Sunday, May 5, 2013


One of the things that Marvel has done so well with their series of movies has been to keep the characters true to their comic book origins. I say Marvel in the sense of the movies that Marvel has done, not in the sense of all of their characters (because, if you look at what Fox did to Wolverine and will be doing to him again this summer, you will find that non-Marvel companies have not handled the characters quite so faithfully). With that in mind, I was looking very forward to the Mandarin as the villain in Iron Man Three.

The Mandarin, for all intents and purposes, is Iron Man's nemesis. He pre-dates the Iron Man comic book just as Iron Man does [Iron Man made his first appearance in Tales of Suspense #39, the Mandarin in issue #50], so I was expecting something... well, I was expecting something epic. Iron Man's greatest foe and all of that. That is not even close to what Marvel delivered with this movie, and I can't say more than that without offering spoilers. Let's just say that I was... disappointed with the Mandarin, especially given that it was Ben Kingsley. Not that Kingsley didn't do a great job; he did. I mean, he was fantastic in the role that they wrote for him; it just wasn't the role I wanted to see him in.

Here's the thing, for most of you out there, the vast most of you, the most of you that didn't spend more than a decade reading Iron Man comic books, there will be no issue with the role of the Mandarin at all. See, it works great in the movie. Which is what causes my divergence of opinion. On the one hand, I'm disappointed with the portrayal of the Mandarin, but, on the other, Iron Man Three was completely enjoyable to watch and has a lot going for it. In my head, I know that the continuity that the Marvel movies is setting up is not the same as it is in the comics, but that doesn't change my emotional reaction to it. The "why did they change that?" reaction.

Of course, it's comic books, and, maybe, they didn't change anything. It is conceivable that the Mandarin will still become who and what he is in a later movie. Or, maybe, he's that, now, but they're just hiding it.

As for the movie itself, it was quite good. Robert Downey, Jr. was amazing as always. It's a more personal movie than the previous two in a lot of ways. Tony is dealing with... issues, mostly brought on by his experiences in New York during the alien invasion in The Avengers. For much of the movie, he's effectively alone without any armor, and it was interesting to see Tony operating as a person rather than an iron man. Downey pulled that off with what appeared to be effortless ease.

Gwyneth Paltrow and Don Cheadle were respectable in their roles. Even Guy Pearce was adequate. Okay, probably more than adequate, but I really don't like the guy, so, when he plays a villain, he gets an automatic boost from me in that regard, so I actually have a difficult time in telling whether he's doing a good job or not, because I'm not going to like him anyway. I'll know that he can actually act if he ever bothers to play a good guy and he can make me like him. And, as I stated, Ben Kingsley was amazing. He really was.

Iron Man Three is slightly different in structure than the other two. It starts with an opening narration, and I don't tend to be fond of narration in movies. Of course, it ties in with the way the movie ends, which almost makes it worth it, but not quite. It also starts and, then, jumps back, which I'm also not fond of, but, at least, it didn't do a "three days earlier" or anything like that.

Also, the CGI is a bit... clunky... in this one. I didn't know why until I got home and looked it up: ILM did not do the effects on this one. Now, that is something I completely don't understand. ILM did the effects for both other Iron Man movies and The Avengers, so why switch when Disney owns ILM, now? And Iron Man. If it was that they (ILM) were too busy with the new Star Wars, I could understand, but they have at least half a dozen films coming out this year that they're doing the effects for, so having someone else do this Iron Man seems odd to me. Oh, well, I'm sure it was cheaper. It's always about the money, right?

So, yeah, as a movie, I liked it. It's great, in fact. But that doesn't stop me from being ambivalent.


  1. I'll be buying this one on DVD. I do so love Robert Downey Jr.

  2. This sounds a lot like my typical reaction when someone adapted one of my favorite books.

    So I do understand what you're saying, even though I haven't read a comic book in my life. :-)

  3. I am obsessed with Iron Man (the movies, as I wasn't a cool enough child to read comics) and found the Mandarin to be hilarious. Of course, if in the comics he was gruesome, I can see how you would've been disappointed.

  4. I haven't seen the movie yet but hope to soon. I've loved all of the Iron man stories so far. But, I understand your issues. I hated ALL of the X-Men movies, for how they changed Rogue, in particular, and Storm. It didn't help that they didn't include my favorite characters except as cameos (Gambit, Jubilee, Beast, Psylocke, etc)

    Oh well.

  5. I really enjoyed it. (My review will be up Wednesday.) I knew that true fans of the series would be disappointed with the Mandarin though. Since I'm not, I had no problem with the character. Actually it was a really funny role for Kingsley.

  6. I'm a movie behind in this series, too. I won an Iron Man 2 poster when Mock and I went to see the Avengers on opening night. I didn't feel right keeping it as I've never even seen the movie so I ended up giving it to his son.

  7. Never read the comics, I love Ben Kingsley, glad you at least figured he did a good job with what he was given


  8. I'll have to see that at some point, though I didn't really like the second one that much.

  9. I'll probably still see this in a theater some time this week, and I know nothing about the villain, so I'm not expecting disappointment. I just want it to be better than the second one, which was okay, but not great.

  10. Don't you ever wonder what it would be like to just be ignorant like the rest of us and walk into a movie without expectations? :P

    I've never read a comic book in my life, and wouldn't know if the movies were accurate or not, but I do enjoy them. Avengers was great. :)

  11. Glad you enjoyed it! Still need to see it myself. :)

  12. Guess you're ambivalent but I'm glad you still enjoyed it.

  13. I thought the movie sucked. Worst Iron Man period.

  14. Anne: Yeah, me, too. On both.

    Misha: There's a lot to be said for comic books.

    HM C: Kingsley was awesome.

    motha: I was a little more forgiving with the X-Men movies. There's just so much X-Men material; it's hard to choose what to use (and Rogue's origin (except for the Ms. Marvel thing) has always been kind of hazy (unless they fixed that at some point after I quit reading comics)).

    Alex: I can't argue about how awesome Kingsley was, because he was.

    TAS: IM2 was good. Not as good as the first, but it's solid.

    Jo: He's a really good actor.

    PT: It's definitely worth seeing at the theater.

    ABftS: I'm not able to say if it's better than the 2nd. There are parts that are, but, then, there's the whole ambivalence thing over the other parts.

    L.G.: I used to wonder that. Actually, I do my best to not know what a movie is about ahead of time these days, but that can't get rid of the source material in my head.

    David: Do it!

    Sheena: Yep!

    Michael: Well, see, saying "worst Iron Man" is kinda non-specific. That still leaves it better than... well, so much else.

  15. I enjoy watching Robert Downey Jr in anything. Such a bad boy, but interesting in his roles. Glad you said you liked this movie. I plan to see it.

  16. I haven't read the comic books or seen the movies based on Iron Man--but it's always disappointing if you've read the source material and one of the major characters is almost completely different.

  17. This will be one I see in the theatre and that says a lot about the movie for me. I hate spending money at the movies. I don't know enough about the comic to be disappointed about any character flaws. I don't like when movies flip back and forth between past and present either.

  18. Do you feel one needs to see IM2 in order to understand IM3?

  19. I've never seen an entire Iron Man movie..just bits of one of them, (can't tell you which one)while my grandsons and sons were watching. I love Robert Downy Jr., he's one of my favourite actors...still, I guess I don't love him more than my lack of interest in comic books and their movies...I do remember way back when Superman first came was all the rage, and I actually saw it in the theatre.Christopher Reeve and Margot Kidder. Was that the first comic book movie?

  20. Elsie: It's certainly one to be seen in the theater. Even some movies that I've hated, like ID4, I'm glad I saw in the theater.

    TAS: IM3 is really coming off of The Avengers rather than IM2, so, if you've seen that and the first one, you're probably good for seeing IM3.

    Eve: Superman was the first big budget super hero movie, the first one to "make it," so, in that sense, yes, Superman was the first super hero movie. It also sucked. [I'm still waiting for a decent Superman movie. Not even a good one, just a decent one.]

  21. I love the Iron Man movies and was banjuied when I saw what they did to the Mandarin. I thought the ending was a teeny, but still, I loved it. And up til now in the marvel cinematic universe, Iron Man is James Bond-ish and I'm betting that the comic version of the Mandarin doesn't fit with that vision of him. He's only battling sciency types.

  22. Rusty: "Banjuied"? I have no idea what that means. I even tried looking it up.
    My wife was just saying that Downey should play Bond. heh

    Technically, the Mandarin is a sciency type, since he built his rings out of alien tech himself. And he's a genius.

    1. I tend to use made up vocabulary when I can't be bothered to think up an appropriate word. And I knew his rings were alien tech but still think they serve as magic in a Clarke-esq fashion. I only read the ocassional iron man comic as a kid. Only the avengers, spider-man, hulk and Thor were monthly. Everything else was hit and miss. So it's not as sacred a thing for me. But like I've said before, I'm pretty cool with major changes as long as I like what they've done with them.

  23. Rusty: I'm pretty okay with made up words. I think all authors should do that upon occasion.
    I would agree that they are magic (and, indeed, they work rather as magic in the comic), except that he actually built them, figured out the tech and adapted it. He didn't just find them that way, which would make it completely magic.

  24. I don't know, I actually love seeing different interpretations. For example, I'm a Trekkie, but I love ALL the Star Trek shows and movies (even Enterprise, which many die-hard fans hated). I also liked ALL of the Stargates (although I differ from most die-hard fans, in the the original movie and SGU are my favorites). I actually like a movie or series better when it strays from "the original." I like thinking about it in a new way.

  25. Kristen: I don't mind interpretations when they're billed as interpretations. When they're billed as adaptations, however, and, then, they're not (like The Hobbit), I have issues. But this is why I can almost give the Mandarin a pass; this is no longer an adaptation but its own thing.