‘Iron Man 3’ focuses on character, offers strong follow-up to ‘The Avengers’

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Everyone’s favorite Avenger is back. “Iron Man 3’” marks the return of armor-clad billionaire playboy Tony Stark and the beginning of the summer blockbuster season. The film is the first sequel in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, following last summer’s groundbreaking “The Avengers.” This begins the second phase, which will ultimately lead to the second Avengers film in 2015.

“Iron Man 3” certainly felt like the beginning of a new chapter. With new director Shane Black at the helm, there was certain freshness to the film. Director of such films as “Lethal Weapon” and “Predator,” Black knows his way around an action flick. In that way, the movie was better than ever.

Always upping the ante, Tony Stark’s robotic toys were upgraded more than ever. Stark’s newest suit is capable of flying in separate pieces and building itself around his body in seconds. That, as well as an armada of other specialty suits that play a role in the explosive finale, made for spellbinding action sequences throughout.

Still, the movie was a lot more than cinematic smoke and mirrors.

“I think it was awesome to get a better understanding of who Tony Stark is and how the events of ‘The Avengers’ affected him,” said Maryville College junior John Cole Kirksey.

The film focused heavily on establishing Stark’s ability outside of his technology, and he is often left with nothing but his own wits to save him.

The plot itself is more complex than the typical action song and dance.

“I personally thought it was awesome,” said Callie Keasler, a senior. “I also liked that it had a clear plot because some of the superhero movies are just a bunch of random fight scenes with no point to them.”

The writers included several twists and turns to keep the audience guessing, but they weren’t well received by all.

“This movie was a huge disappointment,” said senior Zach Howard.

Spoilers won’t be said here, but the writers take a generous liberty with comic book source material. This move is what Howard considers to be one of the “most insulting bait-and-switch twists of all time.”

One of senior Leah Petr’s favorite aspects of the film focused on its ties to Maryville’s local newspaper.

“It was great to see Tennessee get some screen time, too, even though Hollywood apparently assumes we all walk around in plaid and cowboy hats,” Petr said.

One part of the film takes Stark to Western Tennessee, and a copy of “The Daily Times” is shown. Film Executive Producer Stephen Broussard stated the paper was chosen to ground the movie in reality. As a small town paper, he said, it felt like the right fit.

“If the viewer feels like it’s happening in the real world, if the town or the television station or the newspaper on the screen feels like it’s a part of the real world, then suddenly people are more inclined to go along and buy everything else,” Broussard said in an online interview.

Overall, the third installment in the Iron Man series was a strong follow-up to “The Avengers,” and a great start to the second phase of the Marvel cinematic universe.  While adamant comic book fans may not be happy with certain changes, the plot kept the audience on edge. With a strong focus on Stark’s character, it was the next logical step in his development. By the end of the movie, there was no doubt that Stark truly was Iron Man.

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