Marvel Cinematic Universe Phase Two Rewatch: Iron Man 3

Back on the old site, I wrote a few articles following a rewatch of the Marvel Cinamatic Universe. Here are those articles again.

Title: Iron Man 3

Director: Shane Black

Writer(s): Drew Pierce and Shane Black

Characters created by: Stan Lee, Don Heck, Larry Leiber, and Jack Kirby

US Release Date: May 3, 2013

Budget: $200,000,000

Worldwide Box-office: $1,215,000,000

Returning characters: Tony “Iron Man” Stark, Pepper Potts, James “Iron Patriot” Rhodes, Happy Hogan, Bruce “The Hulk” Banner

Summary: At a New Years Eve party in 1999, Tony Stark meets scientist Maya Hansen, the inventor of Extremis, which is an experimental regenerative treatment intended to allow recovery from crippling injuries. Disabled scientist Aldrich Killian offers them a place in his company AIM, but Stark rejects the offer.


Years later, six months after the events in The Avengers, Stark is unable to sleep. He builds several sets of armor, including a method of summoning individual pieces remotely, which creates friction with his girlfriend Pepper Potts. Meanwhile, a string of bombings by a terrorist known only as the Mandarin has left intelligence agencies bewildered by a lack of forensic evidence.

Investigating a Mandarian attack, Happy Hogan is badly when the person he is following explodes. Stark issues a televised threat to the Mandarin. He investigates the energy signal from the attacks and plans to investigate one of the sites in Tennessee. Maya Hansen comes to warn Stark and the house is attacked by helicopter gunships. Hansen and Potts escape, but the house is destroyed.


Stark escapes in an Iron Man suit, which JARVIS pilots, to Tennessee, as planned. The armor lacks sufficient power to return to California, and the world believes him dead. Hansen leads Potts to Killian, who kidnaps her. Stark finds his way to a farm, and teams up with Harley, a 10-year-old boy. He investigates the remains of a local explosion bearing the hallmarks of a Mandarin attack. He discovers the “bombings” were triggered by soldiers subjected to Extremis, which at this stage of development caused certain subjects to explosively reject the treatment. After veterans started exploding, these explosions were falsely attributed to the Mandarin’s terrorist plot in order to cover up Extremis’s flaws. He’s attacked by two of the Mardarin’s agents and sees the results of Extremis first hand.


With Harley’s help, Stark traces the Mandarin to Miami and infiltrates his headquarters using improvised weapons. Inside he discovers the Mandarin is actually an English actor named Trevor Slattery, who says he is oblivious to the actions carried out in his image. Killian, who appropriated Hansen’s Extremis research as a cure for his own disability and expanded the program to include injured war veterans, reveals he is the real Mandarin, using Slattery as a cover. After capturing Stark, Killian shows him Potts being subjected to Extremis, in order to gain Stark’s aid to fix Extremis’s flaws and thus save Potts. Killian kills Hansen when she has a change of heart and tries to stop him. Killian lures James Rhodes,the Iron Patriot, into a trap to steal the armor.

Stark escapes and reunites with Rhodes, discovering that Killian intends to attack President Ellis aboard Air Force One. The President is placed in the armor and kidnapped. Air Force One is destroyed, but Stark manages to save several passengers in mid air They trace Killian to an impounded damaged oil tanker where Killian intends to kill Ellis on live television. The vice president will become a puppet leader, following Killian’s orders in exchange for Extremis to cure his young daughter’s disability.

Stark summons his Iron Man suits, controlled remotely by JARVIS, to provide air support. Rhodes secures the president and takes him to safety, while Stark discovers Potts has survived the Extremis procedure. However, before he can save her, a rig collapses around them and she falls to her apparent death. Stark confronts Killian and traps him in an Iron Man suit that self-destructs, but fails to kill him. Potts, whose Extremis powers allowed her to survive her fall, intervenes and kills Killian.


After the battle, Stark orders JARVIS to remotely destroy each Iron Man suit as a sign of his devotion to Potts, while the vice president and Slattery are arrested. With Stark’s help, Potts’ Extremis effects are stabilized, and Stark undergoes surgery to remove the shrapnel embedded near his heart. He pitches his obsolete chest arc reactor into the sea, musing he will always be Iron Man.

MCU Continuity Nods: There are several references to the Battle of New York. Rhodes mentions that since New York and the presence of aliens, the US government has stepped up secutiry. Harley asks about it, and Tony has been traumatized by the events. Killian refers to Thor’s arrival on Earth. Later, Tony is going to use his remote technology to create the Iron Legion seen in Age of Ultron. The hologram of Killian’s brain is similar to the images of JARVIS and Ultron

Easter Eggs: Pepper’s brief wearing of the armor is a nod to Pepper Potts’ one-time career as the superheroine Rescue in an “Invincible Iron Man” comic book series from 2009-2012. Happy Hogan addresses a secretary (who is off-camera) by the name of “Bambi”. In the comics, Bambi is the first name of Stark’s longest-serving executive secretary, Mrs. Arbogast.


The design of the Iron Patriot armor was from the comics when Norman Osborn created an Iron Man armor with the iconography of Captain America. The dragon tattoos on Aldrich Killian’s chest are of another Iron Man villain: Fin Fang Foom. A.I.M. (Advanced Idea Mechanics) is the scientific organization headed by Aldrich Killian. In the comics, it was a straightforward terrorist organization and the evil counterpart to S.H.I.E.L.D., which originally was an offshoot of Captain America’s World War II enemies HYDRA.


In the comics, Ellen Brandt is an agent of AIM who tried to steal from biochemist Ted Sallis… who turned into the supernatural Man-Thing and burned her face off. Roxxon Corporation is a fictional petrochemical company, Marvel’s counterpart to the real-world Exxon Corporation.

Stan Lee Cameo: A judge at a local beauty pageant


Infinity Stone: none

Post/mid Credits Scene: Tony Stark telling his story to Bruce Banner, who has fallen asleep

My Take: The previous film explored how being Iron Man was damaging Tony physically, but this one shows the mental strain of being Iron Man. Tony’s paranoia of seeing the alien horde is what leads him to create the multiple armors, and even though he destroys his armors, he can’t quite let it go. This is what leads him to create Ultron. He says “the threat is imminent” when discussing his insomnia with Pepper, a feeling he carries over with the Iron Legion. When kids are in films they’re usually annoying, but they managed to avoid that with Harley.


A lot of people who were comic book readers were upset that the Mandarin wasn’t portrayed the same way. In the comics, the Mandarin has ten rings, each with a different power. While something like that might work in a Thor movie, it wouldn’t quite fit with the general super high-tech world of Iron Man. I think the plot to cover up human experiments with a false terror attack is actually quite clever. This is a post 9/11 Mandarin, playing on our fears. Discovering that he’s a fraud is even better. Since he is without his armor for a good chunk of the film means that Tony has to rely on his brain and tinkering and it’s a exciting version of Tony.

Next up: Thor: The Dark World