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A Deeply Flawed Film Which Decimates the Source Material
on 30 January 2014
Iron Man 3 (IM3) is a somewhat tricky film to review, as, looked at in isolation, it's not a terrible movie, nor a great one, it's simply okay, but has some smart dialogue some decent action sequences and the odd good twist. However, you can't looked at it in isolation, neither what has gone before in the film franchise, nor, crucially, from the source material.
For the casual viewer what IM3 does in it's limping away from what has gone before on screen is uncomfortable. Yes, the film nods vaguely in the direction of the first two and at The Avengers, but it never truly handles them well. It's really just a cursory glance at what has gone before in order that it can tell it's own story. That would be fine, truly fine, if the story it wanted to tell was worth it. But it isn't the story of IM3 (nerd rage + vengeance = Tony's screwed) is poor. The jokes are okay, but hardly worth the cost by themselves. Indeed, without the brilliance in a can which is Robert Downey Jr. I suspect that it would have been a disaster.
The biggest problem is Shane Black's utter disregard for the source material. The very particular run of comics from which this film was hewn (the run of six following the extremis storyline by Warren Ellis) is one of the best in the whole of Iron Man. It combines excellent writing, fascinating political, philosophical and moral arguments and some quite brilliant action. It presents us with a different type of villain, one who's motivations make a whole lot more sense that that which Guy Pierce was given (Lord above I feel sorry for Pierce in this role). I mean why bother telling the Extremis story if you're going to do this with it? Why on earth do we need to use Extremis at all? Any macguffin would do. So why use Extremis which is so much more than that? It honestly saddens me, as if it had been done properly this would have been head and shoulders the best film in the franchise. Deeply troubling with an horrifically sharp edge, but brilliant.
It would seem though that Shane Black doesn't give a damn about any concept which the audience might find difficult to grasp so he gave us this meh-mess of a movie, with some sharp dialogue and a couple of decent action scenes.