Wednesday, July 6, 2016
Marvel Watch: Iron Man III (2013)
In some ways, all I want to write about here is how much I like Gwyneth Paltrow in movies and how at odds that is with what little I know about her from what we all get to hear about her real life. Pepper Potts I want to hang with. But Paltrow? It's hard to say.
When I went to see Iron Man III (2013), I was laboring under the misconception it was about Pepper Potts as much as it would be about Tony Stark, but, alas, that was not to be. It was just a few moments that they chose to use in the trailers.
While I really like all three Iron Man movies, gigantic flaws and plotholes and all (and Iron Man 2 has plotholes you could navigate in a steamliner), there's just no comparing what goes down in this movie - scale-wise - with, really, any of the Captain America movies or even Thor. Or Guardians of the Galaxy. It's a personal story for Tony, and that focus gives it a certain sense of a 90's actioner to it except in two or three big-scale sequences (like saving everyone who fell out of an airplane). The consequences of the story seem entirely tied to Tony, and that makes the movie all the more personal while also really making it seem consequence-free in a lot of ways that, say, The Winter Soldier felt like it mattered to everyone on Earth.
Now, it isn't as if nothing matters. If Tony fails, the President dies (remember that? I did not.), and Guy Pearce will control both the presidency and the new false flag Bin Laden. But all I remembered was that Pepper got super powers she didn't want.
What's weirdest, with a second Avengers movie and Cap III under our belts is that the happy ending this movie gave Tony disintegrates off-screen. By Cap III, Pepper may not even be returning to Tony's life after rift apparently occurred. And, after throwing away all the suits in the movies denouement, a year later Tony was back in armor running around with the Hulk and Thor - his PTSD less a problem of flashback and now a deeper-seeded concern bordering on paranoia.
If you don't remember Guy Pearce is the real villain in this movie - well, his whole plot doesn't make a lot of sense and it's just there to hang Tony's story on. And that's okay. Robert Downey Jr. isn't Batman and his villains aren't inherently more interesting than the Iron Man he's created for the cinema. I just watched this movie and I struggle to remember why Guy Pearce dreamed up The Mandarin.
But on the strength of the character and the preceding movies, this one pulled in 1.2 billion dollars. Money DC/ WB wants, but hasn't quite understood that it's a marathon, not a sprint to get to those levels.
I did see somewhere at, no doubt at Cracked.com, someone poo-pooing Guy Pearce's character's motivations - that he wanted to outdo Tony Stark, do it from the shadows, because he felt snubbed by Stark. But that's a point of view that's childishly simplistic and I hope if you're a grown-up you understand how people motivate us for good or bad - and it's those moments of disappointment that drive us sometimes. It's absolutely credible motivation for a character - and, frankly, the character spells it all out pretty well if you actually listen to his dialog.
It is a weird one, though. Writer/ Director Shane Black goes to a 90's well and comes back up with a precocious kid who helps Tony along, and we get the feeling RDJ wanted to be seen in the flesh as much as possible, so the suits become drones - a tag picked up in Age of Ultron. But that more or less means we get a dearth of straight-up Iron Man punching people type-action. But for folks who work with rapidly deployable systems in a vagrant/ docker-style mode, this movie is oddly satisfying from a logic standpoint. Especially when you know how constant re-evaluation of product is hard-baked into the DNA of your better engineers. But that's a curious way to resolve a movie - especially when we don't get the full effect of the potential shown on screen in that last fight on the loading docks.
I dunno. It's not a movie I own, and I hadn't seen it since the theater, but it was on cable. I just think that if we're ever to get a new Iron Man solo movie, Marvel is going to need to think bigger, and in this era of Elon Musk and insanely fast innovation - coming up with a plot worthy of Iron Man seems like it would be a lot of fun. So, yeah, after the next two Avengers movies, of course I'd like to see RDJ back in the armor for a solo spin.