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What’s wrong with Iron man 3?



Actors: Robert Downey, Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Guy Pearce, Ben Kingsley
Director: Shane Black
Length: 130 minutes
Release Date: May 3, 2013
Genre: , ,
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1 total rating



It was fun. Fun is good.


no shield, mandarin reveal, Tony's investigation

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At this point in time we’ve all probably seen Iron Man 3 and opinions are already formed. I’m not going to stand here and tell you if it was good or bad. I will however do what I always do. Nitpick and complain regardless of whether or not I liked it. Let me qualify the […]

Posted September 11, 2013 by

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At this point in time we’ve all probably seen Iron Man 3 and opinions are already formed. I’m not going to stand here and tell you if it was good or bad. I will however do what I always do. Nitpick and complain regardless of whether or not I liked it. Let me qualify the following by saying that I did like this movie, but like ALL movies it had problems. No movie is perfect, and none will ever be. So let’s talk about what’s wrong with Iron Man 3. (accidental rhyme!)

Credit: Marvel

I would say there are 3 three major problems with Iron man 3. These 3 problems trickle down into every other aspect of the movie causing other problems. So let’s start with the least of the three evils. As you know in this movie Tony Stark does a little investigating into the Mandarin. Tony’s investigation is one of the major problems in this movie. Tony starts the investigation somewhat interested in the Mandarin but backing off when Rhodes tells him to let it go. It’s only when Happy is injured that Stark rallies together his resources to find the Mandarin. The problem with that is that Happy gets injured because he followed an Extremis guy around, but he followed him for no reason. Happy didn’t really like Killian because he was hitting on Pepper and labeled Killian’s cohort as shady, and so he committed an entire day to following a stranger around based on not really liking the guy. Luckily for Happy he happened to have followed this guy on his illegal activities day, and ends up being caught up in an explosion. (The extremis explosions seem pretty flashy and big. At the center of them there’s a man who turns orange and then just bursts with light. I’m surprised that the government never got footage of this considering there have been a few explosions already and they’ve been looking into this.)

Credit: MarvelAnyway Happy is injured and now that Tony is personally effected he steps in and uses more technology than every police department on the planet put together. (Also I’m not sure where Tony got a perfect 3d model of the Chinese theater but I don’t see why it would help him investigate. All he really learned from it was that there was a center to the bomb with no bomb shrapnel. Which of course he already knew.) Then he uses what is essentially a google search (but it’s Jarvis so it’s more powerful somehow) and finds the original explosion that nobody noticed because no one is as good as Tony, and he sets out for Tennessee. Well, technically he’s forced there, but whatever.

Credit: MarvelIn Tennessee when his investigation continues Tony looks for the mother of the original bomb/victim. Very luckily for Tony he goes to the mom on the day the bad guys have decided to retrieve a potentially incriminating file. For some reason the Mom of the first bomb/victim was given a file about her son because I guess it’s common to give the mother of a suspected murderer a police file. An Extremis woman then pretends to be homeland security to get the file but the sheriff doesn’t believe her. When he presses her for verification, instead of having some kind of back up plan for this scenario, she starts killing everyone in the bar. Now I would think that the point of pretending to be homeland security was to remain inconspicuous, but I guess essentially leveling a large portion of this town in the ensuing action sequence can be pretty under the radar if you don’t really think about it. (And I’m not sure why the Extremis woman didn’t get the file initially. She comes out of the bar the mother is in as Tony goes in. Then she goes back in to cause a huge scene? The mother didn’t resist Tony, she was completely willing to give the file to Tony when she thought he was the man who called her. So why wasn’t the extremis woman able to get the file?)

Credit: MarvelMoving along Tony gets the file and looks it over. He gains nothing from looking at it, but then when he puts it down after looking at it he notices that MIA backwards spells AIM. That’s literally the only reason given by the movie for Tony to suspect AIM. So based on spelling Tony decides to investigate AIM. So after using “hacking” to get into AIM’s server he instantly finds the files that reveal everything. Were they on the desktop? Was the folder labeled “illegal files”? Why would Killian leave the incriminating files on the network? Why wouldn’t he have the illegal human testing videos on like a flash drive that he kept in a safe? Why does he need videos of his illegal activities if he was there? Can Killian not remember what happen? Because he was there. I do a better job hiding my porn.

Credit: MarvelAfter this point Jarvis comes back online. Jarvis uses magic to track the Mandarin’s signal to his exact location. Somehow every other investigated entity looking for the Mandarin in the world is unable to do this. Which leads to the question, why is Tony so damn selfish? He has all this technology and he doesn’t share it. He literally found the most wanted man in the country, possibly world, in a day or two using all this technology and he hordes it to himself because . . . What he wants to be the one who finds the villains of the world? This section of the movie takes up a huge amount of time and is full of coincidence, gaps in logic, and overall it’s just poorly written. It relies on the fact that Tony Stark is the main character to progress. It’s a problem because it effects the entire movie. The investigation was a pretty weak part of this movie, and it leads with the second problem of this movie.

Credit: Marvel

The Mandarin is revealed to be an actor hired by Killian because Killian is in fact the Mandarin. Now I don’t read the Iron Man comics. I’ve never followed him at all. I didn’t even like the cartoon show. It was . . . I don’t know I just didn’t like it. I don’t have some fanboy respect for the Mandarin, so when I say that the Mandarin reveal was bad it’s because it was in fact bad. Here’s why. The Mandarin is divided into two characters by this movie. The Ben Kingsley Mandarin before the reveal and the Guy Pearce mandarin after the reveal.

Credit: MarvelThe problem is that the Ben Kingsley Mandarin is the better Mandarin. Kingsley approaches the character with a sort of creepy charm. He’s kind of funny but in a dangerous way. Like the Joker. He’ll say something that might make you chuckle but you always remember he’s a murdering terrorist. That’s another thing Kingsley has on Pearce. This Mandarin has motive. He believes that America is corrupt and bloated, and seeks to wake them up with his attacks. This Mandarin isn’t attacking Tony directly, but then Tony threatens him. Tony is everything the Mandarin would hate. Tony’s ignorant, rich, self entitled and he built his wealth on the blood of the Mandarin’s people by perpetuating the cycle of violence in the Mandarin’s region. Whether Tony was aware of it or not he used money gained from exploitation to live decadently and hasn’t made any retributions. Tony continues to live lavishly as the rest of the Mandarin’s people suffer in poverty. Kingsley has every reason to hate Stark and now that Stark threatened him Kingsley has every reason to launch a full scale war on Iron Man. Not just as a personification of everything Kingsley’s fighting against but simply as the selfish hero undeserving of the adoration he has begun to receive. That’s Kingsley’s mandarin.

Credit: MarvelNow Pearce’s Mandarin takes a different approach. (I’m going to keep referring to him as Killian because I kept misspelling Pearce.) Killian is smooth. He has the confidence and charm of a man who is in control. He’s smart and has a plan that he is trying to adhere too at all cost. He has personal beef with Stark. Several years ago Stark abandoned him on a rooftop. Delving deeper you can see jealousy in Killian. He doesn’t like Tony because Tony has always had it all. He had to work and Tony got to coast. Now in the future that Killian has made for himself he cannot allow Tony to have more . . . anymore. He can’t be the hero, he can’t be smarter, and he can’t have Pepper. The problem is that Killian is more shallow.

Credit: MarvelGiving the Mandarin a personal beef with Tony encloses Tony into his own world. It takes all the world building done by the first two movies and puts them into a tiny universe where Tony is at the center. This is a much bigger problem than Tony’s investigation because it effects the entire Iron Man franchise. Looking at Killian’s Mandarin just in context of the movie he can be labeled as Cartoon evil. He’s the kind of bad guy who is more driven by an ideal of how things should play out than by success. He would rather have Tony know who beat him than simply beat him. Killian had the most powerful weapon to have in war. The element of surprise. No one knows about Extremis, and no one has really caught on to what he’s up to. When Tony threatens him, Killian decides to go for the much flashier blowing up of his house with missiles than a much more efficient method.

Credit: MarvelHere’s one off the top of my head. Instead of the helicopters he could have had an Extremis soldier go into his home. The Extremis’ soldier could have either snuck in, burst in, or simply pretended to have business with Tony to get in. Maya gets in without any real problems so it’s completely possible for a E-soldier to just come in. The E-soldier can then either kill an unprepared Tony or detonate. Detonation would fit his bombing pattern and because of the high temperature I imagine Tony would not come out unscathed. If nothing else it would badly damage his suit then cue the helicopters to finish him off. You could argue that he didn’t E-bomb Tony because he wanted to protect Pepper for later, but then why did he bomb the house with her in it? If she was that important to him he should at least make sure she was out of the house first right? But because he is cartoon evil he must give the hero a chance to escape. I mean he sent three helicopters to fight the guy with the flying suit of armor. Iron man’s core strength is his mobility in the sky and superior weaponry, and considering that AIM had full control of the Iron Patriot it would have been much more entertaining to see them use that suit to fight Tony. And Killian sends three helicopters. What if Tony had been wearing his suit when they attacked? Then he could have handled the three helicopters with amazing ease.

Credit: MarvelBut Tony also handles that situation poorly. He has 42 suits. We know that at this point in the movie Jarvis can control the suits because he controls the mark-42 underwater to save Tony in this sequence. So Why, after threatening a terrorist does Tony not have Jarvis flying suits around his home. Even if he doesn’t want reveal how many suits he has he can have one or two, or keep them inside only to emerge if trouble comes. In an earlier speech to Pepper or Rhodes I forget, Stark mentions that he has a suit that can catch an explosion. That would have been perfect against, I don’t maybe missiles.

Credit: MarvelBack to Killian. At the end of the movie Killian reveals that he seeks to control the war on terror by being the world’s top terrorist and having the president in his pocket. Why? Killian is already rich as fuck. He is on the verge of an amazing breakthrough in all humanity. If he could work out a cure, and safe way to administer Extremis, then it’s possible for all human’s to regrow what ever part of their body is lost, and in emergency situation heal rapidly. And we establish that’s it’s possible to cure Extremis because Tony does it at the end of the movie. Which is weird because Tony is neither a geneticist or a biologist. He is a mechanic. And incredibly intelligent mechanic but usually people specialize in one field. Making Tony some kind of brain based Superman is just a dues ex machina that’s used to overcome whatever problem becomes tedious to the writers.

Credit: MarvelKillian could very very easily gain money for this cause, and he does. He takes military contracts to support his think-tank AIM. And given how powerful his personal military becomes it’s definitely something the government would be into. His wealth is pretty ambiguous as well. You know he gets money from military contracts, but I imagine that kind of thing is checked on frequently. How has he been hiding his expenses for so long?

Credit: MarvelKillian is just trying to take over the world because he’s the bad guy. He has no real other motivation other than hate for Tony, and he’s throwing his entire life and career away just out of spite. Also Extremis is poorly defined. It’s explained as accessing an empty part of the human brain to hack into our genes. Which for some reason gives us super healing, control of temperature (but only making things hotter and going back down to normal but not to make things colder), and for some reason it makes you a better fighter. Which is evident when Pepper busts out some sweets moves at the end of the movie having never shown any indication that she had any fighting ability at all.

The fact of the matter is that Killian is inferior to Kingsley mandarin in almost every way. He’s just a bad villain. Which is upsetting because they had a perfectly good villain to work with. Also Mandarin is a man who uses a kind of magic and several rings. That’s his bit. So taking that away from him is a drastic change to the character. Now I don’t mind change, but only when it’s for the better. This change doesn’t really add anything to the character in fact it dulls him into a rather generic villain. Change for the sake of change or to appease some easily offended demographic is just . . . don’t do that. Just don’t. It just pisses everybody who actually does care about the character off.

The last and biggest problem with this movie is something mentioned in the Mandarin problem. By giving Mandarin a personal stake with Tony it encloses the world the character is in. This is something that effects the entire Iron Man franchise, but the fact that throughout this entire movie there was not one mention of shield effects the entire Marvel cinema universe. Here’s why. In the first movie Shield was crawling all over Tony to ensure that he was ready for their Avenger’s initiative. In the second movie they send in a secret bodyguard, who turns out to be a major character, into Tony’s life to evaluate him. Now that Tony’s a high profile member of Shield, or at least a necessary cog in the Avenger’s wheel they do nothing.

There’s no shield at all. They leave him completely alone, and when he threatens a known terrorist they don’t even call to check if he’s doing alright. For a while it’s believed that he’s dead, and they don’t even look into that to make sure that their technological asset is still around. Not just that Tony has made some pretty high profile friends. This would have been the perfect time to set up Hawkeye or Black Widow up a bit more. I mean Tony is involved against some highly trained super-powered soldiers he could use some highly trained shield soldiers to fight them. Or maybe he could invite his green friend. He’s clearly in touch with Banner as evident from the after credits scene in this movie.

Credit: MarvelTony is suffering from PTSD in this movie. He’s afraid that without the suit he’s nothing or that if the aliens comeback he won’t be ready for them because he’s just a man amongst Gods. The lesson he learns in this movie is that if he’s trouble he should just build something. The lesson he should have learned from this movie with the addition of the Hulk or Shield was that he doesn’t have to worry about this because he is no longer alone. There’s no reason to set up this big cinema universe and then cut one of your characters off from it. Especially such an important one. The individual hero movies are meant to build the world so that when we hit the big Avenger’s movie everything is ready to go. At least that’s what I thought. This movie removes Iron Man essentially wasting our time from the Marvel cinema universe. In doesn’t even make sense for Tony not to call Shield in when investigating the Mandarin. Shield is the best investigative organization in the world and he happens to be a high profile asset to them so why wouldn’t he use that to his advantage? In the words of the South Park version of Johnny Cochran, “That does not make sense!” I could stress this point, but holy hell have I been going for a while and I think you get the idea.

Overall the movie is still pretty good. I shuddder to think how great it could have been with a bit more thought and world building, but I’m sure there’s an alternate reality where we all got to enjoy that. Maybe all these things were done on purpose and I just don’t like them. Maybe you don’t think any of what I said is right. That’s fine, but I truly believe that if these issues were addressed this could have been a truly great movie. I don’t claim to know all, but I do claim that this is what’s wrong with Iron Man 3.


I'm like a jaguar that taught itself how to read . . . hauntingly mysterious.

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