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[personal profile] gen_is_gone
The one thing that continually hits me as the film's most egregious waste however, is that Harley, the kid Tony finds himself 'connected' to, is a little white boy. I'm always struck, while rewatching it, by how the one thing that holds it back from completely taking apart the myriad problems with the Mandarin (and yes, that twist is the reason I love this movie the way I do, fuck you) is the lack of representation elsewhere in the cast. I think if Harley had been Chinese-American, and had got to explicitly point out exactly what fucking ugly caricatures the Mandarin has in the past and continues to embody, and use, it could have closed that last bit of difference between the movie and a lot, if not most, of its critics. Obviously, racists are racist, and will continue to be racist regardless of whether someone tells them they're racist, but they utterly lose any leg they have to stand on when the text itself calls them out. Or at any rate, it makes them out themselves as assholes for complaining about it. This is what stands between Iron Man 3 and perfection.

Another, entirely unrelated, thing that hit me here was just how horrifying some parts of this movie are. Obviously, in an action piece, there's a great deal of stylized violence, but so much of the violence in Iron Man 3 stands out because it isn't. Pepper and Maya don't get to look nearly as beat up, as is mostly to be expected, but Tony spends the latter half with blood and bruises crusting his face, is held captive not by high-tech torture devices, but zip-tied to a bed frame. Maya's shot in front of him and it's ugly, and Tony reacts as one not trained to encompass that. He has, by this point, seen a hell of a lot of death, and in often worse ways, but Maya threatens to kill herself to save Tony in vain, and Killian simply shoots her, to give Tony 'desperation'. Pepper, who's also seen more than her share of violence, is visibly traumatized, is visible in suffering, and (testament to both the writers and RDJ and Paltrow) their reunion is fragile, and barely not hysterical.

So much time is spent on the aftermath of trauma, the morning after the huge climatic battle, and how difficult it is to move on from it, how much easier it is in the heat of the moment to ignore blind panic and focus on a clear objective (stop the bad guys), vs the horror of then reliving that moment, primed and ready for a battle that doesn't exist anymore. It's pretty telling that Tony's still able to function, to fight and make quips when Pepper falls and he thinks she's dead, while earlier when watching her being tortured he shuts down completely, tries and fails to look away and looks completely catatonic. Tony's perfectly capable of doing the mental equivalent of shoving your guts back into your skin and burning the wound closed--it's having the time to process that's poison. It's fitting then, that this is the film that immediately follows The Avengers. Tony's the one to hold off the act of processing the Chitauri invasion in favor of going out for shwarma, and this is where the reality of the last two years all starts to hit him, and with him his viewers as well.

Aside from that, Rhodey has my continued undying love; stripped down, Mission Impossible Tony remains the most delightful thing; and my favorite line is still

Pepper: Got you.
Tony: I got you first.

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