2. The Dark Knight Rises
After Batman & Robin, no one expected Batman Begins to come from Warner Bros. Based on Frank Miller’s famous graphic novel Batman: Year One, Batman Begins presented the Caped Crusader in a deconstructed fashion with emphasis on atmosphere and realism. The film excelled at the box office and received raving reviews from comic and non-comic enthusiasts, establishing Christopher Nolan as a leading director in Hollywood all the same. The 2008 sequel The Dark Knight is not only called the greatest superhero film of all time, but grossed over a billion dollars.
Everyone wanted a sequel that would end what would be called The Dark Knight Trilogy, and in 2012 they got it with The Dark Knight Rises, inspired by yet another Frank Miller story called The Dark Knight Returns. However, it turned out to be lacking in the same resonance that its two prequels had held, and this time a studio-director conflict wasn’t to blame. This unfortunately revealed another potential source for the curse; that trilogies could suffer from franchise fatigue (i.e. running through too many themes over too many years). TDKR certainly helped attack the tradition of the curse, but it was a letdown nonetheless.
1. Iron Man 3
The first Iron Man was spectacular, especially due to the perfect casting of Robert Downey Jr. as the titular character. The film tells of Stark’s capture at the hands of a radical group that divulges the secret that his weapons aren’t as black and white as he’s made them out to be. It made him undergo an odyssey of sorts as he seeks to destroy his weapons whilst crafting a new one that he has full control over. It had the right amount of philosophy, romance, and comedy thrown in for good measure.
The second Iron Man partially continued these themes by showing how Tony attempts to solidify his legacy when he realizes that his death is imminent and that he hasn’t completed his goal of world peace. But the film came off as more slow and stuffed than the first Iron Man, with director Jon Favreau later disclosing that he was forced to include more plot elements regarding the Avengers (which he also cited as part of his reason to not return for Iron Man 3).
After the lighthearted adventure that was The Avengers, Iron Man 3 was marketed as being a return to the darker, more personal story of Tony Stark as he combats a mysterious terrorist called The Mandarin, who holds some unknown grudge against him. You’ll probably notice many similarities to Spider-Man 3 with regards to the marketing and end result, which was a very campy film that featured one of the worst plot twists in film.
Now, there are a reasonable number of people who contest that Iron Man 3 was better than Iron Man 2, but that opinion mainly relies on the idea that Iron Man 3 was more remembered by audiences than the second one, rather than the quality of the film itself. Iron Man 2 had themes that it stuck by till the end, whereas Iron Man 3 didn’t know what it was trying to tell. On the one hand it appeared to be a political commentary on the Bush Administration, whereas on the other it was trying to make us question how we perceive the media, and still there were these other themes about vengeance, regret, power, etc…It was sloppily put together with well done action set pieces.
It is a wonder as to what caused Iron Man 3 to go wrong. Given that this was Shane Black, writer of the great Lethal Weapon and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, it would appear as though the studio was to blame. Yet the huge success of the Avengers, which hadn’t received much interference as far as I can tell, would lead you to believe that this was all Black’s fault. Why did this film need to go back to the campy days of Iron Man 2 (only with a worse villain)?
Whatever the case, Iron Man 3 wasted its potential and marked that, even as late as 2013, the third superhero film curse still exists. With such franchises as Thor, Captain America, the Avengers, and the Amazing Spider-Man coming to a possible trilogy in the near-future, we can only hope that one of these succeeds in breaking free and putting all three films in a superhero trilogy back on track as good movies.
Author Bio: Red Stewart is big fan of the entertainment industry, with insights into film, television, and video games for starters. Despite growing up in the 21st century’s era of modernization, he prefers many retro era ideas over the current trends found in many of today’s media. Personally he’s an introvert who loves reading as much as gaming.