Movie Review Iron Man 3 Is Not Extremis

Iron Man 3 is Less Marvel and More Hollywood Disney

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Movie Review

Iron Man 3 Should Have Been Extremis

2 of 5 DangersTwo out of Five Dangers

(DL) — Iron Man 3 thinks its Extremis. It’s not. Iron Man 3 is not Extremis because the Mark 42 armor is faithful only in visual representation, not function. Codenaming the autonomous prehensile propulsion suit as Extremis is an insult to the original story.

Ironically comic book Extremis armor looks great, on screen it’s damn ugly. Failing to fully and properly execute the Extremis story epitomises why Iron Man 3 is a dude. It may be the worst yet in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). It’s just not a good movie. This is hard to admit when you’re a comic book superhero fan who’s waited a lifetime for these stories to hit the big screen.

So if the Mark 42 isn’t the Extremis hailed about in the comic book, what in the world is Extremis?

Oh — we will get to that! 

Iron Man 3 is Less Marvel and More Hollywood Disney

Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) opens Iron Man 3 narrating an analogy to summarize the entire story before we experience it. This foreshadowing trope is getting old. It’s not good and needs to stop. Right here it’s clear Shane Black produced a Hollywood Disney Iron Man, not a Marvel Iron Man.

It sums up what you can expect of the entire movie experience. It’s not good. It doesn’t suck, but Iron Man 3 is a lukewarm experience. Characters quote forgettable analogies meant to be memorable. Villains have crap motivations and bad arcs. There are cringe worthy jokes. Previously solved problems are problems again. If you noticed A.I.M., they got that wrong too. There is so much fail here.

Iron Man 3 Thinks Its Extremis – What is Extremis?

Iron Man 3 had a host of good stories to pull out from Marvel cannon. Extremis. What a  great choice! But it’s not Extremis! In short, Extremis is nanotech not repulsor tech.

Let’s explain.

If Iron Man (2008) could follow cannon with a modern touch, then Iron Man 3 could do great work with Extremis. Both Iron Man ( 2008) and Iron Man 3 (2013) borrow heavily from the six part comic book series Extremis.

Extremis was written by Warren Ellis and illustrated by Adi Granov.
Extremis was written by Warren Ellis and illustrated by Adi Granov.

Here is where the movie diverges and blows it. Extremis isn’t prehensile. It doesn’t grab, Extremis is part of Tony and morphs over Tony. The Mark 42 Extremis in Iron Man 3 is one suit. Extremis as it should be is part of Tony with many upgrades to his internal body parts, hiding electronics deep down as far as his bones. It really is a part of Tony. He can use any suit of armor around him. Once again, in Iron Man 3, Extremis is the Mark 42 with flying parts.

Extremis is considered a virus. In the comic it was used to save Tony and enhance Tony. He administered a low dose of the nanotechnology serum. Tony further modified and injected into himself.

Extremis Nanotech serum creating Tony Stark's Extremis Armor
Extremis Nanotech serum creating Tony Stark’s Extremis Armor

Highly defined in terms such as ‘bio-electronics package’ and ‘fitted into a billion graphite nanotubes suspended in carrier fluid’, the result leaves Tony Stark with an internally mapped control sheath for his Iron Man suit to morph over and construct as armor.

Tony Stark Testing Repulsor Technology as Extremis
Tony Stark Testing Repulsor Technology as Extremis

Now you decide. Flying armor parts that build around Tony or an injected super virus genetically folding technology into the human body to host any armor. After all, that is how the story was originally written. Why not tell it that way?

Shane Black Doesn’t Understand Marvel

Marvel was off to a great start in 2008 with Iron Man. Adding Extremis should be a big hit on film. It misses. The blame rests on director Shane Black. It’s not a complete wreck.

Robert Downey Jr’s narcissistic humor is still intact. And Black does make clever use of the newly interpreted Extremis suit parts. The self propelled armor was good for gags and plot assistance.

Many will argue that Iron Man 3 is filled with action. If you constitute Iron Man parts flying around by themselves or attaching them to Tony as action, then I stand corrected. Watching Tony drag it around, sit on the couch in it and fly out of a bar using it as his ride home is not action. His trip to Tennessee, some action.

Continuity In Question

What is with Tony’s sudden power problem? Didn’t he resolve that issue with the arc reactor in the previous two installments? Another question you’ll need to ask yourself is why do the Iron Man suits suddenly show weakness to heat? I’m all for suspending disbelief, but didn’t Black see the first Iron Man?

The Mark 42

The Extremis as a rogue chemical enhancement concept is never explained well. Unfortunately the comic book Extremis bio-computer enhancement is left out of Iron Man 3 and won’t enter into future Iron Man stories. Perhaps Iron Man 3‘s biggest killjoy is Watching Tony Stark trot around almost the entire film in a non-working Iron Man suit.

Here is a tip for directors attempting to try and inject some character into characters, when it’s a superhero, stop giving us the actor portraying the character, give the audience the superhero.

The idea of Tony Stark using his brain power to beat bad guys without his suit is not good for IMAX 3D, or 3D. In fact it’s not good for any summer blockbuster. Action movies are about action. Don’t forget the action.

It’s Hollywood Action Not Comic Book Action

Iron Man 3 should be a comic book action movie. It threatens us with action and does not deliver. The final battle background action is unimpressive.

The best action isn't the final battle
The best action isn’t the final battle

While it’s nice to see any film break from the often overused opening action scene, why would you begin a comic book superhero movie without any action beyond a two second flash forward implication of his Iron Man suit collection being blown up? You know the scene, you’ve seen it in the trailers.

Characters drive stories. They must be believable or your lose your audience. I think I was lost when Tony said one line to a character that had traveled down the wrong path for 10 years and in seconds changed their values. For someone so committed to accomplishing their own goals with a lifetime agenda at stake, then giving it up to ‘do the right thing’ was a crock. I get it that you have a limited amount of screen time to take characters through arcs but that was total BS.

There is some product placement in Iron Man 3. Enjoy it. It is as low key as are political messages. It seems in this case Hollywood has not taken and sides — aside from featuring mostly liberal based news media and liberal news personalities characters in the film from Bill Maher to MSNBC. No, that wasn’t obvious.

Was it nice to see characters return? Of course. Did they develop much? No, not really. We do get to see Pepper Pots in the Iron Man armor. In fact it seems everyone gets to wear the armor which dulls the allure of having Tony wear it. While Tony doesn’t have to ‘grow’ in every story, there are great story devices left unattended such as his battle with alcoholism.

Disney Won’t Let Tony Stark Be the Real Tony

If the comic book can take on Tony’s drinking issue, why can’t a film version? Is Disney now calling the shots? What Marvel gives us in Iron Man 3 is what Sony gave us in Spider-Man 2 (2004). Performance anxiety. Tony gets a case of anxiety with an asinine reason. Somehow this is the most entertaining twist in the film. It wasn’t portrayed in the same clich & cute manner Toby McGuire did in Spider-Man where he couldn’t use his super powers. Instead, Tony has some all too real Tony moments with a pre-teen. They’re highly entertaining.

Another let down is the team up scene of Iron Man and Iron Patriot. Okay, they did that in Iron Man 2, don’t do the same thing over again, but when you include the same characters, then you’ve already ventured into that territory. Do it right if you do it at all. Wasted.

Continuity issues plague Iron Man 3. Tony now has a battery power problem. It needs to be said and this is no real spoiler — that famous arc reactor is all the battery he needs right? Wrong. Somehow that is completely ignored in Iron Man 3. It’s like without explaining why your story has vampires that can walk in daylight after years of established canon, light should kill them.

It is realistic for any fan of comic book movies to expect the third installment to either expand on the cannon or tie previous efforts up on a nice bow. Again, Iron Man 3 taunts us with this idea but misses the mark in absolute failure. A glaring example is wasting the character The Mandarin. He’s built up so well in expectation and flops huge. A secondary villain in the story is Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce). As always Guy Pearce’s screen presence is great. He brings the goods as a worthy adversary. Guy owns the screen when he’s a scene.

Looking back, Iron Man 2‘s sophomore effort fell a bit short of the stunning introduction of Iron Man in the first film. Yet even Iron Man 2 had more energy than Iron Man 3. It fails to deliver a decent villain. The action is more Hollywood and less comic books. I’m no fan of Jerry Bruckheimer’s over the top action films but Shane Black could in fact learn a thing or two about action in that this a comic book movie and the level of action, not the action itself, but the level of action in Iron Man 3 is subpar and flat. If he wanted to be as dramatic as Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy, he wasted a big budget on a weak story.

Extremis Soldiers

After the Avengers Iron Man, we expect Iron Man 3 to be a rock solid story line. Instead it’s convoluted in a pace that is more like a B-grade action movie. The antagonist we all expected to impress us turns out to be a lie in every way.

TRIVIA: Tony unknowingly meets the good doctor that saved his life in the cave in Iron Man (2008) in the opening year 2000 new year’s eve flashback scene of Iron Man 3. Yes, there is an Easter Egg at the end after the credits. It has no connection to any future Marvel film but fun to watch. Tony Stark references Westworld in Iron Man 3. It is film made in the early 1970’s cult film starring Yul Brynner as a robot Cowboy gone wrong. President Ellis is named after the Extremis writer Warren Ellis.

Starring: Robert Downey Jr. (Ironman/Tony Stark) Gwyneth Paltrow (Pepper Potts) Don Cheadle (War Machine/Iron Patriot/Rhodey) Ben Kingsley (The Mandarin) Guy Pearce (Aldrich Killian)
Writer: Shane Black, Drew Pearce
Director: Shane Black
Rated: PG-13
Run Time: 2 hr. 15 min