Iron Man 3: Was Pepper Potts a super girl SuperHuman?

The writer, Adoma Manful, is a self-confessed movie nerd and comic-book geek. Read more of her here.

Disclaimer: This post contains spoilers from the movie, Iron Man 3.

The ladies and I got all dolled up and took ourselves out on an all-day date. You could say it was in celebration of our motherhood potential, this Mother’s May. Really, it was because we had discount movie tickets and Iron Man 3 just came out. If you know me at all, you know why this is significant. I am nothing if not a summer blockbuster movie nerd. And I can already tell you, based on those fifteen minutes of trailers and previews they show before the movie actually starts, that I will definitely be “donating” a significant portion of my supposed-to-be-for-grad-school savings to the movies that will be coming out.

Of all the blockbusters, superhero movies are totally my jam. How bad is my obsession? I’m not proud of it but I will admit that I actually paid money and watched Green Lantern at the theatre. Amazing superpowers, awesome special effects and the good guy always wins -what more could you ask for?

But for me, Iron Man 3 went from being about cool explosions and witty one-liners to becoming the ultimate non-rom-com love story. Early in the film, Tony bumbles through his attempt to explain to Pepper why he is perpetually tinkering with the Iron Man suits, even though he knows she hates it. It is his way of showing that he loves her and will do everything in his power to ensure that he can protect that one thing he can’t live without: her. Then he spends the rest of the film vacillating between the cocky bastard we know and love and this new anxiety-ridden moony-eyed lover. And Robert Downey Jr -the amazing embodiment of Tony Stark that he is- makes it all work without being too over-the-top cheesy more than a couple of times.

Obligatory fangirling aside, the movie was not perfect and I do take issue with some aspects –mainly the portrayal of Pepper Pots (Gwyneth Paltrow). Before watching this movie I heard some anonymous buzz that claimed that Pepper was finally coming into her own and standing up for herself in this movie and maybe that made me biased but, really, I didn’t see one bit of that. She has all of seven seconds of a fighting sequence where she out-of-the-blue develops some serious Tae Bo skills and throws a grand total of about three punches to defeat the bad guy. And that’s all fine and good and very women-can-kick-butt-too but what I can’t stop asking myself is: where was that person when she was getting captured in the first place?

Pepper Potts

Since the first installment of this trilogy, it feels as though Pepper is just there to look pretty while getting captured and punctuate every cliffhanger scene with an appropriate scream of “Tooooonyyyy!!” I can suspend my belief in reality to accommodate the existence of a man in a flying metal suit, a raging green monster and a hammer-wielding Norse God falling from the sky, but I cannot make myself accept that Gwyneth Paltrow has perfectly coiffed hair, the correct shade of coral lipstick and glistening abs of steel despite having just fallen several dozen feet into an exploding freight container. Really, cosmetics and special effects crew, fireproof make-up? Come on, now.

Watch it though. The movie has a well-crafted plot, zinging wisecracks and some incredibly impressive CGI including quite a few landscape-redesigning explosions, spontaneously self-combusting humans and forty-two different versions of the Iron Man suit. There is more than enough testosterone to grow a few extra chest hairs while watching the 190 minute production.

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