8. Iron Man 3
Iron Man 3 is a good movie mainly because it’s a Shane Black movie. The dialogue is snappy and the plot idiosyncratic. But there’s just one too many things keeping it from its potential. The Mandarin twist draws a lot of ire but I liked that aspect. It seemed a sensible and funny take on the over-the-top, all-powerful and vaguely racist character and Ben Kingsley is such a joy, as is Downey, Jr. (that goes without saying). Despite my personal dislike of Gwyneth Paltrow, I also liked seeing Pepper Potts get in on some action, if only briefly. I would’ve like more from Don Cheadle as War Patriot or Iron Machine or whatever too.
But Guy Pearce as Formerly-Geeky, Now-Sexy, Then Dragon-Tattooed Fire Guy Who Is Really The Mandarin (Except He Isn’t)? Yeah, wasn’t a fan of him. The film is weighted down by the necessity of its tropes. “We need villains to match Iron Man and co. so how bout ex-soldiers with fire hands? Sure, why the hell not.” “We need a guy villain to sell toys because girls are allergic to toys or something!” The last hypothetical shout by the hypothetical Marvel exec is a fact. Supposedly, a much more interesting previous script draft featured Rebecca Hall’s character as the villain instead of Pearce but was nixed because #toys. Kinda symbolic of the whole situation here.