Confession time: I love superhero movies.
I love superhero movies because: A) They’re awesome. Things explode. Bad guys happen and are killed or banished to the end of time (e.g. Loki). The good guys always triumph. B) Superhero movies are a thrilling and entertaining way to explore what defines and unites humanity in all our ups and downs, pros and cons, goods and evils – and there’s a lot in between. I love watching characters fall into temptation, shift from one side to the other, get drawn in and out of their own personal demons, proving that everyone, no matter how superhuman, is deeply and seriously flawed.
At least, good super hero movies do this. The bad ones – well, they don’t really do much of anything. And that’s vaguely how I felt the 2nd Iron Man was, along with the Dark Knight Returns, along with Thor, along with Spider-Man 3 – the list goes on.
But Iron Man 3, in the humble opinion of one first-time movie reviewer, managed to claw its way somewhere to the top of the heap, in a powerful (but never too serious) investigation into Tony Stark’s psyche. In this movie, we see much less of Iron Man than we do of Tony Stark himself (played with charisma and flair by Robert Downey Jr.), which I would argue makes it a stronger movie. Instead of focusing endlessly on the power and invincibility of the flat, emotionless robot that is Iron Man, Tony is torn from his impermeable shield and forced to do battle as a normal human, rather than as a suit of armor.
It’s not so much that Tony is such a complex, interesting character – he’s not, really, there’s nothing about him that takes much acting skill to portray – but we get to see a human side of him that is comical, endearing, and passionate. Not to mention broken. Tony’s PTSD symptoms (you’d have to have seen The Avengers to know why he suffers from PTSD, or something like it, I’m not a psychologist) give him an added layer of depth that makes him just damaged enough to be a human and a superhero at the same time.
The villain, unfortunately, leaves something to be desired, and Guy Pierce’s stellar acting skills are somewhat squandered in this movie. Unlike in the Dark Knight trilogy, where the villains are every bit as strong, if not stronger, than the hero of the series, Tony Stark is the flagship here. Gwyneth Paltrow, who I normally dislike, does a not-bad job in this flick, and I like that the writers gave her a bit of superhero flair at the end as well.
Ultimately I had a great time watching this film. It caught me early on and carried me through, the tone just serious enough to be thought-provoking, but it never overwhelmed the so-called ‘entertainment value’. I definitely thought this one was better than the second, and possibly better than the first as well.
Do you like superhero movies? Why or why not? What do you like – or dislike – about the Iron Man series?
I’m looking forward to seeing Iron Man 3, and I agree with your superhero movie assessment. Every once in a while it’s nice to sit back and watch a movie where, in the end, the good guys win, the bad guys lose, and humanity is happy and safe with (almost) no room or reason to question the positive outcome beyond the knowledge that there will be a sequel. I enjoy more complex and realistic movies as well, but the idealist in me occasionally craves the satisfaction that superhero movies usually provide.
I agree! I also enjoy flicks that have a lot more subtlety and depth to them, but just as often I like to sit back and relax with a simple, traditional (and almost mythological) superhero movie. Thanks for commenting!