Today I watched Shane Black’s Iron Man 3 (2013)
The second wave of Marvel movies begins as the first did, with Tony Stark, the Iron Man. Since the New York incident chronicled in The Avengers, Tony has been suffering from post-traumatic stress, not sleeping, and working himself to death on his suits. Meanwhile an international terrorist organization led by an enigmatic leader called the Mandarin are threatening the U.S.A. and committing a series of mysterious bombings that leave no trace of the bombs used. After Tony’s old bodyguard and good friend Happy Hogan is hospitalized, he takes it upon himself to destroy this organization, but first he has to hang out with a precocious child.
On the one hand, Stark has finally gone through a lot of character growth, he is not quite as grating a personality and this film leans into the fallout of his flaws. But at the same time, the film feels to me as though it is obviously pulling it’s punches, the enemies of Stark are never the beautiful women he beds and abandons, its always the weedy nerds he humiliated at one point or another. I suppose I am now getting into some light spoilers of a three year old movie, but it is notorious for it’s rather silly twist which feeds into my above comment. The Mandarin enters this film much like Loki in The Avengers and leaves in much the same manner, as a joke, continuing this series’ trend of weak and unimpressive villainy.
If this film were a stand alone work, the Mandarin joke might work well, as a parody of blatant western islamaphobia in media, but this work is not stand alone as it continually references previous entries. I think what I am getting at is that this film is extremely cluttered with ideas that might have made solid films, but are forced together in a very unhappy union. The PTSD element really goes nowhere except as a catalyst of more action, the social satire also peters out after the Mandarin punchline and never really seems to make a point. major elements of the plot have to do with crippled soldiers, the aforementioned PTSD, islamophobia, and terrorism, but the film has no edge because it says nothing about these subjects, it just features them.
If this film ever made a point about the socially charged subject matter it brought up, I missed it completely. I was waiting for a point, something more than, corporations are evil, but it was lost in the quest for feel good entertainment, because those issues don’t leave a good taste, at least not when presented seriously. So instead hot button issues just serve as a backdrop for some silly, poorly paced pulp with not nearly enough action to justify it’s run time. 2/5