I was never a huge fan of comic books – they’re just not my medium. I do, though, really enjoy the characters and plots that come from the genre. Like any good sci-fi, the method of slightly twisting the rules of the recognisable world is an easy way of exploring a thought experiment & having fun. Because of this, I really like comic book adaptations. Movies are a medium I enjoy and seeing these larger than life characters on a big screen with big bangs and explosions generally makes me a happy boy.

As long as they’re done well, that is; like Batman Begins, or Iron Man 1, or the 1978 Superman movie. As such, I have been excited for a long time about Iron Man 3, one of my favourite flawed characters, in a techy/geeky franchise – it appeals directly to me. I’d enjoyed Avengers Assemble and had high hopes for this latest Marvel film. Last night I headed out with my flatmate and another friend to see it in 3D.

It was not done well. In fact, it was so poor that they should now take Tony Stark’s silly suit, put the 1983 Superman in it, cover it respectfully with Batman’s redundant black cape & dump them all together in the Marianas trench with Optimus Prime.

If you haven’t yet seen Iron Man 3, this following post is full of spoilers; I would suggest that if you’ve not seen the movie to not read on, but as my recommendation is that you don’t see the film anyway, it won’t matter.

I think this film happened in a different universe to the rest of the canon and the whole film was riddled with internal inconsistencies, goofs and just utter crap.

Here’s just some of the reasons why Iron Man 3 left me with a sour taste in my mouth:

Where was Shield? When the Mandarin’s ‘bombs’ started going off, why didn’t the president just call up Nick Fury? After all, that team just beat the crap out of a bunch of Gods! This is just a light terrorist action.

Since when can Stark suddenly can have surgery to remove the shrapnel from near his heart? The entire premise of the first two movies was that this was an unchangeable plot device. Stark needs the arc reactor powering the magnet, without it, he dies. Suddenly the rules change to make for a convenient tidying up at the end? This is a lame deus ex machina.

The suits in this movie kept falling apart. Seriously. Just tap them and they collapse into little bits, repeatedly. Why did they not do that in any previous movies? These suits that in the last movie resisted the power of the attack of Gods, suddenly can’t cope with Killian and his soldiers doing a bit of hot-hand Reiki massage.

How did Killian apparently not know where Tony Stark’s house was? He’s been stalking him for over 13 years, knows where he works, covets his girlfriend etc. We know Stark has been holding parties there for all and sundry for years. But this goofy baddie needs Stark to go on TV and hand out his zip code before he can send the helicopters over?

Halfway through the movie, Stark starts building gadgets with remnants and tack from the hardware store. It felt like the A-Team without the soundtrack or Mr T. At the time he does this he has no workshop and is out on the road in his car. Where/how exactly did he make these gubbins?

There’s a scene where Iron Man is rescuing people falling from a plane. The scene feels like it’s about 5 minutes long. If that plane were at about 30,000 feet and Stark started collecting people immediately, at 175 feet per second, (human terminal velocity), he’s got at most about two and a half minutes. Yet he’s dawdling about, having a chat with folk and cracking jokes on the way down. It was so slow I almost fell asleep. Also, on the way down, Iron Man suddenly reveals he has this new superpower ‘You grab their arm and I’ll lock your hand closed’. What? Where did that come from? Has he always had this power? Why didn’t he use it before?

Right at the end of the movie, Stark and Rhodes go into the big end of level baddie battle almost unarmed, with no suits. When they find themselves pinned down with no hope of survival, suddenly Stark reveals he has a huge stash of remote control Iron Man suits that he can have Jarvis send to him. Jarvis finds time to sarcastically ask ‘are you sure?’, before magically getting the suits from Malibu to Miami (about 4,000 miles) almost instantly.

Where were these suits, given that the house was previously completely trashed by helicopters with missiles? If there was a missile-proof panic room that Stark stored the suits in, why didn’t he just go there when the house was being attacked? Why didn’t he and Rhodes get the suits sooner; why go in to rescue Pepper and the President unarmed when they could’ve had suits? Why not tell his buddy Rhodes that he had this ace up his sleeve before sending them in to a gun fight in just t-shirts at risk to themselves and the captives?

Given that so much of this movie was about how Stark coped without the suit, stripping him back as a human being and making him more vulnerable and edgy, understanding Stark qua human, not qua Iron Man, we then find out that the only way he can cope is to have 40-odd suits come rescue him. This is just plain lazy and makes a mockery of the entire plot.

When the suits do turn up, Stark refuses to give Rhodes a suit, saying that they’re ‘coded to him’, despite the fact that in the first movie, Rhodes steals a suit from Stark with no problem and  in this movie, Pepper twice uses a suit and then Stark puts a suit on Killian. Either he was lying to Rhodes, putting him in unnecessary danger, or doesn’t know what his own machines can do.

When the suits are called, why couldn’t the Mark 42 suit get through the kid’s garage door? It can fight super-strong bad guys, but a rotten wooden garage door takes it ten minutes to break down?

Jarvis has been a fun character through this series of movies – a comic sidekick and useful for explaining technicalities. But in this movie, Jarvis gets cognition like never before and has become a central requirement to rescue Stark. It is really disappointing, taking away from Stark as a character, instead of adding to him, in the same way Dr Who has become nothing without the sonic screwdriver, now Iron Man is nothing without Jarvis.

Stark and Rhodes appear for the end of film fight scene at the baddies’ secret ship lair without ever being told where it actually is. This information suddenly appears out of nowhere. My flatmate thinks that The Mandarin knew where the lair was and may have told them off-screen, but this makes no sense – why would Killian tell this stooge English actor where his secret base is, after telling him little else?

When they do get to the ship, there’s suddenly a brief unwarranted and unexpected diatribe from Killian explaining to the President that the ship was in some historic oil spill which made Killian angry and that revenge for this apparent eco-disaster is what the entire movie has been about. After that short tirade, it is never mentioned again. Why? Isn’t it enough for Killian to just be a plain old psychopath? This extra speech added nothing and just muddied the waters. Are we meant to sympathise with Killian as some eco-warrior now?

The enemy super-soldiers behaved inconsistently through the movie. The rules are just made up as the film goes on. Either they die when you shoot them, or they don’t. Either Stark can fight one barehanded and come away with bruises, or they can slice clean through an Iron Man suit. Either you splat them and they’re dead, or they can regenerate like Killian at the end from being utterly blown to smithereens. At the end, Iron Man blows up Killian and he comes right back like the bad Terminator in T2. So Stark puts Killian in the Iron Man suit and blows that up; apparently with no substantive difference in process, yet this is sufficient to kill the baddie. Quite how, we’re not told.

There is no explanation as to why some people blow up when injected with the extremis virus. This is just accepted. We’re never told why it is fine for some subjects and not others. If it is truly unknown, why would Killian have ever taken it? How long does it take to blow up? Taggart at the Chinese restaurant blew up in about 5 seconds, yet Pepper lasted a significant period of time. If Pepper might have blown up in 5 seconds, what use as leverage would that have been for Killian? What if she just survived, wouldn’t Killian know that this would make Stark’s girlfriend super-powerful? Why would he do that, rationally?

How did Pepper just get cured with no explanation? She took the drug and was ‘entering phase 2’ (we’re never told what this means) and looks to have been about to die, then after the fight is over, is immediately just fine. No explanation, nothing. Just some quip from Stark about how he can sort it out now because last time he thought about it, he was drunk.

There were a bunch of key, but undeveloped characters. Maya, Dr Wu, Savin? They drop in but with no development, no empathy, no characterisation. It’s just lazy scriptwriting and leaves the viewer uninterested and not bought into the characters. What was the relationship between Maya and Dr Wu or between Maya and Killian? She nearly turns, but then doesn’t, then does, then doesn’t again. She’s in cahoots with Killian but then not… totally random. Was Dr Wu involved or not?

This felt like Marvel trying to do a zombie movie. If Avengers was their aliens movie, then this was Night of the Living Dead. Stick to comic book stuff. What next, a Western? Film Noir?

The soundtrack was awful. Where was Black Sabbath or AC/DC? You can’t replace rock giants with Eiffel 65.

Shane Black was entirely the wrong director. He writes comedy action films, not blockbuster comic book adaptations. There were some funny scenes but they were just one liners. This is supposed to be an epic conclusion, not a comedy romp. Jon Favreau understood the characters and the viewers; created something great and clearly saw the big picture as well as appreciating the geeky details. Black clearly only cares about poop-jokes and big explosions.

There is a truly awful post-credit scene with new Bruce Banner actor Mark Ruffalo. This scene is very confusing – it’s a new actor so it takes a while to figure out what’s going on, then when you do work it out, you realise that it’s not funny and not a trailer for anything new. And we waited through about 10 minutes of credits for it. If I wasn’t angry enough leaving the movie before this, I was after!

But these are only the reasons I dislike Iron Man 3. There are two reasons I genuinely hated it:

The film’s treatment of mental health was awful. Stark is clearly suffering with something akin to PTSD. This is made a joke of and Stark, our hero, tries to be all strong and manly about it. He isn’t talking to his partner about it and she’s being less than loving and supportive of him. This is not demonstrating good practice or painting people who need to get help in a good light. This message is to act like a shit to those around you whilst trying to battle through mental illness without support. This is not a good message.

When we do think that Stark has gone to seek help, to talk to a doctor about his problems, we find that this is just a joke scene, with Mark Ruffalo as Dr Bruce Banner (the Hulk) falling asleep as Stark unloads to him and then saying ‘I’m not that kind of doctor.’ No shit you’re not. Stark should be seeing a professional, instead of putting Pepper and himself in danger. I wonder whether the anti-psychiatrist cult movement in Hollywood nobbled the script.

This message of is irresponsible and stupid. If for no other reason, because of that I would recommend that nobody watch this movie.

But then there’s the icing on the fucking cake.

Fucking acupuncture fucking needles.

Tony Stark, man of science, genius, mechanic, inventor, rationalist, all round skeptic and (literally) battler of Gods, during surgery to remove his shrapnel, uses fucking woo-merchant acupuncture needles. This anti-science, this dangerous woo, this utter bollocks alternative therapy pseudo-chinese wankery is being presented by Marvel’s Mr Science, lending it legitimacy and credibility.

So for that, Mr Stark, I’m taking your badge, your suit, your geek credentials and your big-screen presence and I’m dumping it. Fuck you and your woo-bollocks Tom Cruise level crap suggesting how people with PTSD are better off using fucking acupuncture than a trained mental health professional. Fuck you.

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