Iron Man 3 is a fine film. I got a kick out of it and so did the group of comics fans sitting behind me in the theater. (It’s always fun to see a Marvel movie with other comics folks around.) 
Here’s some ideas on the movie including how it could have been even a better movie. 

1. Don’t start a movie with the Eiffel 65 song “Blue” for any reason. This will definitely be included in YouTube’s CinemaSins video. 
2. ….But this song is part of a larger problem: it is included in the “1999 Preface” scenes. 
This whole section is unneeded but more on that later. So “Blue” was chosen to ‘set the mood’ of late 1999. Uh. I get it but isn’t “Blue” the one song of 1999 that everyone would rather forget? There are many better choices of song from 1999! 
How about
“Scar Tissue” by the Red Hot Chili Peppers, 
“Hard Knock Life” by Jay Z, 
“Last Kiss” by Pearl Jam, 
or maybe 
“Miami” by Will Smith!
You might not want to include the chorus, because the movie later uses Miami as a backdrop but it could be a nice choice to use just a verse. 

3. But again: this is all pretty moot because the whole intro 1999 Preface is unhelpful to the film. It is slow, it adds little new or surprising information about Tony. When we see Happy, I thought “Hmmm. Jon Favreau is wearing a costume to add weight as though he was heavier in 1999. Nope. That’s just him, as we see when we come to current day. 

4. We need some consistency about Tony’s alcoholism. We see him drinking alone in his wine cellar, and later he refuses beer from Trevor Slattery. No one every makes reference to Tony’s drinking nor does the film seem to acknowledge it in any way. Even the scene where Tony goes to the honky tonk bar and speaks with the drunken grieving mother there isn’t a glimpse of Tony judging or reacting to her appearance nor does the camera work seem to acknowledge it. 

5. Happy’s relationship to everyone is hampered by his one-note characterization as an “overly protective goof ball with inflated sense of importance.” Hey! Happy has been in all the movies and he is gravely injured in this film. We would care about it a little more if someone ever gave him some dignity before the bomb went off. He actually does some ‘detective work’ by following a lead and placing himself at risk to get to the bottom of a hunch. That’s cool. But we need to see him in a positive light before this. If Pepper or Tony saw him as ‘cool’ or the script gave him something other than goof balling around we would have. 

6. There are two instances of the gag “Cliche is said and it is revealed that its meaning is not understood.” Sheesh. In the initial voiceover from Tony he says “We create our own demons” and then backs away from it and basically says he doesn’t understand it and it has no meaning. Then, Killian says to Pepper something like “We see victory through the fog of failure.” and she says “What does that mean?” and he basically shrugs. 
Uh. How smart are our heroes? Why use a cliche if only to expose that cliches are stupid–and then have your main characters be too stupid to get them anyway? 
Waste not want not! Wait. Is that pertinent here? 

7. Why do Tony and Rhodie hang out at what looks to be a Chilis or a TGIFridays? 

8. Why is Pepper with Tony? This question is not handled too well. We get that Pepper has motivated Tony to choose monogamy and ‘settle down’ a bit and she has given him motivation to be a hero (more on that….). But why does this very smart, powerful, beautiful woman love Tony? She are shown that perhaps they have a lot of physical attraction but that is about it. Instead of showing us examples of their relationship, they are separated for much of the movie and they are simply shown 
a) arguing
b) post coital sleeping
c) witty bantering

9. And Tony is her ‘hero.’ She takes the role of Princess Peach for the last act of the film (ugh) and Tony tells her that “after New York” he feels a lot of pressure to “protect her.” Tony is a knuckle head so we can understand that he needs to feel that he gets his identity as his girlfriend’s “strong protector.” Uhhh…But!

10. I love that Pepper steps up and is awesome. She dons the suit well, and when she’s Extremis powered she saves Tony. I love that. (I’ll not get into the issue of Pepper stepping into heroism through violence here but that’s a good discussion to have.) 

11. We’re given a Christmas themed movie in May. Why? Was the release date screwed up a bit or was the Marvel studio thinking about DVD/Netflix/Redbox release dates? Which brings me to….

12. The “Christmas Carol” theme. It begins in fact on New Years, but it is a “past flashback” sequence. We have the fireworks bookending at the end also (the blowing up suits). Tony has his Scrooge-like awakening of heart (the suit was a cocoon!) and he is a changed man. He even has his heart literally repaired. Go buy the biggest Christmas goose! Tony even tells the kids in the restaurant they look like they’re from A Christmas Carol. This is a cool repurposing of a classic ‘myth.’ 

13. The whole “Tony does detective work in Tennessee” is useless. He goes to investigate a lead from the Happy bombing. But then he is given the coordinates of the Mandarin’s suspected whereabouts in Miami. These scenes in Tennessee give good “Tony time.” It’s the ‘breakdown’ of the hero. He’s been defeated, he needs to regroup, and is befriended by a child who allows him to see himself in a new light. All this could still be achieved without this phony “I’m doing detective work!” stuff. 

14. There is a big missed chance at the end of the film. The Tennessee Kid walks into his garage and finds that Tony has gifted him a bunch of expensive name brand gadgets. He’s even left a note! Uh. Wait. The Kid already has been left by a father and isn’t this just a little bit like an absent father trying to buy their redemption with a kid? 
I suggest that it could be shown that the kid and his mom are sitting around in a renovated garage video chatting with Tony who then introduces Pepper to “his friend.” This way we see that Tony is continuing a relationship, and Pepper and he can be a type of extended family with the Kid all under the supervision of the Kid’s mom. It would have been a five second shot and it would have shown us more of a changed Tony and been more meaningful. 

So: In closing my favorite line of the film was one that seems easy to miss. 
It’s when the Kid says “I’m cold” and Tony says “I know. How’d I know that? Because we’re connected.” 
This sums up the movie’s themes pretty well. We see Tony communicating with his near symbiotic suit through the film and yet he is often disconnected from those people around him–especially Pepper. But it is empathy and compassion that are the most powerful assets that we can have. As cool as it might be to communicate with gadgets and technologies and A.I., without human empathy we’re lost. 

By the way, despite the weakness of this film I did like it. Especially the falling out of the airplane rescue. 

Excellent to-the-point essay on the Christmas Carol theme from Forrest Wickman:

http://www.slate.com/blogs/browbeat/2013/05/03/how_iron_man_3_draws_from_charles_dickens_a_christmas_carol.html

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