12 May 2013

He Handled It

I know it makes me a horrible person and for a change I honestly mean no offense, but meaty limb-stumps are something that I just can't cope with. In fact I was recently watching the British daytime show This Morning when they featured a man on it who had actually had a hand transplant. Now don't get me wrong, this does show how miraculous science can be, but fuck me it was horrible. I mean, the poor bloke had somehow lost his original hand, doctors had stuck on some dead guys in its place and I can see how amazing it was that he could slightly control it. But firstly, it was the wrong skin colour, secondly, it was too big, and thirdly, it was stitched on in such a crude horror-movie type way that you'd assume the surgeon had trained by watching bloopers from Frankenstein. I wouldn't touch a dead body if I found one so I certainly wouldn't want bits of it sewn onto me. Given the choice, I would much rather go for having a hook over some random corpses wanking claw. Not only that but the feature was obliviously summed up by the host who couldn't have chosen a poorer choice of words if she'd tried. In conclusion to a story about a man who now owns a dead guys hand, Holly Willoughby genuinely described the issue as “gripping”.

Thankfully though, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has come up with a better solution than turning amputees into Boris Karloff. The plot for Iron Man 3 centres around an experiment which can completely regrow missing limbs with only the smallest of catches... If it goes wrong there's a chance you'll heat up by thousands of degrees and explode like a massive burning cunt. Obviously this becomes an issue for Tony Stark who suspects these fleshy blood-bombs might be a result of a new super-terrorist known as the Mandarin. Quickly things escalate for Stark who discovers asking a tooled up nutter to come and attack him might not be the most sensible of moves. Like a menstrual interior designer, the Mandarin calmly responds to this threat and bombs Tony's house into oblivion leaving him homeless, lost and stuck with a broken suit. Too make things even more tricky, Stark is also suffering from some degree of trauma having under gone a minor case of death when previously pissing about with The Avengers and a nuclear bomb.

For this third entry in the franchise, Shane Black has been brought on to co-write and direct and for me, it's really him that makes this film what it is. Black made his name in the late eighties when he managed to sell his Lethal Weapon script whilst only just into his twenties. However, despite his youthful success making me want to puke down my tits, I actually think he may be my favourite screenwriter working in Hollywood. Although there had been films that featured friends in the past, he was really the first to successfully stick that relationship into an action movie and have the chums bicker for two hours. This was a concept that was clearly aided by Black’s genius sense of humour and ear for really sharp and witty dialogue. Although I could just copy and paste his scripts because every line is so good, I suppose one example from a previous Black film might be after a character named Gay Perry is asked  if he's still gay, “Me? No. I'm knee-deep in pussy. I just like the name so much, I can't get rid of it”.

In fact for me, Iron Man 3 feels like two movies brilliantly crunched together. On the one hand it is very clearly a comic book movie and on the other it is very obviously a Shane Black film. The comic-books stuff would be all the exploding robot battles and the Black stuff would be Tony Stark bickering with his mate Rhodey and occasionally smack-talking a parentless child; “Dads leave. No need to be such a pussy about it”. I think if I was ten years old, watching this film would have been like getting stabbed in the brain with a syringe of excitement. Luckily I have a mental age of about ten and so that's still exactly what this was. However instead of being overcome by joy at the sight of human tin cans blowing up it was actually Blacks script that made me giggle like some deranged Arkham inmate. I genuinely loved all the action but I'd have quite happily sacrificed it for a little more fast paced dialogue with a permanent undercurrent of shittiness to it.

There's a scene about half way through involving the Mandarin that couldn't be more Shane Black if it tried. I'm about to spoil a major twist in the film so if you've not seen it yet then I suggest you stop reading now and fuck off to the cinema to make up for lost time. For those left reading, I am of course talking about the reveal that Ben Kingsley is actually a decoy villain being played by some grotty actor called Trevor from near Croydon. I mean, reservations aside, this has got to be one of the funniest scenes in any action film ever with The Mandarin's bullshit reveal consisting of him swaggering out of the toilet and announcing, “I'd give it twenty minutes!”.

"Who a you calling a lacist?!"
At the time though, I was kind of conflicted. Although I was very definitely laughing at Trevor's sheer rattiness, I was a bit disappointed to discover that what had so far been a genuinely cool villain was actually a load of bollocks. Considering how big of a bad guy The Mandarin is in the Iron Man comics, this was a bit like having a Batman film where the Joker is comically revealed to be a manly tart who’s just overdone it with the lip-stick. However the more I've thought about it since, the less it's really bothered me. I guess my overall feeling is that Trevor becomes such a funny character that the humour he brings allows them to just about get away with it. Also by having Aldrich Killian revealed as the real Mandarin, I suppose the movie conveniently sidesteps the slightly racist Fu Manchu version from the original comic books. Although I suppose had they gone with the Chinese caricature, they could have given Mickey Rooney his most prolific acting role in about ninety years.

The only other real thing I guess that irritated me very slightly was maybe just how many of the twists had already been done in Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy. Rebecca Hall's character is a little bit like Miranda Tate in that, despite lady-parts leaking all over Stark, she's actually a bit of a baddie. Sir Ben's fake Mandarin not only dresses similarly to the fake Ra's Al Ghul but is also a decoy for the real villain of the same name. Oh and both Iron Man 3 and The Dark Knight Rises conclude with the use of something known as “the clean slate”. However there is a difference as in Iron Man 3, this device causes Stark's suits to explode whereas in the other, Batman just uses it to jib of his job in favour of travelling the world and fucking Catwoman.

The other thing that makes Iron Man 3 interesting is that it's the final film in which Robert Downey Jr is contracted to play Tony Stark. Like the rest of the world, I can't imagine anybody else doing the role as well as him but honestly this does feel like the perfect time to recast. There's a finality to the scenes here with the character arc that Stark set out on in movie one finally being fulfilled. They're going to have to recast eventually, so why not now? There's a sort of conclusion to the character with this and Downey Jr is only going to start demanding a shit load of money to come back anyway. I'm not saying that if the films make enough money to fund a small genocide that he shouldn't be entitled to some of it too. But seriously how much cash does one human really need to lead an enjoyable life? Especially one who has already given up drugs and alcohol and probably doesn't need to pay for whores. If it requires a lot of money to coax him back then maybe Marvel should just cut their losses and find someone else.

"So you need a new rocket man?"
Nobody could imagine a James Bond without Sean Connery and yet fifty years after Dr No, the franchise is still as strong as ever. Not only that but producers panicked about the loss of Connery and so threw so much money at him that despite his better judgement he returned for a few more films. Although the suave, lady-beating Scotsman could now afford all the toupee's he'd ever need, it resulted in several performances in which Bond just seemed kind of bored. Not only that but our half arsed 007 received so much money that the stunts and set pieces had to be cut down on, too. Considering that Downey Jr allegedly received over $50 million for his appearance in The Avengers alone, you've got to wonder how much he'll want in order to return and ultimately if it's worth it. Like I say, they're definitely going to have to recast at some point and this just seems like the perfect timing both financially and in terms of the story. Although we all have our differing opinions as to the future of Tony Stark, I personally think that Marvel should play it safe and completely copy the Bond franchise following their successful replacement of Sean Connery. For a proven guarantee of longevity, they should simply let Robert Downy Jr go and replace him with the presumably much cheaper Roger Moore for the next twenty-two years. As can be seen with 007, the results of this strategy already speak for itself.

Anyway, ignoring all that in-the-future crap, Iron Man Three is a really fun movie and more than makes up for the slightly crappy second instalment. I'm sure some comic book purists will be overly pissy about the cinematic depiction of one of their main villains but for those of us who have lost our virginity, what remains is simply two hours of joyous fun. It's nice too that I can also now add this to a list of my favourite Christmas films along with Die Hard, In Bruges, OHMSS and every other Shane Black film ever made. So I guess to conclude, I'll leave you with a just-about-relevant line from Black’s debut movie Kiss, Kiss, Bang, Bang, “I don't know if you want to see it now, but here's the fucking robot stuff for your viewing pleasure. Can I say "fuck" more?” It's a tenuous link, but sod it I'll take almost any opportunity to re-read that dialogue. 

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