Wednesday, June 19, 2013

“Iron Man 3” – Who are movies really made for?

There are two main topics I’d like to discuss relating to Iron Man 3. The first is that writer/director Shane Black delivered us a movie that is strangely disjointed from the first two Iron Man movies, as well as The Avengers, if not openly disdainful of the Tony Stark/Iron Man that had been handed to him. The second is that fan-boys need to get over themselves. They are so caught up in what they think the movie should be and how it should match with a certain canon that they don’t realize the movie wasn’t made exclusively for them. There’s a term for movies made exclusively for fan-boys – “straight-to-DVD.”

(Folks – there are spoilers coming up, so if you’re one of the eight people who haven’t seen this film, I’ll say it again – SPOILERS AHEAD.)

To understand what I mean by my first topic, first, let’s rehash the movie. Some time has passed since the alien invasion depicted in The Avengers and Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) is having panic attacks as a result of that event. He can’t sleep so he builds dozens of Iron Man suits in between arguments with Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow). We’re also treated to a flashback several years earlier where Tony is at a party and meets two scientists. The first is Dr. Maya Hansen (Rebecca Hall), a botanist who develops a regenerative technology aimed at healing a wide range of disabilities who also happens to be hot and sleeps with Stark after the party. The other is Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce), a disabled researcher who petitions Tony for funding for a startup think tank. He is not hot (and is also male), thus Stark is not interested and leaves him humiliated on the roof of a hotel. Obviously, this all becomes important later in the movie.

In the present, a terrorist calling himself The Mandarin has perpetrated a string of bombings, and various agencies are having no luck capturing him or even figuring out who he is. When Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau) is injured in an attack, Stark issues a threat to the Mandarin who responds by destroying Stark’s mansion, kidnapping Pepper, and nearly killing Stark. Stark escapes in his latest suit and ends up in Tennessee where he happens upon a very smart boy named Harley who helps Stark investigate the bombings, repair his suit, and identify and locate the Mandarin. This leads to the climax of the film where lots of things blow up, we meet the Mandarin, Pepper is granted temporary super powers, and everything blows up. Yes, I know I repeated myself there; that’s how much stuff blows up.

On the surface, this movie is very entertaining and right up there in quality with the other two Iron Man movies. It might even have the most interesting plot of the three – the mystery of who is the Mandarin and why is he using ex-soldiers as human explosives? But, if you are paying attention, you’ll notice smaller things that contradict what we know about Iron Man.

For starters, why does Stark need to plug his suit into an electrical outlet to restore its power? Isn’t that the function of the thing in his chest? The whole first movie was based on that premise, including Jebediah stealing it to power his own suit. This becomes even more of a question when his other forty-one suits join the climactic battle under their own power. And just in case that doesn’t convince you, at the end of the film Stark has the shrapnel removed from his heart, thus removing the main purpose of the reactor. This part was especially insulting because it was so nonchalant. If it was so easy to remove it, why didn’t he remove it earlier? It’s almost as if Black hated the whole idea of the arc reactor and this was his protest.

And, what was with the panic attacks? Stark is the biggest egomaniac on the planet; so much so that at the end of the first film he tells the press and entire world that he is Iron Man without so much as blinking. Plus, he never develops these panic attacks or PTSD after his own violent abduction in the first film. Now, we’re supposed to believe that the idea of aliens is enough to mentally break him? The worst of it is that even if we do buy it, it doesn’t play into the story at all. It’s just a cheap trick used to try to create a weakness in Stark even though his weakness is his love for Pepper (and maybe also his ego). Couple that with other shoddy script components – the chips that Tony implants in himself that let him call the suit to himself or, magically, to people without the chips or how the bad guys can be killed using one method, but then the same method fails later – and you get the typical clichéd action movie that we know all too well. Fortunately, this film is saved by the mystery of the Mandarin, much to the chagrin of the fan-boy crowd, proving that Black did at least one thing right.

As I alluded to earlier, the fan-boys have basically lost their minds. The biggest complaint I heard from them was that they “screwed up” the Mandarin. I have two things to say to that – I don’t care and how, exactly? I’ve never read the comic books (or any, for that matter), so even if they did screw it up, I wouldn’t know. More importantly, the Mandarin we got was a very good villain and had some surprises up his sleeves that we didn’t see coming. We understand his motivation, he’s scary in an evil villain kind of way, and he is a formidable opponent for Iron Man. What more could they want? Comic book canons are constantly being rewritten, so what’s one more interpretation? I could understand their frustration if the Mandarin turned out to be Tony’s father, but this seems perfectly acceptable.

What I’m trying to say is that Black made a movie for everyone, not just the fan-boys. They’re so concerned with the Mandarin not matching the comic books that they missed what makes the movie pretty good. From the intriguing story, to strong performances from Downey, Pearce, and, especially, Ben Kingsley, to good effects and action sequences. They also seemed to miss the glaring flaws and contradictory Tony Stark, which is what they should have been angry with. If they realized that they aren’t the only ones watching these movies, they might enjoy them more. Then again, I don’t care.

Rating: Ask for a couple dollars back. A little continuity is not too much to ask for, even in an action flick.

No comments:

Post a Comment