Marvel has done almost everything right with their Superhero Cinematic Universe so far. There hasn’t been a dud yet as each film and superhero is given a filmmaker that is dedicated to bringing a loyal and refreshing tale to the silver screen. Marvel has sought out real talent in their choices for a director in each film and it has worked out really well, until now. Iron Man 3 is the worst Marvel film to date and one of the worst superhero films in recent memory. Taking place after the events of The Avengers, Iron Man 3 doesn’t ever take advantage of Joss Whedon’s take on the character. Instead Marvel hired Shane Black whose filmmaking style just doesn’t flow with the series to this point. Black tries to complicate the “plot” while also trying to bring in more fun to an already “fun-heavy” franchise. What we get here is a movie that is almost devoid of any drama and the worst of the Iron Man series.
After the good yet disappointing Iron Man 2, Tony Stark needed a kick-start and that kick-start would end up being The Avengers. Iron Man stole the show in Joss Whedon’s epic superhero piece and in the process made Iron Man one of the biggest superheroes around. So Iron Man 3 had something to go off of and it looked poised to be another good addition to the Marvel canon. The problem is that Marvel picked the wrong guy. Almost everything that is wrong with Iron Man 3 belongs to Shane Black. Black is a (kinda) respected filmmaker who wrote Lethal Weapon and wrote/directed the indie hit Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. He showed a lot of promise even though he doesn’t have a lot of credits to his name but his unique style looked like it would flow with the quick wit of Tony Stark. Unfortunately it doesn’t, as Iron Man’s tone is a mix between an all out action/comedy and the tone of the previous Iron Man films. What we get is a plot and characters that never feel grounded in a specific genre. It is hard to feel the menace of a situation when the movie never gives the film’s drama any weight. I felt this way about The Avengers too but that was only a small grumble. Unlike the The Avengers, Iron Man 3 isn’t able to balance its own desire to be different with what an Iron Man and a superhero film should resemble.
Along with the hyper comedic tone you have a plot that I’m surprised made it on to screen. Most of the story is really far fetched or it is done in a way to almost mock its characters and later revelations. Take Guy Pearce’s character, Aldrich Killian, who is presented at the beginning as a huge nerd with oily skin and dirty long hair. He later transforms into handsome scientist who is bent on destroying Tony Stark because he was mean to him that one time. He is a joke of a character and one of the worst comic book villains because the story never takes him or his motivations seriously. That’s one of the problems with Iron Man 3, it just uses the bare minimum, story wise, to move along its twisty and comedy heavy plot. Black likes having a complicated plot but he doesn’t like to take the time to make each betrayal and murder count. I mean there is a moment towards the end where a major character appears to be dead and Tony continues to snicker and throw out one-liners. I know not each Superhero film has to be as serious as Nolan’s The Dark Knight Trilogy but Iron Man 3 takes out all the drama from Tony Stark. The weight of danger, the adrenaline of hating a villain, and the rush of fearing for Tony Stark and those around him are all left to wayside so Black can overflow the story with his brand of filmmaking. At the end of the day this isn’t an Iron Man film with Shane Black but a Shane Black film with Iron Man.
The Avengers should have been a whole new start for Tony Stark but now with the release of Iron Man 3, Stark is looking lost in a world without his super friends. Gone is the excitement and fun of the Faveau films as the movie is more interested in showing off Tony Stark’s quick wit. Very few things work here as the action feels clumsy and the humor is hit or miss, this is a huge step backwards for Iron Man. Phase 2 of The Avengers project starts with a dud, which is a shame because Marvel had done everything right to this point. The biggest mistake here, as I have said before, is Shane Black who could never put away his own personal style to make a loyal and entertaining Iron Man movie. Marvel has always picked creative filmmakers to make to their movies and have given them free reign to do what they will. This shouldn’t change but Marvel should be more careful in the future of who they pick and when that said filmmaker is taking a film in a direction opposite of the source material. Iron Man 3 isn’t a total disaster but it is one of the worst Superhero films to come out in a long time. It really isn’t a superhero film at all as it wades into being a buddy action film and an all out comedy. From the main villain who is totally disrespected to some just very cheesy superhero moments, Iron Man 3 is the first real misstep for Marvel’s Superhero Cinematic Universe.