||IRON MAN 3
IRON MAN 3
In 2008's "Iron Man," we saw him as a spoiled brat and bad-boy genius surrounded by toys of his own invention and piles of money. But his life was turned upside down by his experience in that terrorist camp. Tony saw first-hand how devastating his weaponry is when used in the wrong hands, which led to a new vulnerability and intense need to protect himself. When you get right down to it, that's sort of what the Iron Man suit signifies -- a way to protect himself from the world and deal with his own fragility.
In 2012's "The Avengers," Tony told Captain America he's not a soldier, and throughout that movie, he was torn down by the other superheroes for being unwilling to make sacrifices for others. But at the end of that movie, Tony/Iron Man sped through a black hole to save the Earth from certain destruction. Still, he's not a soldier, and that act of bravery took its toll on Tony.
In "Iron Man 3," he's trying to recover from that final scene in "The Avengers" (he refers to it as the "New York" incident). He's basically suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder -- the sort of psychological damage that's generally denied most superheroes and what sets Tony apart from the others.
He can't control the symptoms, which include panic attacks, insomnia, and night terrors, and it's taking a toll on his new relationship with Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow). I love that they're "together" now, but he's never had a real relationship before, and he's not very good at it, as evidenced by a hideous giant stuffed bunny he gives her. But look, he's trying, and at least he lets her in on his emotional issues.
So Tony spends most of his time creating more Iron Man suits and leaves the civilian saving to his friend. Col. James Rhodes (Don Cheadle). They joke about what's the better name for him -- The Iron Patriot or War Machine.
But a new threat reveals itself in terrorist leader The Mandarin (Ben Kingsley), who uses mutated soldiers as his weapons of choice in bombings around the world. And when the villainous Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce), a scientist Tony rebuffed back in 1999, kidnaps Pepper and destroys the beautiful Stark mansion, which collapses into the Pacific Ocean (sniff), Tony must figure out how to save the love of his life -- and America -- from the powers of evil.
Also in the mix is Maya Hansen (Rebecca Hall), a girl he had a one-night stand with back in the day, and his buddy Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau), who suffers a critical injury. Paul Bettany voices the part of Jarvis, Tony's faithful robotic servant, and James Badge Dale plays Killian's henchman Eric Savin.
Director Shane Black, who directed Downey Jr. in 2005's "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang," takes full advantage of Downey's gift for snappy one-liners and fast-talking banter. But he also focuses on Tony's anxiousness and vulnerability. Could Captain America be right? Is he just a guy in a "souped-up" suit? We learn the answer to that in "Iron Man 3," which finds Tony half-way across the country with a damaged suit, working out of a shed with the help of a kid (Ty Simpkins, who's chemistry with the father-figure/buddy Tony is perfect).
"Iron Man 3" is the best of the trilogy for all the reasons mentioned above. We see Tony Stark as a man with real emotions (who *wouldn't suffer with PTSD after all he's been through?), and a man who realizes what's important -- the people he loves. His relationship with Pepper Potts is sweet (and a fun twist shows she's just as capable as being a superhero as the others), and it's clear he's more than just a guy in a suit. As always, the action-packed special effects are cool, including an Iron Man suit that can find its way to Tony, even on the other side of the country.
As with the other Marvel movies (except for "The Incredible Hulk," which moved its scene into the main film), stay through the credits for a final scene. It's not as much of a tease as some of the other end-credits scenes, but it definitely ties into "The Avengers 2," which opens May 1, 2015.
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Jane Boursaw is a family entertainment writer specializing in movies and TV. Visit her at http://www.reellifewithjane.com or email email@example.com.