I am halfway through writing an LFR post, I get easily sidetracked these days. Anyway, the first installment of phase 2 Marvel has been released. I saw it for my birthday in 3D, so yeah I had to wear the silly glasses. I’d been watching every single trailer/clip/you name it that I could get my hands on prior to going. I wanted to watch it so bad, I really couldn’t wait and so I looked at what I could. In seeing so many trailers I formed some idea of what I thought the movie might be like, the order of events and what I thought would happen. I really should probably have written that part of the post prior to seeing it for real so I don’t get confused. I’ll give it my best shot anyway.
Do not click after the cut if you don’t want spoilers by the way, I’m not responsible if you choose to read.
What I expected
Hmm I’m not actually sure how to write this but, I really should have done it before the film, as now I can just think of it in contrast. How about what I didn’t expect as a title then? or what surprised me? Yeah that could work.
What surprised me
1) The Mandarin – this was the biggest surprise, it was a huge twist. The Mandarin was not the films villain. He had such cool lines, was so memorable in the trailers “You will never see me coming” is something that just echos through my mind. Instead when he is found he’s an actor, a front so they have a terrorist to take credit for some explosions. He’s just a cog in the machine, when Tony Stark finds this out he looks stunned and I can understand why.
2) The flying through the air rescue didn’t happen when I thought it would – that sounds like an odd thing to say but I was expecting that to be quite an early scene. Throughout the film I was waiting for it to happen, impatient for it I guess, and the film ticked on and on until it happened quite late.
3) There was no mention of SHIELD/The Avengers – I really thought that they would throw something in there. Tony had his house destroyed, he’s thought dead for a while and there’s no response whatsoever, I thought the Avengers were a team. Rhodes saying “this isn’t superhero business” is about as close to an explanation as we get, it just seemed odd though. However, I guess the SHIELD link is gone now with Coulson’s death, he was always the agent that turned up to look into Stark things. Plus it’s one of those little details that are hard to get right. It seems that in this case they decided to not even try.
4) Extremis was odd – now I know this is a comic book film and we moved away from science when we went to Asgard. Super soldiers, healing, regeneration, ok I can buy that. It’s the temperature thing I have trouble with, they can make their hands glow hot on command? I don’t know that just seemed weird to me.
What I liked
1) The Mandarin reveal – I laughed so hard at this. Tony Stark’s sneaked into the mansion to confront this feared terrorist, then said feared terrorist comes out of the bathroom saying “I’d give that a while”. That is such an old joke but it was played to comic perfection when Stark later orders the girls into the bathroom and you can hear one go “ewww”. The actor Ben Kingsley really plays a blinder here. I believed in The Mandarin from the trailers, I believed that he was this feared terrorist, then his whole accent, his whole movement, his whole presence on screen changes when he’s Trevor the actor, absolutely incredible and a real twist. It surprised the hell out of me, especially as I think in the comic books The Mandarin is the real deal, here it’s just a fantasy and it was awesome.
2) Miguel Ferrer – I had no idea he was in this, I hadn’t spotted his name on the trailers so it was a surprise to see him on screen. It was only a small role but I think it deserves special mention. My usual impression of him is grumpy, miserable and a spoilsport. I first saw him in Crossing Jordan where aside from a few rare moments he was those three characteristics, he’s also in NCIS: LA right now and is much the same. Here, when he took the call about Iron Patriot being a Trojan Horse, he put the phone in his pocket, said “everything is perfect” and walked over kissed the little girl on her forehead, the camera panned down to her missing leg, my heart just clenched. I couldn’t hate him for being a ‘bad guy’, I couldn’t rail at his inaction and yell at him to do ‘the right thing’ as that’s his little girl. When he was in cuffs at the end of the movie I felt sorry for him, I hoped that they would take into account the master manipulation Killian had done on him, that he had his greatest weakness used against him. Who wouldn’t want to make their child walk again? Yeah him doing nothing resulted in people dying, those secret service agents on the plane, yeah it was wrong but it was understandable. It also left me hoping that somehow they could save Extremis, they could fix it so it wouldn’t turn those exposed to it into monsters and would instead just heal them as I had thought that it would.
What I didn’t like
I’m a bit sad that this is a Marvel film and this list is longer than the ‘what I liked list’ I can’t help it. Perhaps because I love this film franchise so much now it’s harder for them to please me, expectations get in the way.
1) Tony being separated from his tech so much – Tony Stark doing hero things without being Iron Man? Well I both liked and didn’t like this, I liked it as it was good for the character, to know that it isn’t Iron Man which makes him strong. After all there’s that Avengers quote “take off the suit and what are you?” He proved in this film that it isn’t just his suit which got him into The Avengers but his strength of character as well. He didn’t have his suit but he still stormed The Mandarin’s mansion. It was stupid, he should have called for backup, he shouldn’t have done it and it felt wrong. Tony Stark is Iron Man and when it goes to hell he needs to be in the suit, it’s just how it is.
2) Extremis – I said above that I was surprised at how Extremis played out, surprised and disappointed to be honest. I’ve always defended these films as being on the realistic side of fantasy. Healing, regeneration, super strength, super reflexes and agility, basically an upgraded human I understand and can defend. We already have that in a way with the super solider serum that Captain America was exposed to. The glowing red hot, melting things with their hands, I can’t support and I don’t like. It wasn’t necessary, it went too far.
3) The ending – now endings are hard to get right. Wait scratch that this deserves it’s own paragraph.
4) The whole midwest deal – it didn’t make sense. Now I’ve said that about a lot but this really didn’t. Stark was presumed dead after his house got destroyed, he decides not to come back as Pepper will be safer if he’s believed dead. There’s so many plot holes in his I can scarcely believe it. Right before the mansion was destroyed he’s fighting with her saying that they can’t go away, that they need to stay where they are as it’s safer. They then have rockets flying towards the house and he’s like “ok yeah we can go” which is stupid because he’s the one that gave out his home address, not that it would have been hard to find given the parties he’s held there, but he invited the trouble, he goaded them to attack him and quite frankly what did he expect? That The Mandarin would drive up and knock at the door? Anyway, back to him being fake dead. I agree that would maybe make Pepper safer as he’s the target but that’s only true so long as she has protection. This would have been an ideal link for SHIELD to come in. In The Avengers there was a short scene where Coulson told Thor that Jane Foster had been moved to a secure location. They really should have come in and taken care of Pepper here. With her out on her own then Tony doesn’t know what’s happening to her, whether she’s safe, where she is or who she’s with, and he’s not there to protect her should it prove necessary, which is sort of did. Anyway, he fights Savin and Brandt in this midwest town, so the bad guys now know he’s alive. Pepper is now a valuable weapon to use against him, to get him to come to them, she was already at risk anyway as if she really is “the one thing I can’t live without” then they’d take her just on the off chance things aren’t what they seem. Either he wants to protect her, and her safety is the most important thing to him, or it’s not, can’t have it both ways and he really let her down here.
5) How they handled Tony’s trauma – I agree I don’t know much about how ptsd or similiar mental illnesses actually seem. Now I will never, and could never, call Robert Downey Jr. a bad actor, so it’s sad that these incidents where he has panic attacks just seemed fake, it felt like they were trying to make them funny, or playing it up, and really it’s deadly serious. I just didn’t feel for Tony here how I should have done, I just didn’t really feel his pain. In this I really should have sympathized but the emotional hook just didn’t feel realistic.
There’s two parts to the ending, there’s the last part of the movie and then there’s the final scenes. Let’s take the last part of the movie, the climax first.
1) Pepper – she’s exposed to Extremis, fair enough that would certainly motivate Tony Stark to work on it. Was it really necessary that she was half naked or was that just blatant fan service? She also acted really out of character, I think, right at the end. I mean she says it herself “that was really violent”. I also get that they wanted to put in a moment of jeopardy where Tony thinks he’s lost “the one thing I can’t live without” and her falling to her death into a ball of fire does look dramatic, it also doesn’t work. Tony and Rhodes are taking out these Extremis solders by … knocking them off the platforms to the ground. If they didn’t survive that then why doesn’t Tony get surrounded at the end? Extremis seems to be very uneven in what it allows people to heal from. Some people it will heal damn near anything, others it seems to let die without helping much. It’s illogical and it lets the whole thing down even more.
2) Tony and his suits – he wasn’t in the suit for most of it again. Also why are they so fragile all of a sudden? He fought off an army of drones in Iron Man 2, he fought off an army of aliens in The Avengers. He’s also been stuck in the propellers of a hellicarrier, held his own against the god of thunder, been in numerous explosions etc. etc. Then suddenly they don’t seem to stand up too much. You can sort of excuse the mark 42 as it wasn’t ready for action, it clearly wasn’t waterproof despite his suit being so at the start of The Avengers, it kept losing power, it was just a mess. However, all the suits at the end? They got destroyed left, right and center fighting this soldiers. Then those that weren’t destroyed he destroyed himself. Why? “because it’s christmas” that just really doesn’t make sense. I know we’re told Stark is rich but those suits must have cost a lot to make, just to blow them up for fun? I suppose it was supposed to be a sign to Pepper, look I love you enough to blow up my suits. Now he just has to make more, really don’t get it.
Right anyway now there’s the last few scenes. Do the words rushed mean anything to the director? He shoehorned in so much it was ridiculous.
1) Tony fixed Pepper – did he do that by stabilizing Extremis? or by removing it all together? What was it’s affect on Pepper and what will she have going forward? This is important as it determines what might happen to Extremis going forward. They could finally having something similar (better even) that the serum that turned Rogers into Captain America.
2) Tony pulled the shrapnel out of his heart, no longer has an arc reactor – yeah what? This must have been using Extremis somehow otherwise he would have done it before now. Also Tony sans arc reactor? That’s just not right, it takes away a massive detail about the character. I just can’t picture him without it, it’s part of him and now it’s gone. It’s a huge deal and it got about 5 seconds coverage.
What I would have liked
aka how I’d fix this film so I liked it better
1) I would have had SHIELD protect Pepper. For them to take her they would have to attack the safehouse and abduct her.
2) Extremis wouldn’t have had any temperature weirdness, no breathing fire, no melting metal with the hands.
3) Tony’s meltdown would have felt more believable – this is a tricky one as I guess it is all about perception. A little more tortured staring into space, a little more flashbacks, proper hyperventilating, having to steel himself before he goes into action to push the demons away.
4) A little more support from Pepper – he had a nightmare and she walks away and leaves him? How does that jive with her character? True the suit deal maybe scared her, perhaps she was also scared as she’s not used to seeing Tony vulnerable However, they really should have played this more. Maybe following her out of the bedroom, her breathing hard in panic, somehow showing that she’s scared, that she doesn’t know how to fix the man she loves. It needed humanizing, that’s actually true of the whole film.
5) Tony not separated from his suit so much. I get that the new tech here was the remote control suit but what difference is there between that and JARVIS controlling all the suits at the end? Tony is Iron Man, Iron Man is a person and not just a drone. Don’t fix it if it isn’t broken, some just regular suit stuff would have been good. Also, his suit being as durable and as good in combat as it always was, lets not take a step back here.
6) Pepper’s fake death come be the same but then they’d need to change the fight. No Extremis solders falling off things and not coming back, instead they needed to get impaled or ripped apart or something. I get that this is a 12 and it was already quite violent for that rating, in which case change the death. Have it look like she got crushed, but then maybe the suit that holds stuff up saved her but from the angle it looks like she’s gone. There’s a million ways they could make it look like she died but then have her saved. If it’s Extremis that saves her by regrowing limbs or whatever then we needed to show her more freaked out about this. Does it hurt when that happens? Have her disbelief at still being alive, have her scared, have her yell at Tony for dragging her into his like at the end of Iron Man 2. Don’t have her do some acrobatics, kill the main villain and smash a suit, that’s just weird.
7) If Tony is losing the arc reactor at least explain it a bit. Also explain exactly what he did with Extremis. Maybe they left the questions dangling to follow up in a future movie but it didn’t feel like a cliffhanger, it just felt unfinished. Now I know he’s not sentimental but Pepper is, her sentimentality saved his life in Iron Man 1 – “proof that Tony Stark has a heart” – and so him throwing the arc reactor into the sea again isn’t logical. Maybe it is symbolic in saying goodbye to the way things were in Phase 1 Marvel but it just seems like such wasted potential to tack it on at the end and not follow through.
I want to like this film, I want to love this film. I really wanted to come out of the cinema raving about it. I wanted to feel enthusiastic and use the word awesome a lot in reference to it. I did describe this film as awesome on my twitter feed as that’s what was expected. It’s Iron Man 3, it’s a Marvel film, it’s what I love. Only this film really didn’t live up to my expectations, it really wasn’t awesome. It was illogical, it was funny when it should have been serious, it didn’t make sense in many areas, it took the fantasy aspect too far, it didn’t feel like an Iron Man movie.
If this had been a random fantasy superhero movie then I would have likely given it five stars. It wasn’t a bad movie but in comparison to The Avengers and the other Marvel films it felt shallow, ill thought out, it lacked the depth and attention to detail that I expected. Iron Man 2 had it’s faults, far too much tell and not enough show being one of them but it still felt connected, it had something that this third film did not. Iron Man 3 is flashy, all sparkle and no substance.
Let’s hope Thor: The Dark World lives up to more of it’s promise.