam thank you for making a movie that is not going to be watched and you know kids watch these movies and look up to you guys shame on you

  • JoeSnyderwalk | May 8, 2013 4:49 PM

    God Damn, woman, stop taking your imaginary friend so seriously.

  • Austin W | May 7, 2013 3:54 PMReply

    There was so much wrong with this movie, and while this article praises the director, I think that's perhaps the main source of fault. I'm not an expert on the Iron Man comics, but the movie seemed to diverge so far from the source material that it was hard to believe this is the same Iron Man. I can understand the PTSD Tony Stark is going through after the events of the Avengers, but it's obvious the director's never seen a real panic attack, and the movie treats the attacks more like a joke or gag than a serious psychological problem. If the symbolism behind the prototype armor is simply to show Tony Stark "breaking apart," I think we could've done without it. Why are the new armor suits so easily destroyed? I really don't get that. The motivations of the villains are never really made clear either, even if you accept Killian's one time humiliation years ago, what are the super-powered henchman and the Vice President doing this for? Don't get me started on the fire breathing or the Mandarin. The plot is so full of holes, the characters and their problems/powers go unexplained or underdeveloped or are simply unbelievable, the comedic elements fall flat... I feel like this movie tried to tear down the hero that is Iron Man and make him a joke. The director didn't have respect for the source material, but would rather tell his own idiotic story in the Marvel Universe using its characters.

  • amos | May 7, 2013 11:41 PM

    The PTSD was strange, I wish that they had just not done that. You could tell from his attitude and the dialog that Tony was feeling the stress from New York already. The fire breathing wasn't a divergence from the source. People with the Extremis virus in the comics could breathe fire.

    But yeah, everything about this movie was awesome. Dunno what you're talking about.

  • COINKYDINKO DE MAYA | May 7, 2013 7:29 AMReply

    After the reversal of Maya being a bad guy, you have to reconsider everything that happened before. Why did she go to Tony's place? Perhaps coerced on orders to make sure he was there, notify the strike team, and keep him there until they showed up. Or, perhaps knowing the attack was coming, to make one last attempt to gain the answer to her problem before it was too late and just maybe to try and warn Tony in some way. Or some combination of both motivations, switching from one to the other throughout the scene.

  • shahzeb | May 8, 2013 7:41 PM

    They messed up the whole plot....Mandarin is supposed to be ironman's arch enemy....and they made a joke out of him and the great actor Ben kingsly....They killed what ironman brings to the table by removing his arch reactor from the chest so easily as if it was a choice which he could have done 3 movies ago...its supposed to be a power full curse which even with all the technology tony stark has..HE STILL CONNOT SURVIVE WITHOUT THE REACTOR IN HIS CHEST !! UTTER COMMERCIAL NONSENSE,,,(CHRISTOPHER NOLAN IS SOMEWHERE LAUGHING HIS AS* OFF) AMATUERS !! hope remains with MAN OF STEEL

  • Miss Chloe | May 7, 2013 5:04 AMReply

    Here is my review on my new blog Movie Myriad!

    http://moviemyriad.blogspot.com/2013/05/iron-man-3-review-rip-roaring-action.html

  • Berk | May 6, 2013 9:34 PMReply

    The Downton Abbey references were hysterical and will last well into the future!

  • gene | May 6, 2013 6:49 PMReply

    This was a truly awful movie, and poor Rebecca Hall had nothing to do. I am sick and tired of Robert Downey Jr.'s schtick.

  • peter | May 7, 2013 1:11 PM

    Agreed...

  • Alan B | May 6, 2013 5:21 PMReply

    The appearance of Shaun Toub as Yinsen is a great callback to the first film. Surprised it wasn't mentioned. Not only does it pay off the line from the first film about them meeting at a conference, but it also creates some very interesting dramatic irony in which we INSTANTLY understand Tony's hubris and arrogance, pre-'Iron Man'.

  • thislalife | May 6, 2013 5:05 PMReply

    Crazy how people go bananas when comic book movies suspend the laws of belief.

  • thislalife | May 6, 2013 5:05 PMReply

    Crazy how people go bananas when comic book movies suspend the laws of belief.

  • thislalife | May 6, 2013 5:05 PMReply

    Crazy how people go bananas when comic book movies suspend the laws of belief.

  • cirkusfolk | May 6, 2013 3:43 PMReply

    What about the fact that Tony Stark is rarely even in the Iron Man suit in this one, same with Rhodes. Due to his new flying by itself, piece by piece suit, even that sky falling action sequence u mentioned as being a highlight wasn't Tony that saved them but the suit. Something about this just feels wrong to me. This is another reason when all the suits showed up to fight at the end, I just didn't care. Which brings me to all those suits. So he was just keeping 20 different and fully made suits user his house yet was using the "prototype" mark whatever throughout the film that wasn't battle ready etc??? Why? And why did he not call them up to stop his house from being destroyed and his girlfriend almost killed? Also, u mentioned the bad guys motives. How about the bad guys themselves. I'm sorry but the silliness of fire glowing regenerating people that for some reason also have super strength is just too silly even for a comic book movie.

  • Anon | May 18, 2013 1:41 AM

    After Jarvis manages to reboot, he mentions that he has arranged to have people with heavy lifting machines start work on the clean up of the house. Later Tony asks him if it was complete. Even when he does call the suits, there was still quite a bit of debris on the secret hatch. My belief for why he didn't call the suits sooner was that they door couldn't open with the roof sitting on it, at least not without damaging the suits. He had the mark 42 the whole movie, because he likes to play with his newest toys, so it was the one that was closest to him when the attack started. He tried to get to the others, but didn't make it. I would guess not calling them during the attack had to do with it happening very quickly and getting thrown around probably wasn't conducive to planning. I wasn't at all surprised to see so many of them. The glitchy one was mark 42. They made a point of showing that when Pepper asked him if it was about 15, and he looked at his arm. I immediately took that to mean he had went from, I think mark 8 or 9 in Avengers to mark 42. They were bound to be around somewhere.

    I really don't understand the blowing up the suits thing, or the choice to completely nerf the Mandarin. He was a pretty cool villain. It would be cool to see a movie verse take on MODOK.

  • Daniel | May 7, 2013 5:59 PM

    Not to point out the obvious, but Tony Stark isn't Superman. Of course he's going to handle things in a different way - that's one of the amusing things about his character.

  • MT | May 7, 2013 1:12 PM

    Thank you, Cirk. I'm glad I'm not the only one who was letdown at the end of the sky rescue? There was nothing heroic about Stark saving humans via remote control. Superman wouldn't send out a clone of himself to save people, would he?

  • Jeremy | May 6, 2013 4:04 PM

    Tony Stark is much more interesting out of the suit.

  • Washington | May 6, 2013 3:34 PMReply

    I've always wondered what Thor's existence does for religion in the Marvel Universe. Huge increase in Odin worship? Nordic marriages?

  • A | May 6, 2013 2:39 PMReply

    Wasn't the unnamed henchman who immediately surrenders Justin Theroux in a wig?

  • Tom | May 6, 2013 2:34 PMReply

    I think Killian does refer to the events of the Avengers. He mentions something about a guy with a hammer dropping from the sky which is why Killian wanted the Mandarin to be so theatrical.

  • Tanner JK | May 6, 2013 1:44 PMReply

    Having happy's wardrobe mime Vincent's in Pulp Fiction was a touch that I found hilarious.

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