Iron Man 3: Reflections on Robert and Tony

"Yes, I am Iron Man. I am also IN FRONT OF Iron Man. Think about that now, huh?"

Robert Downey Jr. promoting the first “Iron Man” film in 2008. He subsequently suited up and flew away from the red carpet, screaming out the “Money” theme from “The Apprentice” as he flew away.

The title of the movie may have been Iron Man 3, but I came away from it feeling that it could have also been titled Tony Stark: The Movie.  I went with my parents to see the newest comic book movie blockbuster last Friday and was naturally blown away by the special effects, but more than anything else, I was fascinated by the evolution throughout the film of Robert Downey Jr.’s character, Tony Stark, as he reevaluated what he had done with his life.  I don’t usually see this kind of exploration in superhero movies, or in most movies I like to watch, but here it was truly something special.  I am not going to spoil anything too deep about the movie’s plot for those of you who haven’t seen it yet.  I just wanted to talk about an aspect of the movie I thought was worth bringing up if you want to go see it and one which I felt was simply outstanding when I reflected on it afterward.

Robert Downey Jr.’s fifth go-around as Tony Stark (fifth if, in addition to the Iron Man series, you count his cameo appearance in The Incredible Hulk and his co-starring role in Avengers) is once again a masterful performance which is stronger than just about any other performance in a superhero movie I’ve ever seen.  Robert and Tony have both been on the comeback trail for quite a while, and this film, in my view, represents both of their finest hours to date.  Robert’s performance has taken on an extra dimension; his character is no longer completely self-assured, but there’s still enough of his trademark confidence and swagger left over that it is still fascinating to me to see him in action.  Robert looks more comfortable in Tony’s shoes than he has ever been.  Tony says several times during the movie that it is virtually impossible to separate Tony Stark from the Iron Man identity; in the same light, I believe that it is clear that Robert and Tony are by now largely one and the same person.  I can’t really keep them separate in my mind.

I was glad to see a little teaser after the credits stating that Tony Stark (and Robert in the same role, I hope) will appear in future Marvel movies.  I think this is a great move considering that, in the comics, in addition to his association with Iron Man, Tony is just as well known for creating all sorts of fantastic high-tech stuff, particularly for SHIELD, the Avengers, and other big peacekeeping organizations.  I would like to see this role extend into the next set of Marvel movies, with Robert becoming across as a character between Howard Hughes and Christopher Lloyd’s Doc Brown from the Back to the Future movies.  He could be an eccentric inventor who gets on everyone’s nerves a little bit but makes up for it with cool and practical technology.  This kind of role could keep Robert busy for years in a position similar to Dame Judy Dench as M in the James Bond movies.  In my opinion though, Tony Stark seems a lot more fun to hang out with than Dench’s M; what do you think?

To me, Iron Man 3 was more about Tony Stark than it was about Iron Man.  Tony was the one who had to solve the most problems and he did so admirably.  Sure, Iron Man’s battles were fun to look at and very impressive on screen, but I was more interested in Tony’s personal story.  I’d like to see where both Robert and Tony go from here; it should be an engaging ride.

I highly recommend you go to see Iron Man 3 in the theaters.  It’s a big, action-packed, hilarious romp and one of the best “feel good” movies I’ve seen since Christmas.  It is an excellent end to an endlessly entertaining superhero movie saga, and I am interested in seeing if anyone can top it.  If you go to see the film, be sure to come back here and leave your thoughts about it in the comments.  I felt very happy and satisfied after seeing this film, and I hope you will, too.

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