24 Apr 2013

Thought Balloon: IRON MAN 3 APPROACHES AND STEWART R’S CHALLENGE OF BLISSFUL IGNORANCE IS AT AN END

Iron Man 3 is released in the UK tomorrow evening (25th April) and it's time to see just how Stewart R has fared this past month since he last updated us on his adventure to remain spoiler and trailer free

A darker sequel approaches??
Stewart R: The end of the painful wait is nigh! Tomorrow evening I will join my PCG colleagues as we don the still tragically uncool plastic stereoscopic 3D glasses and sit down to spend a couple of hours with Mr Stark, his cavalcade of good friends and a handful of mortal enemies in the latest big screen Iron Man outing.

Here I sit, writing this article, still unaware - for the most part - of what possibly lies ahead for the Avenger in the suit of armour. What started out as something of a ponderous musing - what would it be like to head into a blockbuster Marvel movie having no idea of what was visually or contextually to come? - has built into something of a miniature personal quest. As of my last post on this project I was being confronted with a wall of digital advertising, temptation and intrusion as various press websites ramped up their coverage and the wheels of the promotion machine began spinning with vigorous determination.


So what have I been faced with since early March you ask?  Well the battering at the hands of YouTube that I was anticipating actually failed to materialise as their advertising has seemingly rested on one hundred and one other worthy/unworthy products and causes and I have gone about my casual viewing there without having to dive under my desk or panic clicking in the vague direction of the ‘close’ icon at any point. As for the traditional medium of television however...

For various sporting and filmatic reasons, I’ve been spending a little more time in front of the communal cathode ray tube in my house this past month and with that has come further obstacles in my path to delirious ignorance as Iron Man 3 TV spots have littered the airwaves. Whilst in the pub the other afternoon I was just looking up to check the latest sporting news on the nearest flat screen and was confronted with Robert Downey Jr’s bearded visage and had to quickly avert my eyes. Then, on Saturday night I was indulging in the guilty pleasure that is a televised viewing of the seminal  eighties classic
(sarcasm warning) Rocky IV, oblivious of the bombardment to come. Nearly every single commercial break had an advert for Iron Man 3 in it and so there I’d sit, eyes clenched shut and fingers in my ears for regular thirty second intervals between the fall of Apollo Creed, Balboa’s soviet wilderness training montage and earnest final victory speech where Rocky saves the world from thermonuclear war. But it wasn’t just blatant commercials either; once I returned to the living room to see an advert for Audi’s latest combustion driven beast and I had to curse further as it was revealed to be a tie-in to Marvel’s film with footage included. Why was I being tested so?

Facial hair rumoured to be a returning villain!
To be fair, this was something that I should’ve anticipated after all of these years of big screen publicity, and my exposure has actually only allowed perhaps five to ten seconds of actual footage to get past my defenses in all of this time. I’ve even been lucky when it came to my biggest fear of trailer ‘enlightenment’: the visit to the cinema to see other films. Recent screenings of G.I. Joe Retaliation, Oblivion and The Place Beyond The Pines thankfully failed to include a bombastic Iron Man 3 preview piece before any of them. I’m a little surprised by that, particularly when it comes to G.I.Joe and Oblivion. Being the first near-blockbusters of the year I’d expected to have to ‘divert all energy to the front deflectors’ (eyes closed, ears plugged, la-la-laing under my breath like some kind of embarrassing Rain Man impression). The absence before G.I.Joe could perhaps be explained through its distribution by Paramount and I do wonder if there’s a little behind the scenes politics involved in that decision considering that they will play no further part in the distribution of Marvel held properties. Or perhaps it’s a case of Marvel and Disney knowing where to spend their money and target their advertising focus in other areas as the cinema-going public will be all too aware of Iron Man 3’s approach?

Funnily enough I still to this point have been surprised, annoyed and disappointed more by various news, comic and movie websites insisting on posting up still teaser images and spoiler details in their incidental links and headlines as if any lingering surprise about what we are all going to see should be banished to the annals of history in similar fashion to polio and the Betamax. Whilst going about my daily internet wanderings I have, somewhat against my will (let’s face it, I could have boycotted the internet in entirety to 100% this achievement!), seen a picture of Pepper Potts that has given away one big plot point, a poster of Rhodey that has given away another and also seen a big old image of Sir Ben Kingsley in full Mandarin attire. I certainly had hoped to have stayed villain-free until the big reveal in the darkened picturehouse. Strange as it is to say, my brain has done a weird mashup between Sir Ben and Breaking Bad’s Bryan Cranston so I know that my exposure to that image didn’t quite take hold in any kind of devastating way! I’d even intended to steer clear of any official Iron Man 3 posters that would do the rounds if possible as they can often contain enough information to let you postulate at the direction a final battle or confrontation might take, but flicking through recent Marvel comics has ruined that plan a little as they have naturally used their own commercial space to push their biggest money maker of the year.


It's no spoiler that he's not returning!
And so my journey to avoid exposure finds itself at its end. I haven’t managed to get through the six months without some information getting through, but I’m happy in the thought that I haven’t seen enough to be waiting for certain events to transpire through the course of the 130 minute runtime. I can let the heart-pumping excitement of ignorance propel me through some (hopefully) tremendous three dimensional action sequences, nail-biting plot progression and laugh-inducing character development. Would I attempt this sort of information diet again? Possibly, but since I’ve grown aware at just how pervasive the wave of advertising and news can be in the digital age I will admit that the prospect doesn’t appeal as much as it once did. I guess I’ll have a better idea come 10pm tomorrow evening!

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