Second impressions: ‘Iron Man 3’

Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark/Iron Man in Iron Man 3
Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark/Iron Man in Iron Man 3

Re-watched Iron Man 3, this time with subtitles. I love re-watching movies with subtitles — it just makes them much clearer. Whenever I catch a movie in theatres, I am only able to get about 80 percent of the dialogue, as they tend to mumble or speak too fast. And many times, for the dialogue that I do catch, the nuances of what they actually said don’t really register until much later when I’ve time to think about it (which I don’t, since I’ll have forgotten it by then), or until I see it staring in my face in subtitles. (Yeah, you can probably tell that I am the worst kind of listener in conversations.)

Still, whether for subtitles or not, movies are made to be re-watched, just like books are meant to be reread, so you can catch details you missed the first time round. For example, I only just noticed that the doctor that Yinsen introduced to Tony at the beginning of the movie was the cardiologist who removed the shrapnel from his heart at the end of the movie. (I was wondering why they played up Wang Xueqi’s role to appeal to the Chinese market, because it had seemed that his role was completely unnecessary, for all of the 10 seconds he appeared for.) Yinsen was the doctor who put in the electromagnet in his chest to keep the shrapnel from reaching his heart, so it was a nice throwback to his role in the first movie where he had mentioned that he met Tony at a conference in Switzerland.

When I first saw the movie in the cinema, my immediate reaction was of genuine delight — that even after all this time, a movie could surprise me so much. From the first strains of “Blue Da Ba Dee” playing over the studio logos (one of the most ridiculous, catchy disco songs in existence), I just knew that it was going to be a *hoot*, whatever the gloom-and-doom trailers promised. And it was. All the times that we didn’t know that it *wasn’t* Tony in the suit, the brilliantly-timed comedic failings of the Mark 42 suit, the snarky quips, the audaciousness of The Mandarin actually being a buffoon instead of a real terrorist (I will never not love Ben Kingsley in that role, whatever comic book nerds may rant about The Mandarin’s portrayal in the movie), the jaw-dropping barrel of monkeys scene that they shot with real stunt actors skydiving several hundred times… it was the biggest ball of fun I had at the movies this summer. As for the people who complained that he wasn’t being much of Iron Man without his suit; well, that was the point of the movie: showing that being Iron Man was more than just putting on his suits. (Though that didn’t make it hurt any less to see him destroy them at the end of the movie, because what is he going to do in The Avengers 2? But in Joss I trust.)

This is why I have come to love Marvel: because it has found its schtick in making my favourite kind of movies — blockbusters that are smart, action-packed and lighthearted with a bit of serious thrown in — and does it to perfection. (Except for Iron Man 2, where it bordered on camp, but that’s another story.)