My main problem with Iron Man 2 was that there was so precious little of Tony Stark tinkering in his insanely cool lab, proving that he is not only the richest man alive, but also the smartest. Iron Man Three makes up for that and then some; Tony Stark is rarely suited up for action, and even when he is, he is now able to control the suit remotely.
This is actually a good thing; RDJ remains more interesting as Tony Stark than when we see his smushed head surrounded by digital readouts in the Iron Man mask. So I like that… but he is certainly a bit more than just a billionaire playboy with a cool suit in this one. Stark disables an entire team of professional assassins in one scene with nothing but McGyvered oven mitt. Outthinking the enemy? I have no problem believing that, but when Stark starts ass kicking sans suit, the character has started to believe his own hype.
That is a small quibble. A larger one is the villain… Now, I’m torn here. I really love- LOVE- the bold move they make with the Mandarin. It takes guts to do what they did, and all I can say is that they are lucky they had an actor of Ben Kingsley’s calibre to pull it off. That said, I found the bad guys here to be bit ill-defined in other respects, their powers, strengths and weaknesses changing to fit the given scene. Why does an Iron Man pulsar merely slow them down in one scene and then rip them in half in another?
And why wasn’t Tony ready for that attack on his Malibu compound? He has, after all, a fleet of Iron Men (a pretty good optional title for this movie) that eventually come to his rescue. It seems as though they could have helped him out in this scene in particular. And if not them, how about Don Cheadle’s Iron Patriot? Tony Stark threw down a fairly public gauntlet for the Mandarin; I would imagine his best friend would be aware that there was danger afoot. And come to think about it, doesn’t the fact that Cheadle gets his own Iron Man suit sort of diminish the Iron Man brand? Yeah, I know that Stark designs them, but now that there are so damn many Iron Men every where you look, what makes one better than the next?
Never mind, this is a really fun movie overall. But here’s the thing, and sorry to keep pulling at this thread- I don’t think they have found a decent bad guy for Tony Stark in any of these movies, The Avengers included. When you look at the great superhero bad guys- The Joker, Doctor Octopus, General Zod (Terrence Stamp model)- the nastiness all starts with some strong motivation (even if it is just anarchy, in Joker’s case). I’m still not quite sure what the Mandarin hoped to pull off here, but I guess it really doesn’t matter. What is good is very good (the Air Force 1 rescue is excellent) that I would happily line up for “Tony Stark’s return”, as the closing credits promise.