When they announced Iron Man 3’s villain there was concern The Mandarin was a character with a rather troubling past. An evil magical Asian. Then they announced he was being played by Ben Kingsley. He isn’t an example of Whitewashing exactly (Kingsley is not white). But in the end, this was not the big concern for most viewers. Favreau was out…Lethal Weapon scribe Shane Black was in.
Borrowing from the comic’s Extremis story-line, Tony runs into a guy trying to outdo his armor by creating soldiers who don’t need armor. They are living weapons. The problem is that they are volatile and prone to exploding. Then there is the mysterious terrorist the Mandarin. As Tony finds the situation escalating, he goes into hiding. He is still struggling with Post Traumatic Stress for the alien invasion in the Avengers. As it all comes together Tony discovers a few twists, including the possibility the terrorist organization does not even exist.
As usual, the cast is stellar, and Kingsley’s reveal is entertaining. Though as the Mandarin he has this weird southern drawl that seems…out of place. But other than that, the performances are quite good.
Of all the action sequences, there is a sequence where Iron Man saves people in freefall that is just great.
The effects are strong, though at times the powers seem arbitrary. People with Extremis technology exhibit some really random powers (such as breathing fire). They do look pretty cool though. Also, the ending seems to make no sense. Tony destroys all his armor for…I guess…reasons? It feels like they were trying to put a stamp of closure on the Iron Man franchise when we knew he would be back for another Avenger’s movie.
All in all, I found Iron Man 3 a bit of an improvement over the second film. It has intrigue, action and humor.