MCU Rewatchathon April 15th: Iron Man 3 (2013)
Day Seven: 7/19 down!
Enter Phase Two!
Iron Man 3
You start with something pure...something exciting, then come the mistakes...the compromises. It was Tony Stark who ushered us into the Marvel Cinematic Universe so it's only fitting, it's Tony Stark who brings us into Phase Two. Marvel made the decision to briefly break their bi-annual release schedule to give Avengers the proper breathing room it deserved before bringing us the first entry in their next slate of films. Iron Man 3 was a new beginning in a lot of ways, new suits, new villains, new phase, new director. So, does Iron Man 3 measure up?
Javier: The House Party Protocol scene. Seeing all of the suits come in and just showing each of them off and what makes each one unique was an awesome sight.
Antonio: Iron Man 3 has plenty of fun moments but it's hard to not call out the "House Party Protocol" scene. It's not only such a love-letter to the comic fans but it's just so goddamn cool.
One of the AIM Guards after Iron Man aims a repulsor at him:
"Honestly, I hate working here, they're so weird."
James Rhodes (Portrayed by Don Cheadle): "You-You Breath Fire?! Okay."
Iron Man 3 actually has a handful of villains. There's Aldrich Killian, played by Guy Pearce, who serves as the overlying antagonist. Ben Kignsley as Trevor Slattery, The Mandarin, the seemingly big bad who is revealed to be a smoke-screen. On top of them there is also James Badge Dale as Erik Savin, Killians main assassin, and then there's also a plethora of Extremis empowered AIM Agents, some of which actually are major villains in the comics, though in this they simply appear as minor antagonists or canon fodder. For the sake of this discussion we will focus on the big three.
Antonio: He's no Justin Hammer that's for sure but I think Killian is a fine addition to the Anti-Tony Stark Quartet. While he may just be another guy Tony wronged, I think Pearce manages to salvage what could have been a generic bad guy through a truly "creep" performance. He feels like someone who'd believe in the "Friend Zone" and that's very fitting, I mean the dude gave him self double dragon tattoos on his chest, yeesh. It doesn't hurt that due to some clever screen writing, his plan is actually pretty damn good. Also he breathes fire...so...
Javier: I enjoyed Guy Pearce's performance but I felt the character needed a bit more, that being said Killian is still an enjoyable Villian. His powers are cool, he's not a bad guy who wants revenge against someone who wronged him even though Tony did screw him over.
Sure you are...
Trevor Slattery "The Mandarin"
Javier: I've only seen this movie twice (this is my second time seeing it) and at first I hated the Mandarin but watching it now I have a new found enjoyment for the Mandarin like the motive given for the characters attacks are justified but also still really bad and Ben Kingsley's acting is great.
Antonio: Can we talk about The Mandarin for a second? Like, I know this character is a point of contention for fans, a lot of them felt cheated by this reveal. I think I must be in the minority because I LOVED this twist, not only does it draw attention to the racist undertones of the characters conception but it also is such a clever way of introducing a problematic character in the MCU without just ignoring the baggage (looking at you Iron Fist and Doctor Strange). Also, BEN KINGSLEY GUYS, I think this may be in my top five performances in the MCU, I know he overacts it intentionally but goddamn if every word he says in character doesn't send a chill down my spine.
Antonio: If there was an award for best use of screen-time by a minor character in a superhero film, that award would go to James Badge Dale. He manages to pack so much attitude and personality into basically a throw away bad guy. THIS is how you do an evil henchman.
Javier: He's just a henchmen that gets some spotlight but in my opinion isn't that great.
Final Ranking: 7.5/10
Iron Man 3 marks the end (presumably) of the Iron Man film trilogy, and with that it carries an additional weight as well as being the beginning of a new era for the MCU. It has its flaws and its strengths, but what it has more than either of those, is plenty of Easter Eggs.
Alright lets go...
1. While this film is only set a year after the events of The Avengers, Tony has managed to build 35 new suits of armor, he stores these in an underground chamber, which visually is extremely similar to his Hall of Armor in the comics.
2. While Tony has had a "Hall of Armor" throughout all three films, this is the first time it serves a narrative purpose, it is a major facet of the comics and it's exciting to see it fully realized on screen.
3. The current or, newest Armor is the MK 42. The number 42 is a running gag in Marvel Comics and films. It started with the comic Civil War, where the 42nd idea developed by Reed Richards, Tony Stark and Hank Pym was to create a super-human prison housed in the Negative Zone. The joke originates from The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy where the number 42 is revealed to be the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe and everything.
4. The MK 42 in the movie is a prehensile suit, meaning it can break into individual parts and find Tony by tracking mechanical tags embedded in his arm, this is very similar to the Extremis Armor in the comics which after being forced to inject himself with Extremis designed an armor that could come to him from any location.
5. Extremis is a major concept in the movie, though Tony doesn't need it to design this technology. Most of this movies plot is derived from the Extremis arc of Iron Man comics.
6. The first subject we see to fail to "Regulate" is Jack Taggert, identified from his dog togs. In the comics Taggert is actually an Iron Man villain named Firepower and was a major part of the Armor Wars arc.
7. Savin, Killian's right-henchman is a villain in the comics too, by the name of Coldblood, a cyborg-ex SHIELD agent who ended up working for Roxxon as a killer for hire, he was more of an X-Men villain in the comics but fits the corporate-killer-vibe of this film.
8. The Extremis soldier who chases Tony when he's in Tenissee is Ellen Brandt, who in the comics is a love interest for Man-Thing, strangely enough.
9. Killian himself brands his chest with two dragon tattoos on his chest, while this is largely a reference to him breathing a fire, its worth noting the dragons are also designed to resemble Fin Fang Foom, a massive dragon Iron Man has fought in the comics many times, and a character who was considered for the original pitch for Iron Man 3.
10. The Mandarin in the films uses imagery invoking the Ten Rings, which is the organization that abducted Tony in the first film, this was actually always a reference to the comics version of the character who through the use of the ten Makluan Rings, has power over a variety of different elements and magics.
11. It is revealed in the subsequent short film "Hail to the King" that there is a "real" Mandarin in charge of The Ten Rings and he is not happy with Slattery's performance, as he sends an assassin to kill him.
12. It's also worth noting that in the comics the Makluan rings were forged by the alien-race of dragons that Fin Fang Foom belongs to, so the characters have a history of being connected.
13. The Advanced Ideas Mechanics, or AIM, is actually a major antagonist of Iron Man and The Avengers in the comics, they are one of the largest names in super-villain tech.
14. Ho Yinsen, the scientist who would later save Tony Stark's heart from shrapnel in the cave in the Middle East makes an appearance at the conference in Switzerland, this actually lines up with Yinsen's comments in the first Iron Man film. He mentions meeting Tony once before at this very conference but Tony was so drunk that he doesn't blame him for not remembering.
15. Another doctor Tony briefly meets at the conference is Yao Wu, who barely appears in the American release of the film but actually has extended scenes in the Chinese release, he is the physician who preforms Tony's heart surgery at the end of the film.
16. Happy Hogan's injuries are very similar to the injuries he received during the Civil War comics when he was attacked by The Spy Master.
17. Killian mentions Thor's arrival on earth as the end of subtly for criminal enterprise, this a notion mentioned by other villains throughout the MCU, most notably in the first season of Daredevil.
18. Rhodes' rebranding as the Iron Patriot is a reference to Norman Osborn's retrofitted Iron Man suit worn in the comics. He stole the suit from Tony's armory and wore it, calling himself The Iron Patriot as he ran the Dark Avengers during the Dark Reign line of comics.
19. This film heavily implies that Tony has PTSD due to the events of The Battle of New York. He experiences night terrors, vivid flashbacks and anxiety attacks, all conducive with post-traumatic stress.
20. Tony is also obsessed with the notion of the aliens returning, which has lead him to build dozens of suits of armor in order to prepare, these also serve as a distraction from his true trauma.
21. This film marks the start of a common-theme for the MCU's third outings, the title character loses their signature weapon (Tony's arc-reactor/suits, Captain America's SHIELD, Thor's Hammer).
22. This also marks the start of a running gag in the Marvel Phase-Two films, where in every film, a character loses a limb as a long-form reference to The Empire Strikes Back. This was started as a nod to Disney acquiring Lucas Films. In this film Tony cuts off Killian's arm during the final fight.
23. As part of Tony's "House Party Protocol" we see a number of the suits hes worked on, including but not limited to: The Red Snapper, Shotgun, Bones, Gemini (Later renamed Starboost), The Silver Centurion, Heartbreaker, Striker, Hammerhead and Igor.
24. Starboost and Igor both serve as nods to future Stark-Tech. Starboost is his first attempt a suit capable of inter-stellar travel, most likely developed due to the Alien invasion in The Avengers. Igor is a heavy lifting suit, much larger than any other Iron Man armor, possibly a precursor to The Hulkbuster suit as that suit is marked MK 44.
25. At the end of this film Tony moves out of his destroyed home in Malibu, presumably moving into Avengers Tower.
26. Tony uses a SHIELD Database to access reports on The Mandarin.
27. JARVIS seems to have developed more of a personality in the film, implying that Tony has upgraded his AI, he also uses the suits more autonomously, hinting at his next big idea.
28. The assembled forces of his armory is referred to off-screen as The Iron Legion, a name that will be reused in Age of Ultron for his peace-keeping crowd-control androids.
29. Tony no longer has the arc reactor in his chest, as far as continuity goes, that's a pretty big note, from here on out, if you haven't seen the prior Marvel Movies moving forward, you may have unanswered questions.
30. Bruce Banner is seen "counseling" Tony at the end of the credits, implying that Banner has also been staying in Avengers Tower since the events of The Avengers.
31. Pepper Potts using the armor during the Malibu attack and again during the final battle when charged with Extremis is a loose reference to her role in the comics, where she too becomes an armored superhero named Rescue.
Javier: Watching Iron Man 3 again really did change my perspective on the first time I saw it. Before I didn't know what to feel about the movie. I didn't hate it but I didn't love it, Now I can say that I like Iron Man 3. I think it's better than Iron Man 2 and it almost comes close to Iron Man.
To me this film is just as strong as Iron Man's first outing. This film does such a good job of pushing the MCU forward by declaring that actions will have consequences and despite each film existing separately, that connective tissue will always be important. Tony has changed a lot since Iron Man, and looking at him now its easy to see how Iron Man 3 was the mid-point for that change, add a truly great villain plot, some good humor, awesome armors and you've got a film that does a lot of things better than its predecessors. Only problem is the kid-sidekick and the lame opening scene...and Maya Hansen...ugh.
Final Score: 8/10
After the Credits:
Iron Man 3 actually doesn't have a mid-credit scene, it's one of the last Marvel Movies for this to be the case, and similarly it's end credit tag also isn't a direct teaser for the next upcoming film, it's simply a fun gag.
Javier: It was a fun one not much to say
Antonio: One of the weaker ACS's in my opinion but hey, it's a funny joke and it's cool to see Bruce's whereabouts post-Avengers.
Final Score: 5/10
Right under the wire with this post, oof, tomorrow we should be back on schedule, I'll be updating this and the Avengers post with Javier's thoughts so make sure you go back and check that out as it will update all the finale scores! Tomorrow's discussion will be about the second MCU film of Phase-Two: Thor The Dark World (2013)
See you all tomorrow!
May Grodd Deliver Us.