A Major Identity Crisis
Note: Story Spoilers are discussed liberally below. ‘read only if you either don’t mind or have already seen the film.
“Iron Man 3″ is out…and it isn’t good. Or rather, it isn’t good if you’re a fan of Iron Man. If you like Tony Stark, without the armor, you may adore it. But me, I like my superheroes unapologetic to be superheroes. And that’s not what this is. Rather, “Iron Man 3″ is the anti-”Avengers;” which was a story fearless in how the characters embraced their powers and costumes. That’s not the case here. Shane Black wrote and directed a movie defiant in how NOT necessary the trappings of comic book superheroism are; and that’s not a story I care to support.
What the movie fails to grasp is a simple truth: The armor isn’t what makes Tony special; Tony makes the armor special. It’s not the first time a Marvel Studios film committed this sin. “Iron Man 2″ never sat well with me in how Rhodey showed zero learning curve when jumping into and stealing one of Tony’s suits. That sequence will always feel counterintuitive. Is the Iron Man movie series becoming more overt in putting forth the concept that the armor is at best, a simple tool and at worst, a necessary evil? Case in point, the film’s superhero action high point is a spectacular in-air rescue of people tossed out of an airplane…..accomplished by a remote control suit of armor! As soon as the rescue is done; a semi-truck accidentally demolishes the armor suit. But do any characters react in a negative way to the armor’s loss? Absolutely not. Foreshadowing the movie’s climax; where a legion of remote armors fly in to fight the bad guys, only to be destroyed at a fast and capricious rate. Apparently armors are as non-descript and disposable as Kleenex; a sophisticated special effect without a soul.
It’s not a great extrapolation to say that the armor’s are causing a significant negative impact on Tony. By this stage in their relationship, the armor’s are the barrier between Tony and Pepper’s evolving happiness. Embracing this as an unacceptable truth; by the time the credits roll, all armors have been blown up in a bizarre “romantic” fireworks display as Tony and Pepper kiss. So…….in watching this moment we in the audience should feel celebrate for the restoration of their relationship and no remorse over the loss of the armors? Why can’t Tony as a person and Tony as a superhero co-exist???
Obviously Tony can and will build more suits (the “Avengers” sequel comes out in 2015); but that doesn’t lessen the depressing position put forth here. Tony is apparently incapable of balance. If he wants a blissful domestic life with Pepper, then the armors ……..and by extension him as a superhero…..has to, if not be gone? ‘be several marginalized. This flies directly against the last shot of “Avengers;” when Tony and Pepper are playfully arm-in-arm as they design the new Star Tower post-the team winning the battle of New York. What happened to that pair who integrated both that Tony was a superhero and their identity as a couple? I can understand Tony have some Post-traumatic stress after New York….I support that events should have consequences / reverberations…….but “Iron Man 3”’s story takes it too far. There is no organic ‘next place to go’ for Tony as a superhero. A way will be found of course, there are too many dollars on the line from future merchandise alone; but that doesn’t alleviate the dull feeling you have as a comic book fan after seeing “Iron Man 3.” It’s the summer blockbuster designed to strike a chord with non-comic book fans (see: The Mandarin and who he isn’t) and that’s not how a superhero looks to me.