More bitter than sweet.
Christian Bale’s Bruce Wayne grins at the audience, at Alfred (Michael Caine), a cowl nowhere to be seen. He’s done. There was a lot of talk about whether the Iron Man series, whether Tony Stark, would follow suit or continue after the third installment.
“Of course it will! Marvel wouldn’t just end Iron Man!”
Except they just might.
I went into this movie excepting spectacle. Simply put, I wanted what the first trailer promised: Dramatic techno blasts as the tormented hero sees his home terrorized by a fearsome, Bane-like villain. That’s not what I got.
Yes, the visual effects boosted the proverbial bar. The suit sequences dropped jaws. And some scenes were right up there with those of The Avengers; the final battle perhaps even better. But there was so much left to be desired from this film that it left an unfamiliar taste in the mouth, one more akin to the mediocrity of Thor and Captain America: The First Avenger, the rushed pseudo-successes that were simply added to allow for 2012’s mega-movie. Unfortunately, this leads me to believe that Marvel’s “Phase 2” will be much of the same.
Sure, Robert Downey Jr.’s performance is equal parts impressive and entertaining. The depth that he has given this character is just astonishing. His one-liners continue to amuse, and the pain behind Stark’s eyes leave a remarkable and lasting impression. But he seems to be the film’s only saving grace, appropriately engaging in the sign of the cross as he sends his Iron Legion into battle.
The story incorporates clichés, one incredibly dissatisfying plot twist (albeit an intriguing one), and more jokes than can possibly be desired in a film that in no small way deals with post-traumatic stress and unmistakable terrorism. As a viewer and fan of the franchise, I felt insulted, spit upon during certain moments, especially the rushed ending, which the film actively avoids alluding to or preparing you for.
Avoiding spoiling specific plot points, all I can say is that the conclusion does not suit the character. It does not fit with the supposed plans discussed by Marvel for Iron Man’s future. And if he does return, as “contract negotiations” have been joked about, it just wouldn’t make sense. Not to Tony Stark. Not to the story that has been told throughout his last four films. With Iron Man 3, Marvel and President of Production Kevin Feige have accomplished the impossible: They’ve shaken their seemingly impervious foundation. And honestly, after capturing a glimpse at a Thor sequel that looks less than stellar, I wouldn’t be surprised to see their Malibu mansions resting alongside Tony’s real soon—rusting beneath the sea.