Saturday, May 4, 2013

Stark Raving Mad: Iron Man 3 is Here

Karen: OK, Iron Man 3 has been out a couple days now. Let's hear your opinion: gold-plated or tin-foil? And at least for another few days, let's try to keep the comments as spoiler-free as possible, all right? Some of us probably won't see the movie right away.

Doug: Iron Man 3 is the first film in Marvel's so-called Phase Two.  For more on just what that means, as well as what's coming in Phase Three, click here.


Karen said...

Nothing yet? Then I'll go ahead and start things off. I thought this film was a major disappointment, the first mis-fire in Marvel Studios' series of movies. It didn't feel like an Iron Man film but more like a generic action movie. The sub-plot about Tony dealing with stress after the events of The Avengers film starts off well but is never really resolved. The Extremis threat was unimpressive and the direction they decided to go with the Mandarin really left a bad taste in my mouth.

The film makers have talked about how Tony grows in this film but honestly it's just not there. There's very little face time for him and Pepper, and their banter is mostly gone. The humor, something I enjoyed from the previous films, mostly fell flat in this one. I can't help but feel this is all due to the change in directors, but perhaps it is more than that.

In any case, this is the first in this series of Marvel films that I have no desire to rush out and see again- and that makes me sad.

Doug said...

I plan to see it later this week when the wee lad comes home from college (all 6'4" and 200 lbs of him).

I wanted to make a comment on movie critics in regard to the entire genre of comic book movies. I read 3-4 reviews for Iron Man 3 and every one of them turned me off -- not to the film itself (although I trust Karen's judgement), but just to non-comic book fans in general interviewing comic book films. I'll go even further to say "non-long-term comic book fans". My sons saw the film last night, and being children of the early '90's who largely know the Marvel Universe through its filmography, they were very entertained. And that's the problem...

There's just no appreciation of backstory, no history behind most of the people who go see these films. I fully understand that old codgers like the denizens of Bronze Age Babies are not the target audience, and maybe the Stan Lee cameos are the only nod made toward us. At the risk of sounding like a completely helpless geek (which I am not, for what it's worth), I don't really care for some ignorant film critic waxing on about "Tony this" and "Tony that". Hey -- I've known Tony Stark a heckuva lot longer than any of you writers!


mr. oyola said...

Saw it last night.

It was REALLY campy. Like 60s Batman campy to me (albeit with a modern aesthetic). The little kid stuff was schmaltzy to all hell.

Can't say I really liked it very much, but Ben Kingsley was the best part of the movie. I really had trepidations about the use of an explicitly racist "yellow peril" type character like the Mandarin, but the way it plays out is awesome.

(though I was waiting for a double switch/twist)

The most interesting thing to me is that the movie passes the Bechdel Test, which while admittedly is a very low bar and says nothing about whether a movie is any good not, but still not something I expect from a superhero summer blockbuster.

I seemed to the be only one of the people I was with that didn't like much - then again I am notoriously critical of movies.

Doug said...

Reading Mr. Oyola's comment, I also re-read mine. Duh... I said:

but just to non-comic book fans in general interviewing comic book films.

Obviously I meant to say "reviewing" rather than "interviewing".

I really am a better writer than that...

Mr. Oyola -- throwing this out for conversational purposes: I, too, wondered how the Mandarin would be portrayed, given his Red Scare/Vietnam/Cold War roots. But, given the situation in North Korea these past weeks and the ongoing issues between the US and China in regard to economics and human rights, is the Mandarin not to be accepted as an "appropriate" villain as the mock-Taliban was in the first Iron Man? I'd like to hear others' thoughts on what is potentially racist, and what is slice-of-life current events?


david_b said...

Haven't seen it, not planning on it unless it shows up on my 'pay-per-view' for $4.99 or something.

Typically 2nd and 3rd films should avoid the 'more-action-is-better' shtick at all costs, perhaps take more emotional breaks, delve slightly more into hero motivation and drama, while keeping the pace and rhythm (and action) for the younger crowd..

I always look at 'Empire Strikes Back' as a great example. Sweeping pace, yet more strong character moments that register with you (Han-Leia romance, Luke's discovery in the cave, etc..). Not just 'more of what worked in the first film' ratcheted up a bit.

I don't like the slick, different colored armors I've seen in the trailers; granted I haven't seen their use in the film, but it's not something that's luring me in or stirring curiosity.

I don't frankly care. Which is what's wrong with this franchise.

mr. oyola said...

Well, for me it is not that such plot elements influenced by current events are used, but rather how they are depicted. In other words, they become a form of de facto propaganda of the type like the racist cartoon caricatures of the Japanese or Viet Cong, or what have you. They dehumanize and flatten.

All you need to do is see the countless racist tweets by people after seeing movies like the remake of Red Dawn and Olympus Has Fallen to see how this stuff reinforces negatives views of "the other."

I don't remember the first Iron Man movie all that well (I honestly didn't like any of them all that much), but I do remember noting that the Taliban guys in Afghanistan were speaking Arabic, when Pashto (and other local dialects) are spoken there. That may not seem like a big deal if you can't tell the difference, but I think it reflects a sense of "all them arab-types are the same."

Doug said...

I would agree. And given the fact that films become anchored to the times in which they were made, they cannot help but foster ideas that are sweeping and stereotypical of various ethnicities, and especially when such people are indeed portrayed as "the other" as you suggested. The Fleischer Superman cartoons are perfect examples of this in their depiction of the Japanese.


Matt Celis said...

This is a recurring theme on comic blogs. However, the distinction should be made, Ithink, that you know comic book Tony Stark. Movie Tony Stark is a whole other guy and should be treated as such. we've all only known him for two prior films. Movies have to stand on their own as only a tiny fraction of the audience has ever or will ever read an Iron Man comic book. I haven't seen the film yet so I can't say whether it's good or bad, but i think comparing super hero movies to the comic books is apples and oranges.

Edo Bosnar said...

Good discussion, mr. oyola and Doug. I tend to agree with you both. At work at my second job now so I can't comment much, but I just have to note: a remake of Red Dawn? Really?! The horror, the horror...

mr. oyola said...

Just for reference. . . for the record, Iron Man 3 DOES NOT contribute to this.

William said...

Saw it Friday afternoon, and I would probably give it a "C-plus" or at best "B-minus" rating. It was a decent action movie, but as Karen said, it wasn't really a great IRON MAN movie. In fact, it was pretty far along into the film before Tony actually did anything action-wise as Iron Man at all. I was thinking, "OK, this movie is called Iron Man 3, and not the adventures of Tony Stark right?" (I checked my ticket stub just to make sure).

That seems to be a recurring problem with movies about masked superheroes. The actors want face-time so the director/writer has to come up with situations where the hero must do something heroic in his civilian identity, or remove his mask for some reason while in costume.

The most blatant example of this practice was in the Rami Spider-Man films. Like in Spider-Man 2 when he is trying to stop the runaway subway train, and for some inexplicable reason, his mask catches on fire and he just tosses it off, exposing his secret identity to everyone on a crowded subway train. But don't worry "they won't tell no one." Yeah right. This continued into Spider-Man 3, where he battles Harry Osborn totally in his street clothes, and at the end Sandman punches his mask right off his face. How convenient.

Anyway, back to Iron Man 3. Despite the fact that the movie was 75 percent about Tony Stark and not Iron Man, I thought that Downey did his usual good job portraying the character. However, if he's not careful, he could become a parody of himself.

Aside from the lack of Iron Man, I thought the movie also suffered from what I thought was a weak and ill-defined main villain. ('ll leave it at that and won't go into anymore detail). I'll just say that this movie would really have benefited from at least one good recognizable classic Iron Man baddie for him to tangle with. They could have worked in Madam Masque, or the Living Laser, or someone like that. Heck, I would have even settled for the Unicorn.

Karen, one more thing. If you stayed until the very end of the credits, (and I'm sure you did) they made a comical attempt to resolve the "Tony has PTSD" subplot.

Comicsfan said...

What david_b said about "not planning on [seeing] it unless it shows up on my 'pay-per-view' for $4.99 or something." But in all fairness, I don't blame IM 3 for having that feeling so much as I blame IM 2.

Anonymous said...

I haven't seen it yet - gads, I shudder at the thought of having to wait in a long line for movie tickets ...

Anyway, IM3 by all accounts is a great action movie but Iron Man himself (as opposed to Tony Stark) doesn't appear onscreen too much, according to the few reviews I've read.

I agree with Matt Celis - the Iron Man in the comics and the Iron Man we see on the silver screen are two different things. Marvel studios is trying to capture the young (30 and under crowd) audience with this movie, while most BABers like the original comics which inspired this movie. Film and comics are two very different mediums; what works in one format falls flat in the other format. Each version has its own merits, and we have to judge them based on that.

- Mike 'hey will we ever see Titanium Man?' from Trinidad & Tobago.

Graham said...

Just went to see it. I enjoyed it. I just have to eliminate all my prior knowledge about the Iron Man I used to enjoy reading in the 70's and early 80's when I watch any of these movies. I'm just glad they're doing movies like this, regardless of the inaccuracies....much better than we had to endure in the late 70's. There were some things I didn't really like, but I don't want to spoil it for those who haven't seen it yet.

WardHillTerry said...

Doug, I want to amend your comment about racist depictions in the 1940s Superman cartoons. The WWII cartoons were not produced by the Fleischers. Paramount Studios had taken over by then. It's a minor point, but I think an important one. Thanks.

Doug said...

Wardhill Terry --

Thanks for the correction. "The Japoteurs" was the cartoon I was referring to, and upon doing a quick research on it, it was indeed the first post-Fleischer film made.


Karen said...

William, I agree, this was a Tony Stark film, not an Iron Man film, and that's part of the problem for me at least. I also agree with you - I think Downey's Stark is beginning to feel a bit like shtick and was a wee bit tiresome to me.

I did see the post-credits scene and thought it was a near complete waste of time. I thought there was a weak attempt to deal with the PTSD at the end, in the little montage of clips. I won't spoil it for others here, but i thought the implications of that also could be a set up for bringing in someone else to play Iron Man, in case Downey decides not to sign up again.

Matt Celis said...

Haven't seen the movie but it sounds like alcoholism isn't part of it, which is a shame as they could then have a sequel with James Rhodes as Iron Man. It would be cool if the Marvel movies had a black super hero. Also, Downey could just make a cameo or two in an unkempt, drunken state if he doesn't want to carry on as the lead. I guess that would be a downer, but maybe he could get clean & sober in Iron Man 5 as a subplot but decide to let Rhodey carry on as the super hero.

mr. oyola said...

Interesting takes on the Mandarin in the movie.


Anonymous said...

Lurker here.....
They would have been better served just not using the Mandarin. Making him into this silly joke was a waste of a good villain ...... Why? Because he is Chinese?
Over all I did like IM3 ....but yes, it was more Die Hard than anything else. Tony and Pepper seemed awkward together and that saddened me. Happy could have been more bumbling and less victim. No kid side kicks!!!
Jarvis did great!
He was my favorite.

Doug said...

I just got back from seeing IM3 and I enjoyed it. Yes, it was (as others have said) more of a Tony Stark vehicle, but the tech in the film was for the most part pretty cool. I don't want to spoil anything for those still waiting to see it, but I was a bit put off by the ease at which Tony (or others -- oops, spoiled it) gets into the suit these days.

Ben Kingsley was great! I hear some of you with your Mandarin reservations, but I liked it -- even though I'd picked up on a spoiler here and there, I thought it great and served as a bit of political satire/warning toward real-life terror cells, the power of the Internet, invisible enemies, etc. It worked for me.

Graham's notion to forget what you know about Iron Man comics is appropriate, particularly in regard to the Mandarin.

Loved that AIM and Roxxon were included, if only for the nostalgia of it all.

I didn't stay for the last scene -- my son told me what it was and that I'd be disappointed to sit through 7-8 minutes of credits.

Overall, I'd recommend it. I still think the first one was better, but this was better than IM2 in my opinion.


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