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Suspension of Disbelief: Iron Man 3

Welcome to suspension of disbelief, a weekly segment where we review movies, books, games and anything that takes our fancy. In this edition, Tony Stark returns and Robert Downey-Jr almost makes up for the implausibility of the whole movie with his charm. Also Mark Ruffalo’s in it. What do you mean you didn’t wait for the post-credits scene?


It’s hard not to like RDJ as Iron Man. His performance as Tony Stark is consistently fantastic, and despite the character’s flaws (of which there are many), you find yourself rooting for him so much that he overshadowed Captain America in Joss Whedon’s Avengers. This movie really plays to those strengths. The dialogue was incredible, it was funny in all the right places, moving when it had to be, and though the question at the beginning of the movie: ‘how did you get out of the wormhole?’ was never answered, I found his character arc satisfying as hell.

The problem with this however, is that because the character moment were done so well, the plot suffers. It’s not that a terrorist threat isn’t a viable option for a superhero movie, but it’s just a few moments like this:

1. After Tony Stark and War Machine/Iron Patriot escape from the extremis headquarters, how do they know exactly where to go to find the villain, who is in the middle of the ocean on an oil tanker?

2. Tony tells War Machine that none of his suits would support him, and yet they can support his girlfriend and the main villain?

3. In the same vein, how is it that War Machine’s suit supports a super powered mercenary and the president?

4. The way the villain is defeated and his plans are thwarted could have been done very easily at the beginning, if at all possible. Also, it makes his presence in the suit redundant, and pretty much makes him the most powerful man in the planet, which leads me on to…

5. Why did he destroy the very thing that saved the day? It was a powerful character moment, but it didn’t make much sense in the grand scheme of things, especially considering how apparently easy it is to blow up his house without anyone noticing.

6. How did he stop the formula everyone else has been working on for all their lives (and off-screen nonetheless)? Seriously, there was no explanation given, and if completed, that formula would get rid of the need for medicine altogether.

That said, the Stan Lee cameo was hilarious, every scene between RDJ and Gwyneth Paltrow was priceless, and the opening sequence was both cheesy enough to feel like a comic and short enough to not harm the story (as well as setting up the real villain for later). I imagine there are a lot of complaints about the way the movie handled The Mandarin, but given that the villain in the comics was pretty much a racist stereotype I didn’t have a problem with it. I also didn’t have a problem with the re-branding of War Machine as Iron Patriot, although when I heard IP would be in the movie I was hoping for some Norman Osborn action. In the end I think that might have even been a better plot, although using the Green Goblin for anything other than a Spider-Man movie might not only confuse people, but cause some legal issues.

So yeah, I had a few problems with the plot. Please tell me if there are some straight answers to these that makes sense, because I really want to give this film a higher rating. It was fun, I was smiling all the way through, but there were so many plot holes that I really can’t give it more than 3 and a half RDJ goatees out of 5.

[image credits: forbes, hairremoval.about.com]



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Cat Strickson

Cat Strickson

Cat, or Elly, or Eddy, or whatever name they're going by these days, is a British palaeontologist and fantasy author. It's a pretty awesome skill set, but it doesn't pay much right now. They enjoy science, history, vidyagames and all things SFF.


  1. May 12, 2013 at 10:27 am —

    Re: Number 2 on your list: I thought Tony was just lying to goad War Machine. That seems like a thing Iron Man would do. (Also, I’m with Tony. Iron Patriot? Ugh.)

    One thing that bugged me was the fact that Tony was clearly suffering from PTSD, but there was really no attempt to explore it. Or if they did it was too subtle to overcome the very unsubtle explosions. I thought there would be a lot more exploration of Tony’s mind-space than there actually was, and that was a little disappointing.

    That said, OMG I really liked this movie. Also, yay for a not-annoying Pepper Potts! Finally!

  2. May 12, 2013 at 1:04 pm —

    Also? Where the hell is my gawd damn Hulk movie? Where is it, Marvel? WHERE IS IT?

  3. May 12, 2013 at 3:58 pm —

    I hope there’s some sort of deleted scene with that subplot in it, because that was really annoying. Also, I heard from someone that a new one’s in the works, but apparently the Avengers-movie-hulk is a continuation of The Incredible Hulk, but with a different actor 🙂

    • May 12, 2013 at 6:17 pm —

      Right after The Avengers I heard rumors of a new Ruffalo Hulk movie was tentatively planned for 2015, but then I heard that it wasn’t going to happen and I died a little inside. Someone should make a change.org petition. This is very important stuff.

  4. May 13, 2013 at 8:53 pm —


    Re 2: My interpretation as I watched the movie (yes, this occurred to me in the moment), was that only the newest suit, Mk. 42, was designed to support different people. This is the one that Pepper wore earlier on, and that Tony forced onto the villain at the end. Also recall that this suit showed up late – it wasn’t present when Tony made his statement that none of the suits could hold IP.

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