Nicholas Davies: We’re Alex and Nick and we’re and filling in for Emily and Reem of She Said, She Said fame, on account of they couldn’t make it to the screening of Shane Black’s ‘Iron Man 3’. Which is too bad for them, because I’m pretty sure they’re going to like it.
Alexander Wood: Do we get to have a name for our column too? I mean, we’re talking about a superhero movie. Names are about as important as narratives in this world.
AW: Team Canada? Too schlumpy, right?
ND: Wonder Twins?
AW: Shut up.
ND: You don’t want to unite?
AW: Shut. Up. I know: Alpha Flight.
ND: The Canadian version of the X-Men? Yes. Obviously. I get to be Northstar.
AW: I’m Sasquatch. Totally.
ND: Maybe we should talk about the movie now.
AW: Iron Who? I AM SASQUATCH!!!!
AW: I like that it refers back to the earliest film in the franchise, where Tony Stark is just a man with a dream, who happens to build wicked stuff.
ND: I don’t really remember the earlier films – I watched them in the background on TV. But even with all the crazy machinery and all that, which I really dig, I kind of like it best when he just goes all MacGyver and takes out a team of hulking bodyguards with some AAA batteries, a gardening glove and a plastic spray bottle full of vinegar.
AW: He becomes more human when the suit is taken away from him – I mean, it’s the same old thing, like Superman and kryptonite, but it’s what makes the story.
ND: Right. And what is the story here? It’s kind of smart, right? It’s pretty much a power struggle between two sides of male white corporate power.
AW: Well, Northstar, it’s like this: Tony Stark used to create weapons of mass destruction for the military. But he’s turned over a new leaf – he’s traded in his playboy lifestyle so he can tinker in his basement.
ND: Right. He’s using his multibillions for good. Which normally I would be all cynical about, but maybe it’s not the most far-fetched thing in the world – the Bill Gates Giving Pledge makes it seem like maybe Tony isn’t the craziest idea after all …
AW: Exactly. What’s crazy about a man with his own flying, sentient, weaponised exoskeleton?
AW: But seriously. I thought the film was going in one direction – a pretty standard USA vs international terror organisation – but it took a turn and went somewhere a lot more interesting.
ND: I thought the same. We’ll stay away from spoilers, but I think the way the story plays with expectations is pretty effective. It gave the whole thing a bit of a moral code that is more complex than plain old ‘kill the bad guys’ and live happily ever after in a red, white and blue happy place.
AW: It also touches on how the media works – it relies on an idea of authenticity and truth, but of course that’s all a construct. This movie uses that idea up front, and in a lot of ways, it’s the quiet and troubling centre that all the explosions and flying robots and one-liners orbit around.
ND: That and the human story angle, yes. It’s really well supported by the relationship Tony develops with young Billy, or whatever his name is.
AW: It should be Billy, right? But it’s Harley.
ND: I love it. Who’s called Harley anymore? In a way, it’s the most complex interaction in the film. It’s the one series of exchanges where you see Tony recognise that he needs to be very straight-up and honest if he’s going to connect with this other person.
AW: Like when he tells him to man up and deal with the fact that his dad walked out six years ago? It’s works, right? Obviously there’s no way around him being a father figure here, so he can be a jerk about it, ot turn it around so that his off-the-cuff gags don’t undercut the real connection.
ND: That’s right, Sasquatch. That’s exactly what I mean.
AW: So overall, what do we think?
ND: I guess my thinking is that if you’re going to make a superhero movie, you really have to get behind the speech bubbles. Comic-book frames provide you with a gateway that is specific to that medium ¬– for a movie, you have to find a way to maintain that kind of entry point, but make it cinematic. I think for the most part ‘Iron Man Three’ is pretty successful. It manages to avoid really expository dialogue (which is something that works in the pages of a comic book) and bring out these sort of human themes.
AW: I agree. Besides the repeated references to the world of the Avengers (it’s like meta-product placement!), this development in Tony’s character is promising. It’s a little like what happened to James Bond in ‘Skyfall’, right? Less polished, more human – more interesting, I think.
ND: You just wish they could make a movie like this about you.
AW: They already did. ‘Sasquatch: Out of the Sequoias’. Catch it this summer.