Warning: Heavy Iron Man 3 Spoilers Found Inside
To celebrate the release of the second Iron Man 3 trailer today, we decided to do an extensive countdown of the ten reasons why we’re ridiculously excited for this movie and why it may just be the best Marvel film yet. Warning: A lot of this information is based on leaks and intelligent deductions from carefully watching the trailers/news reports. If you have deliberately been paying no attention to Iron Man 3 announcements because you want to be surprised, then look away now.
1. The First Film Of Phase 2
Marvel had a lot of success with the start of its ambitious combined movie universe, beginning in 2008 with Iron Man and ending last year with the release of The Avengers. Now, Iron Man is set to kick off Phase 2 of the Marvel Movie Universe (MMU) with his third solo outing. The stakes are higher than ever now, as Marvel now has to deliver a strong and unique story with the posterboy of their super-franchise, and after The Avengers pitted a group of superheroes against an alien army, how are we possibly going to raise the stakes for Iron Man 3? Simply put, Marvel know what they’re up against with this film and they know how much is riding on it. The MMU has amazing momentum, but as soon as Marvel make a lacklustre film it’ll kill anticipation for all subsequent projects. As such, this has caused the studio to really ramp up the pressure on Tony Stark, creating the most personal journey he has experienced thus far. Seemingly this will be similar in tone to “The Stark Knight”, forcing Tony to go back to his roots after suffering tragedy. It’s not all doom and gloom though as the film will most certainly contain Stark’s trademark humour especially with…
2. …Shane Black In The Directing Chair
Yes! Shane Black is an absolute screenwriting legend. The man responsible for writing Lethal Weapon and some of the best buddy action films ever – is helming Iron Man 3, taking over from John Favreau who directed the previous Iron Man films, and has also co-written it with Drew Pearce. This can only be a good thing, as Black’s dialogue is flawlessly razor sharp and intelligent, so expect some real zingers. Black and Robert Downey Jr. have a strong working relationship, having already worked together on Black’s phenomenal and underrated directorial debut Kiss Kiss Bang Bang together. KKBB should have been RDJ’s return to glory – an excellent, sublime and downright hilarious neo-noir satire that teamed RDJ up with Val Kilmer. Black hasn’t directed another film since then, all the way back in 2005, so at first it was pretty surprising that Marvel would pick him to helm a major budget film that was so important to them. However, if you actually stop, think and watch Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, it suddenly makes a lot of sense. RDJ and Black’s chemistry is palatable and for a film that’s going to give Stark a pretty hard time it’s imperative that the film bubbles with charisma, both in front of and behind the camera.
That’s not to say Favreau didn’t do a good job with his previous films; his presentation was slick and he found a good balance between all the characters, and of course he will return as Stark’s bodyguard/driver, the chirpy Happy Hogan (although he is likely to befall an early tragedy, thus removing Favreau from the franchise completely and making things more personal for Stark). Marvel have consistently made interesting choices for who they hire to helm their movies, choosing to trust more independently spirited filmmakers, over more generic action-mongers (with the exception of Louis Letterier for The Incredible Hulk), because they want a balance struck between the focus attributed to character and spectacle. Between Shane Black, Alan Taylor (Thor 2: The Dark World), James Gunn (The Guardians Of The Galaxy) and The Russo Brothers (Captain America 2: The Winter Soldier) the pedigree for Phase Two is an interesting and diverse one. Here’s hoping that Black stays with the Marvel universe for subsequent films.
3. Extremis Storyline
The Extremis storyline is widely considered to be one of the best in the history of the Iron Man comics. Elements from this story have cropped up in all of the film iterations thus far, from the way the suits have been designed to certain sub plot threads (the palladium poisoning in Iron Man 2). All of this has been building towards the third film, where we will be seeing the Extremis storyline in full. Extremis is a virus that bonds the user to their tech organically i.e. it can make Stark control the suit with his mind and summon it to his body without the use of tech. In the comics, Stark is forced to use the Extremis virus on himself so that he can stand a chance against a terrorist called Mallen who has infected himself with the virus. There’s no word on whether Mallen will make it into this film, however Aldrich Killian and Maya Hensen, the scientists responsible for the creation of Extremis do appear in this film, portrayed by Guy Pearce and Rebecca Hall respectively.
In fact, Pearce seems to be channelling a rather villainous edge in this film, so it’s more than likely that the roles of Killian and Mallen have been consolidated into one. I mean, how can a comic book movie not make a character with the name “Killian” into a villain? Either way, we should see the Extremis virus change the Iron Man character forever, which is an extremely exciting prospect.
4. Iron Patriot
Rhodes is back baby! After a strangely unexplained absence from The Avengers (which was subsequently explained in a short comic introduced as a prequel to Iron Man 3 – in short: he was doing other things for Stark), Stark’s best friend Lt. James Rhodes is back, (still played by Don Cheadle, in case you were wondering otherwise) as his trusty and hardy sidekick War Machine. Except not, Rhodes has undergone a new eye bleeding paint job and as a representative of the US army is now the “Iron Patriot”. Once your eyes recover from the blinding colours it’s tough to argue that the new suit looks badass, and now they’ve got all that ridiculous angst between them out of the way they’re going to be able to kick some ass together. And boy is there some impressive ass to kick in the form of…
5. …Ben Kingsley as The Mandarin
The Mandarin is the Joker of the Iron Man universe. The extremely powerful arch nemesis of Iron Man has finally made his appearance in the Marvel movie universe, played by the legendary Sir Ben Kingsley. Reports from the set from everyone involved have been rapturous in relation to Kingsley’s “gripping, incredible appearance”, apparently the man steals every scene that he’s in, which will certainly prove difficult with the antics of Stark, but quite possible. From the limited footage shown of The Mandarin in trailers and spots, it shows that Kingsley has adopted a rather unusual voice for the character, perhaps inspired by Bane’s unusual, but effective voice in Nolan’s very successful The Dark Knight Rises.
When they first announced the arrival of The Mandarin to the film universe I thought it was an incredibly smart move. Marvel had successfully hinted to his eventual involvement with previous instalments – the terrorist organization that plagued the first film were called the “Ten Rings”, which is a reference to the Mandarin’s alien rings of power. See, in the comics The Mandarin is an ancient oriental sorcerer who has an incredible mind and understanding of science, rivalled only by Stark’s. An alien ship crashes and he takes their secrets and powers and uses them to create ten rings of power, one on each finger, each of them being ridiculously powerful.
With these rings The Mandarin can rearrange matter, blast ice, fire and wind as well as even open crushing voids in space and time and even affect the very laws of physics. He’s also a martial arts master, with enough power to rip through Iron Man’s suit in hand to hand combat. He’s a worthy and fearsome foe that is not to be trifled with. I thought that waiting until the third film to introduce him was a masterstroke, especially considering we have since established that the Marvel universe indeed reaches farther than Earth (and set to explore that much further in the next couple of years), so it would be a perfect time to introduce the alien technology and “magic” and move away from yet another man in a cybernetic suit for Iron Man to fight against.
However, reports seem to suggest that the rings The Mandarin sports in the film are purely aesthetic, and not the super powered jewellery he wields in his original incarnation. This was initially very disappointing to me, but now I wonder if they’re setting up The Mandarin to lose his first bout with Iron Man, and then discover the alien technology so that he can return in a later instalment as a far more powerful adversary. It would be unlikely that they would choose to kill The Mandarin in this film, as in comparison, all of the other characters’ nemesis’ are intact (well, I refuse to believe the Red Skull is dead). This would actually be a very smart thing to happen, as The Mandarin could become powerful enough to take on the whole of The Avengers in a later edition, and if the production are right about Kingsley’s incredible performance, they’ll definitely want to keep him on board. Plus, just look at the latest character poster for him – he looks fucking badass!
The production have assured fans that The Mandarin will not be donning his own version of the Iron Man suit, as other villains have done in previous films. However, leaked concepts show that the final battle may take place with The Mandarin piloting an odd looking, but extremely powerful and maneuverable desert tank. He’ll likely have an army of machines behind him as well, along with some other foes. Needless to say,The Mandarin won’t be alone…
6. Plenty Of New Secondary Characters
Now that the Marvel movie universe is an established thing, and all of the main characters have their origins in place, the subsequent films need to continue to introduce more characters into the fold. All of the films planned in Phase Two are set to deliver new and exciting secondary characters. The rumours surrounding Iron Man 3 is that we are going to see Radioactive Man, Coldblood, Firepower, Rescue and the Wasp before the credits roll.
Radioactive Man is a Chinese scientist called Chen Li who works for the People’s Republic of China. He’s a scientist for The Mandarin in the comics and unfortunately falls victim to severe radiation exposure, causing his skin to turn green and giving him the power to control and alter radiation and its effects. While it’s highly unlikely that Chen Li will become his villainous alter ego in this film, he will be introduced in a minor capacity so that he could well make the transformation at a later date. It’s certainly possible that his role here could be very brief.
The Wasp is one of the original members of The Avengers team, and she was hinted before to appear in The Avengers. Obviously, this didn’t happen, but now it seems that she’ll be appearing here and Stephanie Szostak will be playing her. Janet Van Dyne is also the girlfriend of Ant Man, who will be getting his own film at the start of Phase Three in November 2015, as directed by Edgar Wright. This is leant credence by the need to introduce audiences to the world of Ant Man in some capacity and as Iron Man is Marvel’s most popular film franchise it makes a lot of sense to do it here. There will also be appearances from the company A.I.M. which is the company that Ant Man and Janet work for. They could also try and tie it all together with Radioactive Man as well. Szostak’s role has been kept under wraps officially, but she has been give sixth billing on the cast list, which means she must be playing a character of some importance to the overall arc. Also, there’s a real absence of female superheroes in the Marvel universe thus far, so the Wasp would be a welcome addition for fans.
Rescue isn’t necessarily a new character, as it’s actually a female version of the Iron Man suit that Stark gives to Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) so that she can be safe/help out. We’re very likely to see this suit appear in the movie.
Now, on to the villains playing support roles to the mighty Mandarin. Obviously, we have Killian who we’ve already mentioned above, no doubt affected by the Extremis virus and causing all manner of mayhem. Guy Pearce does say however that his role is quite small; either he’s being elusive or after he becomes infected he could transform into a more CGI-esque creation eliminating the need for the actor.
Villains playing backup include Firepower, played by relatively obscure actor Ashley Hamilton. Hamilton finds himself with the job due to being friends with Downey Jr. in real life. Not bad, eh? His role may be small, but it will likely be pivotal. Firepower is an experimental battle suit worn by soldier Jack Taggart that is designed to take down Iron Man. While it certainly is more of the bread and butter that we’re used to Stark facing the suits power is unquestionable. Time will tell whether he’ll prove to be a worth adversary or if he’ll be someone small that Stark takes down pretty quickly. Either way it’s nice to see relatively minor characters get their moment in the spotlight as well.
Last, but not least is Coldblood, set to be played by James Badge Dale. Coldblood is a soldier drafted into an Extremis-like program who while on the battlefield unfortunately has a less than great run in with a landmine, causing his body to need to be rebuilt. Coldblood is a remorseless cyborg assassin, one that is likely to be a large foe for Stark to tackle. Badge Dale has said that The Mandarin is the mouth, Killian is the brains and Coldblood is the muscle in this villainous trifecta (notice there is no mention of Firepower here). There’s been no footage of Coldblood as of yet, but James Badge Dale does sneak into the first trailer for a second, so there’s no real idea as to how he’ll turn out in the film yet. Regardless, Stark, Rhodes and Potts are likely to need some serious backup to take on these guys, which they get in the form of…
7. … The Iron Legion!
This is what Iron Man fans the world over have been waiting for! The Iron Legion is Tony Stark’s private army of automated Iron Man suits that he can order around, like a general on a battlefield. Each and every suit in the Iron Legion is a little different, and much like Batman has something on his utility belt for every plausible situation, Stark builds a pantheon of suits tailored to match almost any possibility as well. The gold suit we’ve seen Stark wear in a lot of preview is the Mark 47, and in The Avengers we saw him don the Mark 7, so that means there’s at least 40 more suits in this film! The poster and the new trailer show glimpses of a few of them, but here’s a few close up looks for you guys.
The Asgardian Destroyer armour is a powerful combat armour based on the Destroyer from Asgard which we saw in Thor. As you can see in the shape and design of the armour it showcases some of that creatures distinctive characteristics and model.
The HAPPY Armour is a suit modelled on Stark’s dearly departed friend Happy Hogan. This armour sports his likeness and is a fitting tribute to the man. So yes, unfortunately guys, Happy Hogan does die!
The Heartbreaker armour is designed for devastating combative abilities. It has a larger arc reactor so that the suit can function more powerfully and use more impressive weaponry such as a Particle Cannon that, according to some leaked Lego toys pictures will be a shoulder mounted toy. There’s no images from the film of what this particle cannon will look like (in the comics it was chest mounted), but expect to see it appear in some form, most likely powered by the impressive Heartbreaker suit.
The Stealth Armour is designed for sneaking into heavily fortified bases and lairs undetected. It could no doubt come in useful for Stark in his quest to defeat The Mandarin. It’s a suit that sacrifices extensive firepower for stealth capabilities, including an adaptable cloak. The sleek black design is really cool and I’m sure will look incredibly striking on film.
Every super hero needs an deep water suit! Here we’ve got leaked concept art for an Acquatic armour, but it’s unclear whether it will find it’s way into Iron Man 3. We’ve already seen Iron Man go deep underwater in The Avengers briefly, so there’s no telling whether this is just a discarded concept, or if it will play any part in this film.
The Godkiller armour is a suit that features in the comic version of the Cosmic Avengers, something that Stark will undoubtedly start if he does go into space at the end of this film (more on that below). The Godkiller armour is extremely powerful, and as you can see the helmet configuration looks pretty similar to a suit on the poster.
Of course, there are over 40 suits in the film and these are but a handful of them. Another couple of very special additions are the…
8. …Hulkbuster suit
This one deserved a bulletpoint all on its own! The Hulkbuster suit is a true fan favourite, and if you’re unfamiliar with the comics, I’m sure you’ve guessed what purpose it was built for just by its name. Yes, this is the suit Stark dons to take on a rampaging Hulk, and while Hulk will most certainly not be appearing in Iron Man 3, Stark has designed the “Brute” armour to withstand heavy punishment. No doubt in the future of the MMU this Brute armour may well be re-purposed and modified to take down everyone’s favourite green rage monster, but the fact that the prototype armour even exists at this stage is a very exciting prospect indeed.
9. Tony Stark Will go into Space
This is the rumour (but almost definitely true) that at the end of Iron Man 3 Stark will embark on a journey into space and run into The Guardians Of The Galaxy, serving as a great introduction to Marvel’s most ambitious film yet. Guardians is due to land in theatres in November 2014, with James Gunn directing and Chris Pratt and Jason Momoa starring, but without our beloved Shellhead there are no recognizable characters that Guardians can ride on. This is why from a business perspective it makes the most sense to see Stark take into space, to allow as a bridge for your average consumer to meet the really bizarre cast of Guardians. It’s not every day that audiences sign up for stories about a gang of space mercenaries that include a wise-cracking racoon, a walking, talking tree creature and a reanimated space orc. Stark’s presence will certainly grease the wheels and also act as a natural development for a character who feels like he can do more good in space, rather than just on Earth. Above is a picture of the Deep Space Armour as featured in the Iron Man 3 poster background.
10. It’s the last film of RDJ’s contract
It all seems a little large in scale doesn’t it? Considering that Marvel are most likely going to be making movies for many years to come, to take their flagship character and put him through so many suit evolutions and character introductions leaves us begging the question of where will Marvel take the character now? It’s no secret that Iron Man 3 is the last Marvel film in Robert Downey Jr’s contract, after having only been contracted to appear in six films. There have been talks of Tony Stark being recast, which has caused an understandable amount of fan uproar. Downey Jr. himself has said that it would probably do wonders for his ego if the studio let him go, joking that he was in a pretty advantageous position for any negotiations that may take place. Sure, we all know for now that Tony Stark is here to stay, but at the rate that the Marvel movie universe is expanding, there is no reason why we won’t see the character benched for a while after The Avengers 2 (perhaps by a fall into alcoholism?). Phase Three will pave the way for many new characters – Dr Strange has been confirmed for his own film and there are rumours that we’ll see Black Panther and a number of other cool Marvel characters. Stark will be heading into space at the end of Iron Man 3 to serve as the introduction to lesser known characters, but his future as the figurehead for the Marvel movie universe is likely not to last much longer. That’s why Iron Man 3 is pulling out all the stops, and it looks like moviegoers this April are going to be all the better for it!