With the impending arrival of Captain America: Civil War, we are taking a look back at the movies that brought the MCU to this point. So take a trip back in time, as we break down Marvel’s Phase 2 film-by-film. Let’s begin with our Iron Man 3 Retro Review.

IRON MAN 3

The Iron Man 3 Retro Review: The Road to Civil War Part 1
The Iron Man 3 Retro Review: The Road to Civil War Part 1

Summary: Tony Stark is trying to recover from the Battle of New York, but is suffering from PTSD symptoms. Meanwhile, a crazed madman – the Mandarin – is taking over the airwaves and claiming responsibility for bombings aimed towards the United States. During these hard times a relic from Stark’s past emerges, Aldrich Killian. A once disabled scientist, Killian used his creation, “Extremis,” to not only rebuild his body, but create an army capable of carrying out his mission: to kill the President on live television. Now Stark needs to stop the Mandarin and Killian, all while battling his demons. Oh… and War Machine got a red, white and blue paint job and is now called the Iron Patriot.

The Iron Man 3 Retro Review: The Road to Civil War Part 1
It’s an America makeover!

Pros: Guy Pearce’s Aldrich Killian is probably one of the best villains in the MCU. He is given clear motive as someone who is slighted by Tony Stark and wants vengeance. He’s not just a generic, power-hungry antagonist. As the power of Extremis grows inside him, he becomes bat-sh*t crazy and takes on the persona he created, the Mandarin. I know many were upset with the Mandarin twist, but it took cojones for Marvel to make that decision. By having Killian scream, “I am The Mandarin“… his villainous journey came full circle. Pearce nailed the role. I just wish it was remembered more fondly.

The Iron Man 3 Retro Review: The Road to Civil War Part 1
Aldrich Killian is SMOOTH!

Cons: Being the first movie to come out following The Avengers, there was hope that Iron Man 3 would continue to expand the MCU. That didn’t happen. There was no S.H.I.E.L.D., no other Avenger cameos (outside of a Bruce Banner post credit scene)… not even an obligatory Nick Fury appearance. It was a self-contained Iron Man story, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s just that Marvel has created the expectation of a joint universe and Iron Man 3 felt very secluded.

Another nitpicking issue was the lack of the Iron Man suit. Tony Stark was sans suit for a good portion of IM3. Although the film delivered with an excessive Iron-Suit showdown at the end, seeing Stark as just a man for most of the film was a disappointment. After all, it does say “Iron Man” in the title.

The Iron Man 3 Retro Review: The Road to Civil War Part 1
Not enough Iron Man, but more than enough Iron Men!

Impact on the MCU: Being a Stark solo adventure, you’d think it wouldn’t have an effect on the rest of The MCU. Well, you’d be wrong. William Sadler made his first appearance as President Ellis. It’s a role he would reprise later in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and since he’s still in office, he could appear in future Marvel movies.

Probably the biggest thing Iron Man 3 gave us was Stark turning his Iron Man suits into combat drones. The superb final fight scene saw 40+ Iron Man suits taking down Extremis-powered soldiers. This would be the first step in Tony Stark creating the Iron Legion from Avengers 2, which would lead to Ultron. It was the little seeds planted in Iron Man 3 that would sprout into the second obstacle for the Avengers.

The Iron Man 3 Retro Review: The Road to Civil War Part 1
Let’s rest, reflect, and recalibrate.

Ted’s Take: It’s probably the most underrated movie in the MCU. I’ve already discussed how terrific I thought Guy Pearce was, but I don’t want to discount James Badge Dale as Savin (an Extremis-powered henchman) who also excelled at playing a prick. On our hero’s side, we see Robert Downey Jr. as peak Tony Stark. He’s charming, funny… but also shows off the darker side. Gwyneth Paltrow finally gets to kick some ass as Pepper Potts, much more than Don Cheadle’s James Rhodes…who after finally getting his suit, flies away never to be seen again.

There’s a chance I might be in the minority here, but I was also a big fan of the Mandarin twist. While Sir Ben Kingsley was truly menacing at first, turning him into a fumbling stage actor that was “only playing the Mandarin role,” was a surprise twist that no one saw coming. Terrific plot twist. Plus, Trevor Slattery talked about the plastic surgery he received to look like the Mandarin. Perhaps he’s just a look-a-like and the real Mandarin is still lurking for a future movie (probably not, but it’s fun to dream).

Director Shane Black did a terrific job at telling the story of Tony Stark’s struggle to be Iron Man. It was a fun film and should come as no surprise that it hauled in over a billion dollars worldwide, making it the tenth highest grossing film of all time. Prime RDJ + terrific villain = $$$. While it might not rekindle the fond memories that the original Iron Man does, Iron Man 3 was a terrific Marvel movie and should crack the top five list of any MCU fan.

Up Next: Thor: The Dark World- The Road to Civil War Part 2.

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