As the movie ended, most viewers, seemingly unaware of the tradition with super hero films, particularly anything featuring a Marvel Comics character, chose to get up and leave before the inserted Easter egg at the end of the credits. Were viewers so anxious to leave the movie theatre because Iron Man 3 was unbearable to watch or worse, because they just didn’t care with the whole genre?
Marvel's Iron Man 3 adapted a storyline from the mid-2000s and used it as a way to introduce newer concept of the digital embodiment of Iron Man instead of favouring his mechanical and industrial aspects. Here Iron Man is more about the new way of understanding technology than the suit that protects the man, the way the first Iron Man movie was.
Tony Stark aces an old opponent he dismissed over a decade ago who creates Advance Idea Mechanics (AIM), an old super villain group from Marvel Comics. However, the villains, headed by Aldrich Killian, create the persona of the Mandarin, another old Iron Man villain from the comics. The Mandarin threatens the United States and Iron Man, attack his bodyguard Happy Hogan, after which Tony Stark swears vengeance.
Most of the movie featured an armour-less Tony Stark. The extent to which Stark was partly armoured and vulnerable was so great that Iron Man really was not the star of this film, Stark, and of course, actor Robert Downey Junior was. Here, technology malfunctions continually, whether it is wielded by Stark or his opponents. I found that theme of unreliable technology far more impressive and engaging than seeing a whole movie of Iron Man fighting equally powered bad guys.
Speaking of equally powered bad guys, what exactly is the power limits of the Extremis-infected mercenaries that fought Iron Man? They seem to take all levels of damage and how one destroys them was haphazard and unclear. I have heard that there is a controversy about the alleged sacking of the character of the Mandarin in this film. Spoiler alert.
The Mandarin is just a drugged actor pretending to be the front face of the evil that plagues Iron Man. In the comics, the Mandarin is one of Iron Man’s fiercest and oldest nemeses. But he is also a Fu Manchu archetype with magical rings who reeks of Asian racism and stereotypes from an older era. I’m glad that Iron Man 3’s crew used the character as a joke and did not feel compelled to be beholden to the character’s past.
I really liked watching this less than perfect man called Tony Stark who relied on the help of a kid to pull through, when Jarvis, his most trusted technological assistant went offline and could no longer help him. Other issues not completely resolved in this film are Stark’s post traumatic experience fighting aliens in New York City with the Avengers. That was an important touch that was brought back in the epilogue most audience members missed by leaving the theatre as soon as the credits ended.
I will never understand why people are so in a hurry to leave a movie theatre once the credits start rolling. For me, the credits are as much part of the whole movie. It’s of course a bonus when there is something offered when they end. While Iron Man 2 was about how much Tony Stark was an analogue to Steve Jobs, Iron Man 3 was about how technology is deficient and even the best armed men, such as Tony Star k or Aldrich Killian ultimately are still humans, no matter how much extensions their bodies have. Iron Man 3 was about the human under the armour more than the high tech mechanized fighter. Perhaps that’s why so many of my fellow audience members were so eager to leave the theatre when faced with a vulnerable man.