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Second Chances In Film and Real Life Part 1

September 29, 2013

When Iron Man came out a few years ago I enjoyed the crap out of that movie.  I was never really into Iron Man as a comic character until the advent of The Ultimates, a re-imagining of The Avengers in the re-imagined Marvel universe, the Ultimate Universe.   I think that really changed everything for Marvel comics and set the course for the films.  Actually, I believe that all began when the first X-Men film came out, but then The Ultimates and then Iron Man.  

Anyway, I’m not here to give a history on all that; I thought Iron Man, the first film, was terrific.  There were a couple things I didn’t enjoy, like the improvisational dialogue that had characters talking over each other and making Pepper Potts look like ditzy blonde in some scenes and quite capable in others; that may just be a testament to the skills – or lack thereof – Gwyneth Paltrow possesses in the art of improv because otherwise she’s a brilliant actress (still lovin’ Sliding Doors!!).  

Then Iron Man 2 was announced and I started looking forward to that.  Once it was released and I had a chance to watch it…ugh…I just found myself not caring a whit about the characters at all.  The plot was…I don’t even remember what I thought of the plot.  It just seemed like a remarkable misstep, what with all the talent involved and whatnot.  And the inclusion of Don Cheadle now as Rhodey!  Where was he for the first film?  What went wrong with Iron Man 2?  I don’t know.  All I do know is I watched it once, was sorely disappointed, tried watching it again a couple months ago and couldn’t get past the scene of The Wrestler’s first appearance at the race.  HE can be a terrific actor, too, but not as a super-villain.  Or maybe with the right combo of character, director, story…I dunno…it was just really disappointing.

And so, The Avengers was announced.  It came out and I loved the crap out of it.  I even came to like Iron Man’s character who I wasn’t particularly fond of at first, but he undergoes a genuine transformation throughout the film.  Captain America and the Hulk are my favorite characters in that film, and I didn’t like how he made fun of Cap, nor at first of how he teased Dr. Banner.  But then I read an interesting article about the relationship between Banner and Stark and how similar they really are in the trauma they’ve each faced in their lives.  That was cool.  And ultimately Stark going from self-centered sap to being willing to make the ultimate sacrifice, that was cool.

So then, Iron Man 3 was a certainty by that point and I had nominal hopes for it.  Promotional material started coming out, advanced buzz and such, and I started to get a little more excited.  Then it was released and it got such mixed reviews…some saying it was awesome, but a lot of folks hatin’ on it.  So, I figured I’d just wait until it came out on DVD.  

Now, there was another film that came out this summer that was even more divisive – Man of Steel.  There was some vehement hatred directed toward that little piece of work, but I went to a Saturday matinee and loved it.  I think I – yeah – I wrote about it earlier.

Anywho, last night I finally rented Iron Man 3 and you know what?  I like it.  I see it as him starting out as wanting to be a hero in the first two films but being unable to get over himself.  In The Avengers he’s pushed to new limits and over the course of the third film he actually starts walking in the role of a bona fide hero.  By the end of it there is no question.  

Just in the opening monologue there’s a certain weight and maturity to Stark’s speech that’s been absent from his previous cinematic adventures.  And the new director, Shane Black, doesn’t seem to include much, if any, improvised dialogue.  Sometimes improv is great, sometimes it’s good to stick to a script.  If that is the case in this film, it did a lot for it.  

I read one review in which the critic thinks it discordant that Tony suffers anxiety attacks but is fine in his armor, the most enclosed space possible.  Well, it’s actually clearly demonstrated in the film, that’s the only place where he feels safe.  

And that’s another thing: the events in the Avengers clearly got to him.  The unflappable Tony Stark is undeniably flapped in this go-round of the projector reel (or hard drive spool nowadays).  He has to deal with his mortality and decide what’s better – to live in constant fear or realize that every moment of everyday carries risks to his life – and how either decision affects his relationships.

So I’m glad I gave the Iron Man series another chance.  It’s very enjoyable, gratifying, and has some nifty twists along the way.

And there is a post-credits scene which is refreshing in that it’s not promoting another movie, but simply expands the Marvel Movie universe in a more personable way.

 

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