Superheroes Round 9: Iron Man 3
I am the Iron Man, duhnuhnuhnuhnuh nuhNuhnuhnuh.
Even Superheroes Can Have Mental Illness
I’m of mixed feelings about this aspect.
On the one hand, it’s reasonable. It’s not too surprising that after going through all sorts of major stressors, Tony Stark develops what appears to be PTSD. He has panic attacks and trouble sleeping. It’s a good thing to see that even a superhero can have a mental disorder — perhaps it will go towards reducing the stigma, and helping people in real life seek help if they need it.
Which leads us to the other hand. The kid who acts as Tony’s sidekick for a little while asks him, after seeing a panic attack, “Should you see a doctor? Should you be on medication?” (To which his replies are something like “Probably” and “maybe”.) If somebody benefits from medication, that’s fine. But I worry a bit about two different things. First, there’s the pejorative implications — since “he’s off his meds” is often used as an insult. Second, counseling doesn’t seem to get mentioned so much as the meds, even though it’s a more common treatment. Even though it helps many people. And the fact that medication isn’t provided without counseling to go along with it.
Prototype Iron Man suit. Two points for the Hitchhiker’s reference.
And then… I’ll admit that the self-assembling suit is kind of cool, but I’m not sure exactly what the point is. So… you can push a button, and various pieces of your suit fly at you and assemble on top of you. This is convenient if you want your suit in a hurry, but inconvenient when only half of your suit arrives. It also seems unnecessarily complicated. Stark has already been demonstrated to have a suit that can be collapsed into a briefcase — why not just keep that around at all times?
This is one that also, at some point, responds directly to Stark’s mental commands. Perhaps something like motion capture, except more high-tech and working off of Stark’s mental impulses. We’ll just ignore the fact that this works from a device in his arm instead of around his brain. Nonetheless, it is cool, except for when he has a nightmare and the suit attacks Pepper Potts… because he kept it in while he was asleep, and didn’t put in safety features to prevent the suit from responding while the controller is not conscious.
Ultimately, I’m left with a single question: if Stark’s suits are capable of autonomous operation, as is demonstrated in the big final battle, why do we need to put humans into any of them? Sure, maybe you have them get in the suit to protect them while the other suits are battling the bad guys, but… otherwise?
This is this film’s equivalent of Captain America’s supersoldier serum. It gives you super-strength, speed, and amazing regenerative powers. It also lets you burn things, since apparently your temperature can go up to 3000 Kelvin or something . You should also careful while doing it, since you’re now made of explodium if you go too hot.
Aside from the obvious design flaws, there’s a critical, rather obvious biological problem. People don’t just become immune to heat like that. As you warm up a person, they’ll start having issues with hyperthermia and heat stroke. Warm them up a bit more, and depending on how fast you do it, we can start talking about burns and denaturing all the proteins in your body. (Denaturing of proteins is why cooked steak is a lot easier to eat than raw — the proteins have come apart to some degree, making it easier to take the steak apart.) As we continue to increase the temperature, we rapidly pass the point where even heat-loving bacteria called hyperthermophiles can survive. And we’re not even to 400 K yet! The surface temperature of the nearest extra-solar planet to us, Alpha Centauri Bb, is right next to its sun, and has a surface temperature of about 1500 K. Which is hot enough that silicate-based rocks melt and turn into magma. At 3000 K, you’re getting close to the vaporization temperature of iron. Yes, that’s right, iron boils at about 3134 K. Silicon dioxide, the main chemical component of things like glass, sand, and quartz, boils at around 2500 K. The Extremis people are 500 K hotter than vaporized glass.
Suffice it to say, a person as hot as 3000 K would, indeed, be able to melt through a lot of things. But it’d be hard to make a solid metallic robot that could safely be that hot, much less anything biological.
Your Intrigue Needs Work
This was… over-the-top at best.
I’ve seen another movie (RED — Retired, Extremely Dangerous) that had the VP be in on some delightfully over-the-top plot. Deliberately over-the-top.
I liked that setup better.
There is the lead villain, the Mandarin, who is, initially, an extremist terrorist with Arab-style dress and accent, blowing stuff up and blaming the US for everything.
He is later revealed to be a perpetually intoxicated actor named Trevor who doesn’t really know what’s going on. The obsessive scientist-CEO is the actual brains behind the operation — intending to supply terror to increase demands for his weapons tech, including Extremis. He’s funded by the VP because the VP wants a treatment for his daughter’s amputations, and, presumably, doesn’t mind the plot to kill the US President too much.
Um. Wow. The degree of transparent conspiracy-theory trappings is pretty annoying.
I would have liked it much better if the Mandarin had actually been the mastermind all along, and not a British guy masquerading as one. Let the Middle Eastern dude be cleverly manipulating the military-industrial complex and American anxieties for his own profit, rather than the stereotypical political and religious motivations. Perhaps he has the obsessive scientist-CEO on a tight leash — blackmail, or threatening someone the CEO cares about. And then, that character can do a heel-face turn at a critical moment. Or perhaps the good guys can try to make a deal with the Mandarin, letting him show off his expert skills at social maneuvering. Or something a little more interesting…