Iron Man 3 isn’t a very good movie.
When you go to see it (because I know the draw to see it is impossible to resist), you’ll disagree with me for the first 30 minutes. “This is awesome,” you’ll say. “You hate fun,” you’ll add. And then, the movie will break bad on you just as it did on me. Here are seven reasons Iron Man 3 failed to deliver on the momentum created by the first wave of Marvel Studios movies:
1. You can fly an Avengers Quinjet through the plot holes. I realize we’re talking about a comic book movie here, but nothing seemed logical from the moment Tony Stark crash landed in Tennessee.
2. Tony Stark befriends a boy genius (Hey! He’s just like a young Tony!). Great effort is put into Tony Stark maintaining his acerbic edges around the youth, but the contrived relationship never feels right.
3. Iron Man 3 exists to sell toys and merchandise. There was no real story-advancing reason to transform War Machine into Iron Patriot, but the armor sure would look cool on the shelves at Target. And that armor bonanza that flies in to save the day at the end of the movie? Action figure money in the bank.
4. The Mandarin. Missed opportunity in every possible way. Anything said beyond that would be a violation of Spoiler Law.
5. Extremis. The main plot point (a bio-electronic virus), based on one of the more memorable Iron Man comic book story lines of the past 20 years, was never well explained in the movie. Furthermore, it wasn’t enough to carry a two hour movie.
6. Iron Man. There’s just not enough actual Iron Man in the movie. Most of the scenes involving Iron Man armor found Tony Stark manipulating it remotely, or struggling to make it work.
7. War Machine. His repeat inclusion in this sequel was an unneeded distraction from the crowd-pleasing feature attraction of Robert Downey, Jr. in the dual role of Tony Stark and Iron Man. By shoehorning the one-dimensional War Machine into Iron Man 3, director Shane Black moved further away from storytelling that actually advanced the characters and story.
And yes, there’s a post-credits scene that ties into the greater movie universe. It’s more along the lines of the “shawarma” scene at the end of the Avengers than the “Thor’s hammer” scene at the end of Iron Man 2.
This year, the convention adds another pen mark to the growth chart on the wall. McCormick Place carved out more space for the 2013 show, a canny decision forced by the size of last year’s crowds. The result was more forgiving aisle and walkway space, alleviating some of the can’t breathe, shoulder-to-shoulder bottlenecking that defined the con’s peak hours last year.
I picked up my pass at 9:30 this morning, at which point the line to get in (doors opened at 10 a.m.) was easily a few hundred deep. I hate waiting in line for anything, from roller coaster rides to restaurant dinners, but at least there was visual entertainment. As I cooled my heels, I saw four Harley Quinns, a Ghostbuster, the Martian Manhunter, Captain America, the Falcon, and Black Canary.
Cosplay was everywhere this year, much more so than I can remember in the past two years. Every comic character seemed to be represented at C2E2, from the obscure to the well-known, A-Z from Ant Man to Zatanna. The amount of care and effort put into some of the outfits falls somewhere between Broadway show to Hollywood production. Here’s Spider-Man and gal pal Mary Jane (with Poison Ivy and someone Catwoman-ish to their left):
Running around with the cosplaying Hawkmen, Jokers, and Deadpools were some of the most scantily-clad characters in comics, including Starfire, Emma Frost, and the aforementioned Zatanna. It was like walking through the dorkiest gentleman’s club in the Midwest (cue: “Welcome to the Jungle”… “All right guys, now approaching the stage, please welcome … POWER GIRL”). I had had to make a point to distract and whisk my 11 year-old past those particular cosplayers (“Hey, son, did I just see Stan Lee? No? Oh, my bad.”)
The naughty cosplayers all came dangerously close to violating this rule, spelled out in the C2E2 program guide:
I’ll reserve judgement on the guys lining up to take pictures of and with those girls. Maybe they just happen to be huge fans of the characters, and were thrilled to see those super-heroines brought to three-dimensional life.
Speaking of cosplay, I don’t know what this was, but it was awesome:
… and I’m not sure what this was, either. A Star Wars character?
The first publisher I noticed when I walked into the hall was Dark Horse, whose bright, well-organized space was positioned in what was arguably the event’s prime location. Curiously, DC Comics was nowhere to be found at C2E2 (outside of its writers and artists making panel appearances). Seems like a huge missed opportunity to me, but it’s a move consistent with several years of awful editorial decisions. Call me bitter; I hate super villains who rape, and I miss Superman’s red underpants.
We made a few panels, including one featuring “Toy Hunter” Jordan Hembrough. The worst part of panels tends to be the Q&A portion, which gets tiresome fast. Usually the first 3-4 questions are fine, but then a handful of attendees force themselves out of their seats to ask a question for the sake of “having a moment” with the panel guest. Whenever I hear a fan say, “I have a two-part question,” I start clock-watching, if not heading towards the door. Understanding that iPhones take lousy long-range pictures, I ask that you please forgive this shot of the Toy Hunter panel:
Just like going to Vegas, I always set a budget before walking into a convention. My budget for purchases this year was a combined $100 for my son and me. What I foolishly failed to include in the budget was the cost of parking, food, and admission. For the past three years, I’ve been fortunate enough to have media access to the event. Furthermore, for the past two years I’d gone to C2E2 on Sundays so my son could also go for free (children are admitted for free on Sundays). Since I’m committed to a Sox game tomorrow, “free day” wasn’t an option for this year. What I never bothered to check was how much a paid admission actually cost. The answer: $40 for the privilege of walking in the door to spend more money.
My son was on an action figure mission, and shortly after we walked in, he found a wall of DC Universe figures. “It’s Black Manta! I never see him anywhere!” he said. “There’s no price tag on it,” I said, knowing that meant I’d have to go “Turkish Grand Bazaar” on the dealer and haggle, which I enjoy as much as waiting in lines. “How much for Black Manta?” I asked the dealer. “Ummm … forty-five dollars,” he said. I explained to my son that we’d see Black Manta again, and probably for less money. Sure enough, within ten minutes we found the Aquaman nemesis for ten dollars less. The scourge of the seas is now the scourge of my son’s bedroom:
Black Manta sez: “I will kill your baby, Aquaman.”
In addition to Black Manta, I got that Hawkman t-shirt I never needed, a black and white collection of Marvel Horror comics from the 1970s, and an autographed Dick Tracy poster from comics great Joe Staton:
I also picked up an Iron Man trade paperback from my pals at Challengers Comics. They’ve got the con thing figured out: they stocked only the most in-demand trade paperbacks and sold them at a discounted price. Beyond that, they staffed their area with cute girls. Elementary? Perhaps, but I was impressed.
The Artists Alley is always a favorite haunt for me, as it’s really the best opportunity to meet and interact with creators from across the industry. I also enjoy the comfort of seeing familiar faces there, as I did today in Ryan Browne (God Hates Astronauts), John Siuntres (Word Balloon), and Sal Abbinanti (Atomika).
Random thing I thought was amazing: The freaking Mach 5. Go, Speed Racer. Go.
So, how did I do with my Vegas budget? Total bust. I went $20 over on product, and way over with everything else. This trip hurt.
|Admission (self)||Free (Press)|
|Iron Man “Extremis” TPB (thanks, Challengers)||$12|
|Lunch for two (burgers, fries, bottled water, cookies)||$36|
|Black Manta action figure||$32.78|
|Two t-shirts from Graphitti Designs||$41.41|
|McCormick Place parking||$21|
|Essential Marvel Horror, Star Trek Gold Key, War Machine TPBs||$17|
|Autographed Joe Staton Dick Tracy poster||$20|
Hurts so good, I suppose. I thought that C2E2 was beautifully run and much more navigable and manageable this year.
Previous years’ coverage:
I went to two movies this weekend: G.I. Joe: Retaliation and Olympus Has Fallen. They were both terrible … like, you’re an absolute schmuck if you go to see them, terrible. Making matters worse? They’re essentially the exact same movie.
Consider this checklist:
|G.I. Joe||Olympus Has Fallen|
|Movie opens with established conflict in North Korea||Yes||Yes|
|White House infiltrated and taken over by an insidious enemy||Yes||Yes|
|All of America’s nukes in danger of exploding||Yes||Yes|
|U.S. President is replaced for most of the movie||Yes||Yes|
|Lots of shooting||Yes||Yes|
|Is actually “Die Hard” without Bruce Willis||No||Yes|
|Has Bruce Willis, star of “Die Hard”||Yes||No|
|Has an adorable child in a supporting role||Yes||Yes|
|Has more than one actor who has appeared in Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy||No||Yes|
|Has an actress who recently starred in an unsuccessful Wonder Woman pilot||Yes||No|
|Has the leader of the Wu-Tang Clan||Yes||No|
So much for new ideas.
The Rolling Stones are officially coming back to Chicago, with a United Center date set for May 28. Here’s what Greg Kot at the Tribune had to say.
The ticket price range quickly escalates from “barely 99% friendly” to “screw you, 1%” ($85 – $600). While those prices are beyond my reach, I can make a case to see the Stones for anyone who’s somehow managed to miss them for the past fifty years. The Rolling Stones had a major part in constructing modern rock and roll; it’s practically one’s duty to see them before that final Whip Comes Down.
Social media was aflame today with complaints about the median price tag of $250, and especially about the high end $600 tickets … but is anyone truly surprised? The pricing trend line keeps going up for the quote-unquote music legends. Check out the average ticket price for a handful of last year’s biggest offenders (according to Pollstar):
Barbara Streisand – $263.52
Celene Dion – $157.00
Madonna – $140.38
Paul McCartney – $136.64
Elton John – $117.25
Again, those are average prices. When one Beatle’s averaging $136.64 per person, the thought of $600 to see all of the living Rolling Stones doesn’t seem that insane.
If the Stones didn’t still manage to deliver in swagger and sound, it would be a lot easier to rip this joint (such as it were). Beyond that, who can argue with the always-lingering possibility of a Buddy Guy appearance?
… and “Gimme Shelter” has never stopped sounding hair-raisingly big and menacing in concert.
I get asked all the time which songs and bands I’m currently listening to. Unfortunately, I’m almost always asked at the wrong time … like when I’m just rolling off of a week-long Asia bender. It’s hard to talk new music when I’m in, excuse the expression, the heat of the moment.
When I really think about it, there are two songs from the past 12 months that I never stopped listening to: “Roman Ruins” by Line & Circle and “Joe’s Cult” from Sean Rowe.
Line & Circle
“Roman Ruins” will rocket you back to the dreamy, outsider-looking-in, jangle of early R.E.M. It’s hypnotized me into repeat listens that have stretched out over the past several months. “Carelessness,” the song’s B-side, is pretty great, too.
And then there’s Sean Rowe …
“Joe’s Cult,” from The Salesman and the Shark, deliriously unspools like a late night meeting between Leonard Cohen and Jonathan Richman:
What do you think? Yea? Nay?
When I consider my weekly podcast, I tend to think of it only in the moment; specifically about the current week’s guest.
When I take a step back and look at the show historically, I think I’ve managed to deliver a pretty exciting and eclectic guest list. Given that so many publicists and managers in the arts still can’t think past doing interviews with traditional media, I look at every guest below as a forward-thinking friend and ally.
In case you’ve been wondering what I’ve been up to for the past 13 months (and what’s coming up for the next three weeks), here’s the complete list:
February 1 - Paul Adelstein
February 8- Janus (Mike Tyranski)
February 15 – Butch Walker
February 29 – Smoking Popes (Josh Caterer)
March 7 – Will Murray; Electra
March 14 – Eve 6 (Max)
March 21 – Dag Juhlin; Michael Mendheim
March 28 – Thomas Dolby
April 4 – Emilie Autumn
April 18 – Queensryche (Geoff Tate)
April 25 – Dastardly
May 2 – Matt DuBiel
May 9 – Joel Cohen; Jim DeRogatis
May 16 – Candlebox (Kevin Martin)
May 23 – Jenny McCarthy
May 30 – Soul Asylum (Dave Pirner)
June 6 – Styx (Todd Sucherman)
June 13 – Chantal Claret
June 20 – Dick Dale
June 27 – Kevin Matthews
July 4 – Brian Cronin
July 11 – Girl in a Coma (Jenn Alva)
July 18 – Toadies (Clark Vogeler)
July 25 – Kill Hannah (Matt Devine)
August 1 – JC Brooks (JC Brooks and the Uptown Sound)
August 8 – Jim McCarty (The Yardbirds)
August 15 – Jim Marcus (Die Warzau)
August 22 – The Last Vegas (Chad Cherry)
August 29 – Johnny Winter
September 5 – The Tubes (Fee Waybill)
September 12 – Ryan Browne
September 19 – James Iha
September 26 – Lucky Boys Confusion (Kaustubh Pandhav)
October 3 – Rebirth Brass Band (Keith Frazier); Off Broadway (John Ivan/Scott
October 10 – Pat Travers
October 17 – Yes/Asia (Steve Howe)
October 24 – Alan Parsons
October 31 – Halloween Special with Svengoolie
November 7 – The Kinks (Dave Davies)
November 14 – Li’l Ed and the Blues Imperials
November 21 – David Singer
November 28 – Sludge
December 5 – Concrete Blonde (Johnette Napolitano)
Music from Diagon Alley, Punch Cabbie
Challengers Comics interview
December 12 – LOCALCEMBER
Ami Saraiya (interview)
Music from Shift
December 19 – LOCALCEMBER
Music from Roosevelt Jenkins, Sleep Out (interview)
December 26 – LOCALCEMBER
Music from The Jordan Years, Pig Champion, Sheriff Scabs (interview)
January 2- Matt Walker
January 9 – Midge Ure
January 16 – Giles Robson
January 23 – dada/7horse (Phil Leavitt)
January 30 -Turisas (Olli Vänskä)
February 6 – Sugar Blue
February 13 – Jefferson Airplane/Hot Tuna (Jack Casady)
February 20 – Henry Wagons
February 27 – St. Prostitute & Magatha Trysty
March 6 – Fig Dish (Blake Smith and Rick Ness);Ryan Browne
March 13 – St. Patrick’s Day show with Larry Kirwan of Black 47
Author: James VanOsdol