Posted May 11, 2013 by Colin O'Boyle in Movies & TV

‘Iron Man 3’ Disappointment


Spoilers abound, dear readers, so heads up if you’ve not seen “Iron Man 3” yet.

Recently, my colleague Matthew Frendo posted his review of the latest Iron Man movie. And I’ll admit, he made some salient points. “Iron Man 3” had all of the things I look for in a good movie story. The main character had flaws but he grew over the course of the film. Plot points were introduced that had great significance later on. There were moments when I thought our hero was done for sure, but then he made it through. And so forth. Even the whole thing with the Mandarin (which I’ll get to in a minute) could have been cool if they’d made up a villain for this movie, or did their trick with somebody else. But they didn’t. The trailer promised us the Mandarin and what they gave us disappointed me greatly. Again, if you haven’t seen the movie yet, turn back now, because I saw the movie last night and I’m about to talk about a major plot revelation.

Still reading? Great.

See, the fact that the Mandarin isn’t Ben Kingsley’s character, that Guy Pearce’s Aldrich Killian is the secret power behind the throne, would have really impressed me if the face of that villain had been anybody else. If you promise me the Mandarin, show me a guy who looks like the Mandarin from the comics…


…even put moments in the trailer where the camera focuses on his ten rings, and then don’t have him BE the Mandarin, you have tricked me. I don’t like being tricked.

That’s not to say that I don’t enjoy a good movie twist. Having a person to set up as the face of a crime but then secretly operating from the shadows is a clutch move for a villain. I like that. What I don’t like is getting promised a character, getting shown a character, and then having the movie say, “Surprise! That’s not that character at all. It’s this guy! And his power are completely different and not at all related to what you’ve been expecting.” Sure, they’ve subverted my expectations, but not in a good way. I was really looking forward to seeing those rings in action.

If you’ll recall, I did a movie speculation article a little while back in which I speculated on this movie’s plot based solely on the trailer. I’d say a lot of what I predicted I found to be true. One thing that got cleared up for me in the movie was why the Mandarin took the fight to Tony when Tony wasn’t planning on getting involved in it anyway. The two of them never had any beef before; why would the Mandarin start some? But knowing that Killian is the Mandarin clears things up. Plus we have the whole “drug that heals people/turns them into the Human Torch” dealie, and since Tony’s super brain could figure out the flaw in that formula, that’s a reason to get him involved. But now I have so many unanswered questions.


First off, doesn’t this hurt?

For example, before we learn that Kingsley’s Mandarin is just a character, that he’s just a little old British man, why on Earth did everyone act so deferentially to him when he arrived at the compound? Why all the “the Master has arrived” and “the Master is moving”? Killian says to his crew, “Remember, don’t talk or make eye contact with the Master, unless you want to get shot in the face.” I’m assuming, since we know Killian is the Mandarin, that he’d be the one doing the shooting, but is he also the Master? Is it all just to keep the actor in character? What’s going on with that? (I realize that if Kingsley didn’t act in character, it’d ruin things for the audience, but what’s the in-universe explanation for their actions? If there isn’t one, it’s as silly as the Nazis speaking German-accented English amongst themselves while Indiana Jones is creeping around. Sure, it makes is easier for the audience to understand, but it’s still silly they’re not speaking German.)


“So we’re all Nazis, we’re in Germany, and we’re all speaking…English? Seems about right. Now who do I make this out to? Bavaria Jones, was it?”

And Tony calls his suits “a cocoon” at the end of the movie. He’s done with them, it seems. Which is going to make the next “Avengers” film a little predictable, yeah? I mean, sure, I have no idea what the main plot will be (short of Thanos‘s arrival), but Tony will inevitably be asked to help them out again. He’ll refuse, saying he’s done with Iron Man, but they’ll really need him. He needs to protect Pepper now. Maybe she’ll tell him to go. And he’ll go, because of course he will. The nerd armies will riot if there’s an “Avengers” movie without Iron Man (and who could blame them?)

So those are my thoughts on “Iron Man 3”. I feel cheated, like the trailer dangled this really awesome villain with cool powers in front of my face, then brought their other hand around and said, “Aha! Got you. This is really the Mandarin, and his powers are something completely different. Turns out there are no cool rings at all.” And I really wanted to see those rings! I thought all of these bombings were caused by alien tech, not Human Torch/Wolverine serum.

What did you think of the movie? Anybody dis/agree with me? Let me know in the comments below.

Colin O'Boyle

Colin wears many hats (only some of which are trilbies). He's a writer of strange and sundry things, from novellas about smugglers on a flying ship to short stories about the perfect prison of the future. He works in digital marketing and has a master's degree in creative writing. In his free time he likes to read (especially anthologies of the Year's Best speculative fiction), play video games (can't wait for Fallout 4!), and he enjoys making board and card games as well.