Thursday, December 12, 2013

The Holiday Adventures of Tony Stark and Cowboy Short Round AKA Iron Man 3 (A Shitmas Post from Chad)

Ever since Marvel Studio’s “The Avengers” rocked the all time box office in 2012, the world has asking 2 questions. 1) What’s next in phase 2? 2) Will Thor and Loki finally satisfy the fantasy of every fan girl on the planet? They answer one of these with Iron Man 3 (2013).

Iron Man 3 takes place right after the events of the Avengers, Christmas time to be specific. New franchise director Shane Black does that with a lot of his films (the man has a hard on for the holiday…Go figure!). Our hero Tony Downey Stark Jr suffers from Post-traumatic stress disorder, as a result horrible flashbacks and nightmares keep him up at night. Instead of binge watching Breaking Bad on Netflix like a normal person, Tony spends his sleepless nights creating and building new Iron Man suits incase of another alien attack.

On the other end of the planet we have our villain, The Mandarin (played by Sir Ben Kingsley). A terrorist with a commanding presence who broadcasts bombings and live executions of his enemies. If you’re a fan of the comic you might notice that The Mandarin is not very...How do I put this…Mandarin? According to the source material, the character The Mandarin has always been a man of Asian decent (specifically Chinese). Here he looks more Middle Eastern. Now they’re multiple possible reasons for this change and I can think of 3.

1) It’s offensive. The traditional look of the character is pretty close to that of Fu Manchu . Not the most politically correct image of Asian people.

2) You don’t bite the hand that feeds you. A large chunk of Iron Man 3’s funding came from China. So much so that it was agreed upon that a separate cut of the film was to be made with new scenes including Chinese actors to be filmed in China. All I’m saying is that If I where funding a Marvel/ Disney film and the bad guy resembled an offensive stereotype of my ethnicity, I’m taking my fat check and heading over to DC/Warner Brothers.  

3) Entertainment reflects current events in society.  1984’s Red Dawn is about a group of high school students who defend their town from the invading Soviets. Being made during the height of the Cold War, it makes sense why a lot of movie villains appeared to sound or be from that area. A remake was made in 2012. Same story but the bad guys where changed to reflect the current times, and North Korea is currently on America’s bad guy list.  In Iron Man 3’s case they decided to mirror the other post 9/11 bogeyman, Osama Bin Laden.

Also if you’re a fan of the comics, they changed a lot more then his race. Changes I personally don’t agree with. As a character and with Ben Kingsley behind the role, I think we could have had a true villain as memorable as Health Ledger’s joker.  Which is what Marvel truly lacks in their cinematic universe, a memorable antagonist outside of Loki. Who’s seductive whining, bumbling and arrogance is really his own undoing. I’d rather pat him on the head then cower in fear.

Back to Iron Man. So The PC Mandarin makes a speech about fortune cookies. That they pretend to be Chinese and are full of lies (Ain’t that the pot calling the kettle black!). He relates this to the Mann’s Chinese theater in LA and decides to bomb it. Tony Stark’s BFF Happy gets caught in the explosion and is heavily injured.  This sends Tony on a personal vendetta and he makes that bad ass threat we’ve all seen in the trailers dropping his home address. 

That is pretty much the film’s set up. Iron Man 3 was entertaining and sets of some interesting (if not head scratching) themes for the rest of Marvel’s Phase 2 as well as the character. The lack of AC/DC in the soundtrack definitely in my opinion makes this feel less of an Iron Man film and more like a Marvel holiday special (with annoying kid sidekick included). The dialogue is sharp, the effects are top notch, and there is action for days! A scene where Tony’s house is under siege and being bombarded with missiles from enemy helicopters will have you on the edge of your seat. Although it did have me question J.A.R.V.I.S’s security software. 101 snarky come backs but he can’t say “Sir, there are missiles flying towards the premises.  Would you like to defend and attack now? Or should I remind you later?” Switch to ADT Tony!  All in all it’s passable.  RDJ is charming and Ben Kinsley’s performance as The Mandarin was engaging.  It’s a fun holiday action flick to enjoy with you favorite comic geek! Excelsior!

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