REVIEW:IRON MAN 3 GHOST ARMOR IRON MAN
Iron Man 3 is certainly one of the cinematic blockbusters of 2013, and as one would expect there's a line of action figures based on the movie. Although it is not as extensive as the line was for the last Iron Man movie, there are some interesting new armored additions to the overall collection. This review will take a look at GHOST ARMOR IRON MAN!
Let's have a look at the movie, and then at this new armored action figure.
Iron Man 3 is the third movie featuring the Armored Avenger, taking place in what has become officially known as the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The movie once again stars Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark/Iron Man. The movie is produced by Kevin Feige, directed by Shane Black, with a screenplay by Drew Pearce and Shane Black.
In the movie, Tony Stark recalls a New Year's Eve party in 1999 with scientist Maya Hansen, inventor of Extremis—an experimental regenerative treatment intended to allow recovery from crippling injuries. Disabled scientist Aldrich Killian offers them a place in his company Advanced Idea Mechanics, but is turned down.
Now, in the present day, Stark's experiences during the alien invasion of New York in the Avengers movie are giving him panic attacks. Restless, he has built multiple Iron Man suits, creating friction with his girlfriend Pepper Potts.
A string of bombings by the terrorist called the Mandarin has left intelligence agencies bewildered by lack of forensic evidence. When Stark Industries security chief Happy Hogan is badly injured in one such attack, Stark overcomes his stupor and issues a televised threat to the Mandarin, who responds by destroying Stark's home with helicopter gunships.
Hansen, who had come to warn Stark, and Potts survive the attack. Stark then finds himself in rural Tennessee after his artificial intelligence JARVIS followed a flight plan from Stark's investigation into the Mandarin. Stark's experimental armor lacks sufficient power to return to California, and the world believes him dead.
Teaming with Harley, a local 10-year-old boy with an inventive streak of his own, Stark investigates the remains of a local explosion bearing the hallmarks of a Mandarin attack. He discovers the "bombings" were triggered by soldiers subjected to Extremis, which at this stage of development can cause certain subjects to explosively reject it. After veterans started exploding, their deaths were used to cover up Extremis' flaws by manufacturing a terrorist plot. Stark witnesses Extremis firsthand when Mandarin agents Ellen Brandt and Eric Savin attack him.
With Harley's help, Stark traces the Mandarin to Miami and infiltrates his headquarters using improvised weapons. Inside he discovers the Mandarin is actually a British actor, Trevor Slattery, who says that he is oblivious to the actions carried out in his name. The Mandarin is a creation of Killian, who appropriated Hansen's Extremis research as a cure for his own disability and expanded the program to include injured war veterans. After capturing Stark, Killian reveals he is the true Mandarin; he has kidnapped Potts and subjected her to Extremis to gain Stark's aid in fixing Extremis' flaws and thereby saving Pepper. Killian kills Hansen when she has a change of heart about the plan.
Killian has also manipulated American intelligence agencies regarding the Mandarin's location, luring James Rhodes—the former War Machine, now re-branded as the Iron Patriot—into a trap to steal the armor. Stark escapes and reunites with Rhodes, discovering that Killian intends to attack President Ellis aboard Air Force One. Remotely controlling his Iron Man armor, Stark saves some surviving passengers and crew but cannot stop Killian from abducting Ellis. They trace Killian to an impounded oil-drilling platform where Killian intends to kill Ellis on live television. The vice president will become a puppet leader, following Killian's orders in exchange for Extremis to cure his daughter's disability.
On the platform, Stark goes to save Potts, and Rhodes saves the president. Stark summons each of his Iron Man suits, controlled remotely by JARVIS, to provide air support. Rhodes secures the president and leads him to safety, while Stark discovers Potts has survived the Extremis procedure. However, before he can save her, a rig collapses around them and she falls to her apparent death. Stark confronts Killian and traps him in an Iron Man suit that self-destructs, but fails to kill him. Potts, whose Extremis powers allowed her to survive her fall, intervenes and kills Killian.
After the battle, Stark orders JARVIS to destroy each Iron Man suit as a sign of his intention to devote more time to Potts. The vice president and Slattery are arrested. With Stark's help, Potts' Extremis effects are stabilized, and Stark undergoes surgery to remove the shrapnel embedded near his heart. He pitches his obsolete chest arc reactor into the sea, musing he will always be Iron Man.
In a present day post-credits scene, Stark wakes up Dr. Bruce Banner, who fell asleep listening at the beginning of Stark's story. And I barely recognized Mark Ruffalo, who really should've shaved and gotten a better haircut, even just for a cameo. I barely recognized him.
After the post-credits scene, a final line states "Tony Stark will return".
A few thoughts about the movie, if I may. Although the movie has certainly been a box office hit, a number of people I have spoken to online tend to agree with my assessment -- too much Stark, not enough Iron Man. Okay, I get that the point of the movie is for Tony to learn that he can function as a hero without the armor. And he succeeds.
By the end of the movie, he's even had advanced surgery to remove the shrapnel from his heart that has required the technological implant in his chest that also aided in powering his armor. Fine and well. But the title of the movie series is Iron Man, not Tony Stark, and I think I and a fair number of other fans would've preferred to see a little more armored action and a little less emotional angst and whatever else.
That tag line "Tony Stark will return" with its James Bond riff is hardly inappropriate. Stark comes across like some sort of James Bond type character. With all due respect, when I go to a movie titled "Iron Man" -- I expect to see Iron Man, and a good bit more than this. Tony's claim at the end of the movie that he is still Iron Man -- apparently with or without armor -- just doesn't quite do it for me.
Personally, I doubt that this was even Robert Downey Jr's, idea, to get his face on the screen more. It just seemed to be the main crux of the movie. It was an enjoyable movie, don't get me wrong, but still...
The armor came across well, and that includes both Tony's latest as well as the Iron Patriot armor, the repainted War Machine armor, now known as the Iron Patriot, still worn by Tony's friend Jim Rhodes, in service to his country. But I still found some elements of the movie's ending rather, if not unsatisfying, then certainly a little disappointing. Several dozen perfectly serviceable suits of armor are self-destructed by Stark. That struck me as a waste. With the removal of the chest implant -- and good for Tony -- he seems to have little reason to build more armor, despite the claim at the end of the movie that he is still Iron Man.
Of course, there's always the Avengers sequel, and given the box office take on this movie, I can't imagine there won't be an Iron Man 4, etc., but I'll be interested to see how they explain Stark's return to armor.
As to the action figures. There are two basic lines in the 4" size. There are the straightforward action figures, which includes this Ghost Armor Iron Man, and there is a second series called "Assemblers", which are Iron Man armors with interchangeable parts.
Interestingly, there is no standard Iron Man figure that looks like the one worn by Stark in the movie. There is an "Assemblers" version of it, but not in the basic line, which to date, consists of four Iron Man variants, only one of which uses the traditional color scheme of red and gold.
And here is a point that I think is honestly in favor of that particular assortment. One thing that I really believe hurt the Iron Man 2 line of action figures was there was simply too much red and gold. This may have hurt the sales of the figures, and ultimately cost us some very interesting later figures and armor designs -- not to mention color schemes -- that I have only seen prototype pictures of because they never reached production.
With Iron Man 3, there's a lot more color variety. And why not? I mean, if Batman action figures can wear some of the colors that they do in the not-always-Dark Knight's various lines, why not Iron Man?
So, turning to the GHOST ARMOR, how's the figure? Very cool, really -- no pun intended.
The question is obviously raised -- does this armor appear in the movie? And the answer I have to give is -- I don't know. The big battle scene towards the end of the movie features literally dozens of remote controlled Iron Man armored engaged in a fight against dozens of Extremis-enhanced combatants. And you don't really get a very good look at most of those armors, since the fight is at night on board a large outdoor platform that is an extremely intricate construct in and of itself, and the lighting is rather odd as a result.
There is a book available, written for the children's market but still very useful, titled "Iron Man 3: Suits of Armor". This book features illustrations and background details on quite a few, but not all, of the armors seen in the movie, and you frankly get a better look at them in this book than you do on the screen.
I can say that I did see a couple of armors that I recognized as having been released in the Iron Man 2 action figure line. Prominent among these was the Deep Dive Armor, designated in the book as the "Deep Sea Suit" -- Mark 37 -- and nicknamed "Hammerhead", and another one greatly resembled the Hulkbuster Armor, although according to the book, it's been dubbed the "Heavy-Lifting Armor", Mark 38, nicknamed "Igor" of all things. Someone else reported seeing the black and gold repaint of the Mark V armor, and while I didn't see this in the movie, something very close to it is in the book, listed as the Mark 41 "Skeleton Suit". But overall, I think this is something that will have to wait for the DVD release, and require some close scrutiny with a pause button and a very large high-definition TV.
I do think it's worth noting that the end credits gave artistic credit to a number of Iron Man's comic book artists over the years, including Bob Layton, John Byrne, and others. Unless they did actual design work for the movie, I would suspect that some of those armor designs were based on their comic-based concepts.
But as for the Ghost Armor specifically -- it's not in the book. Is it on the screen? Beats me.
That doesn't mean it's not a cool figure. Indeed it is. The basic design is clearly derived from the Mark VII armor, which actually debuted in the Avengers movie.
However, the traditional red-and-yellow color scheme is completely absent. Instead, the armor is primarily a very pale gray, almost a gray-ivory in color. Most of the helmet is black, although the faceplate is the pale gray color, and there is also some black detail on the abdomen and upper legs. The eyes and the arc reactor have been painted yellow.
The back of the package card indicates that the Hydro Shock Armor has received a Repulsor Upgrade to include Repulsor-Rocket Gauntlets, which are included as accessories in the package. They are molded in dark gray plastic and clip to the lower arms.
Additionally, the armor itself has been designed for stealth, and uses nano-cloaking technology which makes the suit undetectable to any radar. The rocket boost arm gauntlets allow Iron Man to reach supersonic speeds almost instantly, leaving confused enemies thinking they've just been blasted by a ghost.
The color scheme is impressive. Along with being a far cry from his traditional red and gold, the pale ivory-gray does look somewhat ghost-like. The off-setting black, especially on the helmet, is a little odd, but it works well enough, and the yellow trim on the eyes and arc reactor are very well done.
The paintwork, although limited, is very neatly done, and the sculpted detail on the entire figure is excellent.
Let's discuss articulation. And here is a serious bone of contention among many collectors. This Iron Man figure, and indeed the entire line, has five points of articulation -- head, arms, legs. Moreover, this seems to be the new standard for 4" scale figures from Hasbro, as it's also being incorporated into Star Wars, Spider-Man, and one can assume that the action figures for the forthcoming Thor sequel will also follow this design.
Immune from this for now are the Marvel Universe line, and G.I. Joe, following several vehicle drivers that, to put it mildly, were not well-received.
I'm not going to get into the reasons for this, for they are many, and some are accurate and others are more speculative. It is what it is, and I'd be lying if I said it wasn't disappointing. But, if one wishes to add these figures to their collection, there isn't a lot of choice, either. And in fairness, Ghost Armor Iron Man is still a cool-looking and nicely-detailed figure. I have no complaints about that, or the paint job.
So, what's my final word? Iron Man 3 is an impressive film, and certainly a worthy continuation of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. My one and only criticism would be that I hope in Iron Man 4, Stark spends a little more time in the armor, instead of blowing them up at the end. Maybe he can use one to tend to the bad guy instead of letting his girlfriend do it...
Ghost Armor Iron Man, whether it's in the movie or not, is a very impressive set of armor, that certainly looks well equipped and appropriately colored to carry out its specialized mission. The articulation is an issue, but it's one that we'll simply have to accept. And the figures are not terribly expensive at all. I certainly won't complain there.
So go see IRON MAN 3. And then have a look at your local toy aisle, and give some thought to these figures. I believe you will find that Ghost Armor Iron Man is a cool addition to your own "Hall of Armor".
The GHOST ARMOR IRON MAN figure from the IRON MAN 3 collection definitely has my most enthusiastic recommendation!