It’s no secret that there’s crap-all to see at the local multiplex right now, at least until Inception rolls out to blow our noggins. The last thing I actually cared about seeing was Iron Man 2 and that came out, what, 8 months ago? So now that the hype from Tony Stark’s latest has calmed down, I thought I’d address one of the biggest questions from its opening: “Where’s the helmet kiss and the ‘You complete me?’” The trailers had promised this scene from the beginning, and it had not one but two memorable points. Pepper Potts’ kiss to shellhead’s empty helmet was the closest we’d seen to them sharing an actual kiss, and the Jerry Maguire snark was the kind of perfect ad lib that RDJ has down pat.
And when the movie opened, that scene was cut down to nuffin.
So what else was in there, and why was it cut?
(A little disclaimer – I work in post and have seen tons of stuff from the production that didn’t make it to locked cut. And I’ve got no desire to get my ass in trouble for breaking any NDAs. But you know what? Any scene that was used in multiple trailers is probably fair game, and I’m sure Favreau will put them in the DVD Special Features, anyway.)
So, as those who’ve seen the movie know, the first new shot we see of Tony Stark is him in full Iron Man armor, jumping from the back of the plane that was featured so prominently in the trailer. It’s, literally, a 2 second shot of him leaping into the air and flying down through the roof of the Stark Expo. As he lands on stage, the robot arms that allow him easy-in/easy-out access come up, strip the armor and reveal him in all his tuxedo’d glory.
But in the original scene, Pepper wakes him up on the plane, begging him to pull his act together. He’s wearing his armor, sans helmet. And he’s “obviously” in that kind of hungover stupor that includes the feeling of still-drunk-the-next-day. You know those mornings when you realize you’re still drunk from the night before? Yeah – he’s rattling around the plane like that.
Pepper tries to sober him up, gives him some coffee, and if I remember right, she might even have slapped him on the face a little. And Tony’s having none of it.
“Tell them I can’t make it.”
“You have to go!”
“You go! You’re the real head of the company, anyway!”
“No, Tony! It’s the Stark Expo and you’re Tony Stark and you’re going to show up. Now get ready!”
Tony responds by barfing in the nearest waste can and we get a pretty graphic sound/visual of the vomit.
Now it’s at this point that the comics-savvy audience member is thinking “Aha! Demon in a Bottle! I knew they’d make this the plotline of the next movie.” It’s hardly a spoiler at this point to say that, in the comics, Tony Stark battles alcoholism and loses. He spent a good amount of time in the 70’s with a bottle of Scotch in his hand, and it seems like that’s where Favs and Co. are taking this.
Tony and Pepper go back and forth for the next few minutes, him acting alternately drunk and sick until she finally puts her foot down. He’s still saying “Make excuses for me, I can’t go!” right up until they’re standing by the open back door. When he acquiesces, he asks for a kiss. Possibly for good luck. And with some serious vomit mouth still going on. She responds by kissing the helmet instead and chucking it out the plane. If you’ve seen the trailer, you know he grabs it in mid-air as he takes off for the Expo.
So – a cool scene, yes? Yes. It gives the hard-core nerd audience exactly what they thought they were gonna get. Tony’s already on his downward spiral, and we’re in for some serious Lost Weekend-style bizness coming up. But the movie never really touches on that. Except for the birthday scene, Tony never seems too drunk, and he’s certainly nowhere near levels seen in the comics. The asshole behavior turns out to be a feint, and he’s actually really, really sick from the blood poisoning caused by his chest-mounted arc reactor.
Drunk? Not really. Hungover? Not remotely. Like Bruce Wayne and his champagne glass full of ginger ale, Tony (and the filmmakers) are fooling us with their left hand while hiding the truth in their right. And because the reason for Tony’s behavior is the “big secret” he’s keeping from everyone, there’s no reason to play it up like burgeoning alcoholism. If anything, Tony seemed like he was hiding an impending suicide, and not a bottle in the fishtank. It’s a shame we had to lose those 6 minutes of character-developing banter in the plane, but it doesn’t matter in the larger schema, because Tony was never going to be a big drunk anyway.