Friday, January 31, 2014

Movies of 2013, Superheroes, pt1, Iron Man

Science Fiction (Superhero)
            Considering how much Science fiction stuff there was this year I tried to spread it out with Apocalypses, Superheroes, and Other Science Fiction...  And one of them wasn't science fiction at all and is really a parody of superheroes and should have really been in the crime section but whatever, shut up.  I see a lot of Genre movies and even some other stuff could be considered Sci-Fi and is kind of arbitrarily slotted.

Iron Man 3, or "Thank god they did something else with the bad guy."
Overall: 8/10
I'm Falling to Pieces...
            This is actually a very well structured movie thematically, though I don't know if people will believe me when I say that because it does have a big plot hole and I disagree with the ending a good bit.
            These movies, by which I mean Marvel films make money from Action figures.  Much like Star Wars created the quintessential ensemble adventure film where in everyone has their own look and weapon, the Marvel movies have very distinct characters with variant weapons, costumes, attitudes, and tone.  This is why Thor has 75 Space-Viking side kicks, it is why Captain America lead the multi-ethnic Commandos (and why none of the bad guys wear swastikas, because you can't sell an action figure in Europe of a Nazi, even as the bad guy), and it is why this movie has 40 Iron Man armors, a repaint of the War Machine Armor, numerous bad guys.... What I am trying to say is, this movie is a toy commercial.
            All that aside, and back to my original point, this is a well structured movie.  Tony Stark nearly died fighting space aliens in "The Avengers", combine this with all the other stuff in his life and he has collectively become the Superhero poster boy for PTSD.  How does he cope with this?  He builds a stockpile of weaponry, like you do.  What is more his main suit in the movie is literally falling apart (like Stark) and trying to pull itself together to fight the bad guys throughout.  That is called a METAPHOR.  A lot of this can be attributed to writer/director Shane Black who made one of my favorite films of all time, "Kiss Kiss,Bang Bang" and is a master of fitting a lot of things together on the screen.
            Beyond that the movie continues to demonize the defense industry.  The first movie's villain was a defense contractor trying to sell weapons to the US to make a lot of money.  The second film's villain was sponsored by a defense contractor who wanted to put Stark out of business and make a lot of money.  This movie is about a Defense contractor using disaffect veterans and a lot of showmanship and lies to try and create terrorism and make a lot of money.  I love what they did with the Mandarin.
            In the comics the Mandarin is a boring character by today's standards, he made sense when he was made, he was a displaced noble from China who wanted to use his magic/alien technology to reestablish the dynastic system he had come from... But nowadays that doesn't make sense.  I don't think there is a person alive today that could claim conscious memory of China before the Communist party.... So to change him to a Modern Terrorist makes some sense, but he couldn't pose a real threat to Iron Man.  In the first movie Iron Man kills goons who wield conventional weapons with ease.  Giving Mandarin alien technology would be feasible... but that was already done with Red Skull.  So instead lets just make it a lie.  The terrorist boogey man is just a construct used to scare up more business for defense contractors.  Holy shit: ANOTHER METAPHOR, this time for the war on terror.  It is almost like this movie has resonant themes.
This is a reference to "1984" a book that I don't think of as all that good prose-wise, but has a lot of good ideas.
            A good companion to this movie is (sort of) "Star Trek Into Darkness" which has a supposed terrorist being used as justification for a military build up.  But while that movie has a labyrinthine plot that makes less sense the more you think about it, "Iron Man 3" keeps things clear, and its twists are clever.  No one was surprised that Khan was the bad guy in Star Trek, everyone was surprised by the Mandarin, and that surprise made things a lot more interesting, it made it a lot more resonant.
            Another good contrast is with Malekith the Accursed in "Thor the Dark World" (lot of Darkness this year).  Malekith had a plan to cloak the universe in darkness and end life as we knew it, had an army of super powerful and creepy space elves, and required Space-Vikings to be defeated... Malekith is barely part of that movie, nearly excised completely for more time spent with Loki around whom most of the character of Thor is greatly bolstered by contrast.  Malekith is what the Mandarin would have been played completely straight, a very typical bad guy with chaos and destruction as his goals.  Mandarin would have been boring without the twist in "Iron Man 3", he would have been Malekith.

            Also, the ending is the part that I mentioned disagreeing with.  At the end Tony blows up all the suits, signifying that he no longer needs his stockpile of super weapons to feel safe from the threats of the world, the he (not the suit) is the hero of the story (METAPHOR)... I wanted a post credit sequence of Nick Fury screaming at someone that Tony just blew up Earth's best defense against alien invasion.  Hell, they could have added that to "Thor the Dark World" which has an alien invasion that if not for Thor and his plucky science pals would have ended the universe... Having a legion of Iron Man armors would have been hella' helpful in that situation.  In universe, Tony destroys the Earth's best defense against super villains, true there are not a lot but the fact that no one calls him out for this is kind of insane.

            There is also the fact that the Legion of Iron Men (automated Drones fighting terrorists... METAPHOR... Wait, no, that is just sort of literal)... would have fit better as an end to "Avengers 2" because their main bad guy is going to be a killer robot, and the first instance I know of in a comic book that Tony controls dozens of suits at once happens in an Avengers comic book.  (The reason this is in here is the aforementioned toy commercial, and they were unsure if they could get Downey back as Iron Man in anymore movies and needed to tie up the franchise with one big hurrah... And I must say that considering how Iron Man has been a character for 50 years I actually kind of think Downey is really over paid and that much like Christian Bale as Batman, Downey was made a star from the role more than they contributed to the success of the role.
            Aside from all this the movie has any number of things to like as a dumb action movie, is has action scenes that are dynamic in environment, capabilities, and are well paced throughout.  I still am on the edge of my seat when watching the Air Force 1 rescue.  It is so exciting.  The film is also funny and fun, with cute moments with sidekicks and friends that make things a lot more fun and light hearted breaking up the dark message of the film (that war is a business and we are disposable assets).

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