As discussed on yesterday’s podcast, we did see the Marvel movie Venom the other day. Although you should listen to our official review, the long and the short of it was it was pretty godawful. I know I shouldn’t have expected much from it given it was not a Marvel Cinematic Universe entry and instead Sony’s half assed attempts to hang on to what meager licenses they have instead of just giving them back to Marvel.
However, what it did give me was a deeper appreciation for the true greatness that is the MCU movies proper to which I started wondering, Are even the worse of MCU movies better than anything that comes out of Sony or Fox libraries?
I mean, for better or worse, I’m completely hooked on the Marvel Cinematic movie franchise and I’ll pretty much pay my money down for any entry they decide to wheel out. So much so that I’ve turned a blind eye and accepted some of these films as “decent” even if they weren’t. But have I been completely fair to them? I mean now in the face of true stink burgers like Venom, have I been overly too harsh on some of those MCU films I originally decried.
So I thought since I had a free evening I’d rewatch one of those films that I had initially discarded to the trash heap. And when I think of those films, it really boils down to following three: Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2, and Iron Man 3.
Of those movies, I’m not 100% ready to embark on a reexamination of Hulk or Iron Man 2 just yet. I feel like I have to drink a whole heck of a lot of beer for all that, especially IM 2 with that Whiplash special…ugh…shirtless old Mickey Rourke all into whips and S&M. Nasty with a capital “N”.
1) Iron Man really isn’t one of my favorite comic characters due to many writers predisposition to cast him as the biggest douche this side of Reed Richards. I’m actually not a huge fan of Iron Man 1 either.
2) Iron Man 2 pretty much sucked the proverbial balls at times, and I’m sorry but terrible movie like that can ruin your impressions of a particular franchise forever. Again, I just keep seeing shirtless Rourke…in my nightmares.
Never the less I was determined to rewatch this one now that I’ve had years of other Marvel movies to hopefully help it get it more of a fair shake in my eyes. I mean this was a movie that really had most of the friends split down the middle on whether it was good or bad, and there had to be a reason why. It couldn’t just be IM2 cringe worthy as I have believed. There must have been some redeeming qualities that I missed the first time.
So now I’ve completing seeing it, I can see why. I thought instead of rating this movie, I’d get creative and give a visual representation of my feelings courtesy of my Iron Man pint glass and some purposely drank beer.
Yep, those are my thoughts on the film. A half filled glass. In other words there’s a very good reason that opinions are split on this film, because since it’s neither awesome nor terrible, it’s really in the way you perceive it. That glass can be either half empty or half full depending on your point of view. I for one could find it very easy to take the half empty approach just like I have for years, focusing negatively on what was missing from the film. And I want to say there’s nothing wrong with that, because it is a “half empty” glass, there’s no need to justify it.
However, I’m going to write this particular reexamination review from the “half full” perspective because really this is the last RDJR Iron Man film outside the Avengers so its not like belly aching will result in a better film next time. And with the entire RDJR era of the MCU coming to an end in the spring with the final Avengers film of this cycle, I think it’s fine that to look upon these pictures now in retrospect from a purely historical context as whether or not they moved the overall plot of the MCU along and did so in an semi enjoyable manner. Plus it is still head and shoulders above Iron Man 2, so for me, this movie succeeding in at least bringing the Iron Man franchise back to a level .500 playing field again.
Here’s your obligatory Spoiler Warning so if you don’t want to know what happens: STOP READING, go pour yourself a beer, and drink half of it. Although I will say, it did come out like 6 years ago, so I feel like if you haven’t seen it yet, you need to stop living under a rock.
1) The Villain: I for one was actually happy that the Mandarin was not the main bad guy. For those of us who actually read comics, although Mandarin is Iron Man’s historic “arch enemy”, he’s one character who’s ship has sailed…and a long time ago at that. In a universe filled with Doctor Doom, Magneto, Red Skull, and hell even Modok, Mandarin has always been somewhat of a silly rehash of a character somewhere between your standard Fu Manchu evil mastermind and Green Lantern’s Sinestro, except he’s got 10 pointless rings instead of just 1. Plus for me, he’ll always be characterized by one of the most ridiculous baddie costumes ever.
I mean seriously. A over sized green bath robe with the big goofy “M” in the middle of his chest and the weird scuba googles/purple devil helmet. Despite the fact that he hasn’t worn this outfit in years…that’s pretty much the Mandarin for me…so I’m glad they ended up just making him a stooge for the real baddies of the film: AIM.
2) AIM: Yes, friends, it’s not just a toothpaste…it’s one hell of a bad ass organization. I gotta say from the moment I saw those three little letters, my inner geek was in full force. Not because I thought I’d see Modok mind you, but because really, they are the perfect baddies for an Iron Man movie. Advance Idea Mechanics vs. the Mechanic himself. I mean c’mon if you want to make a hero that defines himself through what he can invent, give him bad guys that do nothing but invent things. And that’s what they did in this movie and it works.
From the moment that Iron Man first locks horns with AIM (or Aldrich Killian who for all intents and purposes was AIM’s scientist supreme), you can tell that they pretty much out invented Tony Stark with Extremis. They have the superior technology and Tony’s back is to the wall from the word go because even his armor is outdated in comparison. This makes for an interesting dynamic not seen before, and really in the end Tony has to throw the entire kitchen sink at AIM to stop them.
I would have liked to have seen more with AIM as an organization but I can understand why they didn’t as the whole Beekeeper costumes would have been a distraction. However, I applaud their choice of villain regardless because it was a gutsy call and again makes more sense from a story perspective than the villain fans thought they were going to get.
3) No Avengers tie ins: For fans and friends that know me, this is probably the biggest about face in terms of an opinion, as I openly decried the fact they missed opportunities to bring Cap or Thor into the picture at least as cameos. However, after watching it again with this “half full” mentality, I think I’m going to change my tune.
Yes, it would have been great to have something to tie in things to the other movies now that the Avengers happened, but I’m actually glad they didn’t. It gave the movie more of a personal touch. It was about how although Tony Stark is now part of something greater, that he’s still got his own battles to fight and demons he has to face on his own.
Would it have been easy for Tony to call in the Hulk to help now that they are BFFs? No doubt. But Tony doesn’t deal with things like that, its the way he’s hard wired due to his massive ego. He needs to solve this problem himself, especially when challenged on an intellectual level like with AIM. So, this too from a story perspective makes sense.
4) Tony Stark himself: Going back to what I said before about Tony having to play from behind the entire movie and not calling in the Avengers to help him, all these things really helped create a compelling version of the character I don’t think we’ve seen since Iron Man 1. This plus the fact that you’ve got him having panic attacks and stressing out about every little thing and you’ve got a more neurotic side of Tony which hasn’t been touched on at all in any of films. These aspects in the hands of the gifted RDJR made for a humanized Stark that was also not overly wussy like we got in Iron Man 2.
He got to flex his prowess as a genius outside the armor like when he had to escape from that town in Tennessee or when he had to storm the AIM compound with things he picked up from Home Depot. Throw in some witty repartee with that potato gun kid and, yep, all in all a great showing by the man within the armor. Which also makes sense if you want to give RDJR as much screen time as possible (because lets face it as cool as the armor is, it’s RDJR’s Tony Stark that really made these films special.)
Now, I could go on with this review, but I don’t think it’s necessary. If I did, I’d start rehashing the things I’ve been complaining about for years that I didn’t like which would defeat the premise of the “half full” review.
Overall, I enjoyed Iron Man 3 upon this rewatch and would probably watch it again in future. It’s still nowhere near some of my favorites from the MCU library, but I really didn’t think it was going to supplant Thor: Ragnarok just because of a silly reexamination exercise. However, compared to some other Marvel movies *cough* Venom *Sony should stop making super hero movies cough*, I would definitely perceive that as a “win”.