I recently re-watched Iron Man 3 in the hope of discovering its hidden brilliance that everyone seemed to see but me. I didn’t succeed in that, but what I did do is put my finger on what about it I didn’t like first time round. Five fingers, to be precise. Here are the five reasons why it sucked.
1. No one wants to see Tony Stark fighting not in an Iron Man suit.
On paper having a running gag about a defective Iron Man suit seems like a great idea, until you remember that people watch these films to see the Iron Man suit in use, ideally by Tony Stark. By himself he’s not a superhero, and has no proficiency in hand-to-hand combat, yet in Iron Man 3 we have action scene after action scene where Stark has no suit. It’s like watching a Rocky movie where Balboa enters a chess tournament or Snakes on a Plane, but instead of snakes there are refreshments, instead of a plane it’s a funeral and instead of Samuel L Jackson it’s Helen Mirren.
Even when suits are involved he’s rarely in them. In the final battle he spends most of the thing waiting for Jarvis to send him one, and most suit action is powered remotely either by Stark or his supercomputer. These scenes are boring, because we know we could be watching an action scene like in The Avengers, or in Iron Man 1 and 2, where he fights in the suit and it’s cool.
For the record, here are some other things people don’t want to see: Tony Stark divested of his suit in a garage, Jon Favreau with a ponytail, and a child. Ever. It’s like if you made Jedi knights spend a movie in a garage with a kid repairing things. Oh wait…
None of this is any fun. Which brings me on to my next point.
2. Laugh an hour.
What made the first two Iron Man films and The Avengers stand out from the crowd was, in part, how funny they were. Iron Man 3 completely forgets this, with its handful of attempts to raise a chortle falling short. Was it written by Sarah Teather?
And in case Shane Black is reading, the Mark 42 failing for the 8th time isn’t funny.
Even when Stark tries a few of his trademark wisecracks it feels at odds with the downbeat, stressed out and generally broken man he has become, which brings me on to my next point.
3. I just don’t buy it.
We’ve never seen Tony Stark remotely flapped. When he was trapped in an Afghan cave he played it cool. When Mickey Rourke had him by the balls he didn’t seem to care. When aliens attacked New York he took it all in his stride. Except now we find out that he was actually traumatised by what happened. Riiiight. He hid that well at the time. Maybe his post-battle shawarma went down the wrong way.
Also, what’s Guy Pearce’s motivation? Is he just angry because Tony didn’t meet him when he said he would? Is he so angry about a notorious playboy’s punctuality on New Year’s Eve that he turns the guy’s girlfriend into a mutant? Shit, if I did that every time I’ve been stood up there’d be a lot of mutants walking around, let me tell you. Why didn’t he just give Tony a call to find out where he was? Or try contacting him again a while later? I’m sure Tony would have replied, I mean, he was interested enough in the idea to agree to meeting some random guy on a roof. And if he still doesn’t reply, just send him a turd like a normal person. Also, why do they agree to meet on a roof? Was it so Pearce could appear more cold and dejected in the flashback? That’s the only reason I can think of.
And what was with the mutants? I see why they went with them. Thor fights aliens, Captain America fights Nazis, Tony Stark fights weapons developers. He’s already fought two rounds of mechanical weapons developers in 1 and 2, so at least biological weapons make an aesthetic difference, but did we really need weird fire people that look like rejects from The Last Airbender? Couldn’t the main villain have released a deadly virus or something, like in Batman Begins?
4. The eagles are coming!
Just when all hope is lost, it turns out our hero has a special power to get him out of a tight spot. He’s been saving it until something really bad happens. Something worse than gunships pointing rockets at his house.
Once you have a supercomputer that can control a huge number of Iron Man suits don’t you pretty much eliminate the need for Stark? He should spend the time before Avengers 2 stockpiling suits, not destroying them. That way when the earth is next threatened he can order an army of suits to fight for him far better than he could by himself, and save the earth from the comfort of his own living room. You wouldn’t even need the other Avengers.
I see why the film makers wanted a big, loads of suits ending, but was it worth leaving such a gaping plot hole? They really shot themselves in the foot with a white ball of energy.
5. The End
At the anticlimatic climatic final battle, Tony destroys his suits for two reasons 1) To show “Pepper” that he’s changed and 2) To created a firework backdrop for their kiss. The problem is that we all know he’s going to become Iron Man again because we know how much money is invested in it, and that Avengers 2 is scheduled for 2015. So when he destroys the suits we don’t think “oh my god, Iron Man is no more!” we think “oh my god, the first 40 minutes of the next film with Iron Man in are going to be spent explaining how Tony is persuaded to suit up again.”
I’m guessing in Avengers 2 a new threat to the earth emerges, and Bruce Banner or Scarlett Johnassen or whoever tries to persuade Tony to rejoin them to fight it. He replies that they can save the world without him. Something happens to show they need him – maybe Agent Coulson’s cat gets killed – and it turns out he had a spare suit in a cupboard somewhere just in case. Or they’ll just completely ignore the ending of the previous film, like they did with Thor.