The Iron Man movies have always been the forerunner of the Marvel movie franchise. Regarded by many, including this author, as the quintessential superhero movie, the first Iron Man was a repulsor-blasting, tank-busting, bursting-with-banter romp that paved the way for the interlocking Marvel movie franchise while simultaneously resurrecting the career of Robert Downey Jr.
While Iron Man was a revolutionary superhero film, its sequel received a somewhat lukewarm reception, serving more as a prologue to The Avengers than a fully fleshed out Shellhead 2.0. Now that Iron Man 3 is slated to premiere on April26th/May 3rd (depending on which side of the Atlantic you’re on) under the helm of new director Shane Black, it’s understandable that some of you may be hesitant as to whether or not to let the cool blue glow of the arc reactor back into your heart.
Fortunately, I am here to tell you one thing and one thing only– Iron Man 3 will rock the bones out of your face and leave it a visage of one who has gazed upon sublime awesomeness. Here are five reasons why:
5. The Iron Patriot
There was much controversy when Don Cheadle replaced Terrance Howard in Iron Man 2, however, in all honesty Cheadle has been receiving way too much flak. When Cheadle’s Rhodey wasn’t playing the part of stern older brother in Iron Man 2, he was actually a pretty chill guy — and there are a few things more satisfying than seeing a humanoid-tank shoot three different guns in three different directions simultaneously. Few things are more satisfying, except a humanoid-tank shooting three different guns in three different directions simultaneously while dressed as the American Flag!
In a twist of the Iron Patriot of the comics, which was a set of “patriotic” Iron Man armor donned by Spider-Man villain Norman Osborn briefly when Osborn basically made up the U.S. Government, the Iron Patriot of Iron Man 3 appears to be an upgraded version of Rhodey’s commandeered War Machine suit. Stripped of its Hammer Tech Ordinance and given a MURICA paintjob with a sidearm of FREEDOM, Cheadle appears to be taking a more brotacular role now as opposed to partial antagonist, joining Stark for a climatic assault against the Ten Rings. The War Machine/Iron Man team up scene was a highlight of the last film, and you can be assured of a meager handful of cooperative Arc reactor-powered ass kicking and at least one heavily armored bro fist bump.
Hypothetically, if a bald eagle just so happens to save Rhodey at the last minute from some sort of liberty-hating terrorist in the climax of the film while Stark talk-sings his best rendition of Kenny Loggins’ “(Highway to) The Danger Zone” through his PA system, then that would be the best thing in the history of ever.
4. The New Director
Don’t get me wrong– Jon Favreau not being the director of Iron Man 3 was a hard truth to accept. Together with Downey, Favreau turned the somewhat boring Tony Stark of the comics into the adamantium-tongued playboy that we all love him for.
However, though new director Shane Black may only have one film under his belt, in this scenario it’s really the best possible movie to have south of your equator—Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. If you’ve never seen it, drop whatever you’re doing and watch it now. Seriously, it’s worth it—it’s the film that essentially got Robert Downey Jr. the role of Tony Stark in the first place. Also, and this is a sentence I’ve waited far too long in life to use, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang features an unstoppable Val Kilmer.
The point is, Black made Iron Man before there even was an Iron Man, and with some other impressive explosion-heavy screenwriting credits under his belt (The Last Action Hero, the two good Lethal Weapon movies,) it is more than likely that he will be able to wrangle something mathematically bad-ass out of his second run with Robert Downey Jr.
3. The Emphasis on the Man, Not the Iron
Part of the appeal of the Iron Man films has always been that in spite of the physical damage that the Iron Man suit sustains, the true chinks in Tony Stark’s armor have always been of a psychological nature. Whether it’s facing his impact on the world as a weapons manufacturer, or facing his impending mortality as his arc reactor slowly poisons him, Tony Stark’s greatest problems have always been those that can’t be solved with a repulsor blast. If the Iron Man’s battle condition reflects Stark’s internal nature, then the shattered armor depicted in Iron Man 3‘s promotional posters reflects a Stark pushed to the edge.
Recovering from the events of The Avengers, Stark has to deal with not only being a world-renown hero for defending Earth from the quad-thumbed Chitauri, but also single-handedly preventing the nuking of Manhattan. Although it is likely that there is to be some references to other Avengers, Iron Man 3 is going to be a Stark production.
We lay witness to a crumbling Stark, a man who despite being a billionaire playboy philanthropist who has saved the world countless times over, suffers from insomnia. Sleepless nights lead to suit-less days, as a literally overpowered Stark is forced to abandon his ruined Iron Man suit amidst a desolate, frozen tundra. The internal conflict that was just glazed over in the first two films will now form the foundation of Stark’s rebuilding of his very self, with a film that tries to get back to Stark’s very core.
2. The Mandarin
While not necessarily as surprisingly hilarious as the combined forces of Mickey Rourke and Sam Rockwell, Sir Ben Kingsley’s Mandarin is sure to provide a villainous threat that was notably absent from Iron Man 2. The Mandarin has been alluded to since Iron Man, where the multicultural terrorist cell, The Ten Rings, launched the assault that gave Stark his telltale heart, and it was Ten Rings members who facilitated Venko’s prison escape in Iron Man 2.
The Ten Rings refer to the ten extraterrestrial rings of The Mandarin, which in the comics would grant the Mandarin a plethora of alien abilities, ranging from an “Ice Blast” and “Flame Blast” to, well, “Electro-Blast.” While the actual rings of Kingsley’s Mandarin are likely just pieces of metal, he more than compensates with attack helicopters, rocket propelled grenades, and a legion of minions more than willing to die, just to prove a point. At the same time however, we are just coming out of an alien invasion from The Avengers, so who knows? Perhaps Kingsley will in fact be able to produce something known as a “Mento-Intensifer” from his left ring finger. And here I thought all you needed to do that was a bottle of Diet Coke…
Psionic augmenting ornamentation aside, the Mandarin is a threat that pushes the once comical Stark to his breaking point, causing Stark to seek “just good old fashioned revenge.” Although it is also quite likely that in spite of all of the collateral damage, Downey will still be able to deliver a clever one-liner to his comic book nemesis — ideally something involving tangerines.
1. It’s Based on Extremis
Though it is sure to take some liberties with the source material, the bulk of Iron Man 3 is going to be based on Warren Ellis’ Extremis storyline from The Invincible Iron Man comics. Now for the sake of hypothetically and accidentally creating some potential spoilers, I’m not going to touch upon what specifically happens in Extremis, but for those of you who haven’t had the pleasure, Extremis is essentially the Pulp Fiction of Iron Man comics, except instead of an S&M Gimp living in a crate, it’s Tony Stark’s “bodyguard.”
The essential theme of Extremis, again being purposefully vague, is that technology can be used not only to better one’s life, but to better one’s self as well. Technically, this is the fourth film to borrow elements from the Extremis storyline. Remember that opening sequence in Iron Man where Tony is struck by one of his own missiles in the Middle East and escapes a terrorist cell? EXTREMIS. What about the triangle-shaped arc reactor that Stark creates to cure his palladium poisoning in Iron Man 2? EXTREMIS. The coffin shaped Iron Man armor that is summoned via wristband in The Avengers? Sorta kinda influenced by EXTREMIS. Each film appearance of Iron Man involves a more integrated suit of armor, starting with the awkward ramshackle golem of metal slabs, moving to the snazzy suitcase-nuke of a suit, and most recently a suit that attack-hugs him on command. However with the essential theme of Extremis being the utilization of technology to unlock one’s true potential, we are no doubt going to see a suit that further blurs the line between iron and man.
As we briefly glimpse a Tony Stark summoning a set of armor that snaps onto him piece by piece in promotional trailers, Iron Man 3 promises to not only further develop Stark’s symbiotic relationship with the suit, but also delve deeper into a stellar source material that we have been unconsciously tapping for ages.
So there you have it. Five reasons why the world will be a better place and why we will begin to use BIM3 and AI3 in reference to time before and after Iron Man 3‘s release. Regardless, even if the film is revolutionary and features an Iron Man armor punching a velociraptor riding Mandarin in the face while screaming “AMERICA”, or astronomically bad, introducing some sort of eldritch nightmare like “Iron Nipples” on the Mark VII suit, it’s been a year since I’ve seen Robert Downey Jr. hop into the armor, and I’m just itching for a fix.
But what do you think? Will the Mandarin truly kick ass? Will Iron Man 3 just be two hours of Downey in Hulk-Buster armor delivering one-liners? Is that necessarily a bad thing?