Iron Man 3

T is for Tony Stark

Have I told you lately how much I love Tony Stark? Because I love him a lot. Every now and then I think about the ways he’s such a great and interesting character and then I go on a little Twitter rant. As a part of Jumpcut Online’s Infinity Saga retrospective of the MCU I wrote pieces on Iron Man and Iron Man 3 which are two of my favourite films in the MCU and I’d recommend checking them out because they end up being mainly focused on why Tony Stark (and Robert Downey Jr.) is so brilliant.

But why do I love Tony Stark so much? That’s a good question. I love how much he’s grown over the course of the MCU. Like, I get why someone wouldn’t necessarily like him in the first Iron Man film (though he still has a good character arc in it) but if they still don’t like him by the time Infinity War has rolled around then they’re still judging him on who he was and not what he’s become.

The thing about Tony Stark is that he wears bravado and the “genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist” title like a suit of armour. He can court the media like a pro, but it doesn’t mean he enjoys it. He is confident and at times full of himself, but he also has anxieties and a deep need to protect those he cares about and fix his mistakes.

Tony Stark has a heart and it’s full of love. He loves his robots and his AI (don’t tell me losing JARVIS first to Ultron and then as a part of Vision wouldn’t have hurt him), he loves Pepper, he loves Rhodey, and Happy, and Peter, and he definitely loved, or at least cared about, the rest of the Avengers. Tony Stark is the guy who designed a floor for each of the Avengers in his tower after knowing them for less than 48 hours. The guy didn’t have a conventional upbringing, or a solid family, so he tries to make a family from his friends.

Tony is incredibly smart and incredibly brave. He’s had anxiety, nightmares and PTSD from going through a wormhole into space, but that didn’t stop him trying to save Spider-Man and Doctor Strange when they were kidnapped by a spaceship. Space, and the threat that’s out there, is one of his biggest fears but he still went to try and save the world.

Tony is often a mess, but he’s a mess that is trying his best. He is someone who when presented with a couple of options he doesn’t like, will find a different way to do something, to fix a problem. Accountability and learning from one’s mistakes are major parts of Tony’s character arc, and his need to be held accountable, for people to be safe and secure, is one of his major driving forces. That can, and does, mean he clashes with some people, but he will get through it.

Tony Stark is funny, smart and heroic. He’s the guy who made a miniaturised arc reactor in a cave with a box of scraps. And he’s the guy that won’t ever give up.

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P is for Pepper Potts

Pepper Potts is the best. I love her, and her relationship with Tony, so much and I’m just super invested and hope she gets a happy ending.

Let me count the ways that Pepper Potts is amazing. She was the Personal Assistant to Tony Stark, something that definitely wasn’t an easy job, but she kept him in line, dealt with board members of Stark Industries, networked and could deal with the press like the best of them. No doubt when Tony made her CEO of Stark Industries she received a lot of backlash – I bet some people thought she only got the job because she was sleeping with the boss, which she wasn’t but even if she was, she proved to be a more than capable CEO and has guided to the company to great heights.

As well as being an astute businesswoman she’s also very brave. Along with Happy she drove in the middle of the Grand Prix to get Tony’s suit to him when he was being attacked and she spied on Obadiah Stane when Tony asked her to, putting herself in more danger than she realised, and ended up saving the day. In fact there’s a great tweet where someone worked out that Pepper has killed more of the main villains of the MCU than anyone else. She was also incredibly badass in Iron Man 3 and I loved how they flipped the script and made Tony the damsel in distress at the end there.

Being in love with someone who has PTSD and anxiety can’t be easy and I thought Iron Man 3 did a great job of showing Tony’s issues and how they affected Pepper too. She never stopped believing in Tony though and I’m so pleased they worked through their issues and are now engaged to be married.

Pepper is smart, kind-hearted, loyal and trustworthy. She’s the kind of character who can be underestimated as she’s not a fighting-badass kind of character. Instead she’s quietly badass in her suit and high heels, and one that cares deeply about her friends.

K is for Harley Keener

I love Harley and I think he was just the sort of person Tony needed to run into. I love Tony Stark’s sort of paternal/mentor relationship with Peter Parker, but before he met Peter Tony had already met one smart kid and had gifted him a bunch new equipment and robotics.

Harley is a great character because while he’s a kid that can sometimes be annoying and insensitive, he’s also smart enough to be able to bounce ideas around with Tony Stark. Plus, Tony walks that fine line of knowing Harley’s a kid but also not treating him like an idiot making their conversations and relationship a lot of fun.

Harley may have accidentally triggered an anxiety attack in Tony after mentioning New York, but later on he’d learnt from his mistakes and the next time Tony had an anxiety attack, he managed to snap Tony out of it. He did this by saying that Tony was a mechanic and can therefore simply build something to fix his problems. It’s great because Harley has a childlike understanding of anxiety and Tony’s issues but that childlike bluntness, or simple yet logical way at looking at something, is what really helps Tony out.

Harley works as a character because the script treats him as a child. He’s about ten years old and he never seems too mature for his age, instead he’s very much a child that’s discovered something amazing and wants to help though will probably not help as much as he’d like to. Harley can be annoying and maybe even obnoxious but he’s still sweet and loveable and the kind of kid you wouldn’t mind being around. I mean, Harley’s not afraid to try some emotional manipulation even if it doesn’t work out for him.

I’d really like Harley to make an appearance in the MCU again. He’d probably be around the same age as Peter Parker so I can just imagine the two of them becoming buddies and working with Tony in his lab, and no doubt the three of them would cause chaos together.

REVIEW: Iron Man 3 (2013)

Suffering from a series of panic attacks after the events of The Avengers, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) also must deal with the threat of the terrorist known as the Mandarin (Ben Kingsley).

Shane Black takes over as director in Iron Man 3, and as cowriter as well, his influence is all over this film and that’s not a bad thing. It is funny while still pushing its characters to the edge. It introduces some interesting new characters such as Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce) who you’re never really sure if you can trust, and Harley (Ty Simpkins) a boy who helps Tony out in his time of need and there’s some great dialogue between the two of them and JARVIS (Paul Bettany).

One of the great things about Iron Man 3, is that it allows its hero to suffer. Tony is not the same man after what he experienced in New York, he has nightmares and can’t stop making more and more of his suits of armour. He’s frightened of losing those he cares about, namely his girlfriend Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) and his friends Rhodey (Don Cheadle) and Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau). Most of the time we spend with Tony during this film, he’s out of the suit and has to rely on his own wits and mechanical ability to save himself, never mind the rest of the world. The scenes of Tony making gadgets to take on the bad guys really reminds the audience just how smart and capable this guy is – after all, he’s the guy who built a miniaturised arc reactor in a cave with a box of scraps.

While Iron Man 3 is more of a serious film compared to Tony Stark’s previous outings, it’s not dark and gritty, instead it’s fun and witty while still showing a different side to these characters. The film speeds along with action sequences that use the Iron Man suits like we’ve not seen before and has some surprises too.

Ben Kingsley is brilliant in this as the villain of the piece. It’s not faithful to the comic books, and some people probably don’t like that, but personally I think this version of the Mandarin is genius. It turns the character on its head and puts a different face to terrorism to that we usually see in big Hollywood films.

Iron Man 3 is an entertaining adventure with some impressive action sequences and a whole lot of heart. If you weren’t a Tony Stark fan before this film, then I’m sure you will be by the time this film is finished. 4/5.