Kraig Taylor-Bryant returns to the Marvel Universe to continue his look at another of the "solo" films of the characters from the upcoming Avengers Infinity War with Iron Man 3 (spoilers)...
So here I am at the first Disney Marvel character, or at least funded by Disney to begin with. You may be wondering why I chose to write about the third Iron Man film, and not the epic first film that started off the true fandom for the Disney marvel universe, or even the controversial Iron Man two, to give my own varying opinions on different aspects of the film. Well, I felt that Iron Man 3 brought a message that the other films didn’t. I may be hated on the internet for saying this, but I believe that Iron Man 3 would have made the best character introduction in comparison to the first film. Allow me to elaborate.
So this film, straight off the bat, gives us a common theme throughout its runtime. We hear the words of Robert Downey Jr, as the famous comic book character Iron Man/Tony Stark, that “we create our own demons”. This instantly makes me think that this film is going to have some kind of moral to it and Tony is somehow going to understand, at the end of the film, what his father meant when he told that to him. So we then hear some music of the past [Lou Bega’s Mambo Number 5 – Ed] and we see Tony as a younger, more selfish person, who is just trying to have a good time. During this scene that is set in 1999, we see the character Ho Yinsen who, if you remember, helped Tony escape the cave in the first film by assisting him in making his first suit. It’s little nod backs like that, that hint that this may not be a time that Tony even remembers as Tony himself said that he did not remember meeting Yinsen and this would be the same night in which he meets a man, that will, eventually embody his “demon”. I personally think that the “we create our own demons” quote is spectacular and it is true in some cases of real life; if you’re in an argument with someone, you are creating your own demon by continuing to argue with them when you have the option to resolve it. Anyway, on this same night, he meets a man who has an idea to pitch to Tony, and, after Tony promises the guy that he will meet him on the roof at a certain time and then doesn’t show up, he, as a result, creates his own demon.
We then go back to the present day in which Tony is meddling with his tech and, from this, we are informed that Tony’s not been getting any sleep. His tech is starting to negatively affect him, not physically as it did in Iron Man 2, but in fact, mentally. And, after the turn of events in which he basically cries for help to this kid through the drawing he was meant to be signing for him and in fact writes ‘help me’ on, he then proceeds to state that it couldn’t possibly ‘get any worse.’ This is a little annoying, as it’s kind of a cliché, but the film ties together nicely in resolving all of these issues so, as you bear with the film, it starts to piece together more neatly.
Not long after, we’re introduced to the “mandarin” who is supposedly the leader of a terrorist group and the writing for him, as both a cover villain and as a villain in general, by the writers of this film was so unique in the fact that he refers to himself as similar to people in the real world and everyday objects as things to represent what America is. Such as when he calls himself a teacher, as he believes he is teaching the president a lesson, of course we later realise that this is a cover up for a bigger conspiracy but we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.
So we later on, after meeting the future villain again after he visits Pepper as a supposed friend, we see Pepper return to Tony’s home from work to find that Tony seems to be wearing the suit in the house. When it’s revealed that he’s not physically there, this shows him as seeing himself as still actually there when it is just the robot. This is the first sign of him seeing himself as Iron Man through, simply, the suit. And, since he truly believes throughout the three films that he is Iron Man, then he wants to work on these suits as much as possible. So we soon see how things start to get personal as Happy gets injured when he is investigating the man who went to meet Pepper and is following one of the people that work for him. He is led to a place of an explosion of one of the ‘test subjects’ of the villain who explodes, and we instantly realise that this is not any normal terrorist attack, so we already know something that the other characters do not. This, by the way, is a technique that often keeps me watching when it comes to any TV or film as you begin rooting for the characters who are trying to figure out what is going on.
Tony is clearly angered by the attack and he gives his address on TV to get whoever these terrorists are to come for him, so that he can finish them to simply get revenge. This allows us to see a slightly darker side of Tony that we don’t see as much in the previous Iron Man films. So Tony makes this arrogant decision and his house gets attacked by these people with helicopters that shoot out missiles. If I were them I would have brought more than three missiles, but oh well. As the first one hits the house it comes as a surprise, to not only Tony, but Pepper and also this woman who we saw him dating in the 1999 flashback who just now decides to show up again (and the fact that Tony can’t remember her as he relies on tech now to remind him of things, is another significant point that he relies on his suit and tech a little too much). So after this explosion happens, Tony calls the suit and it comes to Pepper by accident. We previously saw that technology scares Pepper after one of Tony’s suits had scared her when she was sleeping and, in the scene following this one, in which everyone thinks Tony is dead, she uses Tony’s helmet to emotionally comfort her and it does so in a way in which she doesn’t expect, because he has left a message for her in which he apologises. The fact that it’s his voice through his suit is another sign that he sees himself as the suit, which I think is another clever touch.
The film progresses from a state in which Tony cannot cope without his suit to when he’s ok not using his suit. I find this very interesting because it kind of reminds me of how when people are trying to get themselves off of a certain addiction, they usually do so in stages of using the substance less, and this seems to be what Tony is doing, without really wanting to. So he first properly separates from the suit, when it saves him from drowning in the ocean surrounding his house and takes him to some place thousands of miles away, this leads him to meet a kid that helps him in finding out a little more information about test subjects that were radioactive of sorts. He runs into a few of the subjects and the kid helps save Tony which kind of gives kids a relatable character at this point, as they would probably help Tony Stark fight the bad guys if they had the chance. Then the kid helps Tony by charging his suit. What I think is most significant about the kid is the fact that he refers to Tony as Iron Man’s mechanic, and in a way, he’s kind of helping with the reminder to Tony that Tony is not the suit, thereby symbolising the separation further, being just the man and not a metal suit. After this Tony starts to respond in a similar manner, kind of hinting that he’s starting to accept this, although we don’t really hear any of that for the rest of the film, until the end where he gives his own idea of who he really is, and who he now recognises himself as. There’s also the fact that he uses the kid instead of technology to get some local information and this further shows that he doesn’t need to use the tech to be Iron Man. When he gets the location for the “mandarin”, because his suit is not fully charged, he uses household items from a shop to infiltrate the mansion that the man is living in, and the fact that he does this near successfully, also shows that he doesn’t really need the suit. What’s interesting is that, before he uses these items, he panics, because he feels like he needs his tech, a lot like someone with an addiction might act in a similar situation, and learns to deal with it after the kid tells him to build something.
It’s later revealed that the mandarin is just a cover up for the real villain which kind of fits into the ‘we create our own demons’ quote as it is Killian (the true villain) that created the mandarin to “give evil a face”. It’s also interesting that he is turning people into something that looks very much like they are demons, which emphasises the theme, keeps the plot stronger and helps it fit better.
What I also find interesting that is shown throughout this film, is the theme of desperation. We hear Killian speak of how Tony gave him desperation by not meeting him on the roof in ‘99. We also later see evidence of desperation in the vice president, in which he decides to not do anything when the president’s life is at risk, in return for his daughter having the opportunity to gain a second leg which it seems she was born without. There’s also the fact that, later in the film, Tony loses Pepper, or thinks he has. It’s at that point that he almost proves Killian right in that desperation is key to achieving the unimaginable, as it causes him to act in a violent way that helps him beat Killian, so if you think about it, Killian’s message still lives on through Tony. We also realise how much Tony has changed after being taken back to ‘99, when he was a bit rude to people and a horrible, corrupt kind of weapons developer, and now he’s grown into someone who cares enough to use his brain to figure out how to save as many lives as possible. So it’s nice to see how Tony has developed in terms of his personality, as well as his mental condition, which also strengthens my belief that this film would make a terrific first film for the character of Tony Stark purely for how much he develops as a person. We also see Pepper as an extremely strong female character in this film when she seems to come back as one of those mutant fire people and manages to finish off Killian.
Tony keeps switching between suits, which also helps in my point that he doesn’t belong in a suit as he is, already, Iron Man and it kind of makes you realise that he may lose himself if he continues to stay in these suits for too long. And we see how he so desperately wants to be in a suit during the fight which brings me back to believing that he truly is desperate to belong in the suit, when really, he already does, and that’s why he needs to move somewhere else, to the real world. In the final scene where he blows up the suits for Pepper, it shows us that he’s realised who he is and he wants to be his true self for Pepper. And then in one of the final moments of the film, he throws the metal chest piece into the water after he has an opportunity to prove that he doesn’t need to be a machine or look like something abnormal to be Iron Man, because people already define him. And the fact that he is showing that he loves Pepper and is willing to give up his suits for her, proves to us and himself that he really is human, but the human that he is, not the suit that he wears, is Iron Man.
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Images - IMDb