Now that most of you have probably watched Iron Man 3, I can safely give my review of this film. Do take note, that there are Spoilers ahead for those who have not watched it yet. I'm reviewing this both as a comicbook/animation fan, so my views will be based on that.
First off, let me put this out there, Iron Man 3 is in my opinion the worst of all the films released thus far as part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). Let me tell you why, this film left the Marvel fan in me utterly disappointed at the direction it took.
I walked into the cinema hall fully enthused about Iron Man 3. The ingredients to make it an amazing movie were all there. Post The Avengers, our hopes with regards to superhero films have definitely been increased. What more, that this, the 3rd of the Iron Man series, had Shane Black helming it. He is of course famous for being the screenwriter of several buddy cop films like "Lethal Weapon" and its sequel, "Last Action Hero" as well as good story based films like "The Long Kiss Goodnight" & "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang"
This would be the film where we finally meet Iron Man's nemesis, The Mandarin. Bear in mind, Iron Man's rogue gallery isn't really great when you compare it with the rest of the Marvel superheroes, however if there was one villain that I wanted to see adapted onto the big screen for Iron Man, it was most definitely The Mandarin. Especially since, we had a pretty poor villain in Whiplash & Justin Hammer in Iron Man 2 (which wasn't a bad film, but it was rather underwhelming). The promos & posters had me pumped about Black's interpretation of this famed villain. When Ben Kingsley was announced as the man to play The Mandarin, my enthusiasm rose tenfold. I thought this could be the best villain we've had since Heath Ledger's Joker in "The Dark Knight".
Iron Man 3 however failed to live up to its expectations. Although I enjoyed the first half of the film, doubts started creeping as soon as Eiffel 65's annoying "Blue Da Ba Dee" started playing at the beginning. I mean remember how Iron Man started? AC/DC's "Back in Black" booming through as the US Air Force convoy drove through Afghanistan and ending with Black Sabbath's classic "Iron Man" as the credits rolled. Then in Iron Man 2, Tony Stark sky-diving off the plane as AC/DC's "Shoot to Thrill" accompanied him. The film then ended with Stark and Rhodey being presented with medals as yet again AC/DC's "Highway to Hell" plays. Brian Tyler who wrote the soundtrack for Iron Man 3 is a far cry from Ramin Djawadi or Tom Morello who composed for Iron Man & Iron Man 2 respectively.
Yet, I still harboured hope. It was going well, the action sequences were top notch yet again. The attack on his mansion was great. Seeing the new suit in action was fantastic as well, now that Tony Stark is able to remotely control the Mark 42 suit via the microchip implants he has injected himself with. I was even ok with him then losing his suits and having to go MacGyver in rural Tennessee.
However, I lost all interest in the film as soon as the so-called twist occurred. The reveal of The Mandarin as nothing more than an actor hired to play the part, absolutely deflated me. The Mandarin is Iron Man's arch nemesis as I stated earlier. He is The Joker to Batman, General Zod to Superman, The Green Goblin to Spiderman & Sabretooth to Wolverine. It was a total cop-out, a middle finger to all the fans of Iron Man.
The reveal that Aldrich Killian is the man behind The Mandarin was ridiculous as it totally butchered the pre-established continuity from the first two Iron Man films. The Mandarin in the comics wields a mystical power in his ten rings, which in Iron Man 1 & 2 had a presence via the terrorist unit called The Ten Rings. I am fine with removing certain aspects that would seem out of place ala what Nolan did for his Dark Knight Trilogy. Having Trevor Slattery, a drunk, dope addicted & washed up Cockney accented actor from Croydon, South London (who ridiculously cheers when Liverpool score against Chelsea, what the hell was that about?) play a role created specifically for Killian to control the war on terror was bordering on stupidity. Killian is a minor character in the Extremis comics so why elevate him to another in the line of techno-terrorists like Obadiah Stane (Iron Man) or Justin Hammer (Iron Man 2)?
Up to that point, I must say that Ben Kingsley simply stole the show as The Mandarin. His vocal inflections, menacing stare and a believe that he was meting out justice; all of that was great. Then, that twist happened, and I sighed out lout in the cinema.
Moving on to the rest of the characters, I really wanted to see the Iron Patriot (who is actually Harry Osborn aka The New Goblin, in the comics, but since all Spiderman characters belonged to Sony, they changed it here). James Rhodes was reduced to bit-part character here which is sad considering the calibre of Don Cheadle.
Gwyneth Paltrow took on a heavier role, in fact we got to see a glimpse of Rescue (Pepper Potts in Iron Man Armour) which was ok, although having her infected with the Extremis virus was a tad much. The Extremis soldiers were minor characters in the comics, but it was nice to see Eric Savin (Coldblood), Jack Taggert (Firepower) & Ellen Brandt even if they were adapted for this storyline and are never called by their alter-egos.
Aldrich Killian was played pretty well by Guy Pearce, but him having the dragon tattoos and breathing fire was confusing. Was he supposed to Fin Fang Foom? Or Firebrand? And why would they make him the founder of Advanced Idea Mechanics? We all know that AIM is an offshoot of HYDRA, so why not have that in the new Captain America movie? If would have been great to see Baron Wolfgang, Baron Zemo & MODOK!
Robert Downey Jr, meanwhile, excelled as Tony Stark. Indeed, it is the role he was born for. He shows good emotion as he suffers from PTSD from the Chitauri invasion (slight forced but I was still ok with it). The comedy throughout the film was up to the mark, and we got to see some buddy cop humour between Stark & Rhodey. As for the end, I did not like the fact that Tony had his chest arc reactor removed. What does this mean for Iron Man in The Avengers sequel? The post-credit scene although slightly funny was absolutely irrelevant to setting up or teasing Phase 2 of the MCU.
The few things I liked about Iron Man 3 were as said earlier, the action sequences and some minor easter eggs/cameos like Dr Yinsen (from the first film) & Dr Wu Chen Lu (who would go on to be Radioactive Man in the comics, which could have nicely segued into the Ant Man film since they're archenemies), mentioning of Roxxon Energy Corp & seeing the Iron Legion in action (the different types of Iron Man armour in the climax fight).
On the whole, I would give this nothing more than a 6.5 out of 10. And to quote Nolan (blasphemy I know, but I'm a fan of both DC & Marvel, sue me), The Mandarin was the villain that we fans deserved, but not the one that Shane Black gave us. Instead, we got a derisory, fire-breathing Extremis infused maniac.