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May 17, 2013
Shark Bite Theatre
Iron Man 3: More Than A Man In A Can
by Andrew E. Lindsay

I suppose it goes without saying that if you're going to watch the third installment in a movie trilogy, you should probably watch the first two first. That holds true with Iron Man 3 as well, but you should also watch The Avengers. And it's not so much the plot development that you'll have trouble following, but, more significantly, it's the character development.

Robert Downey Jr. returns as the boy genius turned industrialist turned billionaire turned super-hero, Tony Stark (aka Iron Man). Gwyneth Paltrow also returns as his main squeeze, Pepper Potts, and Don Cheadle resumes his role as best pal, Colonel James Rhodes (although he's sadly a bit superfluous in this particular pic).

The witty dialogue throughout the film is delivered as only Downey can do, and he does not disappoint. The film is funny but also frenetic, as scenes and themes seem to collide and overlap at breakneck speed. On the surface, all seems well enough as the movie begins, but events quickly spiral out of control to the point of seeming hopeless. But a realization soon washes over the audience that what we are experiencing is, in fact, the internal struggle of Stark himself.

Iron Man 3 is the obvious choice for the name of a movie whose predecessors were Iron Man and Iron Man 2, but it might also have been appropriately called Tony Stark 1. What we witness is the metamorphosis of the man-child Stark, as he wrestles with events from his past that he can't reconcile with his present reality, and his ultimate realization of what he truly holds most dear in the world. This is no small epiphany for a man who actually does have everything.

In the first movie, we see the billionaire playboy become part-machine in an effort to save his own life. As he embraces his mechanical alter-ego, he begins to lose touch with his own humanity, even as he becomes more humane in his world view and in his corporate bottom line. By the second movie, his inflated sense of self-importance is tempered by his blossoming relationship with Pepper, but he has now fully embraced his super-hero/super-star status. Events in The Avengers movie force him to face up to the fact that he is not capable of saving the world on his own, quite literally, and he has to learn to work with a team for perhaps the first time in his life.

Throughout this film, Tony Stark is piecing together the seemingly insignificant series of choices made over a thirteen year period that have led to the catastrophic consequences with which he is now dealing. Anxiety attacks and insomnia are also hampering his ability to function cooly under fire, and his super suit of armor is nearly destroyed early on, forcing him to rely on his wits (and some unlikely companions) as he faces a formidable terrorist threat known as the Mandarin, a soulless sociopath with enormous resources and powerful allies.

There were a few parts of the picture I felt dragged on a bit, particularly some of the latter fight sequences. There are only so many ways you can watch a giant metal suit fly around beating the snot out of bad guys, particularly when the bad guys aren't wearing super-advanced suits of armor. So if you lopped off 15 minutes or so of flying suit action, I think it might've moved it along a little better.

There are a few kinda scary parts, and a few rather disturbing moments, but all appropriate content when you're dealing with a sociopathic super-terrorist. You'll need to decide how age-appropriate it might be for the younger members of your household, but the deaths in this movie are people, not generic alien monster types.

Because this is a classic super-hero story, it shouldn't be a surprise that good ultimately triumphs over evil, although not without tremendous cost. What is surprisingly refreshing is that the hero is the man, not the machine. And a man is not determined by how many birthdays he celebrates, but rather by the sacrifices he makes for others. What makes a man is his character, the choices he makes when he believes no one is watching. What defines a man is what he is willing to give up in exchange for that which he deems most precious.

Ultimately, the best part of this movie about Iron Man is simply Tony Stark.


Copyright © 2019 by Andrew E. Lindsay Printed from NauvooTimes.com