I had a plan of reviewing The Iron Man films as a trilogy. The only problem with such an approach is that, after seeing them, I started doubting if they really were a trilogy. The stitching was a bit too loose, the trilogy was coming apart at the seams.
The first Iron Man film definitely works well as a stand-alone, and I think it was by far the most enjoyable film of the series. Iron Man highlights Tony Stark’s strengths and weaknesses. The man is capable of creating a life-destroying war machine out of some bomb scraps thanks to his intellectual genius, but fails to see his own company is being hijacked because of irresponsible arrogance. Tony Stark is a genuinely flawed hero. Rather than hiding his identity (as pretty much all the superheroes do: Superman, Spiderman and Batman- even Antman) , Tony Stark reveals himself to a roomful of journalists. His ego is huge, and is a real obstacle not only in his attempt to save the world, but in his attempt to find his own happiness.Although I have to admit, I was far more attracted to the chemistry between Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr) and his secretary,Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) than to Stark’s attempts to regain the honour of his company, which sells arms to the US military.
Iron Man 2 explores Stark’s weaknesses further. The American government requests that he give up the suit for the good of the nation, which he staunchly refuses. Meanwhile a crazed Russian scientist replicates Stark’s findings and is set to destroy all that he holds dear. As if that wasn’t enough of a problem, Stark is also being killed by the element that powers his suit. The action-packed plot and a nemeses that incorporate the two sides of Stark’s personality (the flamboyant but talentless millionaire and the world-endangering scientist), one felt there was a gap in the structure. It was stitched together by the introduction of the Avengers programme, and the beautiful and witty Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson)
The lacks of the second film were exacerbated by the third film of the series, which unexpectedly jerks us back to 1995, before the action of the first film began. It’s as if the film-makers had realised that there was no actual potential for a trilogy and suddenly decided to artificially create the grounds for one. Instead of fighting his own alter-ego, Tony Stark is now up against an army of genetically modified humans who have the ability to re-grow their limbs, and also… explode. Talk about side-effects. The only real strength of this film are Tony Stark’s panic attacks, which have the potential to add some psychological strength to the character. Unfortunately, this potential is mostly wasted as a material for one-line jokes. If this film tries to achieve anything, it is to explain the reasons for Tony Stark’s paranoia in Avengers: Age of Ultron. But the strokes are too deft. We need more bickering between Tony and Pepper to believe in the man’s psychological vulnerability. We need him to show that he cares for his girlfriend rather than just talking about it. We need exactly the kind of delicateness that we had in the first Iron Man film. Instead of strengthening the psychological complexity of the hero (which Iron Man 2 did, despite its drawbacks), Iron Man 3 took a step back and tried to replace thought with action. The film suffered for it.
In Iron Man 3, Tony Stark is an arrogant millionaire whose hobby happens to be saving the world. Hardly someone to root for. And Captain America:Civil War is coming out soon… We will need to see more of the original Iron Man, more decency in Tony Stark, if we are to be torn between him and the rather more selfless Captain America.