Friday, May 03, 2013
The Avengers probably wouldn't offer to help Iron Man move, either.
For example, with the X-Men, Spider-Man and Batman/Dark Knight franchises, we've gotten the film equivalents of runs by creative teams on sequential comics, with the same basic creators (actors, producers, directors, screenwriters) returning for a series of consecutive films continuing plots from installment to installment (most successfully in the Spider-Man trilogy, if you ask me).
With X-Men Origins: Wolverine and X-Men: First Class, we've seen the film equivalents of spin-off series.
With The Amazing Spider-Man, we've seen the equivalent of relaunches, with new creators and new directions for established characters.
And with Thor, Iron Man 2 and Captain America, we saw the beginnings of a shared universe like the Marvel Universe and DC Universe of the comic books, a shared film universe that came to fruition with last summer's The Avengers.
Now with Iron Man 3, we get another film equivalent of a comic book phenomenon—the problem with a shared universe.
Don't get me wrong, I thought Iron Man 3 was great, and loved almost every minute of it (except for the interminable wait for the post-credits stinger). It was the best Iron Man film, probably the best Marvel Studios Marvel movie and would be a perfectly fine last Iron Man movie, if they decide to stop making Iron Man movies after this.
But, the thought did occur to me while watching, perhaps in large part because the movie kept bringing up The Avengers and the shared universe, that it was kinda weird that SHIELD or The Avengers didn't ever lift a finger to help Tony Stark get out the jams he was in throughout this film.
I don't want to spoil anything about the movie, and really, the less you know the better it is, as there are some pretty potent surprises in the film, but Stark is suffering from a form of PTSD from the events of The Avengers (alien invasion, wormhole, etc), a child fan of Stark's asks him about the aliens and The Avengers, one of the villains talks about "the big guy with the hammer" that fell out of the sky and how that changed the world, and so on.
The major conflict of the movie is a global terrorist by the name of The Mandarin, who regularly hijacks national media and organizes spectacular terrorist attacks, regularly threatening the president of the United States.
Stark's house suffers a missile attack that is filmed and broadcast on national television.
At several points, he finds himself alone and without armor, with no allies and no one to call to for help.
Air Force One gets attacked by a hijacked suit of armor.
Stark and his friend James Rhodes storm a base full of super-powered terrorists in order to rescue the kidnapped president and the scantily-clad Gwyneth Paltrow with no armor and only a pair of handguns.
In many of those occasions, I found myself wondering what Captain America and Thor were doing. I suppose they were busy filming their own movies, but where were Nick Fury and SHIELD at? Black Widow and Hawkeye aren't doing anything, why didn't they help out? At the very least, you'd think Stark would be able to call up SHIELD on a pay phone and ask them for a ride when he finds himself stranded in a back road in Tennessee.
I note this not to complain—it would have hurt the movie if Captain America parachuted off a flying aircraft carrier or Sam Jackson showed up to put the cuffs on the bad guys at the end, I think—but I found it interesting to experience that same niggling, nagging feeling in the back of my mind while watching that would occur to me when I'm reading shared universe superhero comics. You know, like when Batman is stuck in a death trap in an issue of Batman or Detective Comics, and you wonder why he doesn't just call Superman for help, like he would in an issue of Justice League or World's Finest.
Just one more box in the checklist of Ways Superhero Movies Are Gradually Reflecting Superhero Comics that's been ticked.