by Reymundo Salao
The problem with many superhero movies is that they are too conscious of what they are; too conscious of being a superhero movie. And although it is oftentimes best if a superhero movie is faithful to the comics, it should also be noted that it would be far more greater if its priority is making a great movie, period.
More recently, the thing that has made superhero movies and sci-fi-fantasy movies fail is that they (the producers) seem to be too concerned about how they can make extra money out of a single movie; from the merchandising, to the toys, to the potential sequels, and spin-offs. The best example of this failure is the 2011 movie Green Lantern, which did all that. Iron Man 3 seems like the kind of movie that prioritizes the main movie and its storyline first, and put all the eye-candy, and all the fancy garbage on the background as just an additional flavoring.
Iron Man 3 seems to take the route of making the audience just forget about Avengers for a while, forget about the whole Marvel universe for a while, and just focus on this very interesting and very dramatic story that it is trying to tell. Such a sentiment is reflected in one scene in the movie where Tony Stark feels that sense of annoying nausea whenever people (and children) try to ask him about the events that transpired in the Avengers movie. And prefers not to talk about it. This was how director Jon Favreau felt when he was shooting Iron Man 2. He felt that he was being bombarded with commands to inject a whole lot of Avengers elements in the second movie, and felt that he was hindered in trying to tell the story that he wanted to tell in Iron Man 2. It is believed that this was the reason why he left the director's helm to Shane Black. But Favreau still does appear in the movie (reprising his role) as Happy Hogan, Tony Stark's former bodyguard (now, Pepper Pott's).
Iron Man 3 is mature storytelling, and takes Iron Man away from his fancy special effects, making him get into action even without the aid of his armor. As a character, this reinforces the idea that Iron Man is not just the armor, but the man himself, Tony Stark. How he handles himself without his armor, and how his willpower and his wits are the driving force of his heroism. Iron Man 3 significantly decreases the Iron Man scenes and focuses more on Tony Stark who gets into action a lot without the armor. If you look at the movie, it tries to tell you that it wants to focus more on the story than the action. But on the contrary, there are two major action scenes which are heart-pounding with suspense; one is the helicopter attack scene on Stark's home, and the other is the Airplane rescue scene. Iron Man 3 has darker themes in comparison to the previous movies. The comedy is still strong, but there is a level of maturity that is uniquely reminiscent in Shane Black's previous works in writing movies like Lethal Weapon and The Last Boyscout. Even in scenes involving Stark having a conversation with a kid, they're scenes with the kind of humor that does not dumb down just because there's a kid involved. Rather, they're scenes that give a subtle mix of mature drama and comedy.
Director Shane Black really does manage to create something new to the Iron Man franchise, yet does not stray too far off to be alienated from the tone of the entire series. It's like a consistent deviation. Pulling this off, I believe Shane Black has managed to achieve what other superhero movies (except arguably Dark Knight Rises) had not easily achieved; a simply good third chapter.