Entertainment Value: The first Iron Man movie was a rock solid superhero picture, while the second took a step down, as Marvel began to implement a more bland, assembly line approach to these movies. While Iron Man 2 still had some spark of potential involved, that isn’t the case with Iron Man 3. This movie has the full Marvel cookie cutter formula, with an emphasis on wisecracks, low stakes, and a push for visual effects over narrative or characters. This seems to be an effective approach in terms of box office, as Iron Man 3 banked over a billion dollars, but to me, it is by far the weakest installment in the series. The narrative is thin at best, with a less than memorable villain and no real sparks of creative magic. This feels like a generic action movie most of the time, with Stark out of the suit often and more basic fight scenes, as opposed to comic book style atmosphere. Some of the action scenes are fun to watch, but most are rather plain or plagued by low end visual effects, the latter of which seems odd, given the massive budget involved. The movie also runs over two hours, which stretches the thin narrative and results in a lot of scenes that come off as filler.
Despite the lamest script in the Iron Man series, Robert Downey, Jr. is able to make the best of the material and gives a solid effort. I do think the movie is more Stark than Iron Man, but that isn’t bad per se, just depends on your preference. But Downey is fun here and nails most of his jokes, so even when the script falls flat, at least he is able to salvage some entertainment. But where Iron Man 3 strikes out is with the villain, as we are given one of the least memorable ones in the Marvel movie series, between Ben Kingsley’s hard to watch hippie and Guy Pearce’s vanilla nerd. A basic, bland villain was a poor choice here and it tanks most of the tension involved, while also removing the chance for some epic Stark vs. villain moments. The rest of the cast is passable, but not given much to do, despite the talent involved. Don Cheadle, Gwyneth Paltrow, Rebecca Hall, and more seem wasted here, which is a shame. A few scenes here have that comic book feel, but by and large, Iron Man 3 seems like a generic action movie and another Marvel assembly line wonder.