Craggus’ Countdown To Infinity: Iron Man 3 (2013)

With the USA under siege by a terrorist known as The Mandarin, things get personal for Tony Stark when ‘Happy’ Hogan is injured in one of his bombings. Challenging the terrorists to come and get him, Tony is caught out when they do just that. Cut off and alone with a malfunctioning, prototype suit, Stark must find a way to thwart the Mandarin’s scheme and find out who is really pulling the strings.

There’s a lot I like about “Iron Man 3” and a few things I really didn’t like when I first watched it. Subsequent rewatches have softened my objections somewhat but its still my least favourite of the “Iron Man” trilogy, even though it’s a pretty good film in its own right.

Post-“Avengers Assemble”, its inevitably the first one to really suffer badly from ‘but where are..?’ syndrome. Not so much the big hitters like Thor or Captain America, but given the ‘terrorist organization threatening global security’ plot, it seems really, really weird that SHIELD isn’t all over this. That weirdness is only magnified when Tony Stark is apparently ‘killed’ yet almost no effort is made by any authorities to search for him, especially by Nick Fury et al. it’s the first “Iron Man” movie to not feature SHIELD in any way, shape or form at all despite having the most SHIELD-centric plot of any of them.

That aside, once again the film manages to get by on the charisma and charm of its star and, for the most part, the adventure is a solid one (if you ignore the aforementioned absence). Ironically, the abrupt twist regarding The Mandarin didn’t bother me the first time I saw it, and continues not to do so. I’ll admit to a slight pang of regret just because Ben Kingsley’s performance and presence as a villain was so good but Shane Black’s energetic writing carries the story across that bump and into something interesting and I love the House Party protocol even if it is a gratuitously in your face deus ex machinis.

In many ways, “Iron Man 3” is one of Marvel’s bravest films. Following the sensational success of “Avengers Assemble”, they consciously decided to step far away from a further crossover and placed their most bankable superhero in an adventure which deliberately set out to deconstruct him and take away all of the things which had to this point seemed to define him. Largely its successful but it’s the sudden shoehorning in of a key decision towards the end – Tony removing the shrapnel and therefore the need for his arc reactor – that irked me the most. It’s so clumsily written and shoe-horned in at the last moment, along with Pepper’s extremis cure, that it all feels, to borrow an expression, ‘super easy, barely an inconvenience’. It’s so jarring and out of keeping with everything that’s come before it, it’s like a “Justice League” reshoot snuck its way into the MCU. Worst of all, it introduces Tony’s most aggravating MCU character trait – his repeated decisions to keep retiring only to change his mind by the next appearance without any explanation. I came out of “Iron Man 3” annoyed at the removal of Tony’s character-defining ‘sword of Damocles’ and depressed at the idea that this might be Iron Man’s final movie, fueled by some of the interviews Robert Downey Jr had done at the time.

Of course, it wasn’t but it took me a long time to forgive the film for that downer of an ending, no matter how much I enjoyed the rest of it.

Not a sniff of an infinity stone in this weirdly parochial adventure.

Um…Iron Patriot, I guess?

Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner in the post credit stinger, plus Stan Lee as a talent contest judge and a welcome, if brief, return for Ho Yinsen (Shaun Toub) in the opening 1999-based flashback. Bill Maher, Joan Rivers and George Kotsiopoulos all play themselves and there’s even blink and you’ll miss them appearances by Liverpool FC footballers Martin Skrtel and Daniel Agger, albeit on a TV screen but it still sort of counts.

Absolutely nothing. Nada. Zip. No teasers whatsoever for the forthcoming MCU movies. There’s an almost palpable desire to give the audience some ‘time off’ from the relentless building and let this adventure breathe on its own.

Befitting its Shane Black trademark Christmas motif, Tony hangs a stocking for J.A.R.V.I.S., a stocking which happens to be the same colours as Vision (red, green, and yellow).


  1. Avengers Assemble
  2. Iron Man
  3. Captain America: The First Avenger
  4. Iron Man 2
  5. Iron Man 3
  6. Thor
  7. The Incredible Hulk