It has been made very clear over the last few months that the major theme of Iron Man 3 would be “does the man make the suit or does the suit make the man?” Even without knowing that, the theme is made fairly clear over the course of the film, as not only Tony, but many of the other characters as well are forced to look within and see what they really are without their suits, both literal and metaphorical.
Here, we take a look at how each of the film’s major characters approach this central question: Does the man make the suit or does the suit make the man?
SPOILER WARNING! MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD!
4. Tony Stark
Tony Stark’s journey throughout the film is clearly centered around this question. At first, Tony is completely reliant on his suits, building more and more as a means of coping with his near-death experience in The Avengers. He is barely sleeping and when he does eventually sleep, his nightmares are so intense that he subconsciously calls his latest armor to him.
After the initial attack on his Malibu home, Tony spends much of the second act of the film without his armor, which forces him to face this question head on. Eventually, he realizes that even without his armor, he is still a genius (and a philanthropist, a playboy, and a billionaire). He is able to use his ingenuity to fight off two of Killian’s Extremis-enhanced goons AND take down the Mandarin’s compound single handedly and un-armored.
By the end of the film, Tony himself admits that the suits were a cocoon, and that he is now ready to move on. He has JARVIS blow up all the suits and even rids himself of his arc reactor chest-implant. He is a now a new man, ready to face the future without his armor.
And so far so completely on the surface. The filmmakers told us straight up that this is what Tony’s journey would be like, and that’s what happened. But Tony wasn’t the only one who had to face life without armor…