Iron Man Marathon: From Bad to Worse

Cinema Sentries

With the premiere of The Avengers in 2012, AMC did it right with a Marvel Marathon consisting of the two Iron Man films, The Incredible Hulk, Captain America, Thor, and then The Avengers. It was an awesome day with laminated passes and lanyards, special 3D glasses, and the theatre employees decked out in Avenger costumes. We were even provided with a schedule for the day that let us know how long each break would be, and they let us go get food at the local restaurants and bring it back into the theatre.

So, when it was announced that there would be an Iron Man marathon prior to the release of Ironman 3, I was all in. Since there was a Regal theatre near my home, and they were participating, I chose to attend there. Huge mistake. No laminated passes, no lanyards, no special 3D glasses, all of which were available at AMC. To make matters worse; no involvement by the staff at all. They acted as if they did not know we were coming, and that we were bothering them. No idea what we were talking about when we asked about the special passes and glasses. Not only did they not provide us with a schedule, they did not seem to know when each film would start and end. No outside food allowed in the theatre. Could have ruined the day, but, it was going to be hard to go wrong with Iron Man, Iron Man 2, The Avengers, and Iron Man 3 all cued up. Or so I thought.

Putting aside the less than stellar customer service provided, we settled into our seats for Iron Man (2008), a film that truly showed the mettle of Marvel and Paramount in the making of superhero films. Robert Downey Jr. gives an inspired performance in a film that is fun and action packed.

Cinema Sentries

Worn out from dealing with the staff at the theatre, an action-packed start to the movies, and full of popcorn and soda, Iron Man 2 (2010) made for a great time to grab a nap. In a film that fails miserably to live up to the original, Downey is back, and his character of Tony Stark is dealing with many issues, the least of which is a horribly contrived antagonist in the form of Whiplash, as portrayed by Mickey Roarke who just seems lost. The finale battle scene is easy to sleep through with is indicative of how anticlimactic it is.

Waking up in time to get a refill on the popcorn and soda, it was time to once again see the team assemble. The Avengers is all that it should be. Perhaps not all that it could be, but a huge summer hit in 2012 simply because it gives the audience exactly what it wants and leaves it wanting more. Director Joss Whedon excels visually as he know how to milk the most from a scene simply by showing our heroes together. In a story that is simple enough for the youngest of fans to get, yet has enough depth to keep most adults interested, Loki (Thor’s brother) brings an army of aliens to conquer Earth to feed his need for power. Whedon does struggle with comedic timing as his story (written with Zac Penn) generates great laughs, but too many lines following punch lines are lost behind laughter. The cast continues with enjoyable performances though Mark Ruffalo’s risky portrayal of Doctor Bruce Banner strays too far from the traditional intensity associated with the character, and thus appears muddled and confused. Cobie Smulders of How I Met Your Mother fame attempt to play a strong and stoic SHIELD agent is also distracting.

Three films down and time for the premiers of Iron Man 3. Tough task to follow The Avengers, and unfortunately, Iron Man 3 couldn’t even have followed Iron Man 2. This is without question the worst of the three Iron Man films, and arguably the worst Marvel film to hit the big screen. Shane Black takes over the directorial reins from Jon Favreau who moves into the dual role of Executive Producer and actor who apparently forgot how to perform subtle comedy. Unfortunately, no one told Mr. Black, who also contributed to the screenplay, that the movie is titled Iron Man. It’s not Tony Stark, Super Sleuth. It’s not Iron Men. It’s so amazing that someone could fail to please an audience that is so ready to love the product. All he had to do was take the arrogant smart ass that we loved in Iron Man, put him in the suit, and give him a villain to fight. Is that so hard? Apparently, because they take our hero, give him poorly depicted anxiety attacks, and have him out of the suit for most of the film.

Some spoilers to follow:

You’ll have no trouble identifying Guy Pearce as the antagonist in the opening segment, which is only the first of many predictable plot points in this piece of…metal. Pearce and Rebecca Hall, who manages to look distractingly like Scarlett Johansson in some scenes, have come up with a way to regenerate living tissue, but somehow manage to turn people into Johnny Storm. They also are using Ben Kingsley to terrorize the world and make the audience uncomfortable.

So, Tony gets his house blown off the face off its lofty perch, and ends up in Tennessee hold up in a barn with a young fan (Ty Simpkins) and a dead suit. Eventually, with some help from his friends, he manages to get back on his feet, and defeat the bad guys in a weak finale before the long-awaited credits start to roll. The best scene in the movie is after the credits.

Recommendation: Don’t attend a marathon at a Regal theater. Don’t see Iron Man 3. There were people at the theatre dressed in Iron Man suits who were so disappointed with the film, they took off their costumes before the lights came up.

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