Iron Man 3
by Michael Bradley
As a huge comic book fan and reader of the original Iron Man comics, I would probably go see any movie made about Marvel or DC Comics heroes. Unfortunately, that is what Hollywood banks on too often. Film producers do not understand the fascination with comics and rely on the old tried and true formula of big stars, big trailers and lots of computer generated special effects. It is what makes Iron Man 3 interesting, but also what makes it fall short of the mark.
I try to avoid spoilers in movie reviews, but in this case, I have to discuss the scenes themselves. If you have not seen it before, I give it high marks for eye candy and low marks for plot and acting. You should stop here if you want no spoilers.
Iron Man 3 starts off with The Mandarin, the mystical head of the Ten Rings shadowy organization. The Mandarin played horribly by Ben Kingsley, a man who other than Gandhi has played every stupid role in a film. The Mandarin turns out to be an idiot actor with no villain qualities at all. It is a real insult to the comic fans. Robert Downey as the title character seems to call it in on this movie, having already announced he might not do future ones. His acting is wooden.
You start off with Tony Stark narrating how he made innocent people into demons. This narrative is heavy handed throughout the film, including The Mandarin being a fake terrorist to prop up military industrial spending. They come out and tell you over and over, that we make our own demons. The point of the movie is clear, that all terrorists are created by our military to sell weapon systems. It is just as crassly portrayed in the movie, a political charge that is without any depth.
At the beginning, we find Tony Stark beset with anxiety attacks, worried about Pepper Pots, but never spending any time with the person who is indispensable to him. Then he makes a stupid taunt in the press and nearly gets both killed. He spends most of the film trying to get one partially functional suit to work, only to have forty fully functional suits magically appear at the end of the film for the finale.
The best part of the movie, and there are not a lot other than the computer action scenes, come when Tony Stark is relating to a young boy named Harley Keener, played by Ty Simkins. Ty steals the scenes and you wish the movie dwelt more on real characters like that than on the incessant assault on the senses of loud destruction scenes. The other good part of the movie is the humor inserted. A henchman actually leaves a scene, putting down his weapon and saying, “I hate this job, the people are weird here, I’m just going to leave if that is ok.”
The end has the Vice President being part of the conspiracy of course, so he can take over and you guessed it – get in more wars to sell more weapons for the defense industry. When Stan Lee created his characters they were about social commentary. The X-Men represented the viewpoints during the Civil Rights movement. Spiderman was the boy coming of age and learning how to be a man. Iron Man was created during the Vietnam War as a challenge to make a warmongering weapons manufacturer popular at the height of protests and hostilities. Stan Lee always played against type. That is one reason turning Iron Man into a pacifist who still builds violent personal robot exoskeletons by the score attacks the very foundation of the canon.
The worst attack on the canon of Iron Man is at the end. Tony Stark decides to get his heart “fixed” by removing the metal shards in it. What? The one thing that made Iron Man was that his heart was inoperable, that he had to create the power device that made him part human, part machine. The scene lasts less than a minute, and then he is all healed and throws his chest power plant into the ocean.
They even made over Pepper Potts from the spunky, smart, moralist to a superhero with compromised moral viewpoints at the end. Last, after waiting through the longest credits in history, was the let down of the end clip. In previous films in the Avenger line, the end clip reveals some cool clue about an upcoming movie. In Iron Man 3, the end clip is just Tony Stark finishing his narrative to a sleeping Incredible Hulk in human form, who tells him he is not a psychologist. Of course Tony Stark in the comics would never open up about anxiety disorders, his love of Pepper Potts, or giving up his powers to a fellow Avenger, but hey, every other thing about Iron Man seems to be lost in this movie as well.
If you are an Iron Man fan, you will see this movie no matter what I say, and probably already have. Once your adrenaline settles back down from the cgi and sound track, see if you don’t agree with these comments. Movie producers, please pay attention to character development and not just special effects.