I’m surprised that Downey has held out this long. At some point, you have enough money and want to return to your art. He says this is his last, and I believe him. What we have in this case is him on his way out, dictating terms. And we have a pretty good movie as a result, far better that the earlier ones and leagues better than the usual Marvel.
He booted out the director and got the guy he worked with on ‘Kiss Kiss Bang Bang’. That film found a distance between noir detective movies and self-satire that was novel, delicious. It is carried over to here. No one but kiddies can take these movies seriously, so the game is to find that space in between the world you show and the world of the viewer.
Usually it has to be reflectively comic. ‘Guardians’ used that effectively. What we have here is more subtle, letting the genre itself be the joke. It isn’t just that the villain is an actor; the idea permeates the whole world.
He booted out the writer and got the hot new guy, someone who understands snappy situations and narrative distance. He’ll probably burn out, but here he matters.
He changed the formula from girl-in-distress to give Pepper some kickass scenes. And finally, he fired ILM and got WETA. So we now have some sense of spatial imagination and adventure where before we had dull bombast.
This adds up to a great deal of fun for me. Sure, there are a lot of things that don’t make sense and are pretty dull, but they are in different places and ways than with the usual Marvel product. You can’t eliminate these, but shifting them is novel, competent, self-aware and appreciated.
If he leaves the franchise, he will have done so with some honour, and some demonstration that he knows what he is doing. Bless you Mr. Downey.
Ted’s Evaluation — 3 of 3: Worth watching.