Kirk: Iron Man 3 stirs anticipation, hesitancy

Matt Kirk

Matt KirkApril is here, and my beloved May approaches. With the temperature rising into the 70s, my 21st birthday, the end of school and the beginning of another blockbuster season, my favorite month should be great again this year.

As is typical tradition, I will begin May with a trip to the movies. To me, enjoying the first major action thriller is just the first present from a month that keeps giving. This year awaits the arrival of “Iron Man 3,” the third film of the popular Marvel franchise that has enabled the emergence of other cherished comic book heroes in cinema.

With Robert Downey Jr. seemingly still on his game, Gwyneth Paltrow and Don Cheadle back and Ben Kingsley cast to play Iron Man’s newest foe, the film has no shortage of talent. In my eyes, such a star-studded – and well-chosen – cast can easily prevent Iron Man’s third endeavor from falling victim to the typical finale flop. Furthermore, Downey Jr.’s wit and charm as the lovable narcissist Tony Stark is more than enough to ensure droves of fans flock to theaters on May 3 to make Marvel millions, regardless of whether the film is well made or not. Similarly to “Spider-Man 3,” which was simultaneously a tragedy and the highest grossing movie in 2007, the expectations of the film alone is enough to lead to a financial success for the studio.

My main concern is the direction of the plot, which looks much less creative than the original Iron Man. The plotline places Tony Stark as the last line defense between his foe and everything he holds dear.

It’s a typical setup, and a bit perplexing considering this “genius” doesn’t appear to seek the assistance of any of the super-powered friends he’s gained in “The Avengers” after getting beat down in his own house. Seriously, not one call to Asgard?

However, I admit that looking back, “Iron Man 2” didn’t really have much going for it other than a well-cast Mickey Rourke and an upgrade from Terrance Howard to Don Cheadle. Yet, I can’t count the number of times FX has ended my constant channel flipping simply by airing “Iron Man 2” at 3:30 p.m. The first sequel proved that the Iron Man series can rise above a so-so plot with some hair-raising action scenes and the wit of Downey Jr.

Judging by the trailers – full of Stark’s house exploding and waves of iron men – the film will not fall short when it’s time to blow some stuff up, so it is easier to write off plot concerns and admit that sequels have a difficult time surpassing the original picture. “The Dark Knight” is a pleasant exception, but it doesn’t change the rule.

Not all moviegoers are as easily pleased by Marvel’s repeated cinematic ventures as I am, but given the consistent success of its recent films, I think it deserves a little public faith on this one.

While I expect “Iron Man 3” to be on par with “Iron Man 2,” Marvel is completely capable of raising the bar, leaving audiences amazed and eager to see if there will be any sneak peeks at the end of the credits.

However as the film culminates, “Iron Man 3” will take an interesting place among Marvel’s past and forthcoming trilogies. It will be the first trilogy completed within Marvel’s newly established collective cinematic universe.

Normally, after three movies, the franchise is done; wrapped up and ready to be remade in a decade or two. At the very least, audiences will have to wait five years for another writer to have the balls to step on the incumbent trilogy’s toes and reimagine the character. Side note: I will excuse James Vanderbilt for “The Amazing Spider-Man” because, hey, he pulled it off. Nevertheless, with “Avengers 2” set to film in early 2014, “Iron Man 3” is surely not the end of Downey Jr.’s adventures as Tony Stark.

Additionally, the Iron Man franchise appears to shoulder the responsibility of introducing the next series of movies to be made by marvel. At the end of the original “Iron Man,” Nick Fury’s appearance signaled the beginning of Marvel’s journey to introduce and assemble the Avengers.

Following the first sequel, the crashing of the mighty hammer of Thor signaled that the Asgardian Demigod Thor, was next in line for a major film series. What follows the final credits in “Iron Man 3” will almost be a public announcement by Marvel, informing fans of the next phase of its strategy.

There is much speculation among online comic communities that such an announcement will signal a bridge to the start of an even more daring phase of movies from Marvel, straying away from the more commonly known characters.

Characters like Ant-Man and Rocket Racoon from “The Guardians of the Galaxy” will make interesting additions to the Marvel film universe when they are set to premiere in 2015 and 2014 respectively.

No matter what grand plan the writers at Marvel have concocted for the connection between “Iron Man 3” and future films, the movie should be a fun ride and a great way to start the summer this year.

Matt Kirk can be reached at matthew.kirk@temple.edu. 

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