[Author’s note: I’m not overly fond of doing in-depth trailer talks. Too often movie trailers mislead us into making assumptions and judgments about a movie that end up being not at all representative of the finished product. That said, this one provided too much solid stuff to pass up, so here I go.]
Kicking off the second phase of Marvel’s shared universe of movies next summer is the long awaited Iron Man 3. Fans and spectators alike have been wondering not just what the third installment of Marvel’s most popular character (who doesn’t crawl walls) will be about, but how it will follow (and as Marvel hopes, tops) The Avengers, this summer’s mega-blockbuster. Now the first official trailer for the movie has debuted and it’s like “insert gift giving holiday here” come early. Not too much info is given away, but it is clear that the movie will be action packed and Tony Stark will be tested and pushed to the brink like never before. The two minute trailer makes it clear that the stakes have never been higher for our hero.
And in observing this dark tone, comparisons started to spring up that were most intriguing. From the somberness of the footage to certain shots and story elements, it started to seem more and more like the moderately light-hearted and jaunty fantasy tone of the first two Iron Man movies and The Avengers has been substituted for the gritty seriousness of Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy. Specifically, the trailer echoes a great many elements from this summer’s The Dark Knight Rises, Nolan’s third and final Batman movie to the point of making it look like it takes direct inspiration from it.
The Dark Knight Rises saw our protagonist hit his lowest point before he rose to overcome in the end. If the footage is to be believed, Tony Stark is also in for some hardship in Iron Man 3. He appears battered and defeated in many scenes. Voiceover of him talking about the many apologies he needs to make and how many people want to kill him puts a grim mood over everything. The trailer ends with a shot of Stark hauling his armor behind him, alone, in some remote winter area.
Even the font type of the giant “3” when the title card appears at the end is shown to be dying and crumbling away, exactly like the backdrop of DKR’s title card (a bat signal formed from what appears to be broken concrete).
Then there’s the villain. A fanatical terrorist leader, played by a respectable British actor (Tom Hardy as Bane in DKR, Ben Kingsley as The Mandarin in IM3) who’s speaking in an accent that doesn’t sound anything like their own voice, giving an ominous voiceover speech about what they consider themselves (“I’m Gotham’s Reckoning”; “Some people call me a terrorist. I consider myself a teacher.”). So, yes, as you can see, they’re not similar in any way.
Since we are talking about an Iron Man movie here, the footage wouldn’t be complete without a lot of stuff that goes boom. We are shown that Tony’s previous armors are destroyed by individual explosions, culminating in a scene in which Stark’s Cliffside mansion is leveled and blasted into the sea by a group of assault helicopters. This scene is sure to be one of the centerpieces in the middle of the movie, similar to the destruction of the football field and bridges in DKR. A looser tie-in, I know, but both scenes are treated similarly and feature prominently in their respected trailers.
And then it happens. Pepper Potts picks up a broken Iron Man helmet, a symbol of our protagonist’s humiliating defeat. Hmm… I don’t seem to recall any movie in recent memory where our hero gets his ass handed to him and has his shattered headgear used prominently to convey the severity of the beating. Except I do.
Maybe my geek brain is just working overtime on this one. And for all we know at seven months out, the movie itself could turn out to be nothing like the pointy-eared one’s final outing. But from here and now it is clear as crystal that Iron Man 3’s first trailer is attempting to be reminiscent of DKR. Which is weird because, if internet-land is to be believed, aren’t these two franchises supposedly mortal enemies? Is Robert Downey Jr. not on record saying he didn’t understand The Dark Knight? Aren’t Marvel fans Hatfields and Dark Knight fans McCoys, with no middle ground or tolerance of liking both franchises?
Joking aside, there are far worse ways of creating buzz for your trailer and it would be a lie to say this trailer doesn’t do just that. Iron Man 3 opens May 3, 2013.