Iron man 3: Or, How to $&#@ Up a Good Thing
I could have written this article the day the movie was released; the day hundreds of thousands of Fanboys and Fangirls like myself had waited for since the day The Avengers premiered. I decided to wait a couple of weeks because…well, because my visceral reaction to this steaming, screaming pile of shit was too great, too intense, to form any coherent thoughts. I could have just written a long, non-ceasing, intelligible stream of vile profanity, but my editors told me I’m not allowed to do that (anymore).
By now, everyone has seen this refuse encrusted turd-burger of a movie, and the smoke has begun to clear. I have awoken from my whiskey-and-NyQuil fueled fever dreams, wiped the detritus and stripper glitter from my eyes, and I now step, fresh, into a world where I can firmly and articulately decree that I have not been let down by such a crappy comic book movie since Spider-Man 3; and in some ways, this was much, much worse.
I will try and keep my comments to the worst offenses perpetrated by this film, for brevity sake, because I could easily write a 20 page treatise on everything that was wrong, bad, and poorly acted, but the last thing I want is 300 “TL;DR” comments.
A Stark Contrast Between Tony’s
In a film franchise (and in this, I will include The Avengers along with Iron Man 1 & 2) that has worked so hard to establish the seminal character of Tony Stark, this movie has destroyed not just the comic book hero, but the character from the screen as well. A strong, motivated, cocky, technocrat, Tony Stark has been thoroughly neutered in this film. None of the actions he takes in the movie, from his lack of technological understanding of his own inventions, to going off the grid, to running around a mansion sans armor with a taser glove, make any sense.
The Tony that we have seen in the movies would have found himself in that garage in Tennesse, tearing apart the car for parts, going to the local hardware store and running up a $50,000 bill (that he pays with his insert-product-placement-here credit card), fixed his armor MacGyver style, and saved the day. Shane Black made him act not just divergent, but ENTIRELY out of character for Tony.
Now, before the cries of “he’s emotionally scarred from sacrificing himself in space” ring out across the interwebs, remember this; he’s dealt with PTSD before (Iron Man), he’s dealt with coming face-to-face with his own mortality (Iron Man 1 & 2), and he’s had to live with the fall out of his prior bad decision making from his wheeling-and-dealing playboy days (Iron Man 1 & 2, The Avengers). None of this is new territory for him, or enough of a life changing experience for the man who can compartmentalize his kidnapping, torture, alcoholism, father issues, a God complex, an actual God, and the fact he used to have a mullet.
Happy Hogan was written a bumbling doof, Rhodey was a caricature of the hero he played in the previous films, Guy Pearce did an okay job playing a lame villain with no real motivation and ever-changing, unexplained super powers, and Gwyneth Paltrow turned in her third awful performance as a totally unimpressive, unsexy, and all around boring Pepper Potts.
Even the big “Mandarin” twist was bad, with Sir Ben Kingsley playing something that was not so much a “bad actor,” as much as it was what a 10 year old imagines a “bad actor” to be in a Saturday morning cartoon. I’ve only ever walked out on one movie in my life, but when he fell asleep drinking a beer, then shot up and resumed chugging, I stood up with every intention of hitting the bricks.
And where, pray tell, was S.H.I.E.L.D.? I understand not having hero crossover; Thor was in Asgard, Black Widow was getting fitted for new leather pants, Cap was probably visiting war memorials in Europe, and Hawkeye was at a renaissance fair scamming for maidens on the archery courts. But not one call from Maria Hill about the worldwide terrorism issues? No help from Nick Fury when they blew up Stark’s house, and he was reported dead in the paper? The universe which was created, entirely interdependent on itself for storytelling purposes was tossed aside, and makes the whole of it ridiculous.
When The Plot Hits The Floor, and The Movie’s a Bore, That Armor-y
The tech in Iron Man 3 could not have been worse, all around. Not a single thing functioned right, and every time, Tony seemed unable to do anything about, even though he’s the super genius who INVENTED it, and used it properly in three previous films. Jarvis didn’t function properly in the entire flick. There was no early warning about incoming choppers. The new armor couldn’t fly, for whatever reason, during the attack on the house. The Mark 42 armor was inferior, in every way, to the Mark 3 (the final armor of Iron Man 1).
And every other armor that Stark spent each and every night putting together seems to have been made from scrap paper lying around his office. The Mark 3 and Mark 4 could take a KE round to the chest from a tank, withstand firey explosions, and shoot lasers that can cut clean through Justin Hammer’s entire robot army in 2 seconds, but every model in Iron Man 3 succumbs to a judo chop from Human Torch rejects.
This film fell to what I am now calling the #3 curse. It seems that with third installments, these franchises find a way to ditch what has worked, screw up the main character, and play themselves out. Spider-Man 3 was atrocious, and fans still haven’t forgiven Sam Raimi for that one. Superman 3; abysmal. Dark Knight Rises, riding the crest of the fantastic Dark Knight managed to shit all over the good will that movie generated after the well-below-par Batman Begins. It makes me shudder to think of what might be in store for third installments of future films, or what kind of universe collapsing tragedy a Fantastic Four 3 would have been.