Title: Iron Man 3
Written By: Screenplay: Drew Pearce and Shane Black
Publication Info: Paramount/Disney 2013
Genre: Science Fiction/Fantasy
I haven't been reviewing any Marvel movies because generally they aren't very romance-y. Certainly they can't wrap everything up into a nice HEA, because then there would be no franchise.
But Iron Man 3 intrigued me because it seemed to promise a lot of Tony Stark/Pepper Potts stuff, so I checked it out for you, dear readers (oh, please, like I totally wasn't going to see it anyway).
I have tons to say about the movie but I'm going to focus on the romance stuff here. For those of who you don't follow this sort of thing, Pepper Potts was Tony Stark's assistant in Iron Man. During the first part of the first movie he is hopelessly self-absorbed, and yet it's clear that he admires Ms. Potts' business acumen, and witty banter. All their conversations are reminiscent of the Thin Man movies from the 1930's – fast, snappy, sharp dialogue.
Anyway, over the course of the next two movies, they flirt, they fight, Pepper saves Tony, Tony saves Pepper, and Tony saves Pepper some more. Tony become less of a narcissistic asshat and more adept at functioning as part of a team and generally behaving like a decent human being. Pepper keeps getting more and more powerful as a businesswoman and basically cool person. Two things are abundantly clear:
1. Pepper is the only thing that grounds Tony at all. Whether they are romantically involved or not, he needs her in order to function. As she points out in the first movie, he doesn't even know his own social security number. But beyond helping him function in mundane terms, she is the only person who reminds him of basic human emotions and needs, and she is one of the few people whom he unreservedly admires.
2. Pepper adores Tony for his genius and his charm, but she is also fairly adept at recognizing his limitations and not taking his crap. I admire Pepper because she's smart, because she uses her brains to navigate a world in which she is physically hopelessly overpowered, and because she remains a decent human being even when she's in stressful situations.
But my admiration of Pepper is ambivalent, because she keeps staying with Tony in either a professional or romantic relationship (or both). It's true that Tony is gorgeous and funny and sexy and brilliant, but he's also manipulative and self-centered. In one way, Pepper is an admirable non-super powered character who keeps not only Tony but also the whole franchise grounded in a reality where there is dry-cleaning and board meetings to deal with, but on the other hand she's a huge codependent.
Iron Man 3 is the first movie (aside from a delightful scene in Avengers) where Pepper and Tony are solidly together as a romantic couple, and although I thought the movie as a whole was great, I thought the Tony/Pepper stuff was a little disappointing. Tony can't sleep or stop compulsively modifying his armor because he is traumatized from the events of Avengers. When he reveals this to Pepper, her response is to hug him and offer him sex and then they go to sleep and for complicated reasons she ends up on the couch. Now, I realize that this conversation happens after Tony pulls a total douchebag move on her and she's fed up. But Pepper is used to fixing things, just as much as Tony is. So you'd think that she'd respond with a little more concern and constructive help, like, say, the number of a good therapist (admittedly, one suspects that that Tony has laughed in the face of therapy many times before).
It seems that Pepper is still ambivalent about being in a relationship with an asshat, and who can blame her. Tony, however, is devoted to Pepper – just not enough to let go of his obsession with building more Iron Men. Even that obsession has a lot to do with the fact that he wants to protect Pepper, and yet he also keeps putting her in danger by opening his big mouth to his enemies and then refusing to take security precautions, like, say, refraining from giving terrorists his home address. Hearing Tony tell Pepper that he loves her and that she is the one thing he can't lose is undeniably a rush, but it's like he just doesn't know how to be a boyfriend and instead he substitutes this maniacal behavior that both neglects and endangers her.
It's no secret that both Gwyneth Paltrow and Robert Downey Jr. campaigned heavily for Pepper to be more physically bad-ass in this movie. She is, but in a problematic way. I debated about whether to address this in detail in white-out spoiler form, but I feel like it's just too soon. I'm pretty addicted to spoilers but this is really a movie that you do NOT want to be spoiled for.
In a sense, I think what we have here is an old-school romance that's dressed up as a new-school romance. For all Pepper's smarts and economic power, she's still constantly living at and by the whim of Tony. But the romance resolves when Tony makes huge changes in his life, gradually, and with a lot of backsliding, but culminating in what seems to be a life that Pepper wants. She is the good girl who reforms the bad boy, but not too much, because we sort of love it when Tony is a little bad.
So, what do you guys think? Thor 2 comes out this summer. Are you longing to hear my thoughts regarding Thor and Jane Foster? Or is that just too off-topic for the Bitchery? (SB Sarah: “I have absolutely every interest in hearing Carrie take on Thor.”)
I do hear that Thor 2 is pretty romance heavy. Obviously, there's a pretty intense romance between Loki and I, but that goes without saying. Anyway, if you want to know all about Jane and Thor this summer, give me a heads up, and in the meantime enjoy Iron Man 3. Pepper Potts FTW!
Please note: We totally want to hear what you think! But please try to avoid major spoilers, since the movie just came out. If you see one, please email me and I can white it out. Thank you!