Iron Man 3 is entertaining, but too political

Cristina Lule

The third installment in the “Iron Man” saga is filled with plenty of metal-to-flesh action sequences, explosive special effects and the titular character’s expected witty remarks. It also manages to be politically relevant, tackling the issue of terrorism in a Hollywood fashion. However, the film’s political agenda may have more than just entertainment value.

The film picks up where last summer’s “The Avengers” left off. The memories of the alien invasion has left the man behind the suit – Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) – suffering from persistent night terrors and panic attacks. A series of bomb attacks by a terrorist named The Mandarin (Ben Kingsley) has gripped the nation in fear for the past few months. When his own home is attacked and his girlfriend Pepper (Gwyneth Paltrow) kidnapped, Tony has to overcome his fears in order to stop the man behind the attacks and save Pepper.

The film is perhaps unquestionably one of this summer’s most anticipated films and has already earned over $300 million overseas. It easily fulfills its quota of what most audiences expect in a blockbuster within the first hour alone. It has combative action sequences, dangerous shrapnel-producing explosions, phallus-replacing gadgets and weaponry, some humorous one-liners and a slew of Hasbro action figures the film has inspired, currently lining toy shelves.

It sounds like a lot of testosterone, but the film appeals to female audiences as well. Downey Jr. plays such a charismatic character, he can easily compete with leading men half his age in regards to female affection. His delivery of lines and comedic timing always feel authentic, and his ability to carry the entirety of the film makes him half the reason to the watch it, regardless of gender.

The film is entertaining, no doubt, but suffers from an abuse of political principles. It attempts to use its theme of politics as a narrative force, often misusing and, most certainly, subliminally implanting the ideology in our minds.

In the film, when Tony is badgered by the press for a response about the bombings, he states he wants “No politics. Just good ol’ fashioned revenge.” This couldn’t be farther from the truth. In fact, the film is not just politically-themed, it’s politically made. The number of product placements in the film often made the experience feel like one was watching an Audi commercial.  

At times, the film seemed acutely self aware of itself, especially during Mandarin’s televised speeches to Americans, eerily resembling a bin Laden tape, when he states that the Chinese Theater landmark in Los Angeles is a cheap American knockoff after blowing it up. Although the film attempted to make meta-references of itself as a medium for patriotic propaganda, it ironically never liberated itself from its own ideology.

The film is entertaining, but comes at a cost. Like the Audi featured in the film, “Iron Man 3” allows itself to be a tool, such as a sleek and seductive car we often see being consciously anthropomorphized in TV ads, which should instill more fear about the political ideologies in the film than the political threats featured in it. 

Rating: 3 stars