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Iron Man 3

Iron Man 3 isn’t out in the US, so I suppose I should put some kind of spoiler warning on it… since we saw it this morning. (The film was released today in Vietnam.)

So, consider yourself spoiler-warned:

If you haven’t seen the movie, don’t read past here: bookmark it and come back when  you have seen the film. Unless you are the sort of person who doesn’t mind spoilers, that is.

Mrs. Jiwaku wasn’t particularly excited by the film, despite her deep, abiding crush on Robert Downey Jr. She says the main problem for her was the cinematography. (That it was too in-the-box, not evocative enough of the extreme states that Tony Stark and other characters go through… and I must admit it was in some ways lacking the comic-book quality I like in superhero movies–where the frame is set up to look like a frame on a comic book page.)

That said, I think there’s a few interesting things going on. The most interesting of all is the stuff about The Mandarin plot. I’m assuming anyone reading  this has seen the movie, so I’ll just say: I know that production timelines and stuff make it unlikely that the film’s version of The Mandarin (quite different from the Marvel comic version of the character, it seems) is any kind of direct comment on Bane from the last (DC-comics franchise) Batman film, The Dark Knight Rises.

Still, it’s difficult not to read the two films in counterpoint: the DC film imagines the materialization of the nightmare that all of America’s post-9/11 feverish rights-surrendering and militarization is supposed to prevent: a real-life, terrorist-led upheaval on American soil, in the form of Bane and his crew.

The terrorist threat in the Marvel film is played by Ben Kingsley, and–here’s why I talked about spoilers at all–after being kind of cheesy and silly for a while, turns out (following a great twist) to be an amusing send-up of exactly the concept that the Batman film takes seriously. In Iron Man 3, the terrorist threat pretends to be abroad, but is in fact on American soil. It presents itself as foreign, but it is domestic; it presents itself as insurrectionist, but it is in fact corporate and political. The apparent bad guy–the terrorist madman–is a drugged-up actor on a cheap home-studio soundstage in Florida… well, when he isn’t bonking random women, or boozing, or nodding off. Kingsley did it pretty much perfectly, considering the material he had to work with.

That, I think, is an interesting comment about the nexus of power-grubbing and profiteering tied up in the war on terror and the various actual wars America has launched since the turn of the century… as well as an indictment of a public fooled by their politicians and corporations. It’s drawn in bold, comic-book colors, and garishly scripted, perhaps, but it’s a comment that deserves to be taken more seriously in the American political scene, except of course that nobody with any real power or stake in the system wants to be seen wanting to talk about that.

So comic book characters have to do it instead. Not to denigrate comic book characters, but… I’ve never seen one nominated for office.

Second: The guy who plays the President in this movie? Weirdly, he’s supposed to be sympathetic (despite a dark secret hiding in his closet of course involving shielding those responsible for an oil spill) but while he doesn’t look that way in other things, he really made me think of Mitt Romney. It was weird.

Third: I really hope that those comments at the end, where Stark talks about Pepper Potts being “fixed up,” refer to his figuring out how to repair the “glitch” in the DNA rewiring she’s undergone, rather than just eradicating the modification to her DNA. Because she was badass at the end, with the heat and the indestructibility, at the end. But the film seemed to be signaling Stark’s return to humanity, and implying Pepper was turned back into a normal human–her original self. Which is too bad.

That said, she did get pretty badass at the end… which kind of made up for her being in damsel-in-distress situations earlier in this film, and in the past. But it’d be nice to see her be so tough that it’s Stark who needs her to rescue him.

Finally: I don’t really get why Stark blew up all his Iron Man suits. They’re freakin’ expensive, and useful tech, and coded only to him, and… I don’t know, it just seemed to be done for the fireworks effect overhead, and I thought Stark was smarter than that… smart enough to know one never knows when having a dozen suits on hand might be handy. I know, I know: the framing monologue suggests he’s moved past it all, and is ready to be done with being a suited-type Iron Man. But… I dunno, one never knows what horrible contingencies might arise.

Maybe it was rich-guy logic. I don’t know. I would have settled for some hint that he was doing it to keep it out of the wrong hands, after seeing what  the bad guys did with the Iron Patriot suit… and I really got a kick out of the whole Iron Patriot/War Machine gag.

Then again, I don’t know why it took him so long to call them to him. I think I’m being too logical about this.

But… it was fun enough that I’d go to see an Iron Man 4… if the rumors centered on a comment by Gwyneth Paltrow that there won’t be one turn out to be false, that is.

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