This isn’t nitpicky “it’s not like the comics” nerd venting either — I’ve read less than half-a-dozen Iron Man comics in my life. I have no emotional attachment to the character. No, I hated Iron Man 3 because as a movie, it was a sloppy, smug, inconsistent, incomprehensible hot mess.
I’m not going to do a traditional review, because hey, if Iron Man 3 can’t be bothered to be coherent, why should I? So hit the jump for 10 random, SPOILER HEAVY reasons I hated Iron Man 3…
Make Up Your Damn Mind About Pepper You Stupid Movie
Listen, I’m no great Gwyneth Paltrow fan, but I’m also very tired of the “damsel in distress” trope, so hey, if you want to give Pepper Potts more of a role, make her real kick-ass member of the Iron Man team, I’m totally down with that.
Unfortunately Iron Man 3 wants to have things both ways. In one scene Pepper puts on an Iron Man suit and saves Tony from a collapsing building. Okay, neat, so now Pepper can use the suits and will team up with Tony for the rest of the movie, right? Nope! Pepper is, within minutes, right back to being the powerless distraught girlfriend weeping over Tony (instead of, you know, popping on another Iron Man suit and searching the rubble for him).
The climatic action scene is even worse. She spends most of the time trapped under debris or dangling helplessly from high things just waiting for valiant Tony to save her, even though it’s established minutes later that she now has superpowers of her own. Superpowers she uses to beat the movie’s big bad guy no less! Which again, might have been cool if she hadn’t been depicted as a helpless half-naked token for Tony to save only minutes earlier.
That’s Not How Panic Attacks Work Robbie
I generally think Robert Downey Jr. is a pretty good actor, but man, was he ever half-assing the movie’s numerous “Tony has a panic attack” scenes. Downey’s method of depicting a panic attack is to furrow his brow slightly and add a few extra stutters to his one-liners. Panic attacks are not “momentarily getting a little weirded out about something”, they’re serious business that send people to the hospital. A major panic attack makes you think you’re dying.
There’s a lot of dramatic potential in a superhero prone to panic attacks, but Iron Man 3 just threw them in as a lazy shortcut. An easy way to push that Tony was mentally damaged by the events of The Avengers even though he never seemed particularly bothered by anything during The Avengers, and was his regular smug self throughout 99% of Iron Man 3.
Seriously, Where Are The Avengers?
I was fine with this not being an Avengers movie, but if you’re not going to have The Avengers in your movie, stop mentioning them every five seconds. No less than a dozen times people mention “what happened in New York” or “that guy with the big hammer” or whatever. They almost never outright mention The Avengers or Thor or The Hulk, but the very obvious references are constantly there, raising the question of why The Avengers never show up to help save the President from fire-breathing terrorists.
Ugh, the kid. I mean, what the hell was even going on with this character? On the one hand, he’s this totally tragic character — his dad left him, his mom neglects him and he spends all his time playing with junk in an old abandoned barn. On the other hand he’s apparently able to repair cutting edge technology using what looks to be a Speak & Spell? Also Tony spends most of the movie treating this kid like complete s–t — ordering him around, dragging him out in the middle of the night, putting him in danger, zinging him about his dead dad.
What was this kid supposed to make me feel? His backstory is too sad for him to be comic relief, but Tony spends all his time bouncing zingers off him, so I don’t think we’re supposed to care that deeply about him either. I guess marketing just wanted a cute kid in the movie, so whatever, Tony’s off to Tennessee!
The Big Mandarin Twist
Sigh. Okay, this is the big one. Halfway through the movie it’s revealed The Mandarin is actually just some drunken British actor. Named Trevor. With smelly poops no less! Ha ha! I have to give it to the makers of Iron Man 3 — it’s a ballsy twist. Unfortunately it’s also a fairly offensive and ultimately supremely unsatisfying twist.
Offensive because they use all this incredibly potent imagery which mirrors real-life events and tragedies to build the guy up — suicide bombings, Al-Qaeda videos, Iraq and Afghanistan war footage, they draw from it all. Initially it feels like too much. Too much reality for a silly superhero movie. But eventually you start to come around! You think maybe this villain may actually be worthy of this edgy build — annnd then they pull the rug out. Turns out they were using these powerful images to build up a gag that feels like an outtake from a Naked Gun movie. The twist is ballsy and a complete cop out all at once.
Also offensive? The total squandering of Ben Kingsley. Seriously, if you haven’t already, go watch Sexy Beast — if properly motivated, Ben Kingsley could make Darth Vader piss his pants.
So, that’s why it’s offensive. Why’s it unsatisfying? Well…