I admit, I’m often behind the times when it comes to viewing movies, and I hadn’t planned on reviewing Iron Man 3 but after viewing it I just felt compelled. Our house is way out in the sticks, and when I’m working on . . . something . . . during the weekends, time just vanishes. But I always get around to watching things on Bluray eventually. This weekend we jammed the Iron Man 3 disk in to the trusty PS3, flopped down in the family room, and steeled ourselves for some action.
Boy was I disappointed. Okay, there WAS action, but little else.
Let me preface this by saying I really liked the first Iron Man, great origin story, great character building, great action. I though Iron Man 2 was pretty mediocre, especially the weak, WEAK, miscast villain. But Iron Man 3 takes comic based film making to a new level of mindless. Wait, check that, Transformers wins that title . . . but technically that’s a toy based film.
Anyway, this is becoming a familiar formula for recent comic movies. All the great characters are being sacrificed for ridiculous action, premise, and special effects. And the deeper in to a series we get, the more ridiculous it gets. First Iron Man . . . all about character. First Spiderman . . . all about character. First (and admittedly second) Batman . . . all about character. X-Men . . . all about characters. Ghost Rider . . . oh, wait, never mind. You get the idea.
So where does Iron Man 3 fail? Just about everywhere except the action. But people expect more than action when they go to superhero movies in this new generation of film offerings. That being said, here’s where Iron Man 3 fails . . .
The False Villain
The build up to Iron Man 3 clearly and deliberately revolved around The Mandarin and his ties to the Ten Rings terrorist group that captured Tony Stark in the first Iron Man. It would have been a great tie back to the original film, and a nice wrap up to the (first) trilogy. The traditional Mandarin villain is a serious badass. A master in martial arts who wears ten rings of power fashioned from technology taken from a crashed UFO. What do we get in Iron Man 3? A classic bait and switch. The Mandarin is a washed up, drunk of an actor that Killian pulls off the street to play a villain. A ruse! Those are fine when you play them on the good/bad guys . . . BUT NOT THE AUDIENCE! So not only did Marvel/Disney destroy a potentially awesome villain, they essentially eliminated The Mandarin from ever appearing in a future movie or ever being taken remotely seriously.* Fail #1.
*This could turn around on us, the audience, if Marvel/Disney can somehow pull off another ruse and transform that bumbling fool Trevor Slattery into the real Mandarin.
A villain in a three piece suit usually doesn’t work, and Iron Man 3 proves this once again. Aldrich Killian starts the film as a supernerd fanboy of Tony Stark who, at the time, is too busy trying to get in the sack with a supernerd woman to pay Killian any mind. As nerds tend to be, Killian is a bit sensitive about his intellectual bromantic advances being shot down. Killian grows up. Tony doesn’t. Years pass and Killian shows up as . . . Syndrome from The Incredibles!! You can’t make this stuff up. Meet Aldrich Killian, a.k.a Buddy Pine, a.k.a. Syndrome!
“Muahahahahaha! Oh, come on! You gotta admit this is cool! Just like a movie! See? Now you respect me, because I’m a threat. That’s the way it works. Sure, it was difficult, but you are worth it. I mean, after all . . . I am your biggest fan. And when I’m old and I’ve had my fun, I’ll sell my inventions so that everyone can have powers. Everyone can be super! And when everyone’s super . . . [chuckles evilly] no one will be.” ~Killian, errrr, I mean, Syndrome monologuing
The problem is Pixar created Syndrome to poke fun at the superhero genre in a satirical way, leveraging every cliche and trope in existence to do so. Iron Man 3 takes these same cliches and tries to make them legit. Fail #2.
Little kid helps Stark fix his armor by proxy, even if that means just watching the suit and fudging around on the computer, or even holding a conversation with Stark about the suit? No. Fail #3.
Everything about the autonomous suits just dumbed down the entire franchise. It allows Stark to get on the horn and play his ‘deus ex machina’ card whenever he gets in trouble. Hello? Army of near invincible suits? Come save me. Yes, they all self destructed at the end. But I wouldn’t be surprised if there were autonomous suits building armies of other autonomous suits in some hidden Stark Robotcave under the ice of Antarctica, ready to fly in and save the day whenever called. Where are my supersuits!! Fail #4.
The Vice President
Any story that involves the vice president as a power player in league with the villain to eliminate a righteous president is another lazy superhero trope to be avoided. Fail #5.
This is a post-Avengers movie. Tony Stark gets his ass whooped, his house destroyed on international television, by a psychotic terrorist organization that is murdering people around the globe. Where are The Avengers? Even ONE of them? Aren’t they concerned? Busy with Loki . . . again?! Why doesn’t Stark get on the Iron Man Phone and ring up Captain America or Thor? Maybe they didn’t bother helping because they knew Tony had an army of supersuits that make superheroes obsolete. So much for that fraternity. Fail #6.
The Transformation of a Superhero
Iron Man 3 is the superhero movie that killed its own superhero. What makes a superhero ‘super’ is his/her power. Tony’s power is his suit. Without his suit he’s just a sarcastic billionaire with a high IQ. Without his suit he’s without his power and is relegated from superhero . . . to hero. And in the world of comics, regular heroes are mundane and boring. Autonomous suits now have the power. They may not be ‘superheroes’ but when it counts they have the qualities needed to get the job done. And no one knows (or probably cares) that those suits are empty. Fail #7.
Okay, on the surface Iron Man 3 is mindless fun. But if you scratch away the surface it’s a shallow imitation of what we expect from a modern superhero movie. Marvel/Disney are becoming lazy with their immense cash cow. Fans flock to these movies whether they are good, bad, or mediocre. They’ve rationed out the blue meth like a cinematic Walter White to get the fans hooked, but now the quality control is suffering and their pushing the bad stuff. But fans keep buying. Need dat superhero meth!!
R.I.P. Tony Stark.
© 2013-2020, Neal Ulen. All rights reserved.
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