The more I think about Iron Man the more I am of two minds on the movie. For all the reasons I previously stated the movie works, but there’s a lot of things nagging at me.
I’m going to talk about a few of those things and this is going to contain spoilers. Pretty massive spoilers actually so if you haven’t seen the movie stop reading right now. Go see it. It’s definitely a movie you should see in theatres. Once you’ve seen it come back and read this.
So let’s dive right in then. You’ve been warned.
Let’s talk about the big twist. Yes, the Mandarin is a fake, A phoney, a made up bogey man designed to take the spotlight while the real villain works his evil behind the scenes. You know what? I really like the twist. It’s kind of amazing that Marvel let them do it, and it’s kind of amazing that it was kept so well under wraps.
Why do I like it? Because it’s a genuine surprise and it’s actually pretty subversive, or at least as subversive as Marvel are going to get. Not only that but The Mandarin in the comics? Kind of a horrible stereotype.
So what’s my problem here? The real bad guy just kind of becomes a generic bad guy towards the end. Sure, he’s got crazy heat powers but you know what? Why does he even have heat powers? Why does Extremis make people generate heat and explode? Why isn’t it able to give other people, say, frost powers? Or better yet, just a straight up healing factor?
Also, if he can breathe fire? Why the hell doesn’t he breathe fire all the damn time? I would be!
Aside: if Trevor gets out of prison and takes up the mantle of The Mandarin in another movie? I’d watch that. It’d be amazing.
Second, Tony Stark is an asshole. He’s even an asshole when he’s being nice. And he’s especially an asshole when there is a kid around. No wonder the rest of the Avengers aren’t in this movie.
Third, holy rushed ending Batman! “I fixed Pepper and then I fixed myself as well.” Now, if you’re paying attention it’s clear that he modified Extremis to save Pepper and then used that to heal himself and remove the chest piece, but this is all glossed over in about 2 minutes of voiceover and montage. Sure, the film is already over 2 hours long but give it five or ten minutes and work that shit out. It might have been accused of “Lord of the Rings Ending Syndrome” but this is the third part in a trilogy, this is the one time where that’s allowed.
Fourth, and this is kind of the most important one to me, Tony Stark isn/t Iron Man anymore. Yeah, he declare that he is in the last scene but you know who did pretty much all the actual fighting in this movie? J.A.R.V.I.S. Think about it. The big set piece at the end? Tony was in one suit at a time. J.A.R.V.I.S. was controlling as many as 34 others.
On the one hand it was great that the big battle at the end wasn’t just “Iron Man vs. Other Iron Man” but at the same time it was really “A.I. with a small amount of help from a human vs. lava soldiers”.
So the next time Iron Man shows up for something, is Tony going to be there? Will he never leave the Helicarrier in Avengers 2, if he even shows up?
And also, why would anyone call in The Avengers now? Just call up J.A.R.V.I.S. and all the Iron Man suits and he’ll take care of whatever is going on. Problem solved. That wouldn’t be as cool though.
Then again, what if J.A.R.V.I.S. went a little nutty and became the bad guy in another film? I’d watch that.
I stand by everything I said in my earlier review, it’s still a great film. It’s fun to watch and I very much enjoy the tone and humour that Shane Black brings to his movies (and that you can clearly tell it is a Shane Black movie is welcome). I gave it a 9 when I likely should have given it an 8 or even a 7, but that’s neither here nor there, you should still see it and I’d be surprised if you didn’t enjoy it. It’s just got more problems than I previously admitted.