Former superstar screenwriter Shane Black takes over one of Hollywood’s bigger franchises. How does he do?

Okay, just so everyone knows, I did not send out the newsletter last week. So you haven’t been kicked off. I was up in Portland for my brother’s wedding. I’ll tell ya. Portland is an interesting place. But I’ll have to save that story for another time. As for now, let’s get Scriptshadow back on schedule.

Genre: Action-Adventure/Superhero
Premise: (from IMDB) When Tony Stark’s world is torn apart by a formidable terrorist called the Mandarin, he starts an odyssey of rebuilding and retribution.
About: Two writers are credited with Iron Man 3 – the director, Shane Black, and British writer Drew Pearce. Shane Black’s career is well-documented, as he burst onto the scene with his then innovative spec, Lethal Weapon, then went on to sell several specs for 7 figures. He disappeared for awhile, came back with his directing debut, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (starring Robert Downey Jr.), which led to a friendship that eventually resulted in Downey Jr. asking him to direct Iron Man 3. The more unknown story is Drew Pearce, who was basically a nobody (in America at least) who all of a sudden started getting hired to write some of the biggest movies in Hollywood (outside of Iron Man 3, he also did a rewrite on Pacific Rim, and was hired to write Sherlock Holmes 3). This all came about because Pearce wrote a show back in the U.K. about super heroes in their off-duty hours.
Writers: Drew Pearce and Shane Black
Details: 130 minutes

ironman3 lead

Let’s be honest. Iron Man 2 wasn’t very good. However, a big reason for that was they rushed it into production after the success of the first movie. John Favreau, the director, saw his world spinning out of control as he fought to get one more year to work on the script. Marvel wanted moolah right away though so Favreau lost that battle. But yeah, everything wrong with that movie can be attributed to a really sloppy, badly written screenplay.

Since Iron Man had to go fight with the Avengers last summer, Iron Man 3 had a little more time to get its script in order. Not only that, but it had longtime screenwriting vet Shane Black taking over directing duties. This is what really intrigued me. They had a real live screenwriter taking over the helming position. So the idea was: Good screenwriter + more time = good movie.

That’s the IDEA of course. The problem is that most people in Hollywood flunked math. And I’m bummed to say that even under the most algebraic rationale, Iron Man 3 is only marginally better than the second film. Look, I can’t pretend to know what it’s like taking over a franchise film, being hounded by numerous execs from multiple studios and production companies, all with their own ideas and agendas. It’s a dance you only learn by going through it, something only the luckiest of us will be able to experience. But you’d think with a movie like Iron Man 3, a proven franchise, that it’s kind of a fail-safe deal. I’m pretty sure you could film Robert Downey Jr. strutting around Burbank doing a Jay Leno impersonation for two hours and it’d make 400 million bucks. Since that’s the case, why not just let the writer do his thing? Let’s get a good screenplay in here! Of course, for all I know, Shane Black had all the story control in the world. Whatever the case, Iron Man 3 became a strange movie-going experience that was part investigation, part super hero film, and part sit-com.

Iron Man 3 starts off with a flashback, to 1999, where Tony Stark rejects an offer from a crippled man named Aldrich Killian to join his company. Jump to the present, and Aldrich is no longer crippled, thanks to his company’s advancements in neural re-stimulators or some such. But in order to take the next step with his company, he still needs funding. And no one has more funding than Tony Stark. Unfortunately for Aldrich, Stark’s company rejects him once again, even with his shiny new smile.

Across the pond, the world has a bunch of new problems they gotta deal with, as there’s a new terrorist on the loose named “The Mandarin.” The Mandarin is blowing up people left and right and when one of those people ends up being Tony Stark’s bodyguard, Stark gets pissed. He advertises an open challenge to the Mandarin to come face him like a man, even giving out his address! Well the Mandarin comes all right, with lots of helicopters and missiles, destroying Stark’s sprawling Oceanside mansion.

Tony barely survives, then flies to Tennessee (I think) where one of the first Mandarin attacks happened. He starts piecing together how the Mandarin did this, acquiring the help of a 10 year old local boy named Harley. He then heads to Miami to confront the Mandarin while Harley stays back and works on repairing his Iron Man suit (no, I am not making that up – a ten year old boy repairs one of the most complicated pieces of machinery on the planet).

Eventually (spoiler), we find out that The Mandarin, our big bad terrorist, is just an out of work homeless alcoholic actor hired by Aldrich to scare the world so that he can take it over or something. It’s all a lead-up to what will be an assassination attempt on the president on Air Force 1, which Tony Stark will have to regroup and get back into his Iron Man suit to prevent.

If I’m being honest, Iron Man 3 felt like it was being written as it went along. I haven’t seen an opening that was that sloppily written for a major summer movie in a long time. I don’t know exactly what it was. The clunky voice over, the funky flashback, but probably the biggest thing was the tone. Iron Man has always been big on humor, but here they took it overboard. It was so overtly goofy, with Stark joking about having sex with a botanist and some slapstick comedy between Stark and his bodyguard – the tone was no different than a CBS sit-com. It didn’t even feel like the scenes were written. It was like the actors were given free reign to say or do whatever they wanted. It really put me off from the outset.

Then we get this strange scene where Pepper (Stark’s assistant/gf) comes home and starts flirting with Stark in his Iron Man suit, only for us to find out that Stark’s not in his suit. The suit is standing in for him so he can work out downstairs. I had no idea what the point of this scene was but I’m guessing it was to show that Stark was more concerned with his work than Pepper? Either way, it was so goofy to the point of being bizarre. Even Avengers, which had to balance the tone of several different franchises and be friendly to just about every demographic, didn’t have nearly as goofy a tone as this. At times, it felt like Nickelodeon was producing this thing.

After Stark nearly dies in the attack on his house, he falls asleep in his suit (??) while his suit takes him to a place he’d previously ruminated might be connected with the Mandarin. This is why the script felt made up as it went along. Our main character falling asleep in a suit and when he wakes up he’s magically in the town that starts his investigation?? One of the most underrated parts of writing is seamlessly moving your character from plot point to plot point. The idea is to make it invisible. If your audience is questioning how and why we got from one place to another, you’re not doing your job.

But the moment where I really gave up on Iron Man was when The Mandarin turned into this goofy bumbling homeless actor. That was one level of goofy too deep for me. I mean I thought I was watching a super hero movie here. Why does it feel like an episode of Malcom In The Middle? And I haven’t even brought up the kid, which felt like the studio note of all studio notes (we need a 10 year old kid in this to bring in all the 10 year old kids!). Once we have 10 year olds repairing nuclear suits, all logic is thrown out the window. The funny thing was, despite the fact that he was awkwardly and inorganically crammed into the story, the actor playing the kid was the best thing about the movie. Whenever Downey Jr. and Jon Favreau were on screen together, all you saw was Downey Jr. and Jon Favreau, the actors, trying to outdo each other improv-battle style. This kid and Downey actually made me believe Downey Jr. was Tony Stark, and this kid was Harley. It was so good, in fact, it made it clear how much the rest of the movie wasn’t working.

Iron Man 3 may be the most un-super-hero super hero movie of the last decade. Most of the movie had Stark out of his Iron Man suit off in a little town investigating a murder of the likes you’d see in a tiny little indie flick. To strip the super hero elements out of such a huge film was a daring move by Black – I have to give him props for taking that chance. But ultimately, there were too many goofy elements wrapped in too sloppy of a screenplay to pay this risk off. Iron Man 3 was not as bad as Iron Man 2. But it felt more like friends goofing around than an honest-to-goodness kickass superhero film.

[ ] what the hell did I just see?
[x] don’t spend your money on this
[ ] worth the price of admission
[ ] impressive
[ ] genius

What I learned: Lifelong fatal flaws are always preferable to recent fatal flaws. A well-executed character change is one of the most rewarding experiences movies have to offer. For example, if your hero’s always been closed off emotionally, we like to see him finally open up in the end. The problem with sequels is that your character has likely already overcome that flaw in the first film. This often results in writers needing to come up with more recent fatal flaws to drive the sequels. In Iron Man 3, it’s Tony Stark’s anxiety disorder. Because it’s such a recent thing, it doesn’t feel nearly as important, which is why whenever it comes up, we don’t really care. I’m not saying I know how to solve that particular issue in Iron Man 3. But it’s a good reminder that if you’re going to give your hero a fatal flaw, it should be something he’s been battling all or most of his life, not something that’s only recently come up.

  • DrMatt

    I don’t know what it is lately, but these reviews have been so far off the mark for me.

    I thought Iron Man Three was a great “fuck you” to the way superhero movies have been done. While I agree with one or two of these points (the fatal flaw was not exploited well enough, especially during the climax), I think a lot of this review comes down to Carson expecting one thing and getting another. And judging from the fanboy backlash to this movie on the internet, he’s not alone.

    I agree it didn’t feel like a “kick-ass superhero film.” But none of Marvel’s movies has felt like a “kick-ass superhero film”. Except maybe Avengers. So I was glad for once Kevin Feige had the guts to let someone play with convention the way they did in this movie. What I loved about it was how it constantly set something up and then switched it. Like the Mandarin reveal. Or near the end when his suit is about to attach to him but instead it hits a piece of metal and crumples to the floor. Or that he teams up with a child and their banter completely eschews daddy-issue conversation and stays snarky. All of it just felt like a fun “get the fuck over yourselves” to everyone who thinks superhero films need to follow a rigid template. I was on board.

    My biggest problem, as it’s been with every single Marvel film, is that the climax was messy and unsatisfying. They always seem like 3/4 of a blow job; like Feige is forcing the filmmakers to hold back for the next movie and doesn’t let them pull out all the stops. That doesn’t seem to have changed with Phase 2.

    But with that said, how can you fault a movie where henchmen finally say what we’re all thinking. And not just once, but twice!

    • J. Lawrence Head

      In many ways I liked the Mandarin reveal. It’s a kind of red herring from old detective novels. The bad guy you thought wasnt the real bad guy. I think it would have been better if he wasnt a goofball but somebody being blackmailed , or some other way forced like the true puppet he was.

    • romer6

      I agree with you. People don´t go to see a movie for what it is anymore. They go for what they expect it to be. Would people bash it so much if no trailer for the movie was ever released? I don´t think so. As I said in my comment, I thought the script was a real mess, some choices didn´t make sense at all. But does a guy who wears an armor to fight evil have to make that much sense? I think with this kind of movie, we must draw a line and we can walk over this line as long as we don´t cross it. And they didn´t. They went to the edge but never really pushed us down there and for that I´m grateful. I had a fun afternoon, my girlfriend, who had never seen an Iron Man movie before, had a lot of fun also and. come on, that kid is awesome! Damn it, they should make a spin off with him. Could it have been better? Of course, a lot better, it just had to have a script! But I dare say even The Godfather could be better (yes, I honestly think that).

      • GeneralChaos

        That’s silly – people have always had expectations going into a film, good or bad. People had huge expectations when the sequel to Star Wars was released and they didn’t come away critical. People had huge expectations for the sequels to Spiderman and X-Men, and both of those are cited as being better than the original.
        I’m still trying to figure out if I liked the film, and I had no expectations going in… well, maybe a slight hope because of Shane Black and Downey. The action scenes were top-notch, probably the best in the series but the whole twist with the Mandarin was a let down. SPOILERS – having him be just some bumbling actor instead of the Big Bad he was promoted to be felt like a twist for the sake of a twist. There was no reason I could see why he couldn’t just remain a dangerous villain but in service for a hidden cause. They neutered the villain and when the real one showed it was like, so what? We’re supposed to be invested in seeing this guy defeated now?
        I’m kind of glad they did this because it justified a change I made in my own story. I changed things so that, instead of my villain being revealed as a pawn for some greater threat, the “greater threat” became the antagonist from the start and it’s made for a stronger story.

    • Charles Ryan

      The execution from the script to the direction was awful. The movie was filled with filler, and it became difficult to enjoy once the serious nature was diminished to goofball antics. International terrorist (also falsely made in the image of Bin Laden) blows up heroes home, takes girlfriend and it’s full of laughs during the second half of the movie. The setup doesn’t match the climatic tone.

      So many flaws in the movie, I was barely able to enjoy. And I came in with no preconceived notions on what I expected, just wanted to see what they had to offer and it was very little.

  • jae kim

    I often about sequels. why spider 2 so good? or terminator 2?

    I think it was because the first movie of these series ended with unresolved issues that could be carried into the sequel. I think the third movie of any trilogy is the hardest to pull off. I mean how many times can you dip into the same character for conflict, drama and new growth? I’m going to iron man 3 this friday so I’ll hold my opinion until then.

    • Jonathan Soens

      It’s a funny thing about sequels.

      I was about to say how I think Nolan’s Batman trilogy worked so well partly because of the choice he made to save the Joker for the 2nd movie instead of burning him in the first. By keeping the Joker off the board during “Batman Begins,” he still had a great lure to dangle for the 1st sequel.

      But, then, I remembered Spiderman pulled the same trick with Venom, keeping him off the board until a sequel — and I don’t think that made a difference at all, as I had no interest in the third Spiderman movie regardless of what big villain they had to dangle.

      • GeneralChaos

        They didn’t wait for Spiderman 3 to show Venom. That was forced on Raimi. If he had his way, Venom would’ve never shown his face.
        Joker had to be saved for the second Batman because you couldn’t have the hero and the villain both having their origin stories in one film.
        Both sequels worked because they had great stories that the creators took time to craft. They weren’t forced to cram in elements by the studio. That’s why Iron Man 2 failed – Favreau was given no time for the story.

  • romer6

    Well, like I said in my previous comment, this movie was really fun in a distorted kind of way. I think the goofy factor works better with a character that has already been stablished as not that all serious. I mean, try to imagine Batman in the same position: impossible! But Iron Man (the movie one, not the comics) is a fun character, he makes jokes, he is irresponsible, he is arrogant. So I think the movie worked in that matter. But this script is a joke itself. It makes no sense at all. He goes to Tennessee (I think) and has his armor broken. What does he do? He goes shopping in Walmart and buys lots of trinkets to invade the mansion where the so called Mandarim is. Yes. He doesn´t call his friends, he doesn´t ask for help, he doesn´t try to fix his armor, he goes shopping. Damn, that makes no sense! Oh, by the way, he is in Tennessee (I think) and then he is in Miami! How the hell did he get there? If he had to take a plane, why not go to his place and get another armor? Yes, he had another one. Not just one, about 40 armors. The Mandarim reveal was not the worst part of the movie by any means. The script is so full of plot holes that I had to shut down at some point and try to enjoy it somehow. And that I did. And I had fun. Is it a great movie? Not at all. But it is certainly a fun movie. And it will appeal to the masses, I guess, and probably make a lot of money. I was a lot more disappointed with the last effort in Spider Man franchise than this one. That one didn´t even set the tone right and was a complete mess! I hope this wasn´t the last Iron Man movie, the character has lots of possibilities. We just need a better script, all the other elements are already there.

  • C.J. Giltner

    The Madarin reveal was the best moment in the movie I thought. The humor throughout was the only thing that kept me in this story.

    Everything to do with Extremis really didn’t make sense (Here’s a question? How do you kill an Extremis person? An explosion slightly bigger than the explosion that couldn’t kill him?)

  • WakaWaka

    Maybe it’s just me, but it felt that Shane Black didn’t know much about comics and just took pieces from recent comic movies. The Mandraian twist felt like the Batman Begins twist. The whole genetics angle with growing limbs back is Lizard’s from Spiderman whole deal and healing fast is Wolverine’s power. Then to add it it, making them super hot, looked like the human torch. But what was Guy’s Pearce problem? Is Stark Industries the only company worth perusing for funding? Especially since they are out of the arms industry, why not go to whoever replaced Hammer Company?

    I guess you can nitpick over everything. At the end of the day, I would say it was okay and worth an 9 dollar movie ticket.

    • Mercutio

      it was a big problem that the villain had no motivation for doing what he did. his pursuit of iron was seemed out of all proportions for not coming to meet him on that roof. and it didn’t look like that he needed funding either.

  • Charles Ryan

    I agree… the Madarin reveal and the kid/Tennessee trip KILLED the story. We were building up to a great showdown with Iron Man vs The Madarin. The kid felt absolutely crammed in the story, Iron Man just so happens to hideout in the shed of a semi-genius kid that can help him fix his suit that just so happens to live in the town where the first bomb went off. That’s so bad.

    I watched the entire film feeling like there were too many hollywood hands on this script. I felt the same about Tony Stark not really ever being in his suit much and Rhodes was basically non-existent or unnecessary to the story. It was interesting up until the “Twist” and then boring until the final battle which was lacking as well.

    I have to agree with you 100% here. Although I think he blacked out in the suit not really caught some “Zzz’s”.

  • filmklassik

    Haven’t seen IRON MAN 3 yet but I am planning to check it out next weekend. However…

    I love the fact that Carson is willing to swim against the mainstream again as he famously did with INCEPTION, LOOPER and THE AVENGERS. God love ‘im.

    No movie can possibly appeal to everyone and the fact is is that plenty of movies ARE structurally unsound these days, whether they appeal to the zeitgeist or not.

    Let us pause now to remember that TOP GUN appealed to the zeitgeist back in 1986 and is also a piece of crap. Likewise FLASHDANCE, PATCH ADAMS, STIR CRAZY and THE ROCK all struck a chord with audiences and are all but unwatchable now.

    And INCEPTION and THE AVENGERS soon will be (mark my words).

    I’m not sure about LOOPER as I didn’t care for the script and can’t bring myself to rent the video. Maybe someday.

    • wlubake

      I have no problem watching Top Gun or The Rock. To me, this is like saying “all rap music sucks.” Or “country music is unbearable.” You have to understand what things are, and appreciate them for what they are. Top Gun and The Rock have their place, even without checking off every logic box on the screenwriting checklist.

      • filmklassik

        I hear ya, bake, but if by “understanding what things are” you mean “recognizing their place in the firmament of popcorn movies” my only response is: Yeah, but those are BAD popcorn movies.

        See, I can watch JAWS, RAIDERS, GOLDFINGER, SPEED, DIE HARD and IN THE LINE OF FIRE every day and twice on Sunday because they’re terrific movies. In fact those are my favorite KINDS of movies: Very plot-driven and intended purely to entertain.

        Likewise TOP GUN and THE ROCK are incredibly plot driven and intended purely to entertain.

        Except they don’t. Not in my opinion, anyway (although I know that plenty of smart people disagree with me).

        So I would NEVER say that “all rap music sucks” any more than I would say “all popcorn movies are unwatchable.” They’re not.

        But some of them are.

  • Radu Huciu

    We all know it, we’re all thinking it here, I’m just saying it: strong villain with a proper motivation and a great plan behind him. This is what this movie desperately needed. They did the same with Dark Knight Rises — if anyone can explain to me what the F Bane’s plan was contact me and I’ll Fedex you my kidneys :D (and yes ,I’ve considered every possibility and they all come out the same — mindless)

    Anyway, props for the humor, I enjoyed that, but an overall half-assed script, muddled plot with Swiss cheese-like holes (so Killian doesn’t die when the suit traps him inside and blows him up, but dies when Pepper throws a whatever at him??? Riiiiiight) and “light” performances overall.

    For me though it all comes down to the villain in these movies. No villain, no movie. And this one didn’t have a villain, I’m sorry.

    PS: cool tattoos don’t make you a good villain :D

    • Alan Burnett

      “if anyone can explain to me what the F Bane’s plan was contact me and I’ll Fedex you my kidneys :D (and yes ,I’ve considered every possibility and they all come out the same — mindless)”

      By “considered EVERY possibility”, do you mean that your dog ate your homework or something? It’s explicitly explain IN A MONOLOGUE: maybe you couldn’t understand what the hell Bane was saying, but he did say it. It’s a revenge mission. Bane – working as a proxy – wanted to not only break Bruce’s body, but also his soul, and felt that the best way to do was to destroy the one thing that means something to him: Gotham City. And the destruction can’t simply be physical, it’s moral and psychological: it’s about destroying the city’s spirit.
      “There’s a reason why this prison is the worst hell on earth… Hope. Every man who has ventured here over the centuries has looked up to the light and imagined climbing to freedom. So easy… So simple… And like shipwrecked men turning to sea water from uncontrollable thirst, many have died trying. I learned here that there can be no true despair without hope. So, as I terrorize Gotham, I will feed its people hope to poison their souls. I will let them believe they can survive so that you can watch them clamoring over each other to “stay in the sun.” You can watch me torture an entire city and when you have truly understood the depth of your failure, we will fulfill Ra’s al Ghul’s destiny… We will destroy Gotham and then, when it is done and Gotham is ashes, then you have my permission to die.”

      • Radu Huciu

        Alan, I got the plan. It was basically Joker’s plan, the Bane version. Also, notice the smiley face at the end of my sentence, which means I was sarcastic and self-ironic. But to “translate” what I was saying: Bane’s plan was stupid and the monologue was the official death knell of the movie for me. “We have a bomb, but you’re free to do whatever you want, even though you can’t leave because we’ve blown up the bridges, but you’re free to do whatever you want…oh and there’s going to be three trucks cruising around town, one hiding the bomb and stuff…oh and also the trigger’s going to be in one of your hands cause, you know, this is all supposed to be very metaphoric and stuff”. As a final note I’m not dissing Batman, TDK is actually one of my favorite movies of all time. What I am saying is basically that rushed productions happen and this is the result. Spread love man :D Think positive :D

        • Alan Burnett

          No, no, no, no, no, no, no. That ISN’T the scene. It’s a DIFFERENT scene. A DIFFERENT one. As in, NOT THE SAME. I referred to the scene in which Bane tells Bruce his PLAN: he tells the city something DIFFERENT. You see, characters should speak DIFFERENTLY in DIFFERENT situations, and Bane was cold, clear and unsentimental to Bruce, not to others. And it actually WASN’T The Joker’s plan. At all. The Joker wanted to play with his new best bud Batman in the sandbox and didn’t care if anyone else got hurt: Bane wanted to destroy Gotham AND Batman. One’s a psychopathic manchild with nihilistic tendencies, the other’s a focused, militaristic . DIFFERENT, NOT THE SAME. You seem like a friendly enough guy, but I am interested in what a film DOES and HOW IT DOES IT, not “I got kinda bored, what happened? I didn’t really understand” approach. That kind of criticism isn’t interesting to me.

          • Radu Huciu

            I know what scene you were referring to and while your points are valid, from where I’m standing it seems to me like you really liked this movie and are trying to come up with excuses for its lame execution :D which is fine, I have my own “babies” I will defend to the ends of the earth when people criticize them, we all do :D But for me, personally, at the end of the day, Rises felt rushed, underdeveloped (both in terms of plot and character) and hidden behind a lot of smoke and mirrors of dialogue. The same could be said about Prometheus, but something tells me I shouldn’t go there as you’re going to dog me about that too :D

          • Alan Burnett

            “The same could be said about Prometheus, but something tells me I shouldn’t go there as you’re going to dog me about that too :D”

            That’s a pretty rough characterization. Think about what you’ve written: you assume I’ll like a genre because it has “lame execution”. ‘TDKR’ made my top ten list, but so did foreign-language films ‘Like Someone in Love’, ‘Beyond the Hills’, ‘Amour’, ‘Our Children’. I have broad tastes beyond genre. For the record, I didn’t like the choices Ridley Scott made on so many levels, but I also actually don’t care about the film either and I don’t like your attempts to categorize my tastes in that way. My problem isn’t that you didn’t like ‘TDKR': it’s that the statements you made that weren’t simply argumentative are based on a flawed understanding of the text. You wrote that Bane’s motivation was impossible to explain: I explained it and then you responded that you already knew that. OK … Then you said the film lost you at the monologue I mentioned … but it was a DIFFERENT monologue. I am not trying to come up with “excuses” as you put it and I am not interested in making you like it. I really don’t care. If you wrote that you didn’t like the film, I’m fine with it. But you didn’t: you suggested that things didn’t occur in the film that DID, and THAT is what I have a problem with: it’s not your judgment, but your insight (and they are very different things). I care about WHAT THE FILMMAKER DOES AND DOESN’T DO AND WHETHER IT IS MOTIVATED, not patronizing arguments like “hey, it’s lazy and you probably liked ‘Prometheus’ anyway, buddy”. I mean, what the hell did ‘Prometheus’ have to do with ANYTHING?

          • Radu Huciu

            You clearly can’t take anything with a grain of salt, have a very short fuse and take everything personally, so I’m just going to back out of this one and let someone else fuel the fire under your ass because I don’t want to be responsible for spreading negative energy around this community. I’m sure you’re going to spin this statement around again and find the hate seeds in it and plant them around the conversation, but whatever — bottom line is Iron Man 3 lacked a villain. Peace. Later.

          • Alan Burnett

            Too bad. But am I allowed to use your defense, though? It’s brilliant: “Well, you probably liked ‘Prometheus’, so there goes your argument …” The best thing? You don’t even need to THINK in order to use it. You can just slide it into ANY conversation you are having – from discussions about film to debates about socio-economic issues in Romania. It doesn’t matter: it will work just as well as you just used it.

      • Steve Bell

        Killian’s death confused me, too. The only explanation I can come up with that makes any sense in the context of the movie is this. It was previously established that the Extremis stuff was inherently unstable, and prone to make the hosts blow up. We saw the fist army ‘bomb’ guy explode after inhaling some of the stuff. We are also made aware, repeatedly, that this seems to be the only way of effectively killing them. Somewhat later, Tony (or somebody) rhetorically asked Killian what would happen if he got too ‘hot’, implying that they understood this flaw of the Extremis serum (I think that was how they referred to it).
        So obviously then, there happen to be one of those Extremis vials lying around on the dock (maybe the bad guys need them to recharge after a while?) which Pepper knocks into him(?), setting off the chain reaction which causes him to self-destruct.
        It’s flimsy as hell, but at least it makes sense within the movie’s universe.

        It doesn’t explain why Pepper and Tony weren’t instantly vaporized like all the other victims of the ‘bombs’, though.

        *edit: replied to the wrong post, this was meant as a response to the original parent comment by Radu

  • Mercutio

    i agree with this review. but the kid could not act. he was no hailey joel osment, he was horrible and sentimental. the worst thing about the movie was the villain and his pal’s super abilities, which was just too weird to me. and the ending was not satisfying with all those suits having a mind of their own, i found unrealistic

  • JakeBarnes12


    Scripts need a clean throughline (i.e. direction), and since in most superhero scripts the hero’s throughline is to stop the villain, then that shifts the focus to the villain’s plan — it needs to be clear.

    Walking out of Iron Man 3, I had no idea what Killian’s overall plan was, why the “Mandarin” and his random acts of terror were so important to that plan, or how it tied in with the Extremis drug, so I had no idea what was at stake for the world should Tony Stark fail.

    That was major problem number 1. Major problem number 2 was that Robert Downey can’t stop being Robert Downey. When I started out writing scripts, all my characters had “clever” lines. I’m a smartass. Give me a situation, I can imagine smartass lines to say in that situation. It took me a few scripts to realize that this was sapping drama and character from my scripts because when they’re marching you into the gas chambers, you don’t make snappy comebacks, and that’s how it should be for all your protagonists — defenses stripped bare, facing the worst possible scenarios.

    So when Stark ends up alone and freezing in Tennessee with broken armor, he should be facing situations that wipe the smirk from his face, that strip all the snark away and expose the real man beneath the “armor.” Any cheap smartass can write “clever” dialogue; it takes a skilled writer to write truthful dialogue.

    We didn’t get that. Instead we got Stark stumbling by chance upon a garage with enough tech, crude though it be, to help him repair and recharge his suit. And at the end of the Tennessee sequence, whose car does he step into and drive away in?

    But for me the trouble started much earlier when Tony is oh so mildly “confronted” by Pepper, who’s pissed that he’s working too much. She offers one mild protest, says she’s going to bed and that is enough for Stark to spill his guts about how screwed up he’s been for months over the New York incident.

    I understand these scripts are written for kids to understand so Stark’s monologue is completely on the nose. But at least give us a few more lines where Pepper really needs to PUSH him not just into a confession, but into confronting just how messed up he is. People who are messed up are in denial about it. The fun of movies is seeing them throughout the story overcome this denial and learn to deal with their problems. In Iron Man 3 Stark easily admits he’s messed up — where’s the fun in that?

    The final showdown is also a mess; lots of random suits flying around (why couldn’t Stark have summoned them the other times he was in mortal danger?) fighting random fire guys. Zero stakes, zero thrills, zero tension. The first time they did the “suit constructs itself around you” was cool — then they hammered it into the ground for the rest of the story.

    To be fair, some fun lines, some fun sequences (the Malibu house attack, but why the heck would Rebecca Hall be there knowing the attack was imminent?) but leave your screenwriting experience, not to mention your common sense, at the door.

    The 3D sucked as well.

    • David Sarnecki

      How was the Mandarins plan not obvious? He was going to kill the president, so that he would own the next president in his pocket(Vice President), and a well known terrorist in the other pocket. He would literally OWN the war on terror, and AIM would profit from defense contracts out the butt.

      Why is this so hard for people to grasp? Did they actually need to stop the movie for laymans terms?

  • Writer451

    Perhaps they should have thought more long-term when writing the first IRON MAN and introduced several fatal flaws within Tony Stark, but only solved one in each movie so that the sequels – combined – act as an arc. However, giving him too many flaws might have made him unlikable to audiences, so I don’t know.

    • Dill

      The problem is that Disney won’t allow them to use the ‘Demon in a Bottle’ storyline and make Stark an alcoholic. They’re too worried about keeping Stark charming and likable so that they can sell t-shirts, action figures, Halloween costumes, and lunchboxes.

      • Jonathan Soens

        Do we know that the alcoholism angle isn’t allowed, or are we just assuming? Because I wouldn’t be surprised if they allowed it. I mean, the Iron Man movies already had Stark designing weapons that were being used by terrorists. Is that really any better than a drinking problem?

        • Dill

          Shane Black recently said in an interview that when they hired him the studio told him that the ‘Demon in a Bottle’ alcoholism angle is off-limits.

          • GeneralChaos

            That may be, but I believe Stark was drunk in the Iron Man armor in IM2 when Rhodes confronts him at the party. It may not be allowed anymore or as the major storyline, but both previous films touched on it. He drank in the convoy in IM1, one of his later lines was, “Give me a scotch, I’m starving.”, Stark drunk at the party in IM2, etc.

          • Dill

            Disney wasn’t in charge of the first one. The second movie is about as close as we’ll probably ever get to alcoholic Tony Stark, but we’ll never get to see him in complete drunken, depressive shambles like we should.

  • Lorena Sanz Vallas

    After seeing IM3 I think the Iron Man franchise is just one more installment to surrender to fart jokes and having Adam Sandler as a guest star. Honestly, does the ego of Robert Downey, Jr. can grow bigger? You need more evidence? Rhodey? Missing-In-Action. ‘Happy’ Hogan?Jon Favreau is playing the role of the jerk friend that in a Ben Stiller comedy could fall on Owen Wilson or Vince Vaughn. And the Mandarin … Oh, my sweet Lord… THE MANDARIN… I don’t know how much Marvel has paid Ben Kingsley to be humiliated in this way on screen, but if I were him I would return the Oscar he has for ‘Gandhi’ and would not appear on a film. Never. And I thought Marvel could not do worse than the second installment… My goodness, how awful! For IM4 I hope they will bring back the writers of IM1 and stop hiring cronies of Downey. Jr.

    • Dill

      If he didn’t return his Oscar after Bloodrayne, A Sound of Thunder, Thunderbirds, or The Love Guru, he sure as shit isn’t going to return it for Iron Man 3.

  • Andrea Moss

    The reason Iron Man worked so well is that the first movie had real writers behind the wheel and Robert Downey, Jr. has a more downsized ego than in the sequels. For IM2 he brought his buddy Justin Theroux from Trophic Thunder and with a little help of Shane Black he has turned Iron Man 3 in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang 2. Great for RDJ, not so great for the Marvel character fans. And please, Robert, STOP DOING IMPROV. It’s not funny anymore. You seems like an overpaid jerk unable to memorize your lines, not a cool guy!

    • Dill

      Actually, from what I’ve heard the first Iron Man didn’t have much a script and involved a whole lot of improvisation, but that movie worked because the story made sense (for the most part).

      • GeneralChaos

        I’ve never heard that. I’ve read an interview with the writers that Downey didn’t like some of their lines and gave them flack for it but not that it was an incomplete script.

        • Dill

          Jeff Bridges: “They had no script, man… They had an outline. We would show up for
          big scenes every day and we wouldn’t know what we were going to say. We
          would have to go into our trailer and work on this scene and call up
          writers on the phone, ‘You got any ideas?’ Meanwhile the crew is tapping
          their foot on the stage waiting for us to come on.”

  • CyclopsRobot

    as a born and raised Portlander (Oregon, not Maine), I know it is a bizarre place, and its bumper sticker slogan is “Keep Portland Weird”. And it is weird. But everyone who has moved there in the last 20 years is trying to out Weird weird. They are coming up with anything and everything to make themselves stand out as weirder than everyone else. This combined with the HIPster Duffus factor makes me long for the 90’s so much more. We were basking in the Seattle Sound glow and it was a pretty awesome place to be. Cool digs, awesome music, hadn’t exploded in size yet.

    It was a fun place to be and grow having just graduated high school and started college.

    Being 21 and just learning about life in the explosion of Seattle sound was everything a youth could want.

    Then movies exploded onto the scene in a way that, well, there are no words to explain. From Singles on one side (building that Seattle sound) to Tarantino (from his first True Romance (one of my favorites of all time) to Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction in ’94) it was a truly blessed time.

    The music scene brought everyone, along with business like Nike and Adidas and all the new Tech – Silicon Forest Bullshit. So everyone comes, thinks they are the most unique, cool, Designers / Musicians / Programmers / DYI idiots to have ever been seen in the universe.

    Instead Portland becomes the biggest Meth / Heroin / Latest whatever Drug, needle capital of the world, where Every Single Person in PDX is in a dipshit band, has a skateboard, too tight jeans or cargo pants or Dickies, smokes, drinks, covered in Tattoo’s and piercings, drinks Coffee and each one thinks they are UNIQUE. Yet they ALL are doing the EXACT same thing, and have the same things and call it unique. In the end we have the largest unemployed / Homeless, alchoholism, drug addict, AA scene known to man. All the tweakers and alcholics live under the bridges and are stealing from everyone else or begging for change on the street.

    Keep Portland Weird.

    A saying stolen from locals by all the Michigan-ites, Ohioans, and Mid-westerners who live there and say they are locals, or Portlanders.

    Well, they can have it. And their Fake Weirdness.

    How many people have been to VOODOO DONUTS and “discovered” a Bacon Maple donut (now every bakery and donut hole in the world sells them)? or Powell’s (the largest used bookstore in the world)? or STUMPTOWN coffee? or the CHURCH OF ELVIS? or have a FIXED GEAR BIKE? or found the Portland Saturday Market? Everyone. And each person thinks they discovered it and are therefore unique and weird.

    All that stuff was just part of life growing up there in the 80’s, 90’s and Y2K.

    I miss Satyricon (90’s punk and music club in PDX), the original Church of Elvis, and the original layout of the Saturday Market.

    I don’t know what you found in Portland Carson. I don’t know what your experience was. I sincerely how it was awesome. Awesome times can be had in Portland. We have amazing parks (one of the largest city parks in N. America with 8 miles of land, 5100 acres and one 40 mile hiking trail, as well as the SMALLEST PARK IN THE WORLD, Mill End Park (452 sq. inches)), beautiful rivers, lakes, mountains, forests, beaches, etc.

    But, everyone else can have Portland. The people and the business’ are too full of themselves. Too in love with their own supposed importance, or uniqueness, or weirdness or whatever yarn making DIY fashion clothing second hand used skivvies bullshit they want to call it. Everyone is a supposed stylish HIPTSTER.

    It is so boring.

    And old.

    and tired.

    So I went to LA instead.

    And went to Dov Simens’ weekend class this last weekend.

    I know, I was so unique. How many people have been to that? 10 million (maybe more?).

    But I had always wanted to go. Always wanted to see what it was about.

    I have been to LA and Hollywood so many times in my life. I am not in love with LA, or Hollywood, or everything surrounding it. I don’t care if I see famous people or to go to the famous bars / coffee shops / restaurants / hotels or whatever. I am not in awe of the Stars or Directors or Studios. I don’t need to go Starfucking (as he and others seem to call it). Leave that to the 18-20 year olds, they will be happy to have it anyway.

    But that class has been gone to by Tarantino (which is supposedly all he has ever done in order to learn to make movies), and Ritchie and Rodriguez as well as many others.

    And Yeah, I would love to meet Rodriguez some day, and even Tarantino. They and Kevin Smith (somehow) and Soderbergh changed independent film seemingly overnight in the 90’s. and for that I do love them.

    The 90’s was the most magical time and we have never seen anything like it since. Movies and Production co’s have devolved (as has America), into a belief that all anything is about is money.

    So we get Iron Man 3 and Fast and the Furious 6, and Die Hard 6,7,8, and soon Avengers 2 and some day they will leech every single known property for everything they can.

    Not saying it isn’t smart to do as long as they can make money from it. I just find it boring and incredibly uninspired. There is nothing to enjoy and no excitement in an Iron Man 3 or a Star Trek………20.

    I miss the 90’s and the excitement. Some of the greatest, most innovative movies and stories blazed into the theaters.

    I can’t imagine that can ever be recreated. Independent movies may have been around forever, but the look, feel and name of Independent, finally became something to reckon with during that time.

    And then it was taken away.

    Now we have 5 studios again.

    And everything is: Big Explosions! No Story! and brain dead Special Effects!

    Thank you Carson for breaking this movie down. I wanted to know what you thought after you saw it, as well as others on here. But I don’t need to support it. I don’t need to see it. I won’t be seeing Iron Man 3.

    Save my money for other things. They won’t necessarily be great, but I might find a diamond in the rough too.

    I saw The Iceman last night and The Company You Keep and Arthur Newman last week.

    I like seeing anything I can like that.

    Huge movies are not the only movies out there. There are some great films. From big, to medium, to low, to no budget.

    I go see them all.

    I love movies.

    • Citizen M

      “DIY fashion clothing second hand used skivvies”

      Hollywood recycles scripts.

      Portland recycles skivvies.


  • RO

    Wow, very surprised by this review. Especially all the things Carson missed, but hey that happens.
    1 – Harley doesn’t fix the armor, he guards it. It’s even said in a line of dialogue before Stark drives away.
    2 – Tony’s fatal flaw is not the anxiety, it’s his dependancy on the armor. He’s built 42 of them, he feels he needs them and without them he’s nothing. he over comes this flaw when he starts to build other things that aren’t the armor and fight battles without it. He feels safer in the armor, and without it he is more vulnerable and therefore anxious.
    3 – the flight plan was mentioned and scheduled quite clearly; and I’m pretty sure he fell unconscious after the shock of nearly drowning. I fail to see how that is far fetched.
    4 – bad guys plot isn’t to take over the world, it’s to kill the president so he can freely develop his genetic enginieering tech – something the president is keeping a ban on. In fact the scene with Killian and Pepper is all about that. SPOILERS the vice prez has a daughter with a missing leg and is willing to lift the ban to help his child so he sides with Killian (that’s a D level character goal).
    5 – The Mandarin (while not a familiar interpretation of the character) being a figure head and a faux target is very clever of a plot point for our main villian. A great misdirection and executed rather logically.
    Sorry Carson, but while your review is well written, it screams someone who wasn’t paying attention, and that could be due to the film not hooking you at the start which is understandable. Most people are put off by voice overs (it is justified and plays out well after the credits with the tag scene). But this film has a pretty solid plot, chracter motivation on the hero and the villian, a sense of urgency is created once the Prez is kidnapped and a character overcoming a flaw that stems from the first movie (he builds the armor orgianlly to save himself and hasn’t stepped out of it since). Let’s also note that the set pieces weren’t forced as in other superhero or action films and while the humour was cranked up a bit, it did add a very strong humanzing element to the story which “if you can’t make it feel real, you can make it feel human and still get away with the fantastical”.
    Maybe you need to give it a second go?

    • Radu Huciu

      RO, I can and do agree with all points mentioned above save for the villain. Yes the flight plan was pre-established and he faints and the kid doesn’t fix the suit, he just guards / charges it and so on and the char dev on Stark I also agree on / got. But I just can’t buy your villain’s motivation / plot. I’m not going to go into a battle of reasons here, but say you’re right, say the plan is to kill the president…what the f**k would stop Killian from just walking up to the White House and killing everyone inside? He can breathe fire for the love of god. Who’s going to stop him??? Why this big hoo-haa plan when you’re a super weapon yourself? Like I said, even if you’re right, it doesn’t make a lot of sense that he’d go through all this trouble just to kill the president.

  • Ken Miller

    The kid bugged me. I read a lot of Marvel comics and they never add kids into the story. It just pandered to the perceived movie audience and was very ‘un-Marvel’.

    I’m still not sure what I think about The Mandarin reveal. On one level it’s pretty funny – but, deep down, I can’t help wondering if this is actually proof that Shane Black really didn’t give a f**k about Marvel history. Seeing The Mandarin revealed to be a two-bit Brit actor is momentarily amusing… but I’d much rather see a cool fight between Iron Man and the ‘real’ Mandarin using his power rings.

    I didn’t like Tony Stark’s anxiety attacks – they came across as forced.

    I also thought too much action relied on the use of the unmanned suits. It gets to a point where you wonder why Tony Stark would ever bother to actually WEAR one of them.

    • GeneralChaos

      I’m not going to warn about spoilers anymore because if you’re reading a screenplay review site you should expect it. I remember them showing in the trailers how The Mandarin had Captain America’s shield tattooed on the back of his neck and thought they were really building him up to be this big, anti-hero villain and then he turns out to be just a drugged-out actor. Wasted opportunity. The villain turns out to be another “get rich quick” schemer like Lex Luthor.

      • Ken Miller

        Here’s a bit I don’t get: the actor (Kingsley) explains to Stark that he’s just been playing the part of the Mandarin and he didn’t actually know that people had been killed for real. This made me recall the earlier scene where the Mandarin shoots a hostage on TV (the part where the American President phones him.) Was this execution scene faked and Kingsley didn’t actually blast the hostage through the head? If so – what happened to the hostage?

        • WhizViz

          Yes — there’s a clip I *believe* during the comic credits where it shows the Mandarin “firing” his gun and the oil executive getting up after the broadcast. It was all for show.

  • Ken Miller

    And Iron Man doesn’t even beat the villain at the end: super-powered Pepper Potts has to step in and save Tony Stark!

  • Kieran ODea

    Wish I would have read this review 3 hours ago. What a waste of $15. Did anyone even notice the 3D? Can they just keep movies in 2D like Oblivion did.

    • denisniel

      yeah, I f#%*ing hate 3D, giving me a headache and making me wear two pairs of glasses…

  • fragglewriter

    I hated the first Iron Man. I tried to watch Iron Man 2, but had to stop 20 mins in as I was too distracted by Mickey Rourke’s face.

    Iron Man 3, won’t see. But the scene were you talk about a 10-year old fixing a complicated suit reminded me of the movie Real Steel where Hugh Jackman’s estranged kid fixes a badly beaten robot.

  • NajlaAnn

    I’ll probably wait till it’s available at Redbox then watch it. Less $ that way.

  • Will Vega

    Gonna have to disagree. There are parts that don’t work, I felt there were too many characters to keep up with and the story didn’t connect itself well-enough in certain areas because of the clutter.

    But the dialogue was so AMAZING. Not just with the kid and Stark (seriously that amazed me, it’s SO easy to screw up a kid character and have them be annoying but it worked here), but pretty much everyone else as well. Maybe it was a little too much with the humor, but I had a hell of a good time. I felt it was way more awkward in Dark Knight Rises where they suddenly tried incorporating humor via Alfred but it fell flat time and time again, mostly cause Nolan already established Batman as a “sooper srz” guy in a “sooper srz” world.

    But with Iron Man, Stark is funny and charismatic. So I accepted it more. Plus the fact the other characters were able to keep up with the wit, including Favreau, made it that much more enjoyable. That was the disconnect I had with the second movie…Stark was the only FUN character. Everyone else was way too serious. And for me, if you wanna go serious, they better be interesting. Unfortunately, they weren’t.

    This just convinced me that dialogue is king. It brought life to the characters, which made me like them MORE and could’ve made the exciting action scenes “oh-hum” and standard. Ultimately, if they had cleaned up the story, made it clearer to follow in some parts and had seamless transitions, then this would’ve been my favorite Superhero movie hands down. Instead, it’s right up there in my top 3.

    • Jonathan Soens

      If I remember right, I think the Bruce-Alfred relationship always had humor in it throughout the whole trilogy. They didn’t just try to turn it into a jokey relationship in the last movie.

      In Batman Begins, Alfred had a joke about how all of Bruce’s push-ups weren’t doing him any good if he couldn’t lift that beam off himself. Plus I think they tried for a joke or two during the portion where Bruce finally comes out of exile and it turns out Alfred inherited his estate after Bruce had been declared dead.

      And in the 2nd movie, I think there was a moment where Alfred says he isn’t going to say “I told you so”… only to sneak in his I-told-you-so anyway. Plus they tried for some other jokes with Alfred, like when he was on the boat with the ballerinas or whatever.

      • Will Vega

        Now that you mention it, you’re right. Alfred always had that about him from the start.

  • Montana Gillis

    IM3 will probably make a ton of dough. I’m disappointed with what I’m reading here about the story. I’ll wait until it comes out on blu ray.

  • denisniel

    It seems like for this movie they were far more concerned in matching the tone of Avengers, than the two previous Iron Man movies’. It definitely feels way more over the top comedically, and it takes you a little out of the story. But for me, the biggest problem (aside from the studio note to add a 10 year-old kid) was the villain’s weapon. (Spoiler) F#%*ing FIRE MEN? What the hell… that was the biggest jump for me, in terms of verisimilitude. Although this is an obviously fantastic tone (It’s a SUPER HERO MOVIE!), I thought this type of thing went a bit too far out of our world to resonate with me as an audience member…

    But anyway, although it is indeed clunky, I still think they managed to do a good job exposition-wise by having the remotely controlled Iron Man suit standing in for Tony in the beginning, other than simply having him explaining the suit could do that to Pepper…
    And I didn’t have a huge problem with the goofiness of the Mandarin reveal, my biggest concern in that case was that once he’s revealed to be this homeless actor, then we pretty much never see him or hear from him anymore, until the end… He just disappears from the movie, basically, and that felt a bit underdeveloped.

    In summary, this felt to me like a great second draft, but not polished enough to be a final one.

  • UrbaneGhoul

    I think Iron Man 3 was a lot better than Iron Man 2 but I think IM2 was really terrible. There are plenty of problems but 2 points you brought up are actually set up. He flirts with Pepper via remote control because he’s obsessed with making Iron Man suits. Later he uses it to save Air Force One while traveling on the boat to where Pepper is, solving being in 2 places at once. The other is he wasn’t asleep, he was attacked and knocked out while JARVIS, the computer program, set up.

    I didn’t like the Mandarin twist. I can understand wanting to do something beyond “Our new villain is even badder” but this fakeout was too much. This was a twist Fox or Sony would do with the Marvel properties they own like having Dr. Doom turn out to be Reed Richards brother or some crap like that.

  • Daemon

    I hear the Extremis angle was pretty true to the comic… but I have to say that seeing botanically enhanced humans crushing Iron Man suits like soda cans did not work for me at all. My body heats up like crazy too and all I get are sweat marks.

  • carsonreeves1

    Or you could do what TV shows do and just have the character never overcome his flaw.

    • witwoud

      One of the things I liked about Die Hard 4 was that it gave us a John McClane who is older, balder … but not a patch wiser. He’s still the same asshole from the original film, but this time he’s pissing off his daughter rather than his wife. To me, that felt totally realistic. In real life, we sometimes manage to overcome our flaws, but nothing short of a lobotomy will eradicate them for good. In a film franchise, I’d say the challenge is to take the same flaw but give it a fresh context. eg, the hero is now alienating a new generation of his womenfolk.

      • CyclopsRobot

        Very well put. I agree 100%. Die Hard 4 was awesome, and for the exact reasons you state. I love that he was still pissing everyone off in the same ways. He aggravates the young guy he is with because of his old school ways, he pisses off his daughter, and yet his bull headed, pushy, father knows best, cop trying to do good ways, in the end, are right on and pay off (or save the day, if you will). I think 4 was so misunderstood, and was incredibly in line with Die Hard 1. I couldn’t put it into words, but you did. Just spot on. Thanks.

  • Jp

    I appreciate your opinions and your thoughts, but this review is so inaccurate about the film. It seems as if you weren’t fully paying attention to the movie. It seems as if you try and find things to fulfill your point even though they’re not completely true. It’s one thing to not agree with the tone or the overall direction, but to criticize things where you’re just completely taking things without full description or premise is arrogance and misleading. Not feeling this review.

    • carsonreeves1

      What did I get wrong?

      • GeneralChaos

        Stark told Jarvis to create a flight plan for Tennessee and since it seems Stark passed out from almost having drowned, Jarvis took control, flew him away from danger to Tennessee as previously planned.

    • IgorWasTaken

      Jp, I appreciate your opinions and your thoughts, but this review is so inaccurate about Carson’s review.

      It seems as if you weren’t fully paying attention to the review.

      It seems as if you try and find things to fulfill your point even though they’re not completely true. It’s one thing to not agree with the tone or the overall direction of Carson’s review, but to criticize things where you’re just completely taking things without full description or premise is arrogance and misleading.

      Not feeling your review of his review.

  • JWF

    I usually totally disagree with your film reviews but I’m with you 100% on this one. As we walked out I said to my mates that the little kid was by far the best thing about the film.

    I have to say that as a comic fan the mandarin reveal was a bit of a disappointment as well.

  • Alan Burnett

    “If the plan was to kill the president, he could’ve just blown up Air Force one with everyone on board? Instead of putting him in Don Cheadles armour and sending him to the shipyard to be ripped apart.”

    Err, what? It’s explained in the film: Killian believes in the power of symbolism. He feels that there is no point in simply killing the president, he also needs to destroy his credibility. That’s also addressed in the sequence in which The Mandarin holds a character hostage and kills him on national television … but only AFTER the president called. It’s the same as the assassination: he wanted a LIVE broadcast at a location of the president’s failure (an oil spill). It’s more about destroying symbols than simply killing someone.

    • GeneralChaos

      So, did the “Mandarin” actually kill that guy, or was it pretend? I may have missed any explanation of that scene.

    • David Sarnecki

      Exactly. I am reading NOTHING but nitpicks about things that are plainly laid out and explained logically in the script. I’m dissapointed in some of you guys, you’re usually much sharper.

  • TGivens

    A huge disappointment for me. So over the top, so messy. And the twist with Mandarin…Okay, I’m not a comic book geek, I’m ready to accept any changes in the original story if they work in the movie, but this twist was just stupid and out of place.

  • Oro

    The film has flaws, but I’d argue that it has less than the average Marvel flick. I think the biggest difference here is that Iron Man 3 is a straight-up comedy (even the set pieces seem more focused on laughs) from the first scene on, which a lot of people seem to be having trouble latching on to.

    On one hand, that seems silly to me because the movie makes no effort to hide the fact that it’s basically a farce. On the other hand, I also think that audiences’ reactions to the other Marvel movies have been heavily influenced on pre-release marketing, and Iron Man 3, despite clearly being a comedy, was absolutely sold as a serious action movie. Personally, I figured that wouldn’t be the case, given the other movies and the added presence of Shane Black, but I can’t blame others for feeling just a little gypped.

  • Ben Jones

    There were definitely some ideas shoehorned in from Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. Especially that disjointed narration. Great in KKBB, kind of odd in Iron Man.

  • Avishai

    I find it interesting that, while I usually agree with the points Carson makes in his script reviews, I don’t think I’ve ever agreed with his movie reviews.Yes, I liked Prometheus. But that’s it for shared tastes, it seems, because Iron Man 3 is just the latest movie to be reviewed here that I personally LOVED and Carson did not. I thought it was cleverly plotted, well directed, full of energy and wit, and it surprised me, something that rarely happens in big budget movies nowadays. Ah well. Opinions are opinions.

    (I haven’t seen Die Harderest, but I figure I’d probably agree with Carson on that one. We’re not entirely different.)

  • grendl

    And do you see that the bad guys knowing Tony Starks Ironman suit technology some of the time, like delivering the prez to the villains, but not other times is inconsistent?

    Why would they know that technology? Is Tony Starks flaw that he lets secrets like that out for public consumption? No.

    Maybe I missed that part of the movie. Where he let the Iron man technology out of his secured sight.

    • Carson D

      Right. And shouldn’t Tony Stark be smart enough to arm Jarvis and the suits with voice recognition so that bad people wouldnt be able to operate them?

  • Carson D

    “Most of the movie had Stark out of his Iron Man suit…”

    This was the nail in the coffin for me. I was willing to overlook everything as long as I got to ride the roller coaster that is “Iron Man”, but the movie failed in that aspect as well.

  • writebrain

    although I liked the Mandarin reveal, there’s a way they could have made it work even better, while having the Mandarin keep his dignity, in my opinion.

    Since the Mandarin is revealed to be an actor, why not keep that going? Why not have the actor(i forget his character name in the movie) obsess over the character to the point where he starts to believe that he IS the Mandarin? You still have Killian as the main villain, and you leave it open for the Mandarin to return in the next film, with the bonus irony of knowing that he is secretly a fraud and a concoction that spun out of control, like most of the villains that seem to pop up in Tony’s life.You still satisfy the parameters of the comic books, and you negate any ethnic offenses that arise, because the character is secretly phony (I think the original Mandarin is Asian and would be offensive today, which is why they probably changed it; don’t want to offend China). Just my two cents.

  • Radu Huciu

    Put on a mask, kill everyone in the White House, force fake Mandarin at gun point to say it was all him (or somehow else blame it on him). Boom. Plan done. The point I’m trying to make is that his plan is redundantly complex. There were far easier venues that would have achieved the same result. That’s all I’m saying. It’s like trying to bake a cake by doing pushups first hihi :P

  • Charles Ryan

    Hmmm, touchy?

    • DrMatt

      No, just clear that you’ve got your opinion, and I’ve got mine. Neither of us can convince the other. What’s the point in prolonging the argument?

  • Charles Ryan

    What also was poor, was the relationship between the Prez and VP was never even explored to a minor degree. It could have led to good drama to build up to the scene with the VP on the phone. But it was so much crammed in to this movie it wouldn’t made it even longer.

  • Steve Bell

    Don Cheadle left with the president, didn’t he? He said something like “I’ve secured the Eagle” or something along those lines.

    His job was to protect the president, he did his job. Seems logical to me.

    How did they know how to work the Ironman suit? That was previously established in the last movie, wasn’t it, when Don Cheadle stole the suit and took it to back to his base for repurposing into War Machine?

  • Benjamin Matthew George III

    I thought it was a great movie. The only thing was what they did to/with The Mandarin. But if you’re not a fanboy, clutching his Iron Man comics during the movie, you’re fine with what they did. It was a twist that no one saw coming. This movie was more personal and more human for Tony Stark, great scenes with the kid, amazing fighting scenes despite the fact that he’s out of the suit for most of the movie, they were still really cool and smart (Clever over big, right? :) ). And the ending was a great fight scene. It more than made up for the lack of him being in a suit. 15 Iron Men fighting? That’s just awesome. Still so, so funny, and fresh. Reminded me a lot of the first movie. Also, the boy didn’t repair anything, he recharged the suit. A technically advanced kid (Much like how Tony was) with Tony’s guidance on how to recharge the suit, was believable enough for me. The point of the scene where Tony is working and the suit is pretending to Tony hitting on Pepper, shows what the suits are capable of. it’s much more than a “goofy scene.” Awesome movie. I have to see it again.

  • jridge32

    I didn’t “Iron Man 2″ was that bad. Definitely not as good as the first, but not a waste of time.

    This just sounds cray cray. I also hate it when characters start in one place, geographically, then are somewhere else entirely almost the very next second. That happened in the last “Batman” movie — Wayne climbs out of his prison cell tower thing whatever, which appears to be in some Israeli part of the world, then suddenly he’s talking to Catwoman. Huh? How’d he get there?

  • Dill

    More of a slight exaggeration than disingenuous.

  • David Sarnecki

    I now know, truly and officially, that though you have incredible amazing insight and I’m addicted to reading your stuff every day, every once and a while you go well and truly bat shit crazy.

  • Film_Shark

    The plot was muddled quite a bit. What the heck were those villains? Lava-glowing Terminator-style soldiers? Beyond that, Shane Black knows screenplays. He also knows that the Iron Man franchise’s greatest asset is Robert Downey Jr. I give it a solid B+. My review:

  • EZ

    A lot of things bugged me about this movie, but one thing I didn’t see mentioned here – the 3D was absolutely unnecessary. Didn’t add a single thing but a price rasie and a slight headache.

  • grendl


    Is there a different technology for the War Machine than the Iron man suits. Because if they’re the same, you’d think the supervillain genius Killian would’ve prepared better for Iron mans arrival and his team of Ironmen clones.

    Are the technologies different?

  • Ken Miller

    I also didn’t like the fact that Pepper is the character who saves the day (by dumb luck: she becomes imbued with Extremis powers then escapes during the battle) – surely the defeat of the villain shouldn’t come down to pure luck.

  • Andrew Orillion

    I liked the PTSD as the fatal flaw, the problem was that the movie didn’t do anything with it. After Tony leaves Tennessee, it’s completely forgotten.

  • RafaelSilvaeSouza

    You have Tony Stark, who believes he’s a God. And then The Avengers storyline happens. In it, Captain America asks Tony “what are you without your suit?” and Tony has a clever answer. Later, they almost fight, and the Cap keeps telling Tony to put on the suit — again telling Tony that he’s nothing without the suit. And then the aliens come, and Tony has to travel through a portal halfway across the galaxy… and almost dies.

    And then Iron Man 3 begins… and what we have is this guy who suddenly realizes what he thought of himself is not very accurate. There are Gods. There are aliens. There’s the Hulk. And there’s Tony… who is nothing compared to any of them.

    So Tony hides behind what he knows: building more Iron Men. And he’s using the armor as an… well, armor. He can’t even greet Pepper personally. He uses the armor as a proxy. He’s afraid. And he’s hiding under his suits, locked in his mansion. Until Happy is almost killed. And then he’s angry. Not only with Mandarin, but with himself. So he challenges the Mandarin, and the Mandarin destroys his home. Almost kills the love of his life. And who saves Tony? His armors. He is under the sea, under the rubble, and the suit helps him. And takes him away — and, yes, it was mentioned that the last flight path was to Tennessee. He falls in the middle of nowhere, and now he loses the armor. He’s alone. Exposed. He’s now only Tony.

    And he meets this kid that is a Mini-Tony. He’s clever. He’s a smartass. Tony sees himself in the kid. And the kid forces Tony to think about what’s going on. To face his demons. “Who are you?” “I’m the mechanic.” “Then build something.” And from here Tony starts to see what’s he’s made of. He doesn’t use the suit to kill one of his attackers. He uses his brain. And from here on, we watch as he begins to believe in himself… and this is cleverly shown by how he only wears parts of the suits most of the time. And specially when the truck smashes the suit. Tony’s reaction is one of detachment now. And in the end, he blows up every suit, showing that he’s not afraid anymore, that he knows who he is. That he is more than the suits.

    People complain about The Mandarin. But what makes it great is that Killian does exactly what Tony does — hides behind someone/something else. One can even argue that the Mandarin is horrifying, and then we learn that he’s a goofy and the one controlling him is the one to be feared… the same way with Tony Stark and the suits. When he’s in the suit, he’s this symbol, this force. Out of it he’s the goofy one. But in the movie Tony learns that that’s not true. The truth is the opposite of it. And when in the end, he says “I’m Iron Man.” It has a different meaning than in previous films.

    No, I don’t think this is a classic. But this is far from being a bad movie.

    And one more thi— wait. Is anyone still in this thread? No? Oh.