When I look back at the summer of 2013, I would call it an overall disappointing venture as far as films go. The few good ones do outshine the many duds, but they are outnumbered like the Spartans in this fight. I will say that the summer began with what I think is the best of the lot, and the kick-off for Marvel's "Phase 2," Iron Man 3. Many disagree with me about this notion as I've still heard people complaining about the film in the past few weeks, but I think the movie is brilliant and one of the bright spots in Marvel's feature film library. With Iron Man 3, Shane Black and Robert Downey Jr. have delivered the most unique and satisfying sequel in years and they've fitted the home release with a fair amount of features.
The crown jewel of the film's Blu-ray release is the audio commentary with Black and his co-writer on the project, Drew Pearce. Throughout the film, the pair elaborate on previous drafts of the script, visual cues that viewers might have missed, and places Marvel might go in the future based on ideas they scrapped the first time around. I think the most interesting aspect of the commentary is when the pair begin to address problems that viewers and fans had issues with in the film. Black and Pearce present their sides of the complaints without trying to put down overly-critical fans - they genuinely understand the complaints and even point out some plot holes I've never seen mentioned. If you've never listened to a commentary track on a film, this is a good place to start. Filled with humor, great insight, and plenty of surprises, the track leaves the listener/viewer with a better understanding of the creative process behind the year's biggest blockbuster.
Iron Man 3's Blu-ray also has some other bonus features including an “Unmasked” featurette that condenses the entirety of the production into a ten minute vignette that, while interesting, isn't the most satisfying of behind-the-scenes coverage. In addition there is a “Deconstructing the scene” piece that covers the Air Force One attack, which is a cool watch, but might bore viewers that aren't completely interested in the process. A handful of deleted and extended scenes for the film are also included and many are hit or miss. A few of the scenes play really well, but it's understandable why the majority were cut from the film, which initially ran over three hours according to Shane Black on the commentary. There's also a gag-reel which might make you smile, but won't cause belly-aching laughter.
Two of the more surprising bits included on the Blu-ray are the new Marvel One-Shot, Agent Carter, and a behind-the-scenes look at the upcoming Thor: The Dark World. Agent Carter might be my favorite of the Marvel One-Shots as it continues a story from the films with a character we haven't gotten enough of from previous movies and has enough connective tissue to make it a very worthy entry to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The Thor sneak peek is kind of disappointing. Though it features new footage we haven't seen in the trailers or TV spots, it is rather short and features mostly cast interviews over actual footage.
Fans of Iron Man 3 will want to pick this up, though my biggest complaint is that the picture does appear darker than it was in the theater. Naysayers for the sequel likely won't have any interest, but I think the film's commentary track will likely convince them otherwise about the movie if they show a bit of open mindedness toward it. It's a bummer that more features weren't included on the disc, but what is included certainly is not bad.
Rating: 8 / 10
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