The thing I really like about the Iron Man films is the fact that it doesn’t matter if the plotlines are completely ridiculous and silly, because it’s all good fun. And this time they cast people who are capable of acting more than Mickey Rourke, so that’s got to be a step up, hasn’t it? The storyline verged on a whole new level of silly, but there were some real deliberately comedic moments as well and I found the whole thing an awful lot funnier than I was expecting. I saw it in 2D because the times were more convenient and I didn’t even realise it was available in 3D, but I try to avoid seeing things in 3D anyway because I generally feel like it’s a waste of money. I imagine this is the sort of film that would work best in 3D because there’s lots of action scenes and explosions and opportunities for things to come flying out of the screen, but I have a lot of love for action films of the ‘80s and ‘90s which were effective without needing 3D wizardry, so I don’t really see why we need them now to be honest. But anyway that’s by the by, I expect this would have looked swell in 3D, but I generally prefer to save the extra pounds.
Now, how to explain the good fun and yet super ridiculous plot? In a flashback scene (that also ties in with the character of Yinsen in Iron Man), Tony humiliates Aldrich Killian when Killian tries to include him in plans for his ‘Extremis’ cure which aims to regenerate injured limbs. Back in the ‘present’ time, Tony is having a bit of a meltdown about everything that happened in The Avengers movie, and gets dragged into investigating terrorist attacks by ‘The Mandarin’, which appear to be bombings that leave no forensic evidence. With the help of a super cool kid called Harley, Tony discovers they are actually human bombs caused by the recipients of Extremis violently rejecting the cure. For some reason Extremis allows people to get super hot, and when their bodies reject it, they explode. When Killian realises Tony’s onto him, he kidnaps Pepper and injects her with the cure so that Tony will be forced to help. Gasp shock horror. There’s a lot more going on, but that’s the bare bones of it and, like I said, it’s super ridiculous (and yet also hilarious at times, although perhaps not always intentionally).
I must admit I did get a bit confused at times, because I re-watched Iron Man and Iron Man 2 in preparation, but completely forgot about the existence of The Avengers and everything that happened in it until at least halfway through Iron Man 3, so every time they made allusions to aliens, wormholes, or ‘what happened in New York’, I was practically screaming ‘what did happen in New York?!’ at the screen in frustration. Then I remembered that The Avengers had happened, and everything made sense (or as much as could possibly make sense when the story is so ridiculous).
I think my favourite scenes in the film either revolved around Ty Simpkins’ character as the little boy Harley, or those involving The Mandarin, played by Ben Kingsley. The interaction between Harley and Tony Stark was pretty sweet, but was also seriously funny at times, and I think Tony having to turn to a kid for help definitely worked better than if Harley was a grown man. Because his character also acts like such a big kid at times, the way they bounced off of each other was really entertaining. But the part of Ben Kingsley as The Mandarin was just genius. I don’t want to give too much away, but the fact that he turns out to be such a hilarious character was so unexpected and such a brilliant little plot twist. He was such a well developed character that I didn’t even realise he was played by Ben Kingsley until I saw the credits, I never saw beyond The Mandarin/Trevor when he was on screen, and I think he was the most enjoyable aspect of the whole film.
Now, if you’ve read my previous Iron Man and Iron Man 2 reviews, you’ll probably have noticed that I was bothered to a truly unnecessary degree about the fact that the metal suits didn’t seem to get hot inside during explosions or scenes of Iron Man walking through fire. Finally, it appears in Iron Man 3 that the suits do get uncomfortably hot, and while I like the fact that this is entirely logical and sensible, surely the technology for the suits is improving rather than regressing, and heat’s less likely to be an issue in the third film than the other two? It just seems a bit backwards to me, but then he wasn’t faced with boiling human kettles before, so I suppose the heat factor works better in this film. (But then why on earth do the Extremis people get super hot to begin with? And if they’re so hot that they’re actually glowing, surely they’d be destroying their own skin? I really don’t think they’ve thought this through!) This absolutely tiny little aspect of the films really shouldn’t have bothered me as much as it has, but it’s bugged me in all three films now, and I like to remain consistent.
But if you thought that annoyed me, there’s one thing that really, really bothered me about Iron Man 3, and that was Gwyneth Paltrow being a half-naked damsel in distress. It partly bothered me because it seemed so antiquated and objectifying, on an almost Bond film level. Quick, rescue the little lady, she’s just so helpless that she can’t even hang on to her clothes! Quick Iron Man, protect her dignity! It just seemed like another silly, unnecessary attempt by the industry to over-sexualise the leading woman and focus everything on her looks rather than her intelligence or ability. Trying to sex everything up is a problem with the film industry at large though, and isn’t even the main issue I had with this particular sequence. The main issue which bothered me more than anything was that it was clearly just an excuse to show off old Gwynnie’s ripped body, despite the fact that it was completely unrealistic for her character and therefore contributed absolutely nothing to the film apart from a spot of eye candy for anyone who’s into stick-thin skinny minnies without real figures who have clearly never seen a square meal in their life. Gwyneth Paltrow has made no secret of the fact that the reason she’s got the body she has is because she works out for hours every day and eats only grass or other astonishingly dull sounding foods (as highlighted in this absolutely hilarious clip where she discusses her latest recipe book on The Graham Norton Show).
It all sounds like a bit of a snooze to me, but if that’s how she wants to spend her days, so be it. The world of celebrity is ridiculously image-conscious after all, so I can understand why she’d want to spend so much time crunching abs and nibbling carrots, although I am concerned that her life may be overly image/health conscious and therefore rather on the dull side. No, what bothers me most is the fact that there is no way Pepper Pots would have that body. Gwyneth can do what she likes, but are you seriously telling me that Pepper Pots has the time to spend hours of her day working out? This is a business woman with a huge company to run! Unless we actually have footage of her conducting every business meeting she has from a treadmill, I’m not buying it. I know this is a super-hero film (would you class Iron Man as a super hero?) but I think it could afford to be a bit more realistic. I wouldn’t be so angry if they’d just kept Pepper in her proper clothes, but if they absolutely insist on her being held hostage in her underwear (why?! It’s unnecessarily objectifying, there’s no need for it!) then why make it all stick thin and sexy? What’s wrong with a bit of bingo wing every now and then? Those scenes made me so cross that I was pretty damn glad she fell into a fiery inferno. /rant over.
I wasn’t too hot on the ending of the film either, it seemed a bit like they were trying to wrap up the Iron Man franchise already, but as far as I’m aware Robert Downey Jr.’s got another Avengers film left on his contract, so I don’t really know how they’re going to get around that. They did make the point that he’d always be Iron Man because Iron Man is Tony Stark and not just the suit blah blah, but I still don’t like the fact that he got rid of it all for the sake of Pepper Pots being whiny and clingy. It looks like we’ll just have to wait for the next Avengers movie to see how they get around it, but at least he managed to retrieve Dummy from the sea at the end, so I suppose all’s well that ends well.