Welcome to The Great Debate, where we have two titans on the industry fight it out for Internet supremacy. For this edition we have our own Laremy Legel, author of "Film Critic" and all-around swell guy facing off against gentleman-scholar Kevin Jagernauth of The Playlist. Our topic? "Iron Man" vs. "Iron Man 3". The Playlist weighed in on the "Best and Worst Moments of Iron Man 3" so Kevin should have plenty of ammo. Guys, fire up your suits, it's about to get real heavy!
Laremy: Hi, Kevin! How are you? Good, good. Oh, by the way, you're completely off about the bestest "Iron Man" ever, mostly you've clearly become a victim of primacy. Now Imma take you to school.
For my cause, "Iron Man" is clearly the most solid, front to back, of the franchise. Oh sure, you've got your $700 million dollars (and counting_, and you've got Guy Pearce, whom it's hard not to love as a villain. But I'd like to take you back to a little time I like to call 2007, Comic-Con, and the initial release of the "Iron Man" footage. For context, Batman, with the newly rebooted "Batman Begins" was still considered the only standalone superhero film to ever have had any legs at all in pop culture. The X-Men had started out strong but fizzled, "Superman Returns" captured the hearts and minds of no one everywhere, and "Spider-Man" was too busy singing and dancing for anyone above the age of 12 to truly love. This was the scene as "Iron Man" entered the arena in San Diego, a cinematic world in desperate need of balance, a Marvel Tony Stark to rival DC Batman, some lightness to go along with the Bat's intrinsic darkness.
And boy did they deliver! From August of 2007 on, we deliciously anticipated Jon Favreau's take, Robert Downey Jr.'s pomp, and ACDC shaking us all night long. Then came the movie itself, a triumph, and we knew our salvation was at hand. 93 percent of critics agreed "Iron Man" crushed it, 15 percent more than the current version, and it ended up being the number #2 film of the year at the box office. Not too shabby!
Bonus level: This was the film that saved Robert Downey Jr.'s career. Before this? "Shaggy Dog" and "Scanner Darkly" were his bailiwick, in other words, a film starring Tim Allen as a dog and then a cartoon. Things were not headed a good direction over in Downey world. This film also proved Jon Favreau was capable of directing, another big win for cinema.
So yeah, "Iron Man" is responsible saving superhero movies as we know it and giving us a preening and lovable Downey Jr. for our future. What's your case rest on? Making a lot of money? Well, Donald Trump has done that, and I don't see you hanging out with him over there.
Your move, KJ. Bring the thunder.
Kevin: Oh, Laremy, nostalgia is cruel mistress. Was there excitement for the first "Iron Man"? Surely. Did it deliver? In the way that it was a risk that people weren't sure how it was going to perform, it certainly went above and beyond expectations -- I'll concede that point. But on every other level, the movie is kind of a drag.
Oh sure, the novelty of Robert Downey Jr. playing a smart-ass superhero was a lot of fun, but seriously, Jericho? That's the villain? If the "Iron Man" franchise has had one issue right up and including the third installment (which I'll freely admit), the villains have been anonymous. Jericho, Whiplash, Suntan Rockwell and Suntan Pearce have all been pretty dull threats for Tony Stark to face. And to be honest, the first two "Iron Man" movies kind of blur for me into one indistinguishable mass -- and I think they do for you too. AC/DC was on the soundtrack for "Iron Man 2," not "Iron Man." (INSERT BURN SAUCE GUITAR RIFF)
"Iron Man 3" actually gives a Tony Stark that's more than just sarcasm in a well-tailored suit, and gives him a threat that's actually has some sort of realistic, relevant stakes (even if it does go a bit haywire in the third act). "Iron Man 3" is the first "mature" (relatively) Marvel, where as everything before was just kids stuff.
Laremy: Wow, parrying my primacy indictment by making me into the "get off my lawn" guy. Well played, Playlister, well played.
I don't know that Jeff Bridges could ever be a drag. Have you seen Jeff Bridges? He's Jeff Bridges! It's a circular argument, sure, but he almost makes "Tron Legacy" interesting and that's impossible. The man also brings mad talent to car commercials. So I think you realize you're not dealing with an amateur here. He's Jeff Bridges, and he's in the club for life.
(Warning: NSFW language)
Your "Iron Man 3" is admittedly less sexist. Mine had Pepper Potts saying "help! help!" a bunch, and that's the weakest part of the film. But "Iron Man 3" has something far worse, Pepper Potts somehow magically learning how to use an Iron Person suit in three seconds. Why, they've undermined the whole idea of Tony Starks as an expert! If you or I could hop in there and beat down some people then he's not a superhero. He's a hot dog vendor.
With regards to the ACDC thing, the songs were in the movie, they just didn't make the soundtrack until the sequel. Facts, check yours.
I'll leave you with this - "Iron Man 3" wouldn't exist without "Iron Man". Untangle that little chestnut and you might earn some respect around these here iron parts.
Kevin: Listen, I know Jeff Bridges is a cool guy with a cool voice and pretty cool beard. But let's not pretend his presence made "Tron: Legacy" interesting, when we all know Olivia Wilde in latex and Michael Sheen playing Tilda Swinton playing David Bowie are the only reasons no one fell asleep.
Oh, you may be be right about AC/DC, but I'm too lazy to look it up, and basically the faceless MAN-ROCK soundtracks to these movies (and Marvel movies in general) are the worst thing about them, so let's move on. If the ability to use an Iron Man suit is the straw that breaks the realism back in a movie called "IRON MAN," I don't know what to tell you. But since we're going down this path, considering Pepper has worked closely with Tony forever, and lives in a house with the suits and sleeps next to the guy who uses the suits and runs the company that develops the tech to make the suits....well, you see what I'm getting at here....
"Iron Man 3" may not have existed before "Iron Man," but you can't grow a mighty oak, without some manure. *Drops mic*
Laremy: I suppose it's time to out Kevin as a Canadian to our audience. And like fellow Canadian Celine Dion, he is clearly planning for his "Iron Man 3" heart to go on. But I shan't go down without a fight, just like Terrence Howard didn't get kicked off the "Iron Man" production without a ... okay, bad example.
Firstly, the idea that "sleeping next to the guy" that is actually Iron Man makes you into an Iron Person clearly makes no sense. Was there a Mrs. Einstein? Did Katie Holmes figure out how to use a Bat Grappling hook? C'mon K-Jags, you knew that argument was a prayer. I swat it away like the Iron Patriot I am.
You have yet to dispute the critical acclaim for "Iron Man" over "Iron Man 3". And as you are, well, you know, a CRITIC, that's going to be hard to run from. You too good for your tribe, mister?
Here's the other problem "Iron Man 3" has - no tone. Just like Iceman in "Top Gun". It wobbles from silly to serious in the span of seconds. "Iron Man" knew what it was, a commentary on American intervention and ego, of audaciousness and ostentatious in the modern era. "Iron Man 3" has no idea what it is. Is it a Shane Black comedy? Is it a women's rights movie? Is it an anti-gene testing screed? It's all of these, and thus nothing at all, a summer movie cloaked in a bunch of "see if it sticks" themes. Over produced, bloated, troubled, erratic - you get the idea. This "Iron Man 3" will not stand the test of time. Heck, it won't even stand the test of 2013. It's a nice spectacle, but it doesn't have the lean elegance of "Iron Man".
Kevin: Pretty convenient for you to poke fun at my Canadian status, eh, while ignoring the "Pepper Potts runs the company that develops the tech to make the suits" argument. But that's okay.
Critical acclaim? I see your critical and raise you: SECOND BIGGEST BOX OFFICE OPENING OF ALL TIME. Yeah, you can keep your critical acclaim -- people pay to see movies with MONEY, and that green stuff talks (or so I'm told), and it did a lot of chattering this weekend for a lot of people. CinemaScore? A. Boom. But let's move on from these pointless statistics, because they are mostly irrelevant.
"Iron Man 3" has no tone? You have a psychically traumatized hero, taking on a terrorist with not so subtle shades another bearded real life terrorist, in a story about trying to move on from a brutal, inter-dimensional war. Heavy stuff bro. It's cute that you want to believe that Jon Favreau used "Iron Man" as a "commentary" (lol) on "the modern era" (pretty vague as a theme). The only thing Favreau movies are is: good or bad. "Swingers" good, "Zathura" bad, etc. "Over produced, bloated, troubled, erratic" are all words that can be used to describe every Marvel movie to date.
"Iron Man 3" is far from perfect, but it's certainly the most memorable of the three and probably the one that when I catch on cable sometime in the future, I'll actually stop to watch. If I never saw "Iron Man: The Vengeance Of Jebediah Springfield" again, it wouldn't bother me one bit.
Laremy: By your argument the Toyota Corolla is the best car ever. Enjoy your front-wheel drive when bad weather hits, bud.
Cinemascore? I scoff in your general direction. You've thrown your lot in with the general audiences, even though you know deep down in your critical heart that general audiences are easily wooed, and just as likely to discard the entertainment of the moment when something new comes along.
Here are films that made the most in their respective years:
"Spider-Man 3" (2007)
"Revenge of the Sith" (2005)
"Shrek 2" (2004)
Now here are alternative films released those years that made less than "Iron Man 3" did on its opening weekend, OVERALL, for their entire theatrical run:
"No Country for Old Men"
"There Will Be Blood"
So which marathon do you want to watch, Mr. Common Fella? Mmmm hmmm.
But even if I meet you halfway, "Iron Man" is rated 7.9 by "the fans" over there on IMDB. What do you think "Iron Man 3" is rated? Hint: not as high.
We're about to turn this over to the jury, so I'll give you the last word, just know that all of us fans of quality cinema are going to be keeping an eye on you. For if you think "Iron Man 3" is better than "Iron Man" who knows what else you're capable of? What's next, you telling us fries need gravy on them? Good grief.
Kevin: As I mentioned, statistics are pretty irrelevant, I only went down that rabbit hole because you wanted to go there, but I'll politely side step that (don't give me IMDB ratings, if you truly believe "The Shawshank Redemption" is greatest movie of all time, you can have it). I can probably name five movies I saw this year that I like far better than "Iron Man 3" but the issue is "Iron Man". Comparing Marvel movies to "Capote," is like saying apples are better than spaghetti.
I enjoyed "Iron Man 3" for what it is -- a Marvel comic book movie made to please everyone from ages 8-88. Mission: accomplished and I just happened to enjoy it more than "Iron Man: Hey, This Actually Worked" and "Iron Man: The Russian Accent & Suntan Man." "Iron Man 3" is a lot of fun, with actual true surprises in the story, a plot with some real peril and an action set-piece better than anything we've seen in the franchise to date (yes,the airplane sequence). Is it flawed, occasionally dumb, nonsensical? Hell yes, but it's also good popcorn entertainment that executed with enough flair that those elements never bother me too much.
P.S. Gravy on fries is delicious.