Here we are at the beginning of Phase Two of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, once again starting where Phase One began, with none other than Tony Stark, aka the Invincible Iron Man.
There’s been a multitude of speculation, ranging from which potential Avenger will make an appearance, who the villains are and the ultimate fate of the franchise, with the recent news that Robert Downey Jr.’s contract with Marvel Studios is about to expire with negotiations currently on-going.
After the capstone that was The Avengers, how will Phase Two build upon and expand the cinematic universe while raising the stakes for the heroes? Only time will tell as we begin with Iron Man 3, followed by Thor: The Dark World, Ant-Man, Guardians of the Galaxy and Captain America: The Winter Soldier throughout the end of this year and culminating next summer with The Avengers 2.
Robert Downey Jr., Don Cheadle and Gwyneth Paltrow reprise their roles as the story picks one year after the events of The Avengers, those same events having left Tony Stark a nervous wreck plagued by anxiety attacks.
On top of that, a rival company known as Advanced Idea Mechanics, or AIM, has begun to make its presence with Extremis Project, a project specializing in the re-growth of lost limbs and the “reprogramming” of the human brain. To add to the list of Stark’s stressors, a string of mysterious bombings and strikes perpetrated by a terrorist calling himself The Mandarin, played by Ben Kingsley, has the country on edge.
This is a huge step up from the previous Iron Man film in terms of story and execution
While the second Iron Man was more or less used to expand the universe, this film feels more like a sequel and actually moves things forward in terms of story and character development.
This is shown particularly well with what Tony Stark goes through during the film, as he deals with the anxiety caused by the massive attack in New York as well as the weight of the responsibility being Iron Man entails. While we still have the usual quips and retorts, we also get to see Stark be resourceful and genuinely clever when it comes to dealing with The Mandarin.
The film does an incredible job of taking a villain, that is far from politically correct, and actually finding a way for the character to work in the grand scheme of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It’s actually really surprising what the filmmakers were able to come up with.
One thing that had me worried was how dark it initially looked in the early trailers. I was worried that Marvel was going to try to copy Christopher Nolan. Thankfully, my fears were unfounded. While it does get pretty dark at times, it doesn’t lose the heart of the character of Iron Man.
Iron Man 3 is a blast to watch, a major step up from the previous installment. It keeps to the heart of the characters and the universe while moving forward in terms of story and character development. It takes some of the riskier concepts of the Marvel Universe and creates a believable interpretation that, while grounded in reality, still embraces its comic book root.
The news of Downey’s expiring contract definitely had an impact as it ends on a very conclusive note while still leaving room for films in the future. Overall, any fan of superhero movies will get a kick out of it. On my personal scale, I give Iron Man 3 a 5/5.