Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Iron Man 3: John Galt in a tin can

Warning - spoilers ahead

Iron Man 3 is the best picture in the series so far. To the virtues of the first two films - chiefly some inspired casting - it finally brings a fully rounded script and a decent boss fight.

Not content with being officially quite good, actually, it also provides an interesting contrast with Olympus Has Fallen. OHF wants to persuade you that the barbarians are past the gates and raiding your fridge with extreme prejudice. IM3 skewers such jingoistic attitudes neatly by presenting the Mandarin as an orientalist fiction created by the domestic military-industrial complex to scare the Government.

One film wants you to be afraid - the other wants you to at least look behind the curtain to find out who to be afraid of.

Yet having demonstrated it's comfortably the smarter film, IM3 doesn't really have any underlying philosophy of violence other than 'Being John Galt in a tin can with scads of cash means you can do whatever the blinking heck you want.' 

Tony Stark's laissez faire attitude to the state means that he only really saves the day because his girlfriend has been captured and his friend has been injured. As both are also his employees this adds a weird feudal vibe to proceedings.

And as we saw in The Avengers, it takes an alien invasion and the possible destruction of the Earth for Iron Man to act intentionally in the defence of the established order. 

True, this is arguably the point of the character -  the super-rich are different from the rest of us and Tony Stark only takes this argument to its logical conclusion. 

But the fact that we can identify with him shows us not just how good an actor Robert Downey Jr is, but maybe, just maybe, something unsettling about the power fantasies we hold in check too.


  1. Solid review Tim. Die-hard fans of the comics will probably hate this movie for changing certain things, but most of it can be enjoyed for the sake of fun.

  2. Thanks Dan - much appreciated! :-)