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Tony Stark makes enemies, fights them and his own demons! He also learns to make new friends and stop being afraid of the future.

Sound familiar? That’s because it’s our standard po-mo superhero film premise. Post-modern Batman battles with the villains, his conscience, and questions on the nature of justice. Po-mo Thor struggles with conflicts of loyalty and responsibility while fighting off his corrupt brother. Po-mo Spiderman ruminates on his sense of guilt while fighting the bad guys who have varying degrees of a baddy/goody dichotomy in them. You get the point: this is getting pretty canned, and once it is canned, then it’s opened up and doled out in equal portions to every new Marvel script. When will we just go ahead and get Po-mo Man, who discovers that his powers are socially constructed and who wonders if there really is meaning to the punches he lands on the super villain: Concreto Literali?!

(Nota bene: I’m deliberately throwing around the term “post modern” incorrectly. I don’t mean to suggest that this is what “po-mo” really is, but rather what pop culture has made out of po-mo concerns: psychologically fragmented superheroes in varying degrees of erotic costume. I suppose it should be said, though, that these heroes always do seem to piece it all together in the end, finishing as not so po-mo after all. They manage to shore up their fragments…making them, I guess, just ro-mo: romantic modernists. Or, in some cases, downright fascist pigs.)

All in all, I found this to be the least entertaining film of the current Iron Man series. The dialogue style was as familiar as old shoes, and Robert Downey Jr.’s Sherlock Holmes role. The effects were mostly what could be expected. The dilemmas were tired. The shticks were played out.

Worse: the Iron Man franchise is suffering from Halo syndrome. I’m referring to the ground-breaking video game series originally launched by Bungie Studios. What’s the syndrome? It’s when something fun and engaging, such as the first Halo game, begins to pile on the flash-factor in order to surpass  earlier success. Guns get bigger and more powerful, explosions larger and brighter, scale expands in every direction. As a result, the third instalment of the Halo series found the main character overpowered to the point of absurdity: he was a soldier with godlike abilities, and the little stuff was lost in the scale of it. Iron Man 3 is a textbook case: a high tech battle suit and cool weapons aren’t enough anymore, so at one point (SPOILER ALERT) we have Tony Stark calling in the help of upwards of thirty suits to fight the “bad guys.” There are some small details in an attempt to balance that out (a potato gun has its day!) but that doesn’t change the general trend towards “too much,” way too much.

A few positive points (and more SPOILERS): Guy Pierce was good. Also, I’m in love with the glowing girl villain played by Stephanie Szostak. I suppose I have to admire the special effects. And hey, the po-mo audience can get excited about the fact that “Iron Man” is an entity that traverses known and traditional boundaries, to the point where Pepper dons the suit at different moments and even flips the role of saved to savior. But that’s about it. Let’s have  Avengers again.

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