Top 10 films of 2013: Iron Man 3

Odd List Seb Patrick 23 Dec 2013 - 22:25

Next up on our countdown of our favourites of 2013, here's Iron Man 3, a surprisingly daring superhero movie

Over the past few weeks, Den of Geek writers have been voting for their favourite films of the year. The votes were weighted, calculated, and compiled into a list of our favourites of 2013's films. Here, at number 5, is Iron Man 3...

5. Iron Man 3

This article contains spoilers.

It would have been, let's face it, astonishingly easy for the Marvel films to rest on their laurels in the wake of The Avengers. Formula for a global smash-hit billion-dollar-grossing superhero franchise established, knock out a bunch of sequels that basically each follow the same basic pattern, job done.

But Marvel Studios didn't get where they are today by doing the easy or the sensible thing. And so the second wave of Marvel films have each taken conscious, deliberate shifts into genres beyond merely being classic-style "superhero" movies. We've already had the Star Wars-prequels-meet-Lord of the Rings techno-fantasy of Thor: The Dark World, with Guardians of the Galaxy's mental space opera and Captain America: The Winter Soldier's '70s-esque spy thriller still to come.

Kicking it all off, however, was the one that represented the biggest gamble: Iron Man 3. A Shane Black action-heist-spy-comedy that opens with the strains of Eiffel 65's perma-irritating Europop hit "Blue (Da Ba Dee)", lingers heavily on its central hero having post-traumatic stress disorder, and keeps him out of costume for the majority of its running time. Even by normal standards of risk-taking, here was the rulebook being torn up, thrown out of the window, and then blasted into oblivion by helicopters carrying rocket launchers for good measure.

It was always going to be divisive, of course – we said as much right from the outset. But for every internet fan who complained about the legacy of "Iron Man's greatest foe" being damaged by the Mandarin twist (which is nonsense, anyway – in almost fifty years of comics, the Mandarin has never been any good, and was most often simply an uncomfortably stereotypical "Yellow peril" villain), there were yet several more enraptured cinemagoers who thrilled to 2013's most delightfully unexpected moment. And besides, how was it in any way possible to complain about the Trevor Slattery revelation when it was carried by such a show-stoppingly hilarious performance as Sir Ben Kingsley's? And referenced Croydon in a major Hollywood blockbuster, to boot?

The same goes for the brief introduction of a kid sidekick – potentially an annoying, even franchise-ruining decision, but actually undercut with a hefty dose of witty cynicism ("Where's my sandwich?") This sort of thing was the key to why Iron Man 3 was able to pull off its frequent twists and surprises – while deliberately wrong-footing the viewer, the script itself (and we have to give credit not just to Black, but to the UK's own Drew Pearce, creator of the criminally overlooked superhero sitcom No Heroics) was resolutely sure of itself.

As witty as the film was, mind, it would be wrong to over-emphasise the comedy and give the impression that it was an out-and-out superhero spoof. You can get away with lacing a superhero flick with laughs if you also deliver on the action front – and here, Iron Man 3 was nothing short of a blast. Shellhead devotees will undoubtedly have got the biggest kick out of the climactic, remote-armour-laden sequence (not to mention a glimpse of what appeared to be Hulkbuster armour, especially intriguing given the fast friendship that's developed between Stark and Banner in the MCU), but the "barrel of monkeys" plane rescue was a particularly astonishing scene, and one that could only be done in a superhero movie. It's just a bit depressing that it was a better Superman scene than anything in Man of Steel, frankly.

Despite all of this, however, it's fair to say that Iron Man 3 didn't become the fifth biggest-grossing film of all time purely as a result of its ability to confound expectations or deliver solid comic book action. At the end of the day, there's one very large hook upon which the success of both this individual series, and Avengers in general, hangs: and that's Robert Downey Jr. He simply owns the character of Tony Stark – and with it, the audience's hearts – in a way that no actor in a superhero franchise has since Christopher Reeve in Superman (and then, arguably, possibly even more so – after all, Reeve wasn't method acting the part of Clark Kent for two decades before getting it the way RDJ seemingly did).

And with Iron Man 3, in particular, he sells an element of Tony that some fans had trouble grasping when complaining about the amount of time he spends out of the armour: namely, the fact that armour or no, and (as the dialogue deliberately spells out at the end) even without an arc reactor in his chest, he is Iron Man. And we love him wholeheartedly for it. Post-Avengers, we might have been just about ready for a break from the character. Post-Iron Man 3, it’s hard to imagine ever doing without him.

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Booo! Worst Iron Man of them all.

Not according to Rotten Tomatoes and the rest of the world. IM2 wins that accolade.

They also consider Star Trek Into Darkness to be be 87% rated fresh and we all know how awful that movie is.

Honestly my favourite Iron Man film, even more so than the first. For one thing it is for more comic-booky than the first, and easily RDJ's best performance in the role. The PTS was handled incredibly well, adding far more drama to the character then they managed in Iron Man 2, and the mix of action and comedy was perfect.
I get that some people are disappointed by The Mandarin twist, even with Marvel hinting from the outset that this wasn't going to be a standard version of the character and Shane Black explaining his own dislike of the racial stereotypes. But the fact that they managed to have a genuine twist in their film that no one saw coming before release should be commended, even by those who would have preferred not to have a twist.

Iron Man 3 over Pacific Rim? Boo to you, sir!

Definitely a fun movie. Marvel's on it.

Iron Man 3 has grown on me. From wanting to walk out of the cinema at the Mandarin reveal, to thinking its the freshest Marvel movie in years.

probably my least favourite Iron Man film,and yes i hated the twist...I will catch it again when its on Sky Movies tomorrow though(well,i'll SKY+ it),hopefully i will like it better second time like what happened to me with The Amazing Spider-Man

I didn't mind the Mandarin twist at all, but it did undermine what had been set up before though. It felt like the Talia reveal in The Dark Knight Rises, it undermines Bane who was the better villain.

Great film. Despite some mutterings about the Avengers cash cow Marvel keep on making excellent movies (hoping Thor: The Dark World is in this top 5 somewhere) - I say keep on milking it Marvel.

IMO started off great the mandarin was cool and evil as anything! but then came Trevor Slattery and it ruined it for me if I'm honest. RDJ is Iron Man though and his performance in the film was impeccable

Ok, I'll admit that not knowing anything about The Mandarin (or anything from the Iron Man comic history really) probably meant I wasn't too bothered by the reveal, but for me it turned what was already a great, if formulaic, movie on it's head. It dealt with issues from The Avengers, it had genuinely great character development and it delivered in the action stakes. I honestly can't understand people's problem with the film.

No, the Mandarin was shaping up to be a boring cliche of a villain until the twist.

Excellent write-up, and one of my favorite Marvel movies in ages. Top notch all around.

One of the best genre movies of all time.

I agree there should have been a twist just not that he was an actor! liked the thought of him being an alien or something, maybe could have brought a teaser for GOTG here instead of Thor maybe

Iron Man 3 was good. But it's not amazing.

I liked Star Trek Into Darkness. There's nothing utterly awful about it. It wasn't great, but good. There are more positions on the quality scale that awesome and terrible you know.

Except having as an alien or something would not have worked with the themes being conveyed within the film. One of the concepts at the core of the film is 'we make our own demons' this relates back to Tony's internal struggle, how he was responsible for Killian's grudge etc and how Killian then literally created a 'demon' through which to create terror and create control, which also served to critique the media and the construction at work in 'the war on terrror.'
If he had been an alien or something it would have been a twist for the sake of a twist, this twist was about making a statement and creating a thematic purpose to the film.

tbh I just threw the alien idea out there in response, agreed not very well thought out, i just hated the original twist

"in almost fifty years of comics, the Mandarin has never been any good"

*sits back, grabs popcorn, waits for the furious rain of fanboy fire*

It was boring, plain and simple. The plot made no sense and was needlessly overly complicated. It wasted the supporting cast. It squandered its villain. It took a great reboot and ruined it. It was one of the worst of the summer alongside Man of Steel and Pacific Rim.

As a non-comics reader, can someone please explain to me how it would even be possible to play the Mandarin straight without being horrifically racist?

Or have I opened the comics equivalent of the comics equivalent of the "Talons of Weng Chiang is a little bit racist" can of worms?

3 words: Too much Gweneth.

Taking into consideration that Rotten Tomatoes gives a fresh review if the classification is basically positive (above 60%) i would say it's fairly normal that 87 % of the critics enjoyed it enough to give it above 60%. This to say that the movie is not better than the first one, but it's not that bad. Definitly worth more than 6/10, like Pacific Rim btw.

Not having read any Iron Man comics (graphic novels???) I wasn't entirely concerned about, The Mandarin, so it wasn't a deal breaker for me. Nor do I insist on too much reality bleeding into a superhero movie, but whilst the action and spectacle was all there I thought there was 'something' not quite right. Certainly not enough for me to dislike the movie, but there were times I was brought out of the fantasy in order to ponder on the 'reality.' Stark's shopping spree, for instance. How did he pay for it? He's supposed to be dead, yet nobody (SHIELD) flags up a substantial purchase on any of his cards (if he even had any with him) I get that he's a billionaire, but just how many suits did he build, at a cost of several million each. Would nobody notice such a financial deficit? So, anyone can now use any suit, or part of a suit? Whatever happened to those security protocols from IM2? The modular suits fall apart when hit by a truck, yet he's confident to wear one, when fighting super powered villains?

OK, so I'm nit picking, but as I said before, it's these little things which are lazy writing or thrown on screen just for the sake of it. I still enjoyed the spectacle that was IM3, and I will happily re-watch it because it is a fun movie, but I question whether it is worthy of a top 10 slot.

A very average film, IMO. Marvel don't necessarily make the best Marvel movies.


It was ... alright. I wouldn't give IM3 a glowing review and I wouldn't slate it, either. RDJ was faultless (as usual. God help Marvel finding someone to take over when he decides he's had enough). I'll watch it again, if it appears on the tv schedules, but it'll not be one where I'll go out of my way to watch it. :-/

Iron Man 3 is the second best superhero movie of 2013, behind The Wolverine IMO, a movie which is grossly underrated.

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