Last night I went to see "Iron Man 3" in 3-D. Overall it was a cool movie, but I have a major issue with the way the main villain was handled that kind of ruined it for me.
Back in the day, as a kid I collected comics. Though I didn't read alot of Iron Man, I'm pretty familiar with the stories & characters.
I've enjoyed most of the Marvel superhero movies that have been coming out. "The Avengers" movie was by far the best comic book adaptation to date.
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Despite being very critical of superhero movies in general, I think the Iron Man series has been really good. Robert Downey Jr. is the perfect person to play Tony Stark. It's probably one of the best casting decisions in the history of cinema.
The level of realism in computer effects is indistinguishable from the live footage. Even the most complex CGI, like the armor suit attaching itself to Tony Stark's body, is completely convincing. The amazing futuristic graphics & effects in the movie were even cooler in 3D.
The film was action-packed, with plenty of intense battles & drama. I was totally into it... until the "twist" with the main villain, The Mandarin, was revealed. I'm so annoyed by the way the character played out, I need a Spoiler Alert! to properly complain about it.....
In the comic version, The Mandarin is a Chinese warlord who aquires 10 alien rings that grant him various powers. He is Iron Man's arch-enemy, like Lex Luthor to Superman.
Instead, the trailers of the movie made it clear that Ben Kingsley was playing an Osama bin Laden type shadowy terrorist. He seemed to have an Eastern feel, but then he speaks in a western US accent?!? Why couldn't they just have him be a Chinese villain? Could they have really been worried about offending Asian people? I thought that approach was taking a lot of liberty with the character, but I tried to go into the movie with an open mind.
As the story progressed I started to think, "Okay, this terrorist version of The Mandarin is pretty badass. I'm getting over my reservations about it." Then, out of nowhere, the plot took an absurd, shockingly stupid turn.
About 3/4 of the way through the movie, Tony Stark finally infiltrates the villain's hideout. He finds out that "The Mandarin" is actually just a goofy goddamn British actor, who was paid to make videos by A.I.M., a tech & weapons company. The propaganda films are meant to deflect the fact that the terrorist acts were really the result of A.I.M. weaponizing people into human bombs. This is the result of Extremis technology, which is supposed to be a type of nano-tech that melds cybernetics & biological systems. For some reason, in the movie, anyone injected with the Extremis virus becomes a flame breathing fire-person. If they overload, they blow up, leaving no trace. Anyway, it turns out, the head of A.I.M., Dr. Aldrich Killian, is really behind all the mayhem- NOT The Mandarin!
As this was being revealed, my brain couldn't even process what was happening. I was like, "What the hell is this? Is this guy a decoy for the real Mandarin? WTF?!?!?!" but, no, The Mandarin isn't even a villain, just an unbelievably idiotic actor.
As much as I liked the rest of the movie... this really sucked. It was a horrible way to handle the character who's supposed to be Iron Man's main nemesis. I was astonished that anyone could have thought it was a clever idea. I didn't think you could mess up the character of a villain any more than Heath Ledger's portrayal of The Joker as a disheveled hobo clown... but I was wrong. "The Mandarin" was a total film adaptation FAIL.
There were other things to nitpick that I didn't like, but it's late & I'm done hating on it. It was an entertaining movie, but I couldn't get over such a dumb surprise twist.
Marvel & Disney should let me screen these movies before they are released, so I can set them straight on this kind of crap.