13 May, 2013

Iron Man 3 Review (SPOILERS)

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Midtown Bloggerinos! Raph here, with a review of one of the most controversial superhero movies in recent memory: Iron Man 3! The movie debuted last Friday, and saw the 2nd best opening in history, behind The Avengers, which is a precursor to the events of the movie. A warning, dear Bloggerino, there will be MASSIVE SPOILERS. If you’re the one guy who hasn’t seen it yet, I suggest you avoid the parts marked spoilers.

The movie is almost like Avengers 1.5, except from Tony’s perspective. Tony is dealing with the fact that he has seen honest to goodness aliens, thunder gods and enormous green rage monsters. He can’t sleep. He keeps tinkering, and tinkering. And tinkering. What does this all lead to? A confrontation with a vicious terrorist who is attacking targets in the US and abroad: The Mandarin.

SPOILERS START HERE (scroll over to read)

Which leads us to the most controversial change since Spider-Man’s organic webbing, The Mandarin Swerve. Thought to be the leader of the Ten Rings (you remember them from the first Iron Man right?), the Mandarin is actually the result of a think tank called AIM, run by Aldritch Killian. Killian is a cripple, who previously met Stark at a conference and was subsequently snubbed. Killian has taken the research of Maya Hansen and together they have created Extremis. Extremis is the bleeding edge in biological modification: rewriting the repair centers of the body to create people who can do incredible things. What does this have to do with “The Mandarin”? Extremis enhanciles are prone to overheating, and exploding. The Mandarin takes credit for these explosions, allowing Killian to then sell his Extremis soldiers to the government to hunt this terrorist… and thus running a war from both sides, and making himself an extreme power player. Tony is the key to stabilizing the Extremis formula, so these explosions are more controlled than spontaneous.

SPOILERS END HERE

So with all of that said, what do I think of the movie? It’s very good. I know people are very upset about the whole Mandarin controversy. Mandarin as constructed in the comics, is a bit, well… RACIST. He’s an Asian would-be dictator, who relies on stereotypical garb, and actually looks like the guy from the Yellow Peril posters. As an Asian-American, and an Iron Man fan, I think it would’ve been…  AWKWARD to put the Mandarin in the movie verbatim. I think the swerve is actually as good as the one in Batman Begins (although I was a little miffed that Ra’s wasn’t what he was supposed to be). Mandarin is a product of a bygone era… and trying to reintegrate him into a modern Iron Man movie universe would’ve been troublesome at best.

Mandarin aside, Killian proved to be a terrific villain; Guy Pearce did a great job with the scientist turned madman. In some ways, Killian was like Tony Stark: a man with a great disability, who turned and used it to do something impressive. Tony has the Iron Man, while Killian helped people (and himself) with their physical disabilities. The rest of the cast was pretty good as well: Gwyneth Paltrow’s sparring with Tony was as funny as it’s ever been. Don Cheadle’s James Rhodes got a little more comedic sparring with Tony, with the Iron Patriot material and got to do a little more out of suit action. Tony’s kid-sidekick-who’s-supposed-to-remind-him-of-himself-as-a-kid  Harley Keener (played by Ty Simpkins), wasn’t all that bad either, despite the fact that kid sidekicks (and adult ones: Chris O’Donnel’s Robin anyone?) just haven’t worked out on the big screen. With all of that said, that leaves Tony himself, and those wonderful toys.

Tony’s arc has taken him from billionaire playboy industrialist war profiteer, to man who’s trying to fix his mistakes (Iron Man), to man who learns to not think of himself as the world’s only savior (Iron man 2), to a cog in a gigantic superhero team that fights gigantic threats (Avengers)… that is a lot of crazy stuff in a person’s life, even for a guy like Tony Stark. So now we have a paranoid, frightened, traumatized Tony Stark trying to find his way, and also trying to make sense of everything he’s seen. By putting aside his own issues and fighting the good fight against Killian, he also finds himself. He’s not quite Batman, he doesn’t need to do this crusade forever, and he has someone he cares about, that means more than creating suits of armor and tinkering. Tony does what few superheroes do, he grows up. Sure, he destroys his toys, but now he’s a man who is going to approach being a superhero logically, and carefully. He’s going to make an even better Iron Man.

The suits themselves looked great, and the last action scene with Marks 8 – 42 were fantastic… but there’s a lot of implausible moments that make physicists and scientists (and nerds) shudder. That aside, the last action scene is easily the best of the three Iron Man movies, and the surprise ending to the fight is welcome.

SPOILERS START AGAIN

So the ending, with the shrapnel out of Tony’s chest, as well as the Ark Reactor, makes sense. Tony is ready to move on… but does that mean Robert Downey Jr. is as well? That’s kind of the fear, but to be fair, the guy isn’t a spring chicken anymore. He’s getting up there in age. I’d love to see him continue, but time spares no man. It might mean we have seen the last Iron Man film, but rumor has it that he’s still down for Avengers 2 and 3. Here’s hoping.

END SPOILERS

Overall, I think it’s a very strong movie. It doesn’t capture the magic of the first film, but that film came out of absolutely nowhere (at least to the mainstream). Iron Man 3 had a ridiculous amount of hype behind it, and it delivered on most levels, which is extremely hard to do for a third film. If you’re a little put out by the Mandarin reveal, just look at it this way: this is a separate universe, with a separate sensibility. It’s inspired by the comic books you know and love, but it isn’t an ADAPTATION of the comics. If you haven’t seen this movie, go out and enjoy it! It’s a lot of fun, and I’m eagerly looking forward to the rest of Phase II.

Until Next Time—

“Yeah. Yeah, I just… I had a date.”

Raph

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