The Brett Kimberlin Saga:

Follow this link to my BLOCKBUSTER STORY of how Brett Kimberlin, a convicted terrorist and perjurer, attempted to frame me for a crime, and then got me arrested for blogging when I exposed that misconduct to the world. That sounds like an incredible claim, but I provide primary documents and video evidence proving that he did this. And if you are moved by this story to provide a little help to myself and other victims of Mr. Kimberlin’s intimidation, such as Robert Stacy McCain, you can donate at the PayPal buttons on the right. And I thank everyone who has done so, and will do so.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

SPOILERS: Why Iron Man 3 is Guaranteed to Annoy Fans of the Comics (And Some Non-Fans)

So I went to see Iron Man 3 last night.  The theater was so packed that they actually had to add an additional impromptu 2D show while I was waiting.  And there was a line to sit in the theater.  I never saw anything like this before and frankly given that experience, I am surprised that it didn’t rake in more money yesterday.

Still on balance I enjoyed it.  The tone is more “action/comedy” meaning that even in the middle of the action there is a ton of comedy.  When the comedy comes in the form of spoken jokes in the middle of gunfire, that is tolerable.  But when the comedy comes in the form of slapstick in the middle of the action, that is less enjoyable.  The climatic fight between the superhero and the supervillain should be a “no slapstick zone.”

Look, it follows the pattern of most of these Marvel Studios movies.  They don’t try to be particularly deep, as Nolan did with his Batman movies, to say something greater about life than just “here’s how this costumed good guy beat this costumed bad guy.”  No, the Marvel movies mainly just try to be a “good story well told” and be satisfied with that.  And that is for the most part all Iron Man 3 is, in my opinion.  I never give these things an A+ as I would with The Dark Knight, but always a B+, but these Marvel movies have been batting that average pretty consistently since the first Iron Man came out.

But there has been an undercurrent of some people absolutely hating this movie to the point that IGN ran an article today defending the movie against its detractors.  And while I don’t agree with the detractors, I think I understand the complaint.  I think part of why I was not annoyed is that I am not an Iron Man comic fan.  I have literally never read a comic in which Iron Man was a character.  Other people I know love it, and they may be right, but I never got around to it.  And Iron Man 3 absolutely butchers some of those stories.

But I have to get very spoilerish to explain what I mean although let me stop and ask a philosophical question.  Is this a spoiler?  It’s a twist in the movie, but normally you call it a spoiler because it ruins what is going to be a good surprise.

Like here’s an example The Shawshank Redemption.  If you have never seen it, this is a true SPOILER ALERT because I am about to tell you about a plot twist in that one.  So run go see it, and then come back here.

Okay, you’re back?  Good.  Because I remember watching that movie with my father.  I had to bite my tongue the whole time and he steadily decided that this was the most depressing movie he ever saw, actually going, “so he used the rope to hang himself? This is an awful movie.”  And right about when he decided it was an awful movie and wondered out loud why his son insisted on him watching it, they revealed that the character hadn’t died: he had escaped, and set up a good life for himself and screwed some bad people in the process.  And within about five minutes my father went from hating the movie to loving it.  And I think it is safe to say he was glad I didn’t give the secret away beforehand.

Now imagine if before you watched that movie, you were told it was about a prison escape?  Oh you could enjoy it some, but it wouldn’t be the same.  So telling a person beforehand is a spoiler, because it spoils what is ordinarily an enjoyable surprise.

And there is a twist in Iron Man 3, but the more I think about it, the more I think it might be wrong to call it a spoiler.  I think on balance it is not a pleasant surprise.  It’s annoying, actually.  And the more I think about it the more I think I would have benefitted from knowing ahead of time.  I would have seen the movie still, but I would have pre-digested the twist.  I am literally saying that if I could go back in time and spoil it for myself, I would have done it, and I think I would have enjoyed the movie more.

But in case I haven’t convinced you to let yourself be spoiled, I will talk about the twist after doing the obligatory SPOILER ALERT*.  Because seriously, I am not going to hold back on some major plot points below the fold.  For my money, I would have preferred to have been spoiled, but you might feel differently.  So if you don’t want to be spoiled, stop now, watch it, and come back later.

Still with me?

Okay, the first thing that smacks you in the face is the twist with the Mandarin.  And in this the media is downright complicit in making you feel completely jerked around.  I just suggested above some of this was fans of the comics getting annoyed, but even I was a little annoyed by the twist.

See if you watch the ads, you think Ben Kingsley is going to be some kind of genius bad guy.  Yeah, sure he is all over the place thematically.  He has a name alluding to Chinese culture, he looks like bin Laden.  He speaks clear English. And as you watch it, before the twist, you think that he is also motivated by the slaughter of Native Americans and ecological bull.  It is unrealistic and over-the-top and all over the place culturally, but it’s kind of what you expect from a comic book movie.  Even the cultural schizophrenia fits because these days we don’t want to offend a specific culture too much, so we make him mulit-culturally evil to make it more politically correct.  So up until the twist comes in you fully expect this to be a story where Stark has to deal with two villains.

I say two, because you figure out that Guy Pearce’s Killian is a bad guy in all of three seconds, or at least up to no good.  He is set up too easily as the guy Tony blew off and that comes back to bite him in the behind.  So you figure it is going to be some kind of two villain yarn.

And then the movie yanks those expectations right out from under you.  You see, Ben Kingsley is not The Mandarin.  Guy Pearce, in a crucial moment toward the end, takes ownership of the character.  And Kingsley?  He is playing an actor hired to be The Mandarin for the various terror tapes.  Basically it repeats the idea of the “terrorists working with American industrialists” used in the first movie, but amplifies it.  This time the terrorists don’t even exist.  If I understood correctly the “bombings” were not even bombings, they were just technology going haywire and exploding.

So there is actually a scene where Tony Stark manages to find Kingsley and the guy instantly reveals himself to be just an idiot they hired to play the scary Mandarin.  Which even I, not being into the comics, not knowing much about the Extremis and Mandarin storylines the movie was drawing from, found annoying.

Thinking about the movie even more, I think the culprit here is marketing.  They had to figure out a way to sell the movie.  And the additional complexity is that it is ultimately a mystery movie.  Or at least a large part of the story is a mystery.

It starts with there being this big horrible terrorist who keeps setting off bombs all over America.  Except they are not bombs, they are experiments going wrong and the terrorist story is simply being told to hide the fact that these experiments were going off.  Why they were going off in various American cities is never adequately explained.  I won’t say too much and spoil a genuinely enjoyable twist but you would think that once it was clear they were going off, that they would make an effort to remove the danger to an isolated place in Alaska or something.  Instead even knowing that these things might go off and kill hundreds of innocents, they keep the experiments in the middle of civilians.  It makes no sense.

And of course the big horrible terrorist, the Mandarin, is just an illusion anyway.  And so is the threat posed by it.  But it was created to hide an even bigger, more comic-booky threat: Extremis.  And this leads to a fight and spectacular climax which big box office receipts are made of.

The problem is, how do you market that, without giving the mystery away?  Well, you kind of can’t, so most of the time they give you at least glimpses of the real danger in the ads.  In this case, they chose instead to tease you with the Mandarin as the big bad guy of the movie.  In essence it is a bait and switch.  They said, “we will trick you into seeing it expecting the Mandarin and instead give you Extremis which should leave you satisfied anyway.”  The metaphor I would use is it is like signing up for a drawing to win a Ferrari, finding out you won, but at the last minute being told you are instead getting a Lamborghini.  It’s hard to complain about what you got, but no one likes being tricked.

The proof that it was about marketing the movie, in my opinion, comes from the very decision to call his character The Mandarin.  If he was going to turn out to be a boogyman, a false flag, the curtain in front of the man, why not just make up a different name?  Call him something that sounds like what you’d call an Islamofascist terrorist and be done with it.  Like call him “Obama Lin Baden” or something?  No, but they used the name The Mandarin specifically get the hopes up of everyone who had a passing familiarity with the material and then did this bait and switch.  Because they wanted you to be excited about the story and want to see it, but they didn’t want to tell you what you should be excited about.

Now, IGN does its level best to justify it with this defense of the twist:

But in the case of Iron Man 3, those changes are made to better the movie as a whole, not simply “to be different.” To be honest, the theatricality of the Mandarin within Iron Man 3 was over the top and hard to swallow. Those terror videos? Ridiculous and silly. But after the big reveal, it all made sense. It wasn’t a tragic lack of cohesive tone, it was a theater actor performing in a film produced by an out-of-his-mind scientist, who knows nothing about filmmaking.

But the problem with that analysis is that the Mandarin of the videos, the fake Mandarin, was kind of what we expected from these things.  I mean let’s review.  We had in Iron Man (1) an executive who jumps in a giant power suit whose brilliant strategy is to trash half the city for some reason and kill four federal agents and get away with it, somehow?  In Iron Man 2, we had a Russian whose first plan was to use whips that depend on Tony being within about twenty five feet of him.  So what would have happened if he saw the problem ahead of time and just flew away?  And then his second plan was to build his own suit and take on two Iron Men at the same time.  These were over the top, theatrical and ultimately silly plans by the bad guys.  Why should we expect less from Iron Man 3?

And the media has been complicit in this deception.  For instance, from a Rolling Stone article about Kingsley:

In Iron Man 3, Sir Ben Kingsley plays the titular hero's archenemy, the Mandarin. A menace to civilization, he appears by taped message — looking a lot like another cave dweller with a stringy beard — striking fear into the hearts and minds of the global populace. Rolling Stone spoke with Kingsley about playing the villain, how Shakespeare informs everything he does, and why we should always fear the man behind the curtain.

Up until the very last line of that paragraph, the article doesn’t even suggest that he is in essence the image of the Wizard of Oz.  And if you read the whole interview, knowing what you know now you see how they are skating around directly lying to you, but they are certainly deceiving you. 

But as annoying as the twist was to me, to fans of the comics that must be excruciating, because it represents the absolute butchering of two beloved storylines.  Like I said, I am not an expert on these things, but on non-politicized topics, Wikipedia can be pretty trustworthy, and according to Wikipedia, The Mandarin is a scientific genius in his own right, who uses some ten mystical Chinese (because, by the way, he is a Chinese national originally) rings to do some magical thing or whatever.  And meanwhile Extremis is less obviously butchered except for the fact that Killian is dead before the story gets started and it ends up being one of them, instead of a dozen of them.

And so people who love the comics and watch the movie are going to be annoyed.  I don’t think it is fair to portray it as a case of people who love the comics wanting nothing to change, ever.  Let me give you an example of their being tolerant of change.  Most people who love the Batman comics (or The Animated Series) saw Tommy Lee Jones’ portrayal of Two Face in Batman Forever to be flat at best, if not actually bad.  Most people who loved the comics, meanwhile, agreed that Chris Nolan and Aaron Eckhart got it right in The Dark Knight.  But here’s the thing.  The portrayal in The Dark Knight was less true to the comic in many details.  According to Wiki, he was originally portrayed as having acid thrown on his face in the trial of Sal Moroni and not by fire in a case of Batman having to choose between him and the one he loves.  So on that score Forever is more true to the original than Knight. But what Knight did was accurately capture was the core of what made the character compelling: the angst Batman felt in dealing with this man who was once his friend.  So while it was not accurate in the unimportant character details, it was true to the essence of the character.  And here’s the thing: it made the story 100% better.  Jones was utterly forgettable in that role, and we realize now looking back that Jim Carrey single-handedly saved Batman Forever from being a crapfest of Batman and Robin proportions.  I think Knight’s depiction of Two Face stays with you longer.

And the same can be said of Bane.  I have not exactly made a study of Batman and Robin, but again the Bane of Robin was closer in many details to the comic than the one of The Dark Knight Rises.  But Bane is reduced to being dumb muscle in Robin, while he gets his due as a major villain in Rises.

And there are two other very reasonable annoyances comic book fans feel when a character like Two Face or Bane is crapped on in a movie.  First, they chose to change the story for the worse.  The comic book fan is rightfully annoyed with the depiction of Two Face or Bane in the “Bad Batmans” in part because it is a waste.  They had perfectly good stories that could have been easily adapted and instead they threw it in the garbage and gave us this, lame stuff.  This is why Nolan’s Two Face is much more accepted even though it departs so utterly from the comic, because the changes were good, too.  It wasn’t the same, but it was still good.

And the other thing is that the comic book fan then realizes that this was the only shot for a long time at getting a good story out of the character they loved for a long time and it was gone and wasted.  Whatever you think of Iron Man 3, there is no way they can do The Mandarin in a good way now.  At least they can’t without a reboot, which with the connected universe of Marvel’s movies seems hard to do.  (On the other hand, the Avengers kind of rebooted the character of The Hulk, or at least seemed to pretend neither of the previous movies existed.)  So it’s not only wasting the character but there is little hope of going back and getting the character right.

Now I can’t tell you if the Extremis story was changed for the worse.  But I can’t doubt that comic book fans will feel that the Mandarin was wasted.  And they will feel jerked around because they were hoping for a good depiction of the character.  And this is why the change is guaranteed to annoy comic book fans.  They have to think, as I said before, “why did you even bother to call him the Mandarin?”  It betrayed their expectations and trashed their hopes for a good depiction of The Mandarin.  I don’t blame them for being a little mad about it.

There were other things that might rub people the wrong way.  For one, you barely see Tony Stark in an Iron Man suit at all.  Second, the main one, the Mark 42 was not very useful.  It’s explained as being a newly made one that doesn’t have all the kinks worked out, but it is downright annoying how little good it did him.  The tipping point for me was a moment right during the final fight when the suit shows up, with no one inside, hits something and just falls apart.  I admit to laughing a little as did most of the people in the theater, but it was not a time for that.  It was a time to keep the tension up.

And one thing that annoyed me that might not be related to the difference between the comics and the movie is that Tony didn’t figure out that you deal with Extremis users the same way you deal with zombies.  Basically Extremis gave these people the ability to have extreme healing powers, and some heat manipulation.  In the comics it is depicted as being the result of nanotech, which in pop culture nanotech is quickly being used in the place of magic and does have a stronger patina of plausibility. So you cut off an arm, they grow a new one.  So he should have followed the old advice for zombies: aim for the head.  After all, even if they grow back their brains they are unlikely to be able to grow them back with their previous consciousness.  So even if they survive they are probably going to become a blank slate, unable to spell, let alone fight.

Still at the same time, for all of those flaws and frustrations, it is a good movie.  It had a better climax than either of the last two movies and even for that annoying twist, the bad guy’s plan seemed mostly to make sense.  Maybe if I obsess over it I will find plot holes, but mostly it made sense to me.

So I do recommend seeing it.  But I honestly think you are better off having the big secret spoiled.


My wife and I have lost our jobs due to the harassment of convicted terrorist Brett Kimberlin, including an attempt to get us killed and to frame me for a crime carrying a sentence of up to ten years.  I know that claim sounds fantastic, but if you read starting here, you will see absolute proof of these claims using documentary and video evidence.  If you would like to help in the fight to hold Mr. Kimberlin accountable, please hit the Blogger’s Defense Team button on the right.  And thank you.

Follow me at Twitter @aaronworthing, mostly for snark and site updates.  And you can purchase my book (or borrow it for free if you have Amazon Prime), Archangel: A Novel of Alternate, Recent History here.  And you can read a little more about my novel, here.


* I didn’t do as much to warn you of the spoiler alert in regards to Shawshank because seriously, who hasn’t seen that movie? 



I have accused some people, particularly Brett Kimberlin, of reprehensible conduct.  In some cases, the conduct is even criminal.  In all cases, the only justice I want is through the appropriate legal process—such as the criminal justice system.  I do not want to see vigilante violence against any person or any threat of such violence.  This kind of conduct is not only morally wrong, but it is counter-productive.

In the particular case of Brett Kimberlin, I do not want you to even contact him.  Do not call him.  Do not write him a letter.  Do not write him an email.  Do not text-message him.  Do not engage in any kind of directed communication.  I say this in part because under Maryland law, that can quickly become harassment and I don’t want that to happen to him.

And for that matter, don’t go on his property.  Don’t sneak around and try to photograph him.  Frankly try not to even be within his field of vision.  Your behavior could quickly cross the line into harassment in that way too (not to mention trespass and other concerns).

And do not contact his organizations, either.  And most of all, leave his family alone.

The only exception to all that is that if you are reporting on this, there is of course nothing wrong with contacting him for things like his official response to any stories you might report.  And even then if he tells you to stop contacting him, obey that request.  That this is a key element in making out a harassment claim under Maryland law—that a person asks you to stop and you refuse.

And let me say something else.  In my heart of hearts, I don’t believe that any person supporting me has done any of the above.  But if any of you have, stop it, and if you haven’t don’t start.


  1. It's a movie about a comic book character. I'd say it is "much ado about nothing" or a "tempest in a teapot" but it isn't Shakespeare...

  2. I am hoping the same best work from you in the future as well.