Trash Film Guru Vs. The Summer Blockbusters : “Iron Man 3”


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I’m not sure one can entirely, or even adequately, separate how one feels about Marvel’s latest bloated billion-dollar blockbuster, Iron Man 3, from how one feels about their last one, The Avengers — excuse me, Marvel’s The Avengers — since Joss Whedon’s flick has been positioned, story-wise, as a thematic and consequential lead-in to director Shane Black’s first crack at the cinematic exploits of Tony Stark and his super-suit. After all, it’s Stark himself who solemnly informs us that “nothing’s been the same since New York,” and the events he “endured” there are supposedly the catalyst for a new, darker, more somber and “mature” phase of his life that’s now begun.

Right off the bat, then, you’ll have to forgive me if I just don’t “buy in” to that whole scenario. I know, I know — I’m one of only about ten people on the entire planet who was less than blown away by Marvel’s The Avengers (got it right this time), but let’s leave that aside for a moment, because the fact is that even if I did love it to pieces, it’s essentially nothing more than a fairly light-hearted, superheroes-save-the-world romp. It didn’t even try to have some kind of “heavy,” far- reaching resonance. It was a popcorn movie. You might feel it was a particularly good, or even terrific, popcorn movie, but come on — if you think it was a work of lasting emotional depth and impact, I think you’re kidding yourself, friend.

Still, that’s the hook we’re being told to swallow in order to fully “appreciate” the baseline Iron Man 3 is starting from. And things only get more quasi-resonant from there, as we see Stark (Robert Downey Jr. doing a fine job essentially playing himself, as usual) inadvertently create a rival/enemy for himself in Guy Pearce’s Aldrich Killian before taking on a genuinely big menace in the form of mysterious international terrorist The Mandarin, superbly brought to life by a genuinely menacing Ben Kingsley. Flat-as-cardboard side characters “Pepper” Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow, who as always probably deserves more to do), James “Rhodey” Rhodes (Don Cheadle, clearly in it for the paycheck) and Maya Hansen (Rebecca Hall) essentially aren’t given much to do apart from complicate things here and there for Stark/Iron Man, and help him out when he needs it in various forms, whether that be in the boardroom, bedroom, or battlefield (depending on which of the three we’re talking about), but Black and co-writer Drew Pearce are clearly interested in putting some of their eggs in the baskets marked ” Stark’s struggle against himself”  and “where does the man end and the armor begin?,” as well.

And hey, kudos to them for at least trying to give this superhero property some heft and gravitas of some sort — and if the Shane Black who gave us Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and scripted The Monster Squad were the one running the show here, maybe it would have worked out fine, but his work this time around hews more closely to his efforts as screenwriter on such middling testosterone-laced fare as The Last Boy Scout and the Lethal Weapon movies than anything else.  Which is to say that this is certainly a competent-enough film in terms of its execution, but doesn’t offer a whole lot beyond that, despite its director’s best intentions.

Maybe the die was cast from the  outset. Maybe the Iron Man franchise is such a juggernaut at this point that it’s propelled forward by nothing but its own apparently-unstoppable momentum and all attempts at interjecting some personality into things are bound to fail. I give Black points for at least wanting, apparently, to vary things up from the Jon Favreau/Joss Whedon formula, and for doing something radically different with the character of The Mandarin that probably not all fans of his comic book appearances will appreciate and/or approve of, but in the end it feels like he put up a fight for some kind of individualistic vision for a minute there, knew he was beaten, threw in the towel, and just decided to go with the flow. His bank account will surely thank him — as will, I’m willing to bet, the majority of viewers — but for my part, I was left feeling more than a bit underwhelmed by the whole spectacle.

For those who are only in it for that, though — for spectacle for spectacle’s sake alone — Iron Man 3 will probably have you smiling from start to finish, and that’s fine. It’s kinda what these summer blockbusters are all about, after all. But for those of us who were hoping for something maybe a little bit more radically divergent from the pre-set path, it’s pretty fair to say that this Black and company seem content to lead us on, then leave us hanging.

Review: Iron Man 3 (dir. by Shane Black)


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“You can take away my suits, you can take away my home, but there’s one thing you can never take away from me: I am Iron Man.” — Tony Stark

[WARNING: SPOILERS WITHIN]

Iron Man 3 review by Leonard Wilson

That line above would make such a great send-off for what could be the final Iron Man film. In a perfect world, having Shane Black’s Iron Man 3 as the final one in the franchise wouldn’t be such a bad thing. This doesn’t mean that Iron Man will not appear in any future Marvel Studios endeavors, but as a solo franchise a series couldn’t have found a better way to fly into the Malibu sunset. I say this because in over 5 years Marvel Studios has created a trilogy that took a character in Tony Stark and put him through a character journey encompassing four major film releases and one cameo. They did so in such a way that we saw the character grow from a rich genius dilletante, to a desperate asshole trying to find his identity as Iron Man to finally realizing that he’s the hero with or without the Mark suits he’s has created.

Iron Man 3 is the culmination of what Jon Favreau began with Iron Man in 2008 and Joss Whedon expanded on in 2012’s Marvel’s The Avengers. It took a writer of renown such as Shane Black (who also replaced Favreau as director) to get to the heart of what makes Iron Man ticks. It helped that the returning cast led by Robert Downey, Jr. as Tony Stark and Iron Man once again did a great job in their roles with some characters even getting to do some surprising heroic stuff on the screen.

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Iron Man 3 starts off with a flashback scene just hours before the arrival of the new millennium. This is just Tony Stark before he becomes Iron Man so we see the character in full charming asshole mode. This sequence is important in that it sets up the whole plot of the film and, in my opinion, the overall story for the entire trilogy. We’re introduced to the geeky Aldritch Killian (played with equal amounts of geeky desperation and overconfident megalomania by Guy Pearce) who sees in Stark the mentor he needs to get his think tank going. With only sex with brilliant scientist Maya Hansen (played by Rebecca Hall) on his mind Killian is soon forgotten and humiliated by Stark.

The rest of the film sees Tony Stark having to pay a steep price for his behavior towards Killian in that flashback and, in conjunction, with his days and nights haunted by the events in New York with the invading Chitauri invasion having given him a case of the PTSD the film looks to bring Tony Stark at his most vulnerable and lowest. It’s a return to the proverbial “Cave” for Tony Stark as he must contend not just with the elusive terrorist mastermind The Mandarin, but also solve the mystery of who or what’s causing the inexplicable explosions and bombings occurring around the nation. All this he must do through most of the film without the use of his Iron Man suits and relying mostly on his own genius intellect and skill with making weapons and gadgets out of anything readily available.

Speaking of The Mandarin (in an excellent performance by Sir Ben Kingsley), Shane Black and co-writer Drew Pearce made a controversial decision (for comic book fanboys at least) to make the iconic Iron Man villain more than he appears to be. It’s a decision that won’t sit well with the more vocal and rabid comic book fans who sees any deviation from Iron Man lore as an affront worth of loud, vociferous rabble, rabble, rabbling that would make Randy Marsh and the people of South Park proud.

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To say that the twist in the story that explains who The Mandarin was such a surprise would be quite the understatement. The most important and iconic nemesis of Tony Stark comes out with both barrels of deliberate menace and sociopathic showmanship. We’re meant to see this character as the face of all the evils and troubles that has plagued Tony Stark since the first film. Kingsley plays this part of the character in the film to the hilt. Yet, it’s not until the second half of the film when we find out just who exactly The Mandarin really was and is that Black and Pearce finally put to rest whether the producers and writers would be able to handle a character that’s been seen as a racial caricature from a less than enlightened time.

Whatever howls and apoplectic ravings fanboys might be having about changing the traiditional character of The Mandarin into the pill-popping, drunk British wanna-be actor Trevor Slattery as a bait-and-switch was a brave move on the parts of Black and Pearce. To find out that The Mandarin was just a conjuration by Aldritch Killian to keep the eyes of the world’s governments and superheroes on someone else was very Bond-like. The fact that Killian himself is the true Mandarin and the Ten Rings terrorist organization his creation to have his revenge on Stark for humiliating him on the even of the new millennium closes the circle on what was begun all the way back in the first Iron Man.

This so-called “twist” was so unexpected (the internet scouring for any tidbits about the film’s plot having found nary a hint of this change) that it seemed like some sort of gimmick but as the film barreled on through the second half into it’s explosive conclusion one had to admire the massive stones by Black and Pearce to change such an iconic character knowing how it could easily alienate and anger fans of comic book. It’s this thinking outside the box by this franchise’s new director and screenwriter which makes me feel like Marvel Studios (especially studio head Kevin Feige) have their Phase 2 plan set to spring surprises on comic book and non-comic book fans alike as it marches on towards Avengers 2.

originalIron Man 3 was a definite improvement over the bloated second film in the series. It also manages to reach the high bar set by the first film, though as an origin story it still comes away as being the best of the trilogy, but not by much. There was much trepidation from fans of the film franchise when Favreau was replaced by Marvel Studios as director by one Shane Black. While Black was well-known for being a top-notch screenwriter who literally redefined the buddy cop genre his work as a filmmaker was just still only the suprise film Kiss, Kiss, Bang, Bang. While this third film still had some holes in it’s plot that was explained rather conveniently by some brief bits of dialogue it still managed to tell a compelling story of actions and consequences and the discovery that our hero finally makes about just who is the hero of the saga: the man or the machine.

If there’s to be another film bearing the title of Iron Man I would surely hope that Feige and the powers-that-be over at Marvel Studios and Walt Disney just speed-dial Shane Black’s name and to also bring back his co-conspirator Drew Pearce. The franchise is well and good in their keeping. As the final moments of the end credits tick by we’re promised that Tony Stark will return. I sure hope so.

Quick Review: Iron Man 3 (dir. by Shane Black)



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It’s kind of hard to write about Iron Man 3 without giving much away, so this will be kind of condensed. If there’s one thing to learn about Iron Man in Iron Man 3, it’s that the events of the Avengers are really weighing down on Tony Stark. While the movie is more of a stand alone feature than being one part of a larger tale (like the first two leading up to Marvel’s The Avengers), it still manages to be a piece of a puzzle in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It just happens to be one of those corner pieces. It’s not meant to be viewed the way the others are seen, but still manages to pack a punch.

Taking over the reigns of directing from Jon Favreau’s work on the first two films is Lethal Weapon and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang’s Shane Black. Black brings the witty dialogue and buddy partnership from those film into Iron Man 3 with ease, though the story does take some liberties with the comic.

The movie finds Tony (Robert Downey Jr.) unable to sleep or relax much since the New York Incident, having spent a bit of time in a wormhole and a separate dimension for a few minutes. This has left him with panic attacks as well as doing a lot of research in his workshop. This includes a new improvement to the Iron Man suit that allows him to call it piece by piece when needed, which was a nice touch. As a result of the world finding out that we’re not the center of the universe, they upgraded the War Machine and Colonel James Rhodes (Don Cheadle) to the Iron Patriot. The Iron Patriot acts as the first line of defense, which is just in time, considering that a new threat looms on the horizon in the form of The Mandarin (Ben Kingsley). Through televised declarations and using the same circular pattern from the terrorist group that captured Tony Stark in the first film, The Mandarin pledges to destroy all the President (William Sadler) holds dear.

So, the basis of Iron Man 3 is whether Tony Stark can get past what scared and changed him in The Avengers, stop the terrorism of the Mandarin while still finding a way to protect Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow).

Let’s first start with any problems before we get to the good stuff – because there’s a lot of great things about Iron Man 3. First off, the movie hasn’t any kind of interaction either from any of the other Avengers or from S.H.I.E.L.D. In any form. This isn’t a bad thing, as the story isn’t about them, but at the same time, it could come off as being expected given everything we saw in The Avengers. For me, personally, I was hoping for more of a connection, but it’s not terrible that it doesn’t exist.

Secondly, the women in the movie aren’t flushed out very well. You won’t find anyone on the level of Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) in Captain America here. While Rebecca Hall’s Maya Hansen has an important role in the movie, her screen time is really minimal. Given she’s a scientist, I’m not sure there was a whole lot for her to do, but Elizabeth Shue was a scientist in The Saint and she was all over that movie. Paltrow also takes something of a back seat to Downey and even to Favreau, who returns as Happy Hogan. Instead of concentrating on the girls, they introduced a new individual in the form of a kid. It works to some degree, but kind of felt like filler in some ways until they could get to a point where some action was taken.

For me, outside of these two elements, those are the only real problems with Iron Man 3 for someone unfamiliar with the comic book canon (like myself). If you read Iron Man on a regular basis and know  all the characters, you may be really upset at where it goes, because the adaptation in some way really veers off from the comics. Veers off on the levels of Organic Web Shooters in Spider-Man, that kind of deep.

Now for the fun stuff.

What Iron Man 3 does really well is the way it handles the connections and interactions between the characters. Between Black’s and Pacific Rim writer Drew Pearce. The film basically has the same snap as Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and the final confrontation takes place in a location similar to Lethal Weapon II. Between Downey’s narration, James Badge Dale’s (who should get a run at being a comic hero or villain sometime) attitude and the action sequences, the film moves pretty well. Guy Pearce’s Aldrich Killian was cool. While I liked his character a lot, there were a few elements that were over the top. Kingsley’s Mandarin definitely works for the film, but the direction the story goes is a little weird.

Overall, Iron Man 3 is a fun ride for anyone following the Iron Man movies, and is an overall stronger film than the first. The lack of a direct teaser taste for the next Avengers film and a story shift that could upset die-hard comic fans threaten to hurt the story, but it makes up for it (I feel) by at least giving the story a sense of escalation. If Iron Man 2 was about Tony’s efforts in keeping his technology out of the government’s hands, Iron Man 3 would show why it was important. I wouldn’t mind seeing where this all goes.

Trailer: Iron Man 3 (Super Bowl Exclusive)


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Iron Man 3 will be the film from Walt Disney and Marvel Studios that will kick-off those studios’ Phase Two of their Marvel Cinematic Universe. It was the Galactus-sized success of 2012’s The Avengers which this newest phase will have to live up to and with new director on-board (Shane Black taking over the director’s chair from Jon Favreau) and the original cast back with new faces on-board (Sir Ben Kingsley, Rebecca Hall, Guy Pearce and James Badge Dale to name a few of the new names).

It’s now 2013 and just a few more months before Iron Man 3 makes it’s worldwide premiere and what better place to start the hype and marketing ad machine that will lead up to that premiere by releasing the latest trailer for the film than during one of the biggest one-day event in the world: the Super Bowl.

Iron Man 3 is set for an international release date of April 25, 2013 with a UK premiere in April 26, 2013 after then a North American release in May 3, 2013.

Without further ado the Super Bowl exclusive Iron Man 3.

Source: Joblo Movie Network

Trailer: Iron Man 3 (Teaser)


Iron Man 3 teaser trailer is now out and let the hype and speculation move into it’s second phase as the film still has a little under 6 months left before it’s release date.

Marvel Studios, whether one likes them or not in regards to how they treat the original creators of their comic book properties, have been hitting on all cylinders under the focused direction of it’s leader in Kevin Feige. Te Phase One of their plan for an all-ecompassing Marvel Cinematic Universe using Marvel Comics characters still under their control when it comes to film and tv productions culminated with one of the biggest films in history with this year’s Marvel’s The Avengers. We now have Phase Two to look forward to and the first film to start this next phase in the Marvel Cinematic Universe will be none other than the next film in the series which began Phase One: Iron Man 3.

The third film returns the same cast as before with the addition of Sir Ben Kingsley in the role of the Mandarin and Guy Pearce, Rebecca Hall and James Badge Dale to round out the rest of the cast. Shane Black now takes over as director of the series with Jon Favreau coming back as executive producer and in the role of Happy Hogan.

The trailer makes mention about how the events of The Avengers has changed the world, but also Tony Stark’s own personal life and he’s finally admitted that being Iron Man and Stark has increased the amount of people who are genuinely out to kill him. The teaser focuses on the dramatic aspect of the film but still manages to put in some “sizzle reel” worthy action sequences with the bulk of it being the destruction of Tony’s cliffside home in Southern California.

I am an unashamed fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and while I will admit every film in it has had flaws in the end they’ve all been entertaining. With Shane Black in the director’s chair I actually think this film may improve on the first film, fix the problems of the second and raise the bar for the rest of the films that will comprise Phase Two of Marvel’s plan.

Iron Man 3 is set for a release date of May 3, 2013.

Movie Review: The Avengers (dir. by Joss Whedon)


I’m almost certain that this won’t be the only review for Marvel’s The Avengers here on the Shattered Lens. Arleigh is watching it as we speak, and while I can give my thoughts on the film, they won’t be from a comic insider’s point of view. It’s not my strong point. You see, I grew up on Spider-Man comics, and totally shunned the Marvel Team Up / Group stories. Never read an X-Men comic until after that film came out and The Avengers overall are new to me. I know who they are, but I can’t tell you if the movie gives you everything the comics were. Keep your eyes open for the other reviews to help build a better picture of things.

What I can say is that the movie easily touches on everything that Disney / Marvel has built upon with the movies before it. Starting in 2008, Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2, Thor and Captain America: The First Avenger were all pieces of a larger puzzle. After 4 years, The Avengers does its best to utilize all of it, to a great success. That’s the amazing element of this movie. You aren’t essentially required to watch the other movies to enjoy The Avengers. In 2 hours, you’re given a film that stands completely on it’s own if you’ve never seen the other films, yet is an added bonus if you have. Even better, the characters that didn’t have a chance to get their own films still have moments where we can learn about them and where they get to shine. One could maybe say the same about The X-Men in that you have a group of heroes that have to work together, but you’ve never really had a set up to display all of their abilities and background the way Disney/Marvel did this.

Warner Brothers and DC should be crying right now at the missed opportunity here. All of their comic creations were already under one roof, and they really should have been able to have had a Justice League film by now if they wanted to. I wouldn’t be shocked at all if they tried to mimic Marvel Studios right now.

When I first heard that Joss Whedon was doing the directing, I groaned. I have a love / hate relationship with Whedon’s work. I was never a big Buffy: The Vampire Slayer fan, but I really enjoyed Angel when it went into syndication, seeing all of it’s seasons more than once. Of course, everyone loves Firefly, but the film based on that, Serenity, tanked at the box office (I was there at the first Friday to support it, though). I wrote off the Avengers as something that was destined to fail, because Whedon loves to inject pop culture references at every given and small bits of humor into things that are usually serious. I felt the only saving grace would be that Whedon is something of a master when it comes to ensembles, which is why I figured Marvel Studios went with him. It may work for something like Cabin in the Woods (“When did you start reading science books?!” / “You! I learned it by watching you!”), but for a superhero movie, come on.

And yet, here I sit, feeling I owe Whedon the biggest of apologies. The Avengers has equal parts humor and action and it comes together so well that I’m not sure I know who else could pull this off. Let’s put it this way. The only true lull in the whole movie is at the beginning of the film, because it still needs to set up the big problem for the Avengers to handle. Other than that, the movie moves very well for a film with so many characters.

Previously on The Avengers…

Without giving much away, The Avengers is basically the story of S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), who has to bring a group of heroes together to face a foe that’s too powerful for one good guy to handle on their own (or so that’s how they sell it). However, before they can take on the battle they’re supposed to, they have to find a way to get along with each other and that’s the building point of this tale. The action, when it happens is fresh and fast and there isn’t a slow moment that passes without pushing the story forward. For as long as the movie is, it moves very well.

The Character Study…

Like I said, One of the marvels of The Avengers is that all of the characters are given their time to shine. Since this is the big story we’ve all been waiting for, the film does take it’s time to give the characters brief explanations of where they’re from and how they fit into the entire scheme of things. These summaries give the audience just enough to be satisfied without turning the movie into a set of background dossiers like Watchmen. Of particular note is Mark Ruffalo’s Bruce Banner / Hulk, who may have had the hardest duty here, playing a character that most people associated with Edward Norton in The Incredible Hulk. He makes the role his own, and just like with Bana in Ang Lee’s version of the green guy’s story, Norton’s quickly forgotten (or was for me, anyway). Ruffalo’s version of Banner is very hesitant, almost scared of what he can unleash. Norton pulled this off as well, but I have to admit that I felt a little sad for Ruffalo’s Banner at the start. He keeps his distance because of how dangerous he can be, and I can’t imagine how rough that would be. Still, he and his alter ego get their spotlight moments, too.

None of the characters veer off from how they were established in their own films. Robert Downey, Jr’s Tony Stark is just as much of a wise cracking ass as he was in his movies, and Captain America is just as noble. Chris Hemsworth carries Thor without a problem. If there’s any one character that has a tough time fitting in, it would have to be Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye. Though he had a blip of a cameo in Kenneth Branaugh’s Thor, and manages to have some presence here, but if he wasn’t in the story I don’t think he’d be terribly missed. The story manages to cushion this by having the Black Widow (Scarlett Johannson) be something of a fighting partner with him. For a character without anything super about her, she holds her own amongst the team, even better in some occasions.

Most superhero movies have gone the route of adding villains as the number of films increase. Superman had Lex Luthor in the first film and then the three Kryptonians. Spider-Man 3 had both Venom and the New Green Goblin to deal with. Even the Dark Knight had Joker and Two-Face. One would think that given the number of superheroes on board, you’d have just about the same number of Arch villains to deal with. The Avengers spins this notion on it’s ear by just giving you one main enemy in Tom Hiddleston’s Loki, and as a demigod, he’s as formidable as one could expect. I thought that was a great touch, considering what we usually get in superhero movies.

One thing about The Avengers that helps it move along is the humor that’s injected throughout the film. It’s not so heavy that you can’t take the film seriously, but there’s just enough to find yourself accidentally chuckling or downright applauding at scenes. Of course, this is classic Whedon. Even his Astonishing X-Men comic line had the same elements. Just when you think everything’s becoming a little too dramatic, the film throws a comedic curveball that breaks the tension. What felt like overuse in Buffy The Vampire Slayer turns out to be really fun here. This doesn’t mean that the film avoids being serious. There are moments where it’s incredibly so. It’s just that the story knows when to laugh at itself. I applauded and laughed out loud too many times during this movie. Were it not for the audience laughing with me, I’m pretty sure I’d be that guy getting shushed down in front. Wow, it was just fun!

…But What about the Kids? 

Can kids go see The Avengers? Of course. It may get a little scary for the littlest of viewers, but overall, it should be a fun ride for anyone who enjoyed the other films in Marvel’s arsenal. There’s no time for anything steamy (unless you want to count a little flirting between two characters anything), but maybe the violence may be something to be wary off. Then again, it may not really be that bad. It’s up to the Parental Guidance and all that. They will probably love the 3D version, which is actually used well in the aerial sequences but can tend to fade as one watches it. It definitely has a great look to it, but the 3D isn’t exactly required here. That’s up to the viewer to choose.

Overall, The Avengers is a wild ride and a great triumph when looking at what was built to reach that point. It’s easily the Inception for me this year, that film that I know I’m going to be running back to a few times before it’s had it’s run, and as of right now, I’m far less excited about Prometheus and The Dark Knight Rises at this point. My movie year’s pretty complete at the moment and the Summer officially starts with this film, the way I see it. I wouldn’t mind seeing another Marvel team up like this.

Oh, one more thing. Stay when the credits roll. There are 2 tidbits that need to be viewed. One just after the credits start and one at the very end.

TV Spot: The Avengers “Head Count”


We’re just a month away from the release of Marvel Studios’ long-awaited superhero team action film The Avengers. It’s a film that’s been many years in the making with five other Marvel Studio films released prior to it introducing the many characters who will form the ensemble for this project.

It’s not going to be much of a surprise to see many tv spots and on-line releases of 30-second clips to help hype a film that needs no more hyping. While it seems all these incoming tv spots just rehash the same scenes from the several trailers already released once in awhile we see a quick new scene that should help excite the fan-base even more. This time around that new scene is one of the Hulk himself taking on a couple of Loki’s alien army. All that is missing is the Hulk saying “Hulk Smash!” as he simply smashes one of these alien bastards.

The Avengers (retitled Avengers Assemble to differentiate itself from the awful The Avengers film adaptation of the British spy tv series of the same name) will have it’s world premiere on April 11, 2012 in Hollywood with a general wide release on May 4, 2012 starting in the US.