“Things are different now, I have to protect the one thing that I can’t live without.”
Since that epic battle in New York, nothing has been the same for Tony Stark. In his own words, “You experience things, and then they’re over. I can’t sleep, and when I do I have nightmares.” Ever since the Avengers assembled to save the world, Stark has become a damaged and suffering man living in a world he no longer understands. Tinkering with his Iron Man suits merely serves as an escape from the real world, and, when “demons” from Stark’s past suddenly appear in his life and threaten to destroy everything he holds dear, will Iron Man realize that hiding is not the solution?
Who is Tony Stark without his suit? This is a question that not even Stark himself knows the answer to and this film documents the dramatic and raw journey of discovery. While this film does have some exciting scenes, engaging dialogue, and entertaining elements, the themes it provides for thought are definitely the most rewarding aspect.
Arrogant. Egotistical. Narcissistic. These are all words that can be used to describe the character of Tony Stark. However, as Proverbs 16:18 says, “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall,” Stark does experience his fall and learns the right lessons through it. We watch such a vainglorious character transform from a pompous “genius, billionaire, playboy philanthropist” (to use Stark’s own description of himself) into a man who is stripped of his illusion of strength and experiences true brokenness and humility. Iron Man 3 chronicles more than just another action-packed adventure; it tells a story of identity and transformation. Previously, in Iron Man 2, Stark had proclaimed, “I am Iron Man. The suit and I are one. To turn over the Iron Man suit would be to turn over myself.” Throughout this latest installment in the Iron Man trilogy, that view is radically changed and Stark is finally able to admit to himself that his suit was nothing more than a “cocoon” that enabled a new man emerge from it’s shell.
Protection and sacrifice were both themes that I appreciated as much as the emphasis on humility. The previous Iron Man film ended with Tony Stark and Pepper Potts finally in a serious relationship and it is refreshing to watch the way they both sacrifice to protect each other. In a moment of anger and pride, Stark jeopardizes the safety of “the one thing he can’t live without.” Once he realizes his mistake, however, he is broken and his apology is sincere. Multiple times Stark compromises his own safety in order to ensure Pepper’s. What a vast difference this is from the old Tony Stark who only cared about himself; now he loves Pepper and is willing to put her needs and safety before his own. Pepper’s character has always been one of a feminine woman who supports and aids the hero without getting involved in the action herself but that perception is altered somewhat in this installment. After she endures a terrible ordeal, Pepper is worried for herself and Tony and she is terrified that she might inadvertently harm the man she loves. However, Tony reassures her, “I can make you better. I fix stuff.” Both are willing to be there for each other in good times as well as bad and make sacrifices necessary to protect the other.
Another concept that is worth thinking about is introduced in a statement by Stark at the opening of the film. He remarks, “You start something pure, something exciting then come the mistakes, the compromises. We create our own demons.” This quote and the way it is a crucial aspect to the plot provides some excellent food-for-thought. Even if it doesn’t acknowledge the true nature and source of evil, it does inspire people to consider their actions towards others and realize that the compromises we make now can have deadly ramifications for our future. Despite the fatalistic tone of this statement, the story is not void of following up with messages of hope and redemption and overcoming mistakes.
The MPAA rated this film PG-13 for “sequences of intense sci-fi action and violence throughout, and brief suggestive content.”
Even though Iron Man 3 is full of some excellent themes and messages worth thinking about, it is not void of negative content and it contains much of the risque content found in the other two Iron Man films.
Yes, Tony and Pepper are in a relationship now, but this does not stop us from seeing the kind of behavior Stark was notorious for during the previous films. Flashbacks show us a glimpse of the promiscuous-pre-Pepper Tony. Nothing is shown and nothing explicit is said, however, there is suggestive dialogue and inappropriate actions are implied. Regarding Pepper and Tony’s relationship, the two live together even though they are not married and suggestive dialogue is amply present between the two of them as well.
People are shown together in bed while, throughout the course of the movie, women are shown in underwear, bikinis, and very revealing clothing. Pepper’s midriff is exposed during quite a bit of the film.
Profanity consists uses of “s-”, “d-”, “a-”, “S.O.B.” and taking the Lord’s name in vain. In addition to those, there are several instances of inappropriate slang terminology.
Drugs are mentioned and some characters drink alcoholic beverages.
This is, without a doubt, a very violent film; more-so than I can remember the other Marvel films being. Iron Man 3 seems to jump from one fast-paced battle to the next with hardly a moment to catch your breath in between. People are killed and terrorism is shown in a way that is extremely frightening and realistic. Blood is shown and genetic modifications are the cause of some highly disturbing images and scenes including people breathing fire, turning red-hot, and being able to regenerate disgusting and mutilated bodies back to normal. People are blown up and buildings explode. Hand-to-hand combat is gritty and intense (including vicious fighting between a man and a woman.) The violence is definitely something of which to be very wary.
While I consider Iron Man 3 to be superior to Iron Man 2 plot-wise, it is far from perfect. What started out as a fantastic plot with plenty of depth and a well-developed villain, was taken too far and ended up being over-the-top and unbelievable. Sometimes less is more and subtlety is better than excess. Towards the end of this film I was ready to go back to the more “realistic” roots of Iron Man and forget about some of the crazy things that were introduced into this story by its end. The messages were there, but they seemed to get buried and lost amidst the special effects and action sequences that failed to deviate from the expected norm.
Iron Man 3 explored and caused viewers to consider and question some serious issues, such as the ramifications of genetic modification and “playing God.” Due to its thought-provoking themes, I am glad I went to see this film; it provided me with a lot to consider and the film itself contained plenty of exciting action, plot twists, and witty dialogue to be thoroughly entertaining. However, because of the risque content and the heavy amount of disturbing violence, this is not a film I would chose to see again.