Are you keen for a two-hour bonanza of Robert Downey Jr playing a parody of Robert Downey Jr as genius-billionaire-playboy-philanthropist, Tony Stark? Yes? Then you’ll freaking love Iron Man 3!
If you crave something more, then you might suffer some minor disappointment.
I fall into the latter category. Perhaps I ask for too much. Its just another superhero popcorn flick after all.
However, we live in a post-Dark Knight, post-Avengers world and I have come to expect a certain level of excellence from Marvel. They set out to prove that there is prestige in producing films based on graphic novels – that the superhero universe is one fraught with complex themes of morality and an explosive imagination.
As such, its not really my fault that I expect Iron Man 3 to blow my mind. Or at least, sizzle it a little.
Before you start judging me for engaging in an indignant rant, I want to make it clear that there were several aspects of Iron Man 3 that I did enjoy. However, I’m not so sure it makes up for all the flaws in the film. All I can say is I REALLY WISH Jon Favreau had gotten off his lazy ass and directed the damn thing. No offence, Shane Black – Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is still a pretty good movie.
Iron Man 3 takes place some time following alien butt-kicking antics of The Avengers. Our favourite Genius-Billionaire-Playboy-Philanthropist is suffering some comical form of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, which manifests in sleepless nights spent on tinkering obsessively with his precious army of Iron Men (I think he was up to Mark 42?). This not only causes major disruptions in his professional life, but creates a rift in his relationship with the ever-nagging Pepper Potts.
At the same time, America is faced with a series of strange terrorist bombings attributed to the villain with the most racially insensitive name in the known world, ‘The Mandarin’.
These bombings bewilder US ‘intelligence’ agencies with their lack of forensic evidence. In the meantime, Stark Industries CEO, Ms Pepper Paltrow, is approached for funding by a once-crippled, now staggeringly dapper Guy Pierce (Aldrich Killian) – the head of a Advanced something Mechanics, shortened as ‘AIM’. He is flogging an awesome new technology called ‘Extremis’, which spurs rapid biological regeneration – kinda like Rhys Ifans in The Amazing Spiderman, only much faster and less scaly.
Noticing how suss dapper-Guy Pierce is with his former crush Pepper Paltrow, Happy the Bodyguard (Jon Favreau) sneaks off after them on a paranoid spy mission. Alas, his stalkerish tendencies aren’t for naught as he gets caught up in a massive bombing similar to those attributed to The Racially-Insensitive Citrus Fruit. On the downside, Happy is seriously injured and is decidedly less Happy. On the upside, it gives Tony the big kick in the ass to get his shit together and go do something about it.
Anyhoo, Mr Genius-Billionaire-Playboy-Philanthropist sets out to unravel the mystery of The Mandarin and adds another superlative to his moniker – Super Sleuth.
From here, the narrative devolves into a series of genre parodies – from a whacky Big Daddy-type man-child / precocious-kid dramedy, to a buddy-cop comedy, to a Michael Bay-esque explosiony explosions action set piece.
I’ve used the word ‘parody’ twice now because that’s really what it feels like – a parody of Iron Man. Everything from Tony shimmying to some 50s vinyl while testing out his new suit to his slapstick take on his PTSD anxiety attacks. Not to mention the über peppy poptart music. It just feels like the creators cherry-picked all the playful and snarky trademarks of what made Iron Man great and insisted on stuffing them into Iron Man 3, regardless of whether or not it served the story.
This is exactly what they did with the themes and over-arching story as well. Was this movie about Tony’s inability to value what was in front of him? Or was it about defining his identity outside of the Iron Man suit? Or was it about dealing with his newfound heroic tendencies in the aftermath of The Avengers?
Not to reveal too much, but this is much the same with the villain. What was his key motivation? Obadiah Stane wanted Stark Industries, fuelled by his frustrations with the prodigal son, Tony Stark, whom he sees as undeserving and a liability. Ivan Vanko wanted to destroy Tony’s life and legacy as revenge for the slights cause to his family by the Starks. I left the theatre thinking, what exactly was this guy’s beef?
Overall, Iron Man felt like an overstuffed turkey. In their enthusiasm to cram in everything that made Iron Man great, they left us with a dry and starchy taste in our mouth – yearning for the promise of the immense potential you first glimpsed when you saw it sitting there, ripe for consumption.
But then again, Robert Downey Jr always makes me giggle like a blushing tween and we get to see some awesomesauce Iron Man to-the-rescue scenes. Not to mention, the producers have been getting really creative with the fun new ways Iron Man can blow up the baddie. Its not a lost cause.
Plus, War Machine gets ‘rebranded’ by the American Government into a hilarious mockery of the US military outfit, the ‘Iron Patriot’ (a.k.a. Iron Man with a Captain America paint-job):
It would’ve been a lot better though if the Iron Man fanboys stayed out of the editing suite. I wanted to see the slick new Iron Man 3. Not Iron Man 3: The Director’s Extremely Extended LoTR Cut.