The new "Iron Man 3" trailer is dark. Not just dark because Iron Man's house explodes and his girlfriend gets tortured, but actually dark. This one looks like it rivals "The Amazing Spider-Man" for night scenes and actual darkness. (
As noted by Vulture, a dark Iron Man film isn't necessarily what fans signed up for: The first Iron Man film was an anti-Batman, with Robert Downey Jr. and director Jon Favreau treating their comic book adaptation like a comic book. "Iron Man" was the definition of breezy -- loaded with one-liners and ad-libs that transcended most superhero films. Even the ending is a wink: Stark as Iron Man telling the world that he is Iron Man.
That crispness extended to the second film as well -- Sam Rockwell, holla -- though with diminishing returns. "Iron Man 2" was kind of a mess, after all, redeemed by nothing but massive box-office returns and the appearance of Downey in "Marvel's The Avengers." Stark's disdain for the superhero supergroup, and then the ultimate self-sacrifice he performs to save them and the world, was one of most affecting arcs in "The Avengers" plot.
Which brings us to "Iron Man 3": It takes place after the events in "Marvel's The Avengers" and features a changed Tony Stark. How can he go back to his reality-based world of gadgets and fun -- forget Jason Bourne; Tony Stark is the closest thing we have to an American James Bond -- when Loki unleashed a gaggle of Chitauri warriors on an unsuspecting Manhattan like it was the end of a Michael Bay movie? Well, he can't -- and even if could, it wouldn't matter. As mentioned, the trailer shows Stark systematically losing everything. There's even a shot of Happy Hogan (Favreau, returning to the role despite not directing "Iron Man 3") lying in a pile of rubble. Will Happy die? At the very least, he won't be too pleased with the mess caused by The Mandarin. (Pause here for some LOLz about Ben Kingsley's Mandarin voice, which isn't as bad as Tom Hardy's Bane voice but still sounds pretty ridiculous. He's like an angry Muppet.)
So, is this heavier "Iron Man" going to work? Yes. Three reasons why:
1. At least there are some stakes ...
Quick, name what was at stake in "Iron Man 2." Oh, right: You can't.
2. ... and they don't involve saving the world.
The fastest way to make a superhero movie feel like a superhero movie? Create some MacGuffin that is outsize with the rest of the story (see the nuclear doohickies from "The Dark Knight Rises" and "Marvel's The Avengers"). "Iron Man" worked best when it's about Iron Man and his situation. Giving the main character a revenge plot to put some pressure on his personal demons, as it appears happens in "Iron man 3," is the exact right thing to do with a franchise that risks losing its lead to another series altogether.
3. It probably won't be that heavy.
When Marvel unveiled footage from "Iron Man 3" at Comic-Con, it was of the hahaha-variety: Happy talking about the "Super Friends," Stark doing Stark-y things. Just because the trailer is dark, doesn't mean the movie will be. It's Downey; the guy doesn't do dark and brooding. He leaves that to Christian Bale.