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4 reasons why 'Iron Man 3' was a horrible start to Marvel's Phase 2

by Richard Hall Modified: May 7, 2013 at 12:45 pm •  Published: May 3, 2013

“Iron Man 3″ hit theaters today and will likely make a couple hundred million bucks this weekend because, well, it’s a superhero movie, and superhero movies are like gold these days.

The Moore Warren Theatre took my money today so I could sit for 150 minutes through what I consider a horrible start to Marvel’s Phase 2 of movies. One small side of me liked the movie, because that side is a huge comic book fan who has read the source material for “Iron Man 3.” The other larger side, though, was bored, disappointed and thought the movie jumped the shark a handful of times.

(Warning: Spoilers for “Iron Man 3″ begin here.)

Let’s start with the the fact that Marvel is…

4. Messing too much with secondary characters without consequence

She gets powers, guys. POWERS!
She gets powers, guys. POWERS!

There comes a time in every superhero franchise where studios feel they have to outdo the previous movie, and that’s the time where studios begin messing things up. I’m not talking about the formula, but I am talking about overdoing things.

“Iron Man” was an almost-perfect superhero movie. “Iron Man 2″ was pretty bad. “Iron Man 3″ is also pretty bad, partially because Marvel is messing with secondary characters way too much, and it doesn’t amount to anything.

Pepper Potts, Tony Stark’s love interest and longtime friend, ends up getting powers in “Iron man 3.” Yeah, powers. She’s kidnapped by one of Tony’s rivals, is restrained and injected with Extremis, which could potentially kill her if her body doesn’t accept it.

Potts’ body accepts it, she gets super strong and can regenerate faster than Wolverine. She ends up saving the day and, in the very next scene, Tony is explaining to us via voiceover that he figured out how to remove Extremis and put Pepper back to normal.

So, for a whole three minutes, Pepper Potts is a powerful character. And that’s it. That’s the end of it.

Why? Seriously, why? Why is this in the movie? It serves no purpose other than to look cool. It would’ve been much better had there been actual consequences to Pepper’s new abilities, like maybe she can’t control them and Stark is forced to either put her down or somehow put her away.

It’s also too over the top, and that’s hard for me to say being a comic book fan who knows this is a movie based on a comic book. For a movie, though, that’s supposed to appeal to mass audiences and not just comic fans, it’s too over the top. We’ve got all of these super-powered people in the final battle which follows the large twist in the movie, and now Pepper has the ability to kill almost every single Avenger.

It reminds me way too much of “X-Men: The Last Stand,” in that “Iron Man 3″ tries to do too much when it didn’t need to. The filmmakers should’ve left Pepper alone, and should have tightened the story a bit more.

But messing with secondary characters isn’t even the worst thing about the movie. There’s something that beats it:

3. The kid sidekick

Unless he/she is there from the get-go (this only works sometimes), filmmakers should never introduce the kid sidekick in a sequel. I don’t care if he’s in the comic or not, the kid sidekick is a bad idea. Need more proof? Here are movies that had kid sidekicks:

Some might get onto me for throwing “Sidekicks” in there, but let’s be real: If the movie had been all about Chuck Norris being awesome, I wouldn’t be complaining. Yeah, tossing the sidekick out completely eliminates the movie as a whole, but it was a horrible movie, so deal with it.

The worst “Indiana Jones” movie is “The Temple of Doom,” and even though the hilarious gadget-wielding kid in “Goonies” was awesome in “Goonies,” he was annoying in “Temple of Doom.”

And then there’s “Cop and a Half.” ‘Nuff said.

The idea of a kid sidekick in a movie is a lazy one. I get its use in “Iron Man 3,” showing that Tony needs help with (no kidding) battling his anxiety and getting his Iron Man suit up and running again. But, in the movie, the entire point of the sidekick is thrown out the window when he reminds Tony that “Hey, why don’t you just build a new suit? Because you did it in a desert wasteland, and at least in Tennessee you have access to hardware stores and your American Express Black Card.”

OK, so the conversation didn’t go exactly like that, but the point is the kid sidekick is proved pointless when the filmmakers could have saved us all that time and cut right to the chase of Tony building a new suit (even though he didn’t even have to do that. The end of this post explains why.).

But I get it: If they did that, then it’d be just like “Iron Man.” Well, yeah, it would, but “Iron Man 3″ as a whole proves that…

2. The formula is getting tiring

Here’s how “Iron Man” goes down: Tony Stark has a personal problem (his ego), gets into trouble, breaks out using an Iron Man suit, finds out a competitor is trying to off him, battle ensues, good guys win, realizes there’s more to life.

Here’s how “Iron Man 2″ goes down: Tony Stark has a personal problem (more ego, some drinking), gets into trouble, breaks out after using an Iron Man suit, finds out a competitor is trying to off him, battle ensues, good guys win, realizes there’s more to life.

Here’s how “Iron Man 3″ goes down: Tony Stark has a personal problem (panic attacks, a bit more ego), gets into trouble, breaks out after using an Iron Man suit, finds out a competitor is trying to off him, battle ensues, good guys win, realizes there’s more to life.

“Iron Man” is the superior movie of the three, but they’re all pretty much the same movie. There’s a formula Marvel has for Iron Man movies and, by God! they’re going to follow it!

Which is a bad, bad idea. And it’s not that the formula is broken, it’s just that it’s getting old. Boring. Ugh.

But that’s kind of the Achilles tendon of superhero movies: Comic books are just as formulaic, but can get away with much more gravitas and absurdity. For instance, we might never see Fin Fang Foom in a Marvel movie, because he looks like this:

Poor Fin Fang Foom. He’s so awesome, too.

The biggest reason why “Iron Man 3″ is a bad start to Marvel’s Phase 2 is because…

1. The Marvel universe isn’t emphasized

The build-up to “The Avengers” was one of the best things Marvel ever did for itself. There were cameos on almost all of the Phase 1 movies, and fans began getting the sense that things were much bigger than previously thought.

Then “The Avengers” happened and it blew almost everyone’s mind.

“Iron Man 3″ is ushering in Phase 2 but it’s doing it without emphasizing any of the Marvel Universe, other than a couple flashbacks and small dialogue Tony has about the events in “Avengers.” There are no cameos (except in the after-credits scene), and there’s no sense of the world being changed by the events in “Avengers.”

Seriously: If aliens and a god (Loki) can’t defeat the Avengers, in what world does the Mandarin expect to be successful in his plans of world economical domination?

On the flipside: In what world are we expected to believe neither the Avengers or S.H.I.E.L.D. would come to Tony’s aid? Because that’s exactly what happens in “Iron Man 3.”

Some friends you all are.
Some friends you all are.

Although Tony’s house is blown to bits and he’s presumed dead, and although the President of the United States is attacked in Air Force One and then kidnapped, not one other Avenger made an appearance, and not one S.H.I.E.L.D. agent bothered to show up. No one even comes to comfort Pepper when she’s grieving, thinking Tony’s been murdered.

This kind of thing works in comic books because the title character is the focus of the story. But even sometimes the lead needs a helping hand, and that’s something moviegoers expect to see in a movie about a member of a superhero team.

Phase 2 is off to a shaky start, but it’s a start. Hopefully the sequels to “Captain America” and “Thor” aren’t as bad as “Iron Man 3,” because then it might just mark the beginning of the end for Marvel superhero movies.

Bonus: Reasons why “Iron Man 3″ is just plain bad

Don't mind me. Just phoning this one in, guys.
Don't mind me. Just phoning this one in, guys.

Ben Kingsley is the Mandarin is Russell Brand?
Ben Kingsley is a fantastic actor, and he plays the Mandarin in this movie. Turns out he’s actually not much of a threat — he’s just an actor hired to play a terrorist. He’s a puppet, pretty much. But the worst thing about this is that, when he’s not acting like the Mandarin, he’s acting like Russell Brand, and that’s just hokey.

Technology fail
Despite Tony Starks’ amazing technology and access to government files, he never finds out that the Mandarin isn’t real, and is just an actor. One would think, through all his diving into the Mandarin’s past, Tony would have Jarvis run a facial recognition scan on the man. If he did, Jarvis likely would’ve found something on the actor playing the part.

Villain fail
The main villain and a rival of Tony’s, Aldrich Killian (played by Guy Pearce), is a dummy. He wants Tony to help him with his Extremis project, and also just plain wants Pepper to himself. So what does he do? Sends a trio of attack helicopters to destroy Tony’s mansion, while Tony, Pepper and Killian’s right-hand gal are still inside. It makes no sense.

Translation from book to screen fail
Killian breaths fire. I’ve read the comics and even I’m not OK with it being in the movie.

So we didn’t need the kid sidekick after all!
Tony uses more than a couple dozen Iron Man suits to fight the final battle, yet he spends much of the movie trying to fix one suit so he could use it to find the Mandarin. This makes no sense because why didn’t Tony just call for the other suits like he ends up doing anyway? This is explained in the movie: The debris from Tony’s house is blocking the exit door for the suits, so Tony has to wait until the debris is cleared before the suits are able to leave. That explanation is stupid because the Iron Man suits can just blow their way out.

by Richard Hall
Digital Media Specialist
Richard Hall is an award-winning newsroom developer, editor and blogger for NewsOK. He was born in Austin, Texas, spent his childhood in southern California and has lived in Norman since 1999. He graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 2008.
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