Welp. What’s it all about, Tony? The Iron? Or the Man?
To have a running time of 130 minutes, and to have Tony actually in the armor and fighting for roughly 15 of those minutes, I was, to say the least, disappointed. This film tried to do a LOT of things. The main one being, be Iron Man’s version of The Dark Knight Rises. It tried to bring Tony full circle and conclude the Stark arc.
Yeah it failed.
A former one night stand of Tony’s has invented Extremis biotech. This tech gives the recipient super enhanced abilities, regeneration powers, and some sort of heat/flame abilities. It’s also extremely unstable, causing some of its recipients to explode. Killian, at first a Stark groupie, has founded AIM. He then becomes a rival by using this tech to improve himself and then recruit others.
Meanwhile Tony and Pepper seem to need to find things to complain about. Even though they both have more than most people could dream of having in ten lifetimes. The Government wants its own version of Iron Man, so they rebrand Rhodey (War Machine) as Iron Patriot.
Tony is suffering from PTSD from his experience in The Avengers. He’s still having a really hard time dealing with the scope of what happened. He’s shocked by how he almost died, and what kind of beings actually exist in the world.
The Mandarin is presented as a Bin Laden type terrorist leader figure. It’s really wicked cool. At first. He is then later revealed to be a schmaltzy shmuck of an actor. Said actor is just the face Killian created to cover his own wealth building activities, and more specifically, to cover the times when his Extremis warriors self-destruct. Killian wants to eliminate The President to get the Vice President into power. He owns said VP because of a chance to cure his disabled daughter. With his VP pawn as President, Killian can greatly profit from both sides of the War on Terror.
There’s a big fight at the end. Pepper becomes infused with Extremis and becomes Super Pepper. Tony calls on a cavalry of secretly built Iron Suits to fight in the final sequence. Oh and he also gets his heart fixed. He has the shrapnel removed (because magically he can do that now), eliminating the need for his arc reactor.
Did you follow all of that?
Yeah um no
Just like that plot summary is convoluted and all over the place, so is the movie. Because that’s exactly the way the movie presents it. The editing of the film alone is always full of misdirection. There are tonal shifts after almost every line. Said shifts always going back and forth between drama and one liners. And there’s this totally annoying and unnecessary kid thrown in.
-Without question, the best scene in the movie is the airplane rescue sequence. Even more fun when you see the end credits crediting the Sky Diving Team that made it possible. You realize they did a lot of that for real. It was breathtaking. It’s the kind of wire work/CGI mix that makes you have heart palpitations as it’s unfolding, and cheer when it’s over.
-The fan winks. From AIM, to the various armors that we see including Iron Patriot, to the inevitable Avengers 2 setups, to the fun scene at the end with the now bonded Tony & Dr. Banner, there was a ton of geeky goodness to behold.
-The fact that Tony had consequences from The Avengers movie. I didn’t like everything about it, but it made total organic sense. It was completely relatable to see Tony struggling with those experiences.
-Tony’s scenes with the kid, Harley. Like many hardcore sci fi/fantasy lovers, I’m not a fan of the introducing-a-kid-to-appeal-to-the-younger-audience trope, on any level. Plus he disappears back into obscurity once his purpose is accomplished, which makes him more of a function than a character.
-The Extremis operatives. They were kind of cool to look at, but their motivations seemed kind of thin if you ask me.
-The editing was fast and furious. Visually stunning, but felt more like it suffered from ADD. It didn’t create emotional connection between the scenes, just a lot of activity. And the movie dragged on, FAR too long, in the middle.
-The Extremis powers….what were the parameters or limits of their abilities? Because breathing fire was just silly. How did it decide who to bond with and who to blow up? And Thor’s hammer in The Avengers, discharging lightning, supercharged Tony’s armor….so how did the Extremis lightning cripple it?
-Biggest one? The plot itself. Because it undermines its own established gravitas by making The Mandarin a paper villain. Guy Pearce, while a great actor, is not threatening. Killian is also no more than another greedy businessman. Nothing we haven’t seen before. Obadiah Stane basically did this same scheme, just on a smaller scale. And having THE VICE PRESIDENT implicated in this whole thing? And then that’s just glossed over, like that wouldn’t tear the country apart with fear and anger? Just no.
-Second biggest fail? The fact that this had more comedic moments than absolutely anything else. This was a comedy that featured a superhero subplot, not the other way around. The thing we were expecting, a superhero action movie that had comedic moments, is nowhere to be found here. Unlike the excellent first Iron Man (still the best, and still my favorite).
-Wanna know why comic fans are howling in disappointment at this misuse of The Mandarin? Because he is Iron Man’s Joker, one of the greatest and oldest and most logical villains. Take a look at this picture:
This right kids, that’s The Mandarin. Any single one of his rings are deadly, but he’s got TEN. And he has the same reason to hate Tony that the terrorists did in the first movie. How cool would that movie have been to bring Tony full circle? Going back to the place that Iron Man was created, and then following a trail to China. Tony facing a villain that has magic based power, full of contempt for American tech and the Western way of life. Do you see where that could have gone? But instead, we get a waste of a classic villain, and a classic actor.
-Disrespect for Iron Man himself. I mean, every single time we see the Mark 42 armor, it’s being destroyed. Swatted, even. Falling apart like so much tin, and being made fun of. This completely undermines any sense of power we get from Iron Man, and makes him a joke.
-Super Pepper. Even though I know it happened in the comics, you know I’ve never been a fan of the everybody-gets-the-hero’s-powers-especially-the-girlfriend trope. On Smallville, everybody had experienced Clark’s powers before it was all over except Martha and Chloe. Ugh. Plus, we never get a real sense of Pepper being in danger. Who is Pepper supposed to be to Tony now? She whines about everything, non-stop, that seems to be her only remaining function. She’s mad at the man she fell in love with. If anyone had full knowledge of what they were getting into, it was her. And what does Tony do at the end? Destroy all his armor, I assume in an attempt to prove to her that he’s disconnecting from his work more? What?
As you’ve heard me say many times, I tend to judge a piece’s overall merit very heavily weighted towards if I want to see it again or not. Just my personal measure. I have watched the first Iron Man movie over and over again, because I love it. I don’t have that feeling here; I didn’t feel emotionally satisfied or connected in any way by movie’s end. Tony’s still Tony, and other than the PTSD, did we really learn anything new about him? Pepper’s still Pepper. She hasn’t changed since the first movie. So I kind of don’t see a point to a rewatch. Once you know this movie’s twists, you know that your emotional energy is wasted in most places that the movie misdirects it toward.
I would’ve loved to see Tony fight the real Mandarin, and to realize that he’s still responsible for a certain level of the War on Terror. Pepper should’ve either died, or they should’ve broken up. And something as completely pivotal to the character as his heart surgery, i.e., removing the reason he had to become Iron Man in the first place should’ve been dealt with in more than one quick scene. It could’ve been the decision he was struggling with all movie long. That would’ve made more sense to me. As well as, more screen time with Tony actually in the armor, and us as an audience feeling like he improved it, not that everything under the sun was wrong with it.
Oh well. There’s always more Avengers movies.