Thoughts On: Iron Man Three

Iron Man Three has left me a little gut-punched.  Right now the film is racking up some pretty impressive young-and-hip-movie-critic love (although in general critical terms, it’s currently a 62 at Metacritic) but it’s the first of the Marvel Studios movies that I haven’t responded positively to outright.

In one of those “Movies I Didn’t See” lists that I write, I opined about Kick-Ass that I wasn’t yet interested in seeing the super-hero movie deconstructed just yet.  Well, Iron Man Three is all about deconstruction ... or at least subversion.   Namely, subverting expectations after The Avengers.

All kinds of “he’s cool, I’m cool, this is cool” nerd-gushing is going on right now for writer-director Shane Black turning the franchise into one of his snarky, oddly-paced thrillers (Lethal Weapon, The Last Boy Scout, Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang).  I’m still frankly waiting to see if I like 3 even as much as I like the oft-detested Iron Man 2.

The reason I’m really feeling this gut-punch is that summer is about to happen.  Pretty soon the wife will want to see Star Trek Into Darkness, and, just like with the original, I am thoroughly tired and put off of the damn thing from just the commercials.

And that’s me in the summer:  pretty much a complete cranky-pants.  The Marvel Studios flicks have so far allowed me to be quite gushy (well, for me) and now I don’t even have that, at least until possibly Thor: The Dark World.

All said and done, Iron Man Three is either very, very sloppy on a plot level, or else the quips were flying so fast that I genuinely missed some things ... like when the Iron Man armors got all slutty and let just anybody inside them, like where SHIELD is during all of the excitement, like what the exact details of the bad guy’s plan was, and like when exactly the Iron Man armor stopped working off the arc reactor in Tony’s chest.

As for that last point ... in this film, to get to the heart of the “Iron Man Disassembled” theme, the armor is constantly “charging” and cannot be worn.  Either that, or it’s constantly busted.

All well and good on a thematic level, but at the same time that this allows Robert Downey Jr. to do a little more, acting-wise, it also sets up a lot of dodgy, pointless detective work and, worse yet, lots of gunfights.  I guess I’m not as much in love with the eighties/nineties action flick as everybody else, but it really bugged me that after The Avengers I was stuck watching a film in the same universe where the genius super-hero and his genetically-engineered super-villains were constantly aiming handguns at each other, for lack of anything better to do.

To make the whole thing extra pointless, at the end of the movie Tony calls in lots of armors for back-up in a big fight (which takes place, sigh, in a rote 90’s action movie local: the shipyard) even though the point of the movie up to that point is that he’s stranded without armor and has to make do like Martin Riggs II.

When it comes to the bad guy’s plans, I can at least suspect in the wake of the Boston bombing, that one or more of the film’s scenes making it explicitly clear that all the death and destruction amounts to a false flag operation, got excised for reasons of taste.  At least I’m hoping that was the reason, because Marvel scripts have been comparatively very low on the laziness and stupidity meter in comparison to other blockbusters, and I don’t want to see that end.

I’m also guessing since Downey Jr. was obviously the reason Black was hired in the first place (Kiss, Kiss, Bang, Bang long being considered the start of Downey Jr.’s big comeback), that Marvel didn’t feel like fighting its director as much as it usually does. Y’know, with Downey Jr.’s Marvel contract at an end and all.

Come the credits, I suppose we were all sort of entertained by Iron Man 3, but the Marvel Universe budged barely an inch and you can call me a degenerate, but I didn’t care for that.  I liked all that SHIELD stuff being in Iron Man 2, and I like the feeling of “participating” in a big, ongoing story.

Call this anecdotal -- because it surely is -- but I heard a lot of grumbling on the way out of the theatre, and all of it seemed to be from the comic book-reading types.  And if Marvel’s gonna be ticking them off, they need to go in a better direction than a film that’s too hip to fret the details.  If they’re out to skirt the expectations of the fan-base, they’d be much better off doing more woman-friendly stuff or making heavy changes to canon that actually make the stories better or by going political.  Anything.  But by going “too cool for school”?  Not so much.