Release date: 3rd May 2013
Director: Shane Black
Screenwriters: Drew Pearce, Shane Black
Music, and a voiceover.
That voiceover is Robert Downey Jr. We’ll see more of him in a bit.
We see footage of Iron Man armour being blown up. It looks Mark V on the very left, Mark VI in the middle with the triangle chest plate, and the Mark VIII. We last saw Iron Man in the Mark VIII, in The Avengers (2012).
Then we hear Eiffel 65‘s Blue. It is a terrible catchy pop song with almost no redeeming value. It was a huge hit at the end of 1999 and was played a lot that New Year’s Eve. Which gives us a clue of where we are.
Then MARVEL titles. Followed by Paramount titles.
Titles tell us it’s 1999, and we’re in Bern, Switzerland. The exterior is the Bellevue Palace, Kochergasse 5, 3011 Bern, Switzerland.
The interior is Cape Fear Club, 206 Chestnut Street, North Carolina. Most the film was shot in North Carolina.
We see a woman, who we will meet as Maya Hansen. She is played Rebecca Hall.
Maya Hansen is from the comics, a brilliant scientist and one of the Doctors behind the Extremis program. The Extremis storyline plays a big part in this film.
She first appeared in Iron Man Vol.4 #1, January 2005. She was created by Warren Ellis and Adi Granov.
It’s interesting to come into something that is already so iconic and has so many images that everyone knows and has become culturally very apparent. It’s thrilling to walk on set and see the suit and see the glowing hand and how it all works. It’s really exciting stuff.
It has since been revealed that Hansen was supposed to be the villain of the film. It was nixed by the heads of Marvel, who didn’t want to see a female villain because the toys wouldn’t sell (or some bullshit). She was already signed on when the role was changed.
Jessica Chastain was originally tied to the role.
Anyway, she’s with Tony Stark, played by Robert Downey Jr.
This is, to me, the kind of grab bag wish list of things we’ve always wanted to do and haven’t had the chance. I put so much onus on Iron Man 3. Iron Man 3 was supposed to answer all the questions for an audience. Cure all my uncomfortable moments in the past playing this character and get in every idea that fell by the wayside the last three movies.
With him, as usual, Happy Hogan, played by Jon Favreau.
This is Favreau’s 3rd appearance in MCU as Happy Hogan. We last saw him in Iron Man 2 (2010).
It’s a minor surprise to see Favreau here. He had directed the first two Iron Man films, and was at one point in line to direct The Avengers. But he was burnt on Marvel after his last film. He remained an executive producer and appears happy to just be Happy in the MCU nowadays.
His look is supposed to be a nineties reference itself. He’s supposed to look like John Travolta in Pulp Fiction.
He bumps into Ho Yinsen, played by Shaun Toub.
This is Toub’s 2nd appearance in the MCU as Yinsen. We last saw him in a cave in Iron Man (2008).
In a beautiful call back, Yinsen mentioned that he had met Stark in Bern many years ago. It was most likely a throwaway line from 5 years earlier. Pretty sure Toub never imagined he’d be asked to reprise his role and create that scene.
He introduces Tony to Doctor Wu, played by Xueqi Wang.
Wu was created for the film. According to Drew Pearce, he got the name from the Steely Dan song from their 1975 record Katy Lied.
Wang is a big star in China, with a 30 year career under his belt. There were some extra scenes in the Chinese version of this film, involving his character.
Out in the lobby they bump into Aldrich Killian, played by Guy Pearce.
Killian is also from the comics. He is also a scientist, deeply involved in Extremis. Although his origin here was made up for the film.
Like Hansen, he first appeared in Iron Man Vol.4 #1, January 2005. He was created by Warren Ellis and Adi Granov.
Guy Pearce is an Australian actor who shot to fame in the soap opera Neighbours. He has since gone on to a big Hollywood career, happily playing odd leading men in greta films such as LA Confidential and Memento. Says Pearce:
When I first started talking to the guys at Marvel, I wanted to get a little history on Killian and sort of see where he fit in the whole scheme of things, so they forwarded a ton of material. But I find on any film I work on that I can only ever go so far with research, because there comes a point where I need to leap off from that and then get into the movie world. For me, I really just needed to understand Killian in the comic world, but then let it go and see what we were going to do.
Before Pearce was cast, Jude Law was in the running for the role.
Killian’s t-shirt and business card is for Advanced Idea Mechanics, also known as AIM. It’s the name of a criminal organisation from the comics. AIM was the science arm of Hydra, but would break away, taking their distinctive yellow suits with them. They have been foes to many of the Marvel heroes for decades.
They first appeared in Strange Tales #146 (July 1966). They were created by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee.
Hansen shows Stark her experiments. She calls it Extremis. That is the name of the groundbreaking story from Iron Man vol 4 #1 which forms the basis of this film.
Then we are back in the present day and Malibu. Since Iron Man (2008), Malibu has been Iron Man‘s home, usually a CGI creation on Point Dume. We’ll see more of it later.
Inside Stark’s garage. These were some of the first sets built for the film, at EUE/ Screen Gems Studios in Wilmington, North Carolina.
Stark talks to his computer JARVIS. It is once again voiced by Paul Bettany.
This is Bettany’s 4th time in the MCU, voicing JARVIS.
Behind stark on monitors are the Sun Oracle. The computer company had previously sponsored Iron Man 2 (2010).
We also see a Christmas tree. Christmas seems to be a thing for director Shane Black. He wrote Lethal Weapon, set at Christmas, and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (which also starred Downey), also set at Christmas.
In his garage are a bunch of Iron Man armours, the ones we saw earlier.
Stark mentions we are up to Mark XLII (42). He’s been busy, we last saw him in VIII.
Stark dances to Jingle Bells, a remix by Bombay Dub Orchestra of a Joe Williams recording.
And here’s their leader – The Mandarin. Played by Ben Kingsley.
The Mandarin is one of Iron Man‘s greatest foes. At first, he was a massive racist stereotype, playing on Chinese mysticism. Over the years he simply became a formidable Iron Man foe, and in many ways Iron Man’s greatest nemesis.
He first appeared in Tales Of Suspense #50 (February 1964). He was created by Don Heck and Stan Lee.
The Mandarin had been hinted at since Iron Man (2008). He was included in the draft stage, but eventually director Jon Favreau decided to keep him in the background, like the Emperor in Star Wars, building up his menace and reputation over several films.
Of course, all that got thrown out the window. Favreau stepped away from the MCU, and perhaps the Mandarin’s character was too tough to crack for the MCU’s tone. We will discuss more about the Mandarin later.
Ben Kingsley has won many awards for his decades long career, from the epic Ghandi to terrorising audiences in Sexy Beast. One of the greatest actors we have. He told Rolling Stone:
If you’re offered the part of a great villain, then the approach is not to play him villainously, but to play him with his own sense of righteousness, destiny and history. He has to believe that he is right. That’s what I aim for, and the script and construction of the character gave me a lot to work with. It was a real acting exercise to not play the villain villainously, but to give him a sense of calm, a presidential presentation.
Mandarin’s history lesson is based on real stuff. The 1864 Sand Creek massacre gets mentioned first. American military ruthlessly slaughtered defenceless women and children.
Ali Al Salem Air Base in Kuwait is mentioned. Real place.
Mandarin mentions, and we see, President of the United States Matthew Ellis. Played by William Sadler.
It’s actually surprising how long it has taken us to meet the president, considering how many world changing events happen in Marvel Phase 1. Ellis was created just for the films and doesn’t exist in the comics. Although his last name is a nod to comic book writer Warren Ellis, who wrote the Extremis storyline.
Sadler is famous to film fans for roles in Die Hard 2 and Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey.
Now the news reporters.
NY1 News anchor Pat Kiernan on the TV. This is actually the second time we’ve seen him – he was a news anchor in The Avengers (2012). He is also, of course, a real news anchor.
Other new anchors are Josh Elliott, then Megan Henderson, then Thomas Roberts.
KTLA and MSNBC are both real.
Then an establishing shot of the White House, a Washington DC, of course.
At a press conference, Ellis unveils his response.
It’s the Iron Patriot, played by Don Cheadle.
Of course, inside the suit is James Rhodes, who we last saw in Iron Man 2 (2010) as War Machine. This is Cheadle’s 2nd appearance in the MCU as Rhodes. Although this is the third time Rhodes has appeared.
The Iron Patriot, and that fancy paint job, is from the comics. It was first designed by Norman Osborn, the original Green Goblin from the Spider-Man comics. He had become a hero and created a suit that reflected both Iron Man and Captain America, to lead a new line up of Avengers. He didn’t have it very long. It’s origins are quite different here in the film.
It’s a relatively new addition to the Marvel universe, first appearing in Dark Avengers #1 (March 2009).
We cut to more celebrity heads.
Bill Maher, comedian and host of Real Time With Bill Maher.
The late and wonderful Joan Rivers. This was her last appearance in a feature film. Here she is seen hosting her show Fashion Police.
We see a glimpse of Vice President Rodriguez with the Iron Patriot in a photo. He’s played by Miguel Ferrer.
Rodriguez was created for the films, and doesn’t come from the comics.
Ferrer just screams villain. He’s played many bad guys in his life, in films such as Robocop or the TV version of The Stand.
Note that the Iron Patriot armour was ‘rebranded’ by AIM.
We see River’s co-host, George Kotsiopoulos.
At a bar. It’s a set, but a recreation of a real bar called Neptune’s Net, a biker bar in Malibu. 42505 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu. It is quite close to Stark’s home.
Stark jokes about scientific genius Albert Einstein‘s sleeping habits.
They are approached by some kids. The kids are Bronte D’Esposito (Erin) and Noah Visconti.
Stark mentions A Christmas Story, a film from 1983 starring a little kid that looks a lot like the one here.
That original kid was played by Peter Billingsley, who was a producer in Iron Man (2008), and even had a small role as a scientist.
Stark gets into his suit, parked on the street. It looks like the Mark VI.
We see present day Happy Hogan. He’s with Pepper Potts played by Gwyneth Paltrow.
This is Paltrow’s 4th appearance in the MCU as Potts. We last saw her in Avengers (2012). She is also now running Stark Industries.
Whilst the pair talk, Hogan asks the secretary, who we don’t see, for her badge. He calls her Bambi, after the comics’ Bambi Arbogast, Stark’s long serving secretary. She appeared in Iron Man 2 (2010), very briefly.
Then present day Aldrich Killian.
Lazing in reception without a security badge is Eric Savin, who we will see is Killian’s security man. He is played by James Badge Dale.
Savin is from the comics, although he’s almost completely unrecognisable. What the film and the comics share is that the are both former soldiers. In the comics he is a cyborg, and a deadly one, with no real ties to Iron Man or Extremis, and was even a hero for many years. Why even use him in this capacity? Who knows. Maybe someone was hoping to sell an action figure.
He first appeared in Marvel Comics Presents #26 (August 1989) and was created by Paul Gulacy and Doug Moench.
Dale definitely plays blokey blokes, appearing in films such as The Departed and The Grey.
He is reading Forbes magazine, a real publication. Although Pepper seems to be on the issue’s cover.