Taking place on the heels of the events of last year's Marvelous display of hollow fatuity, The Avengers, this new (and hopefully final) Iron Man shows us a Tony Stark addled by panic attacks and sleep deprivation, holing up in his basement, producing an endless series of prototypical variations on his Iron Man suit. Meanwhile, the Mandarin taunts the President, using malfunctioned genetically enhanced amputee war veterans (yes, you read that correctly) as bombs to teach a series of "lessons" to America.
Of course there is more to it, but every bit of summarization exponentially increases the number of plot holes and convolutions which coincide with each detail, and outside of a rather inspired plot twist concerning the Mandarin I don't have the heart to spoil, none of it is really worth the endurance necessary to either write or read such a description. The most irritating of all of Iron Man 3's myriad issues is its needless tie-in to The Avengers, which constantly provokes the question, "Where the hell are the other Avengers during this crisis? Why is this a solo world-saving adventure? Why does Tony enlist the help of a twelve-year-old rather than, say, Thor?
Though the finale does provide some solid spectacle in the form of forty of those insomnia-inspired prototype suits on auto-pilot attacking a bunch of bad guys on an oil rig... Swooping, firing energy rays, and blowing up with no real purpose or effect, Iron Man 3 has already numbed you to anything but the poignant realization that such a sequence is the perfect metaphor for the ephemeral pleasures of the recent rash of superhero films. I wish I could say this signals the downturn of disappointments like Iron Man 3, that the superhero craze has finally run its course and is sputtering out into obscurity, but I'm sure that, like Tony's army of remote-powered suits, there will be plenty more to take its place and do the same goddamned thing.