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5 Reasons to Rewatch Iron Man 3

Samantha Lee
Samantha Lee

*Spoiler alert.

I love superhero movies. The more flawed the better;  midlife, identity, existential crisis, you name it – if there’s any kind of struggle going on to make the choice to be a hero and all that entails that much more difficult, and that much more recognisable, I‘m all for it.

Tony Stark is as flawed as they come. He can’t turn into a rage-filled green monster, he doesn’t have superhuman strength, or claws he can pop out of his knuckles. He’s not the son of Odin, wasn’t bitten by a mutant spider, doesn’t carry fancy green jewellery around and doesn’t hail from a far-off planet called Krypton.

He’s human. He’s you and me, if we had a very large ego, a genius mentality and a very expensive suit.

The reaction to Iron Man 3 has been interesting; from the reviews I’ve read people are split between loving the third movie in the franchise and complaining that it doesn’t stay true to the comics.

If the box office is anything to go by, taking the second-highest opening weekend behind The Avengers has to be a good ego-boost for the filmmakers at the very least.

I enjoyed Iron Man 3 – mostly for its humanity, and for keeping true to its theme of exploring identity – the things we keep as crutches because we think they make us who we are, how we find our way back to ourselves. In the opening sequence Tony Stark wears a name badge stating ego-centrically: “You know who I am.” And from that point on the audience joins Tony on his quest to figure out that he knows who he is, too.

There are a few flaws in the movie (not fatal, but noticeable) but all in all I’d recommend a first (or second, third, eighth) viewing.

Here’s why:

1.) Pepper. I haven’t read the comics, but Pepper’s evolution has been an interesting one – how does she become less of a foil, more of an equal? In this movie she’s in control of Stark Industries, and is clearly strong, independent.

 I did find her to still revert back to her “damsel in distress” type a few times - it would have been fantastic if she’d a) been more suspicious of Killian rather than swooning over his good looks, and b) figured out Maya’s game instead of being all, “Rats, walked straight into that one.” She also states it herself – she was captured to be a “trophy.” If I was Pepper I’d be all “You called me a what, now?”

Guess you can’t have everything, and she does save the day in the end which I’m still amazed about; possibly a first for any superhero movie ever featuring a male as the lead character. Here’s to progress!

2.) The Suits. The creativity behind these is amazing. I feel like the writers took a day and just went “Well. If we took money, time, effort, self-doubt and the laws of reality/physics out of the equation, how cool can we possibly make these suits?” I want one. I want all of them. Especially Igor.

3.) The Big Bad/ Henchmen. I like it when villains aren’t who you expect them to be. I like it when Evil doesn’t always have a recognisable face, and when good intentions get skewed and twisted into the opposite.

 Iron Man 3 explores this with a “Man controlling the mouthpiece” scenario and it works very well. Ben Kingsley is a (little bit underutilized) star as The Mandarin. I felt like there were a couple of punches pulled at times, especially the video played to Tony of Pepper being injected with the Fire Stuff (it would have been more powerful if they were in the same room), and the fact The Mandarin had no inkling of what he was doing. He was set up to be a scary, unknown force in the beginning and both The Mandarin and the eventual Big Bad came across as cartoonish by the end. (It is a superhero movie though, so I might be expecting too much.)  

The Henchmen, though – ten points! The fact that they spoke, instead of grunted, and damn near stole the show a couple of times speaks to the effort made to round out all the characters, not just the leads.

4.) Bromance. You have to have friends, and Tony Stark is no exception – Happy, Rhodes, and The Kid (I think he had a name) all conspire to challenge, annoy, aid, and banter with Tony, and the movie is all the better for it. I didn’t really understand the reasoning behind The Kid except as a way for Tony to have some cool fight scenes and also some PTSD, but excellent casting and dialogue – some of the funniest moments in the movie happen with these two.

5.) Identity. Again, Tony’s humanity is highlighted throughout the movie. He’s a just guy with a high I.Q. and an awesome suit who fought Some Serious Aliens in The Avengers and is having a little trouble dealing with life as a result. He has turned to the suits as a crutch and a “cocoon.” There are several instances in the movie where he relies on the suits to deal with reality for him – a really nice touch. I love the Big-Ego Tony Stark, but Robert Downey Jr. adds a few extra layers of vulnerability to this performance which hopefully they’ll further explore in The Avengers sequel.

For a sixth and final reason, you need to watch past the end credits. Also, the credits state “Special thanks to Joss Whedon” - you can spot his fingerprints all over this, and if that’s not a reason to see a movie, I don’t know what is.

At the end of the movie Tony Stark states “I am Iron Man.” The movie is at its heart an acknowledgement that Stark is Iron Man – he’s not the suit, he’s not the technology - he wears the mask, the mask does not wear him. That what a superhero is; someone who walks a line, at great cost – who balances the superhero with the man, or woman. The point is that it’s hard.

“We create our own demons,” Tony remarks in the closing monologue. This is my favourite line because it’s the underlying message in the movie. We created this world of good guys and bad guys, we create chaos and fear – and save ourselves from it. We create ourselves.

That’s a pretty good message, for a superhero movie.

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