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Iron Man 3 (SPOILERS)

Now for the spoiler version. Probably there's little new to be said, but I want to talk anyway. In whatever order things come to me (I'm really tired).

First: holy FUCK, the absolutely inspired multi-level TROLLING that is the Mandarin!

When I heard about it and decided to try to see the movie, I was actually trying to ramp my expectations down, because I thought that just knowing the twist might make it less effective and I didn't want to be disappointed. But that turns out to have been totally unnecessary, because instead I got to admire the way it was very subtly being set up and then how hilarious the reveal was.

I just cannot believe (1) that it didn't leak and (2) that Marvel let them do that. Marvel let them make a movie that explicitly argued that one of its most prominent villains is a racist fantasy created by and fed off of US fears. I actually think that is more daring than just a current-politics statement.

And it was so, so funny on a non-meta/political level, too.

Second: Tony coming full circle. Those credits really drove home the message that this was what this movie was doing, completing a trilogy and a character arc—"I am Iron Man," indeed—something that was present throughout the movie. Yinsen cameo! 1999 to present! No more Malibu house, no more armor as security blanket post-Afghanistan, actually being a better person, though still himself (that rabbit, dealing with the kid), emphatically not going it on his own.

Third: Pepper. Absolutely the case that there was too much of her in distress, as other people have said, but otherwise totally awesome and I love them together (which still boggles me, considering the first two movies).

Fourth: Maya. Whhhhhyyyyy didn't (the movie let) you stab yourself with the Extremis dose after you were shot? You were interesting and I would have liked to see more of you.

Fifth: Extremis. As far as I'm concerned, Pepper still has it, Tony does too—I thought at first he did not, but otherwise the whole plot of IM2 is even worse than it appeared, if he could have surgery to remove the shrapnel at any time—but Tony does not have comics-version Extremis that lets him call up the armor out of his bones or whatever it is, because (a) there is nothing in the movie version of Extremis to support that and (b) the whole movie is about Tony realizing he doesn't need the suit to be Iron Man, so making him and the suit literally one would be entirely counter to that theme.

Sixth: Extremis otherwise is sadly kind of a mess and the worst of the movie's problems, in its handling of the vets and the Vice President. Shallowly, the effect of it was a little too Terminator for me at times. But it could really have used just a few lines to humanize the people being experimented on. There were some gestures in the direction of most of them not being blamed: addiction, not bombs but misfires, Tony talking with the Tenn. soldier's mom. But why the people kept at it when they saw it blowing up other soldiers, and how many of them were really on board with Killian and what he told them they were doing, and that the Vice President was really willing to assassinate the President because his young relative was in a wheelchair . . . it does end up sending a "ANYTHING but being disabled!!" message, and that is not cool.

I mean, I could make an argument about people literally blowing up because the US government let them down, but they seem to have been sent to AIM from the military (that file stamp), presumably to participate in the research, so that doesn't actually seem to work.

Seventh: I have seen criticisms of the action scenes and the pacing, and I was surprised to disagree. I was fully prepared for the all-the-suits scene to be loud and boring and go on way too long, but instead I enjoyed it. I liked seeing Tony jump from suit to suit and use them improvisationally, and I didn't think it dragged except for the dangling-Pepper bits. And I really liked that there was so much of Tony Macgyver-ing it; I suspect I much prefer my superheroes scrappy and desperate (as I did with SGA), and so all of that was catnip to me. And there was that and the Malibu house and that was really it for huge-spectacle sequences; the Tenn. fight with the Terminators Extremis soldiers was a lot more personal and small-scale.

Eighth: I just had so much fun with all the banter and the character interactions and even the slapstick, I admit, so I would probably be pretty forgiving about the pacing regardless, but still, I do think the last big fight was fine.

Ninth: people who know panic attacks say that Tony's were pretty realistic, which is good to know.

Tenth: I can't believe I haven't mentioned Rhodey yet, but basically he was great, that's all I have to say.

Eleventh: the line about the Mandarin not being a superhero problem was not entirely convincing as a way to keep the rest of the Avengers out of things, but at least they tried? Thor obviously is elsewhere, and Bruce is really not the person for this problem (though that post-credits scene made me incredibly happy). But either Natasha and Clint are doing super-spy stuff to try and find the Mandarin, or there is some EPIC pissing match going on with the US gov't and SHIELD (which would make sense, with the whole "tried to nuke Manhattan" thing). (Steve is . . . working on improving veterans' healthcare.)

Twelfth: the only thing I really liked about the first movie was his relationship with his 'bots, and I was actually upset when they were screebling around the floor when the house was falling into the ocean, so I was really glad that he rescued them.

. . . no, I can't actually make it a baker's dozen, at least not in my current state. What have I forgotten?

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