Iron Man 2 was a decent super hero flick. It was fine … but when one compares it to the first installment or The Avengers, it’s glaringly obvious that the studio rushed a half-baked product to the market. The only thing that saved Iron Man 2 was Robert Downey Jr’s pitch-perfect understanding of the character. Marvel will be under a great deal of pressure to get the ship righted, but after seeing the first trailer for Iron Man 3, it appears as though they might have succeeded.
The problem with Tony Stark (billionaire, philanthropist, playboy), is that even though he’s that cocky genius-bastard you can’t help but love, after three movies of his wise cracks, at some point the character needs to be grounded. He needs to be humbled. He needs to face something that takes the smirk off his face and makes him reassess who he is and what’s important to him. I’ve said since day one that bringing on Shane Black, who did a wonderful job with Kiss, Kiss, Bang Bang, was a smart move. Black is more than capable of directing strong action sequences, and he’s shown that he could write witty, compelling, complex characters. Marvel did itself a favor by bringing him on board.
With that said, the only thing that could derail Iron Man 3 for me will be politics. (I can tolerate Gweneth Paltrow’s “I’m just here for a paycheck” performances, although I hope she gracefully exits after her contract is up.) Marvel has a bad habit of flirting with liberalism in its products — even subjecting Tony Stark to weird Bush-Cheney warmonger allegories. While it’s been said that the new movie was going to be inspired by Tom Clancy — who is most definitely conservative — I wouldn’t put it past them to sully the series with politically correct gobbledygook.
Case in point: Iron Patriot.
Without spoiling things for fans who don’t read the comics, the Iron Patriot’s mere presence raises questions. Who will be in the suit? Is he a good guy or is he a bad guy? Will the calamities that befall Tony Stark be solely the work of The Mandarin, or will shady actors within the U.S. government somehow be to blame?
Take, for instance, the trailer’s narrator, who says:
Ladies. Children. Sheep. Some people call me a terrorist; I consider myself a teacher. Lesson number one: Heroes — there is no such thing.
If the Iron Patriot is somehow involved with the Mandarin or if the U.S. government is somehow culpable for the espionage that destroys Tony’s life, the movie will instantly lose credibility. If the message ends up being some sort of social commentary on how “one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter,” I probably won’t be seeing Iron Man 4 in the theaters.
Regardless, I had my doubts about The Avengers and ended up being pleasantly surprised. I’m cautiously optimistic that the creators of Iron Man 3 are drawing from the same successful formula.
Related: Iron Man is America
Related: Robert Downey Jr.’s politics: A lesson for liberal Hulks
Related: Lone Avenger: Robert Downey Jr. soars above his liberal critics