“Hi, I’m Iron Man. Give Me All Your Money.”

Just a couple of bros hangin’ out chillaxin.

The calendar says May but as far as Hollywood goes it’s officially summer.   That’s what happens when the first huge movie of the year  comes out and stomps the snot out of every other film in sight.   Iron Man 3 has big heavy metal boots and with a $175 million opening week and over $600 million worldwide, it’s stepping all over what we will laughingly call “the competition.”

The family rolled out for a Sunday matinee and everyone  seemed to dig the hell out of the latest adventures of Tony Stark and friends.  I’ve waited three years to wipe away the bad taste Iron Man 2 left . And since it pulled down $175 million in Week One, it’s set the bar high for “Man of Steel.”   IM3 had the same problem the Bond franchise had with “Quantum of So What?” All  Skyfall had to be was better than that  last piece of crap and that was a low bar to clear.

It was definitely more entertaining than The Dark Knight RisesYeah I went there because that was the last super-hero movie I saw with a crime-fighting billionaire in the lead so it’s a natural comparison to  IM 3.   It’s been almost a year and I’m still convinced  Christopher Nolan didn’t stick the landing to his  end of  the Batman trilogy.   Iron Man 3 improved on everything that was weak about Iron Man 2.  The villains were better.  Don Cheadle was better replacing Terrence Howard as James “Rhodey” Rhodes.   Even Gwenyth Paltrow was better as Pepper Potts (Pepper Potts…oh, that Stan Lee!) and usually all Paltrow elicits from me is drumming my fingers impatiently until she’s off-screen and Iron Man is hitting something.

The problem now for Marvel is can they resign Downey for “Avengers 2.”  He’s certainly in an excellent negotiating position if he’s interested in returning.   Why shouldn’t he be?  Downey’s resurgence as a superstar is based upon how natural he is as Tony Stark.  The executives at Disney may have a short list of possible replacements for Downey if he doesn’t return and Kevin Feige, the main man of Marvel Films has hinted the ability to swap out actors as their heroes is a cue they have taken from the James Bond franchise.

Maybe Marvel is right.  Maybe Downey is replaceable as Tony Stark (because anyone can play a computer generated Iron Man).   Since Christopher Reeve made us believe a man can fly in Superman, two other actors have sported the “S” on the chest in feature films.  Four actors have suited up as Batman,  three as Bruce Banner/The Hulk and two swinging around as Spider-Man.

But no actor has inhabited the alter ego of the hero as well as Robert Downey Jr.  has worn the skin of Tony Stark.  Stark is more essential to the success of the Iron Man franchise than Iron Man is.  If Stan Lee, Larry Lieber,  Don Heck and Jack Kirby didn’t create Stark with Downey in mind, they should have.   When you’ve made a movie that has grossed a billion with a big “B” as The Avengers has, do you really want to risk that success of the franchise based upon an actor’s possible salary demands?

Downey pocketed an amazing $50 million payday for The Avengers, more than the rest of the principal actors put together and is the unquestioned first among equals.  In a GQ interview, Downey indicated he might be nearing the end of his super-hero days as the 47-year-old wondered how many more times he wants to suit up in the red and gold armor.  The ankle injury he sustained on the set of IM3 during a stunt shut down production for several weeks and put Downey in a reflective mood.

“It got me thinking about how big the message from your cosmic sponsor needs to be before you pick it up. How many genre movies can I do? How many follow-ups to a successful follow-up are actually fun?”

Downey says he wants to win an Oscar some day and it doesn’t matter if playing Iron Man is a license to print money.    Playing a billionaire has made Downey a millionaire, but it won’t win him the prize and recognition he really wants.   However, don’t take that to mean if he’s done with all this super-hero stuff he’ll walk away without a few regrets.

“At whatever point I’m done with this, I’m going to have a bit of a crisis, because I probably haven’t even fully ingested how much I’ve enjoyed it, how much it’s meant. It so came out of kind of relative obscurity as this second-tier character from the Marvel universe, and I feel I was part of making it something more. But it also to me was just good filmmaking,”  Downey said.

If The Avengers is going to make its 2015 release date, Disney won’t have too long to make up their mind whether they’re going to need a fleet of Brink’s trucks to get Downey to re-up.    Whether or not he does is an open question.

As for the big SPOILER in the movie I’ll say this much about it.  The only people who will be left slack-jawed and pissed off by it are comic book purists.   Nobody else will notice or care.   Not one blessed soul.

Iron Man 3‘s $175 million opening is second only to The Avengers.  Does that make IM3 as good as The Avengers.  No, and it isn’t even  a close call.   The Avengers was something unique and I think it’s only competition is itself in the same way The Dark Knight can’t be matched.   As the end of the trilogy where does Iron Man 3 stack up?   It’s been a long time since I watched the first, but from what I can recall, Iron Man was a lot more fun than 2 (a root canal would have been too), but only slightly more than 3.

The Avengers
Iron Man
Captain America
Iron Man 3
Thor
Iron Man 2
The Incredible Hulk (but only because I have it on DVD and have never watched it).

I almost forgot the absolutely Very Best Thing about Iron Man 3.  Not once did I hear AC/DC’s “Back in Black” or Black Sabbath’s “Iron Man.”  Talk about overexposure!

ironman-3

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