Y’know, we always do this – post-game analysis of summer movies that make it seem like we didn’t like them (or, in Braak’s case, make it seem as though Joss Whedon has become his arch-nemesis, which…I mean, it’s a one-sided nemesis-ness? But it’s there).
So let me get this out of the way: Iron Man 3 is a fun movie, not least of which because it is very much a Shane Black movie, down to his very specific Black-isms that, during the stretch in the middle where Tony doesn’t have access to his armor, make it feel a lot like an amusing hybrid of Lethal Weapon and Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang.
But of course, once you leave the glamor of the cinema, questions arise. This is a normal reaction, once entertainment-brain shuts down and critical faculties reassert themselves. Sometimes, it’s a harsh and irreversible process – what I like to call the “Signs Effect,” after walking out of that particular movie and going from a feeling of terrified excitement to the realization that that was the dumbest, most insulting motherfucking movie I’d seen in quite some time, in less time than it took to reach the car.
Anyway, Iron Man 3 isn’t one of those. It’s pretty good, there are some flaws, but nothing that’ll stop you from enjoying yourself. All the actors are top of their game, there are a couple interesting twists, it’s considerably funnier than Iron Man 2 (which, even if you’re willing to forgive everything else – which I largely am! – does have some serious groaners). Won’t change the world, and (ideally) won’t even be the best superhero movie this year (Man of Steel and The Wolverine kind of NEED to be very good, to make up for their previous attempts). But worth the money (don’t – DON’T! – see it in 3D. For christ’s sake, 3D adds nothing to a film, it’s just there to get $3 more out of you, seriously, plenty of 2D screenings, don’t encourage this nonsense) if you’d like to catch it in theaters.
Now then! Questions and observations but mostly questions because as I go through it in my head there are a few things I’m not clear on (and from here on out, Spoilers Are Go, but if you saw the movie now is the time to assert your knowledge):
Q: So…was the military funding AIM?
As I understand it, Killian started up Advanced Idea Mechanics largely on the basis of Maya’s Extremis research (also, there is a brief fakeout that AIM is just “Mia” backwards, but Maya is how it’s spelled in the comic and the credits, FYI). Maya points out that though she didn’t intend it that way, but Extremis had military applications and so got military funding. And all Extremis test-subjects are military veterans. AND, Vice President/Character Actor Not To Be Trusted Miguel Ferrer was involved.
But the movie – which by the final act was pretty distracted by all the giant explosions going on – never really followed up on this. Which doesn’t really bother me, because…
Q: Does this mean AIM is now a part of the Marvel Movie Universe?
I assume so, since just because Killian is dead doesn’t mean the “think tank” has been disbanded, only discredited as a legitimate operation. So, now there’s a gang of rogue scientists lurking about for future movies to play around with. Hopefully with a fondness for bright-yellow jumpsuits.
Kevin Feige made mention recently that the long-brewing Ant-Man script had to go through some tweaks to get it more in line with the current movie continuity (since it was initially written before Marvel movies were automatic successes with their own mega-plots). And being that a) Ant-Man’s a guy who doesn’t really have much of a rogues gallery to draw on, and b) the Extremis enhanciles fit into the “dicking around with post-human biology” science that’s Hank Pym’s forte, that seems like an easy fit.
What I’m saying is, there is now a very good chance that M.O.D.O.K. will make it to the big screen before fucking Wonder Woman.
(Also Batroc the Leaper. Seriously, let that sink in. Batroc the Leaper – a LONG-TIME FAVORITE OF MINE – is in the next Captain America movie, and at the same time Warner Bros. can’t figure out how to make a franchise out of one of the most recognizable characters of the last century. Amazing.)
Q: Tony probably shouldn’t have given his home address to the Mandarin like that, should he?
No! No, he probably shouldn’t have, that was KIND OF A HUGE MISTAKE! Ho ho!
(On the other hand: That’s a huge house built on a cliff. Something tells me that is not information that is hard to get hold of.)
Q: Wait, the mother of the Extremis subject who blew up in Tennessee had a huge file on all the other subjects, but when Tony showed up to talk to her, it was revealed she didn’t know who he was, and had brought the file for someone else. Who was that file for?
This, I may have just missed a line of dialogue or an inference, was the scarred-lady enhancile there to trick her into giving her the file by claiming to be Homeland Security, so Killian could scrub a data leak? Because if that’s the case, why did she leave the bar before Tony showed up? Seriously, who was that file supposed to go to? So…help? I definitely missed something.
Q: Maya Hansen didn’t really need to be in that movie, did she?
I GUESS, because the 1999 flashback is an interesting way to introduce the Extremis concept and seed in Tony’s involvement in it later, it makes more sense that it’d be an attractive lady scientist, and hey, that is how it was in the comics.
But I’m pretty sure you can write her out of the script in about 30 seconds and nothing changes.
Q: So, The Mandarin turns out to be a fake-out, much like Ken Watanabe’s Ra’s al Ghul and, to a certain extent, Bane. This…there’s something to talk about here, right? About, like, the 21st century, and social networks, and terrorism and celebrity and stuff?
Well sure, there’s a bunch to talk about, but honestly this feels like work meant for a film student who wants to write a final paper while also watching a bunch of superhero movies, so go for it kid, I’m not doing your homework for you. I’ll just say three things:
1. I know I probably should’ve asked about this last summer, but: Does it bug anyone else that with the reveal in Dark Knight Rises, that Bane’s origin is actually Talia’s makes Bane kind of bullshit? I mean, Tom Hardy’s performance is still fun as hell and I’ll keep doing that Bane voice until someone physically tries to stop me, but…seriously. Once Talia is revealed, Bane is reduced to “Talia’s buddy.” He even gets killed like a punk. Catwoman just shoots him and that’s that. I mean why even come up with a speech pattern like that, if that’s how it’s gonna go down?
2. More to the point, let me just say I enjoyed the shit out of the Mandarin reveal, mostly because like Venom in the Raimi Spider-Man movies, he’s a comics character that, while sort of “important” in the comics, just doesn’t FIT into the universe the movie crafted. So, good for everyone involved for accepting that and doing something interesting, rather than, say…y’know, making Spider-Man 3 under protest.
3. Though that does raise some questions about the Ten Rings terrorist group that was part of the first Iron Man movie. Is the implication that Killian created an entire terrorist iconography for his own purposes? That’s pretty elaborate. And now that you mention it…
Q: What was Killian’s plan, again?
OK, so follow with me. Killian started up AIM on the back of Maya’s Extremis idea, then tested it on veterans. Then, when those test subjects started exploding, he concocted the Mandarin identity to take credit for the in-country “bombings” as cover for the Extremis kabooms. And, once he kidnapped the president and stuffed him in the Iron Patriot armor, he was going to use the Roxxon tanker oil spill as the staging area for another grandiose “Fuck the West For Their Transgressions” Mandarin “attack”? And then Killian would’ve produced a dead Mandarin to be hailed as a hero? And at this point, VP Ferrer would…give AIM prestige and more military contracts?
Put another way:
1. Create false terrorist threat
For this plan to be successful, Rhodey should’ve been dead first, right? Because otherwise how would anyone explain the Iron Patriot armor being used to kidnap the president? This is another of those, “I may have missed something, by all means, explain” moments.
In any event, it kind of seems like AIM was doing pretty good with getting military contracts without convoluted supervillain plotting, but then, isn’t that always the way.
It’s a good thing Killian died. I imagine M.O.D.O.K. has multiple plots filed under “BRILLIANT AND TERRIFYING SCIENCE-SCHEMES” that Killian just didn’t have the imagination for. He’s the administrator AIM deserves!
Q: Wait, didn’t that movie end wrong?
So, hang on. Tony blows up his remaining armors and gets the arc reactor removed from his chest and has the shrapnel finally removed.
Then there’s all that closing narration about how the armor was just a metaphorical cocoon, and even without it, Tony’s still Iron Man.
And Tony successfully solved the stability problems involved in the Extremis process, which is why Pepper didn’t explode in a post-credits sequence or anything.
Add all those things together, and doesn’t it make the most sense that Tony – who’s already been adding crap to his own body to physically summon his armor – would undergo the Extremis process himself to heal his heart and become a better Iron Man?
Like, isn’t that what the whole movie is suggesting comes next?
So…what the hell. Did someone get gunshy about implying that Tony was using the “evil” bio-tech (which also had addictive qualities, apparently)? In which case, why not have his eyes glow blue at the end to signify that it was now “good,” akin to internalizing the arc reactor (I realize how stupid that sounds, but you see what I mean)?
Q: Hey, Tony’s anxiety issues kind of disappeared without much discussion, huh?
I guess the implication was that once he started getting proactive again with the inventions and the Mandarin investigation he felt like he had more of a handle on things. Did kind of feel like that closing narration was mostly just waving away those problems, though.
Q: Why, at this point in time, do people still leave the theater before the credits are over?
It Fucking Baffles Me.