Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Guy Pearce, Rebecca Hall, Ben Kingsley
May 3, 2013 (US Premiere)
Summary for Moms:
In 1999, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr) snubs nebbish, nerd Aldrich Killian’s (Guy Pearce) offer to work together to develop Extremis, an experimental treatment pioneered by Doctor Maya Hansen (Rebecca Hall), to treat those with lost limbs and degenerative diseases. Years later, after his stint with the Avengers, Stark begins to suffer from panic attacks and PTSD related to the Battle of New York. He suffers nightmares, and struggles to control his now thought-based Iron Man armor.
All this is compounded by the fact that The Mandarin (Ben Kingsley), leader of the terrorist organization that kidnapped Stark in the first Iron Man film, has been launching suicide bombings against the U.S. Aldrich Killian also resurfaces, with a new, more potent version of Extremis.
After a devastating attack on his home by The Mandarin, Stark escapes, but finds himself stranded in Tennessee and hunted by Extremis-wielding soldiers. Racing against time, Stark must find the connection between The Mandarin and Extremis, while fighting off the panic attacks that plague him. But perhaps The Mandarin is not everything he seems to be…
Iron Man 3 is the last of the Iron Man films (so far), Shane Black’s first turn in the director’s chair, and the opening salvo in the second phase of Marvel’s plan to make every film in theaters part of its cinematic universe. Like the first Iron Man before it, it has a lot of heavy lifting to do, especially coming off the tails of The Avengers. However, like the second Iron Man before it, it is largely a convoluted mess. I say so because, having seen the movie twice, I had to refer to Wikipedia to produce the Summary for Moms above. I just couldn’t make heads or tails of this movie. And neither could my mother.
The opening stretch of scenes are dry and devoid of anything that could light a spark of interest, especially when we’re introduced to the villain(s). As I’ve said in many Make Mom Marvels before, the quality of the villain is typically the litmus test of a Marvel property’s success. Guy Pearce’s Aldrich Killian and Rebecca Hall’s Maya Hansen are two flat characters with nothing going for them. My mom could barely name Killian and referred to him constantly as “that guy”, and she didn’t seem to register that Maya Hansen was even a character. When she is revealed to be corrupt later in the film (for a full five minutes until she’s killed), my mom didn’t even blink. Surprising, as she’s often been incredulous when good characters turn out to be evil.
Furthermore, “The Mandarin”, while being vaguely ominous, doesn’t feel like a real threat even though he’s blowing up people via Extremis all over the place. My mom found it hard to connect the Extremis to The Mandarin and Killian and was entirely confused as to what Extremis was. And, if I’m being honest, so did I. It just isn’t explained very well and was definitely not in any way engaging.
I found her falling asleep during the first half and I don’t blame her. However, she did perk up when I revealed to her that The Mandarin was being played by Sir Ben Kingsley. That took her by surprise, as she did not recognize him at all. The hair and beard threw her off because I’m pretty sure she thinks he just normally looks like Gandhi. And although a great many people despise the movie’s twist on the Mandarin, wherein Ben Kingsley is actually just idiotic British Actor Trevor Slattery under Killian’s payroll, my mom really enjoyed it and was amused with his antics. That being said, I never minded the twist much either and thought it was a cute idea that would have worked in a more well-constructed movie.
Although she was now taking notice, she still wasn’t fully invested, and, once again, I sympathize. Aside from The Mandarin, the movie focuses on a lost and troubled Tony Stark investigating a small town in Tennessee with the help of a small boy, eventually leading to a large fight with Killian and his goons, who have uh… kidnapped the president. Seriously. It’s a mishmash of different concepts that are hard to reconcile as being the same film and left both of us just confused and uninvested through the rest of the movie. Even the final fight with Stark’s various armors was a slog, very similar to the robot heavy fight of Iron Man 2 and, this time, both of us fell asleep. That being, said, she did enjoy the parts with the precocious kid (a Shane Black staple). So it wasn’t all bad, I guess.
Mom Rating (Out of Five):
- When the kid asks Tony “What can you do for me?” she remarked that all kids today only care about what you can do for them.
- She liked the bit where Tony invades that guy’s news van.
- By the end, she was confused if he was actually giving up being Iron Man. I told her no, because obviously there’s another Avengers, but that part made me confused, too.
- She thinks Robert Downey Jr. looks like Al Pacino. Which, I guess, if you squint…
Post Credits Sequence:
- “It’s really hard being a psychiatrist.”
- “Mom, that’s Bruce Banner. The Hulk.”
- “I know. I’m just saying it must be boring being a psychiatrist. You have you listen to everybody’s problems.”