Top critical review
2nd tier Marvel release because bad guy wasn't that bad and the 1 that should've been wasn't
Reviewed in the United States on May 14, 2020
Unfortunately each of the succeeding Iron Man films was not as good as its predecessor. That was in part because the first was such a groundbreaking release which set the mood and tone of the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe. Iron Man 3 was still enjoyable but was in the second tier of Marvel movies with the likes of Doctor Strange and Thor The Dark World. The theme of the movie was unintended consequences. As Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr) explains in the opening, “We create our own demons.”
Stark was specifically referring to a conference in 1999 when he was still a freewheeling playboy who was often irresponsible. He blew off a researcher named Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce) who’d created a group called Advanced Idea Mechanics (AIM) and slept with the scientist Maya Hansen (Rebecca Hall) and then forgot about them. Killian would be his foe in this film with AIM becoming a criminal organization along with the Mandarin (Ben Kingsley), while Hansen would work for him on something called Extremis that was another attempt to create a super soldier. This relates to the theme that if Stark had paid attention to people back in the day they might not have come back to haunt him. Killian was not a big figure in the comics, but AIM was one of the main villains right up there with Hydra. The Mandarin was also one of Iron Man’s biggest foes. The movie completely changed the character to a figurehead however, which was greatly criticized by fans of the comics.
Another part of the theme was Stark suffering post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from the first Avengers film. He constantly had flashbacks and panic attacks as a result of him almost dying at the end of that film. Again, his past was affecting him.
The main flaw with the story was that Killian just wasn’t that much of a bad guy, and the one that should have been the main villain the Mandarin really wasn’t. A good action movie always has to have a strong villain otherwise it doesn’t give the audience much reason to care about the conflict in the story. Killian had a scheme to exploit the war on terror for his own profit, but is that really a good driving plot? That’s the reason why Iron Man 3 is definitely a second tier Marvel movie.