monday morning movie club

The Mandarin, That Little Boy, and Hot Pepper: Let’s Talk About Iron Man 3

Photo: Marvel

After notching the biggest opening weekend of all time last summer with The Avengers, Disney achieved the second biggest this past weekend with Iron Man 3. (We can only imagine what records 2015’s Star Wars Episode VII — also a Disney film — will break.) And thus does 2013’s Summer Movie Season begin — with a bang equal to a dozen Iron Man suits exploding in the sky like so many Macy’s fireworks. Speaking of, so many Iron Man suits. But so little Tony Stark in an Iron Man suit. We know you all have opinions you’d like to share about the movie, so please do so in the comments below. In the meantime, a couple thoughts to prime the pump:

Did we all like the way the Mandarin was handled?
There are so few genuine surprises in tentpole films these days that it was an absolute delight when Ben Kingsley walked out of that Miami mansion bathroom post-dump, spouting a Cockney accent that amounted to Sexy Beast dialed down 50 percent. For once, we’re thankful for movie trailers — those for Iron Man 3 had built up such an aura of menace around the Mandarin (Kingsley speaking portentously in an accent that amounted to Sneakers dialed down 50 percent) that we expected him simply to be another menacing be-robed villain. Wonderfully, that was not to be, though we wish there had been more Kingsley. Whether or not Guy Pearce’s Aldrich Killian was a better bad guy than the hypothetical Mandarin, we’ll leave it to you to discuss. (And whether or not the film completely wastes a major villain from the Iron Man comic books, many of you probably can speak to this better than we can.)

And what about that ending? Quick resolution much?
Pepper Potts is injected with Extremis, survives a fall that would have killed anyone else, defeats Killian, and is now essentially a fiery superhero. Holy cow. Incredible potential for future films. Proof that there can indeed be consequences in superhero movies. We got ourselves a Hot Pepper, people! Where can the series go from … oh wait, she undergoes surgery to counteract Extremis and we are told this in the span of one and half sentences of voice-over. Okay? (No, not okay.)

The Contrived Only Living (Scientist) Boy in Tennessee
After his Malibu pad is destroyed, the Iron Man suit flies Tony Stark to the last location he told JARVIS of, a small-town in Tennessee. Alone and with his suit all effed up, it appears all hope is lost for Tony. Until he walks his way into a shed next to the first home he sees. Luckily, said shed houses the laboratory of a young boy who was coincidentally a Stark fan boy and a budding inventor. (Kids these days love their laboratory-sheds, right?) Was anyone else bothered by how contrived that was? You just know the studio was like, “Wouldn’t it be fun if Tony Stark had a sassy little boy to yuck around with for the entire second act?” Sure, the kid was cute, and who doesn’t like watching RDJ be super mean to children (there is no one who doesn’t like this), but it says something that in a movie where Guy Pearce literally breathes fire, the most unbelievable character is a magical (script-wise, not actual-wise) little boy.

The Science Bros Are Back (and Sleepy)!
Not surprisingly (this is a Marvel movie), there was a post-credits scene. Surprisingly, it was basically live-action slash fiction. Last month, Mark Ruffalo told us he was oblivious to the “Science Bros” phenomenon, but, boy, he didn’t act oblivious in the scene in which we learn that the film’s voice-over had been Stark recounting the events to Bruce Banner. We see that Banner is asleep, however, because, as he explains, he’s not that type of doctor. No, Banner is not a psychologist — he’s just a Science Bro. The scene just needed dimmer lighting and a smooth-funk soundtrack. We’ll wait for the DVD release for the inevitable scene remix.

Let’s Talk About Iron Man 3