"Ladies. Children. Sheep. Some people call me a terrorist, I consider myself a teacher. Lesson number one: Heroes. There is no such thing."
— The Mandarin
Iron Man 3 is the 2013 sequel to Iron Man 2 and the seventh film in the Marvel Studios produced and Walt Disney Pictures distributed note The Paramount logo appears instead of Disney's, but unlike in the previous two Iron Man movies they didn't distribute it; like with The Avengers, they got it through Executive MeddlingMarvel Cinematic Universe. Directed by Shane Black with a screenplay by himself and Drew Pearce, the film adapts elements of the "Extremis" story arc by Warren Ellis, the "Sentient Armor" arc by Joe Quesada, the "Five Nightmares" arc by Matt Fraction, and the origin story of the recurring Iron Man villain The Mandarin. Jon Favreau, who directed the first two films, serves as executive producer along with Kevin Feige.When an enemy from the past targets that which industrialist Tony Stark holds most dear, he must rely on his ingenuity to protect those closest to him and finally answer a question which has haunted him from the beginning: Is he the one who defines the Iron Man suit? Or is it the suit that defines him?Stars Robert Downey, Jr. as Tony Stark, Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper Potts, Don Cheadle as James Rhodes, Jon Favreau as Happy Hogan, Ben Kingsley as The Mandarin, Guy Pearce as Dr. Aldrich Killian, Rebecca Hall as Dr. Maya Hansen, and James Badge Dale as Eric Savin.Further, a collection of tie-ins were released, which includes:
A two-issue comic book mini-series called Iron Man 3 Prelude that bridges the gap between Iron Man 3 and The Avengers.
You can watch the first and last trailer for the film here and here.
This film provides examples for the following tropes:
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Action Bomb: The Extremis soldiers' Power Incontinence is used to turn them into living bombs. Tony also activates the self destruct on some of his automated armors to take out Extremis users in the Final Battle. He traps Killian inside the Mark 42 when he orders Jarvis to light it up.
Action Film, Quiet Drama Scene: Pepper and Tony have one in his workshop when he reveals his PTSD issues to her. There's also Tony's visit to Happy in the hospital, where we can see his anger bubbling just under the surface. It comes boiling out in the next scene, outside the hospital.
Tony assembles the Mark 42 around Pepper in one scene, which she then uses to save Tony. Pepper also gets injected with Extremis later, allowing her to save Tony from the similarly super-powered Killian.
And the storyline "Haunted", featuring an incognito Mandarin planning to unleash Extremis, while Tony's sanity is in question following a traumatic battle, aka Civil War.
Adaptation Expansion: Aldrich Killian was a minor character written out within the first few pages of the "Extremis" arc in the comics. This version makes him a main villain and the real identity of the Mandarin.
In the comics, Aldrich Killian felt guilty about creating Extremis and killed himself at the start of the story. In this movie, though, he's a straight-up bad guy with no remorse. In fact, he considers himself the Mandarin more than the actor he hired as a scapegoat, if his Badass Boast and Word of God are anything to go by.
In the film, Eric Savin is Killian's right-hand man who also acts with no remorse. This contrasts with his comics character, an Anti-Hero known as Coldblood who never delved into outright villainy.
A.I. Is a Crapshoot: The AI loaded into the Iron Man Mark 42 responds to chip implants that read Tony's brainwaves. Even when he's asleep and having nightmares.
Ambiguously Brown: The Mandarin is of indeterminate but apparently Middle Eastern birth (played by the half-Indian Kingsley). Further confused by his American South accent and Chinese name. This is in contrast to the Mandarin of the comics, who as his name implies is partly of Chinese descent. Perhaps surprisingly, the movie manages to make sense out of all this by the time it's over.
Animated Armor: The Mark 42, which can operate even while separated from Tony through J.A.R.V.I.S. reading chip implants in Tony's forearm. In the climax, all of Tony's remaining suits fly pilotless to the rescue.
Anti-Climax: The Mark 42 flies into save Tony, only to hit the side of a crane and fall apart.
Subverted because Tony uses it to trap Killian, then tells JARVIS to blow it up.
Arch-Enemy: The Mandarin finally makes his film debut as a Diabolical Mastermind out to destroy Tony. Tony's true Arch-Enemy, and the true Mandarin, is Killian, who is every bit as smart as Tony, but much more ruthlessly manipulative and clever enough to hide in anonymity. The references to the Mandarin in the first movie can also be taken as a hint that Killian was behind the events there as well.
Armor Is Useless: Extremis-enhanced soldiers cut through Tony's armors like butter, as their bare hands can generate heat of up to 3000 degrees Celsius.
At several points, Tony fires repulsor blasts or uses his repulsors to fly while only wearing parts of his armour. While we saw him fire low level repulsor bolts while testing the Mk. II and III in the first film, without the support of the full suit, this should damage his limbs.
Mild example with the "burning" part of the Extremis users. They can heat up their bodies to over 3,000 degrees Celsius, enough to reduce iron and steel to blazing-hot mush. Question is, where the heck does the energy needed to create such incredible heat come from?
The worst one is catching people in free fall. The last one is caught right above the ground level, after which there is no time to decelerate slowly enough to save any one of them. They would all splat into water and die instantly.
The answer to these questions and more is, of course: "Don't worry about it."
Berserk Button: Tony reacts very poorly to his loved ones being hurt (and that includes loyal bodyguards and best friends). This one is a bit more dangerous than his others since it causes Tony to stop thinking rationally, making him prone to mistakes.
Big Bad: The Mandarin, who's been the Bigger Bad until now. ...except that the apparent Mandarin, Trevor Slattery, is just a decoy for the true Mandarin, Killian. The One-ShotAll Hail The Kingreveals that it is a bit more complicated: Not only is Trevor not the true Mandarin, neither is Killian. And the actual Mandarin is pretty upset that his identity was stolen...
Big Damn Heroes: An Extremis-enhanced Pepper jumps in to save Tony from Killian in the climax.
Before that, Rhodes mentions to Tony that he really wishes they had some backup right now; cue "House Party Protocol", more than 30 AI-controlled Iron Man suits swooping in to take down the Extremis army.
Big "NO!": Killian screams "NOOO!" when Tony uses the Mark 42 armor to trap him and blow him up (and is promptly shut up by the head piece sealing), and again just before an Extremis-enhanced Pepper detonates a missile in his face.
Bittersweet Ending: Not for the movie itself, but for Trevor Slattery. He is pretty much going to jail for life for actions he thought were not real and just publicity stunts, but at least gets the audience he wanted.
And also for Tony Stark himself, due to the fact that he's retiring from being Iron Man, and his malibu home was destroyed, as well as his all his armor suits.
Harley: So now you're just gonna leave me here, just like my dad? Tony: [Beat] Yep.
Body Horror: Extremis, even if you survive it, doesn't look particularly pleasant to live with. And it's implied that even the people who seem stable still have some risk of eventually experiencing a Super Power Meltdown.
The Incredible Hulk ends with a cameo from Tony Stark. This movie ends with a cameo from Bruce Banner.
The movie begins and ends with narration from Tony.
The first and third movies end with Tony saying, "I am Iron Man."
The film begins with fireworks in 1999 and ends with "fireworks" in 2013.
In the first movie, Pepper has Tony's first chest-mounted arc reactor mounted in a glass case with a brass plate reading "Proof that Tony Stark Has a Heart". At the end of the third movie, after having the arc reactor housing surgically removed from his chest, Tony gives Pepper a heart shaped pendant whose chain is made from the last fragments of shrapnel that were embedded near his heart. Proof that Pepper Potts has Tony Stark's heart.
Breather Episode: For the MCU. While all of the Phase 1 was about building up to Avengers, this film focuses mainly on Tony's arc and development before the following films begin leading to Age of Ultron.
The Mark 42 knocking into something and falling to pieces.
Speaking of the Mark 42, Tony's escape from the Mandarin's hideout; he expects the whole armor to come flying to him. It does. Eventually. Piece by piece.
A small example, but when the false Mandarin comes out of the bathroom he tells the two scantily-clad women in his bed they might want to wait a minute before going in there. Minutes later, at the end of the scene, Tony orders the women in there at gunpoint, and audiences can clearly hear their expressions of disgust.
Broken Faceplate: After the attack, Pepper finds and picks up an Iron Man helmet, which has been cracked in half.
Broken Pedestal: The whole revenge plot was set in motion because Tony's biggest fan became disgruntled with him.
Tony spends much of the film without his armor, or at least out of it, and is no less effective — Remember, Tony Stark built a miniature arc reactor in a cave. With a box of scraps.
After being forced out of the Iron Patriot suit, Rhodey shows himself still effective as a soldier.
Rhodes: No, no, no, don't open—Open? Okay, here we go... [Rhodes jumps out and punches Savin in the face, then thrust-kicks him.]
And then during Tony and Rhodey's two-man unarmored raid on the tanker, Rhodes proves himself capable of taking the Mandarin's men on with just a pistol until the armors show up. Then he learns that he can't simply pick up one of Tony's suits, so with nothing but that pistol he fights his way across the tanker and gets his own damn armor back (rescuing the President along the way).
Butt Monkey: This film has the Mark XLII armor, which, because of its many technical difficulties (such as its tendencies to delay Tony's Transformation Sequence and to get hit by things and fall apart), comes off as a strange kind of comic relief character.
Canon Foreigner: Harley (the kid that Tony meets in Tennessee), President Ellis and Trevor Slattery (the actor posing as the Mandarin).
Captain Patriotic / All American Face: Rhodey's redesigned "Iron Patriot" suit and identity is created by the government specifically to appeal to American patriotism. Bill Maher and Joan Rivers lambast it on their talk shows as for the Eagle Land-ness it is.
Casting Gag: Savin is played by James Badge Dale and and Killian's plan involves using amputees as test subjects for the Extremis project, some of whom were military veterans. On 24, Dale played Jack Bauer's ex-military partner, and his appearance in season 3 ends with his hand getting chopped off.
The Cast Showoff: Robert Downey, Jr.. is a practitioner of Wing Chun martial arts, so Tony Stark has a Wing Chun dummy in his garage which he is seen dealing out a few strikes to.
Cerebus Retcon: In The Avengers, Tony's flight through the Chitauri wormhole was nothing more than an exciting action climax, and his following brush with death was actually played for laughs (with Tony joking about shawarma immediately after he woke up). Here, it's revealed that the whole ordeal in the wormhole actually gave him PTSD, and that he's struggled with anxiety attacks and night terrors ever since the battle in New York. Note that this is realistic; PTSD can take a while to hit.
Tony wearing the Mark 42 armor at the beginning of the movie. Note that in The Avengers he just started using the Mark 7.
The flashbang Tony gives Harley, who then uses it to escape Savin.
Chad Davis's dog tags, which Tony uses to defeat Brandt.
Tony's note to Maya in the opening, which contains an incomplete formula to perfecting Extremis.
Chekhov's Gunman: Tony's narration of the prologue about him "creating demons" clearly refers to his snubbing of Killian. What one might miss, though, is that he's also referring to Maya, who he also blew off that night.
Chunky Salsa Rule: The Extremis users can regenerate from most kinds of injuries, short of catastrophic destruction of their head or heart. Tony kills one of them by blasting his torso out with the Unibeam, and others are blown to bits by self-destructing armor suits and various other explosions in the final battle.
Tony refers to himself as Iron Man quite a few times as do a few other characters.
Rhodes is given the name "Iron Patriot" as a morale boost, so the government and the media refer to him as such, even though he has no Secret Identity. Tony prefers "War Machine", and Rhodes eventually admits he does as well.
Played straight with Eric Savin and Jack Taggert, who in the comics are known respectively as Coldblood and Firepower.
Composite Character: Aldrich Killian is a merger of his comic counterpart, Mallen (the Extremis-enhanced villain of Warren Ellis' original Extremis story), Ezekiel Stane, and the Mandarin - precisely, modern incarnations, to contrast with Trevor's fictional "Mandarin" being based on the classic Yellow Peril version of the character.
The Extremis subjects who are used as living bombs have a lot in common with the bio-engineered bombs Ezekiel Stane designed in "The Five Nightmares," and a few superficial similarities to the comic villain Nitro (with the exception that they can't pull themselves back together after exploding like Nitro does).
The Iron Patriot in this adaptation is basically James Rhodes in Norman Osborne's suit.
Conservation of Ninjutsu: One Iron Man Suit? Badass. Several dozen AI controlled suits? Get torn through like tissue paper by mooks, though the casualty ratio is much more in the suits' favor. Justified for four reasons: 1.) JARVIS notes at the beginning that Tony is slapping the prototypes together without much testing or even sleep. Indeed, the Mk. 42 has malfunctions from flight to weapon systems. 2.) the mooks are super soldiers that can generate enough heat to melt the armors. 3.) The suits are all prototypes manufactured by Tony for various specialized purposes, including construction, demolition, and heavy lifting. 4.) Forty suits are all being remote controlled by a single AI, rather than both Stark and JARVIS working together in a single suit.
Continuity Nod: The film has a number of background references to previous events in the series.
The ring on the Mandarin's right pinky is the same ring Raza had on his right hand in Iron Man 1.
Convection Schmonvection: Despite the Extremis subjects heating to high enough temperatures to melt steel, it only affects what they're directly touching and their clothes never catch fire. Until it's time to show off some badass tattoos.
Cool Garage: Tony's gift at the end of the movie to the kid who helps him.
Every piece of Tony's Mark 42 armor can fly on its own onto his body and operate independently. Over hundreds of miles too.note This is actually an odd take on the trope, in that Tony prepares for various situations with specialized suits, but he didn't think to build spares of his earlier suits from the previous films, even though he has facilities in New York. He might've solved things quicker with a spare Mk. 7 instead of waiting for Mk. 42 to recharge.
It's not pointed out explicitly, but Tony has some way to secure significant funds even after going "off the grid", and he's clearly been training in martial arts and firearms.
Slightly less directly, his jerkass behavior was also responsible for the abuses and failures of the Extremis program, since he blew Maya off just as quickly as soon as he'd gotten what he wanted from her. If he'd chosen to lend a little more help than a scribbled formula on a nametag, she might never have joined forces with Killian instead, and the whole mess could have been prevented.
Outright stated to be the moral of the story at the end, with Tony's "we create our own demons" statement.
Credits Gag: Tony nicknames a mook "Ponytail Express". His actor is credited as such.
Damsel in Distress: Tony has to save Pepper a lot such as when Killian kidnaps her to use as leverage. The 'helpless factor' is downplayed because she saves him back.
Dark Action Girl: Ellen Brandt is an Extremis-powered soldier who partakes in undercover missions and isn't hesitant to use lethal force.
Darkest Hour: The aftermath of the attack on Tony's home. His home is in shambles, his original and most complete armor are destroyed, Tony's in the middle of nowhere, JARVIS is offline and Mark 42 is out of power. Best summed up by this line from the billionaire playboy.
Maya Hansen survived in the original "Extremis" storyline from the comics. Here, Killian murders her when she gets rebellious. Coincidentally, comics Maya was killed by AIM in a story-line released just before Iron Man 3 hit cinemas.
Jack Taggert, the very much alive Firepower in the comics, died in a "suicide bombing" in the film.
Likewise, Eric Savin is killed after the Mark 42 armor blows a hole through his chest.
Declaration of Protection: Tony says he's determined to protect "the one thing I can't live without" while addressing Pepper.
Deliberately Cute Child: Harley unsuccessfully tries to manipulate Tony into staying by comparing Tony to Harley's disappeared father and then saying in a cute voice that he's cold.
The Mark 42 is capable of breaking into individual pieces, each of which can fly on their own and attach onto someone (willingly or not) on the fly.
The Mark 41, "Bones", uses this as its primary method of attack, breaking into multiple parts to hit multiple enemies at once.
Determinator: Aside from Tony Stark, there's Aldrich Killian, who went from being a crippled but brilliant nobody to a wealthy and fit leader of a scientific company in at least ten years. This also applies to his Extremis powers where he manages to literally keep himself together even after suffering a powerful contact explosion.
Diabolus ex Machina/Look Both Ways: Tony lampshades the former when his much needed suit is suddenly destroyed by a truck when crossing a highway: "That came out of nowhere"
Diner Brawl: Tony and Ellen Brandt face off in a diner after it had been closed for the evening. It ends with the whole place blowing up.
Dirty Old Man: Stan Lee's cameo invokes this trope; the skimpy beauty pageant contest scores a ten.
Disproportionate Retribution: Killian's whole vendetta is because Stark blew him off once fifteen years ago. His actual crime spree is more of a combined cover-up for the failures of AIM's Extremis technology and scam/racket to create demand for the super-soldiers AIM can supply. Tony's decision to investigate and openly oppose him brings him even more directly into the line of fire.
Tony himself, while captured, taunts a guard with this after the guard breaks his borrowed "deluxe Dora the Explorer" watch. "Just for that, I'm going to kill you first."
Disney Death: Pepper falls 200 feet to her apparent death, only to be fine, thanks to a handy-dandy dose of Extremis.
Mandarin: True story about fortune cookies — they look Chinese, they sound Chinese. But they're actually an American invention, which is why they're hollow, full of lies and leave a bad taste in the mouth.
Evil Is Petty: If becoming a terrorist because someone snubbed you at a New Year's Eve party isn't petty, nothing is.
Evil Overlooker: The Mandarin, as seen in the poster above. Turns out he is not the real thing.
Evil Plan: The Mandarin wants to teach America several lessons such as hypocrisy and helplessness through terrorist attacks on American army bases and domestic interests. He's smoke and mirrors for Killian, who uses him to create a lock on military supply and demand.
Exactly What I Meant To Say: JARVIS has just said noted that he "seem(s) to do quite well for a stretch and then at the end of the sentence I say the wrong cranberry." So Tony is a little skeptical of his claim that the Mandarin is in Miami. But it's not an error for someplace more likely to be inhabited by terrorists; the Mandarin really is in Miami.
Tony Stark told his machines to aim and kill all the people infected with Extremis unless Stark specifically points that there's an exception.
The Mandarin says he'll shoot the hostage on live TV if the President doesn't call him. He never says anything about not shooting the hostage if the President does call him. Also, The Mandarin says that the man will live if the President calls. The President calls, and the Mandarin pulls the trigger. The gun was a non-functional prop (because Trevor was not trusted with real firearms) and the "hostage" was an actor in on the performance, thus he does live.
Expecting Someone Taller: Upon meeting Tony, Trevor apologizes for being shorter in person and not living up to his on-screen persona.
Explosive Overclocking: Extremis is essentially doing this to a biological system, gaining incredible powers at the risk of dangerous instability.
Failed Attempt at Drama: A Running Gag with Tony, most notably when he keeps counting down the moment when his armor will fly through the window and save him, only for nothing to happen. The two mooks guarding him are not impressed.
Fail Safe Failure: Rhodey gets ejected from Iron Patriot when Killian heats up the suit, even though he doesn't want it to.
Fanservice: The Mandarin's female perks. Also the Christmas beauty pageant contestants.
Fan Disservice: Pepper in a sports bra and gym pants while being tortured and then dropped into a flaming abyss. Ellen Brandt has her own moment when she's being injected with the Extremis formula: bare midriff, short shorts, and a missing arm being regrown.
Faux Shadow: The film is based on the Extremis storyline and features Tony mentally controlling parts of his armor. Despite this, he never gets injected with Extremis (which here is limited just to heat powers, as opposed to being a power roulette), and controls his armor via implants of his own design.
Final Battle: The Extremis goons and the AI-controlled Iron Man suits. Yes, all of them.
The Mark 42 keeps having problems because it (and many of the other new suits) is still in the rough prototype stages. Because Stark made it very easy for the suit to come apart into individual modules, it spends a great deal of time doing just that, whether or not he wanted that to happen at the moment.
Many of Tony's armors count, as he rushes through each one to go onto the next design.
Extremis is successfully regrowing people's limbs back, with the mild side effect of turning them into unstable walking bombs.
Foil: Extremis is this to Tony Stark's Iron Man technology. The latter is Powered Armor of a modular design that can be fitted with a multitude of weapons while the former is an organic superhuman enhancement meant to heal injuries with its Required Secondary Powers serving as weapons.
Aldrich Killian wears an abnormally large number of rings for a non-married man.
When Tony starts analyzing The Mandarin's methods, he notes that the terrorist has a thing for theatrics. He has no idea that it's all theatrics.
Killian being the founder of AIM, a prominent group of villains in the comics.
After Mandarin apparently shoots his hostage in cold blood, his voice becomes wavery and he seems visibly shaken, cluing in the audience early that he isn't quite the terrorist he appears to be.
The fortune cookie rant. Look Chinese, sound Chinese, actually an American creation, hollow, full of lies. Trevor definitely resembles that remark. Also, as noted in the above point, even acting as though he just killed someone in cold blood appears to leave a bad taste in the mouth. Plus, the first thing we hear him say when out-of-character is essentially the same thing, about fortune cookies not being Chinese - only this time, it's way different.
Pepper, in the Mark 42, saves Tony during the mansion attack. In the climax, Pepper, empowered by Extremis, saves Tony, finishing up by using the repulsor from one of the Legion suits.
The President wonders how the Mandarin got a number onto his phone. Given that the Veep was working with Killian, he probably did it.
On the merchandise side, one of the roleplay toys is a hand-mounted repulsor without a glove. Tony uses one of these during his Homeless Hero phase.
Similarly, the Marvel Legends figures released to tie in with this movie has Iron Man and Iron Patriot as they appear in the movie, past versions of them both, War Machine, all the parts to build a comic-version Iron Monger and...Ultron.
When Maya shows up, Tony jokes that he hopes there isn't a 12-year old kid in the car. Maya says he's 13. Which foreshadows Harley, a 12-year old kid...who Tony doesn't let tag along with him when things get dangerous, or get in the car.
Right before Savin (in the hijacked Iron Patriot suit) commences the attack on Air Force One, JARVIS makes mention of "cranes arriving" and "cellar doors being cleared up." A few minutes after saving the crew of AF1, Tony finally tells JARVIS to initiate the "House Party Protocol".
Framing Device: Tony's voice-overs were Tony telling the story to what turns out to be his psychiatrist (well, sort of).
When the Mandarin comes in for his broadcast, sharp-eyed viewers will realise that the weapons by his throne are plastic replicas. He confirms this later to Tony.
From Bad to Worse: Tony is suffering from post traumatic stress following the events of The Avengers and The Mandarin is attacking with bombs no one can trace. Then Tony's house is blown up, he loses access to all of his resources, and Iron Patriot is hi-jacked by the bad guys.
From Nobody to Nightmare: Killian starts out as a nobody with some bright ideas which he pitches to Tony in Switzerland in 1999. After being rejected, he decides to get revenge by gaining power and influence through terrorism and military contracts. Appropriately enough, Killian's plan hinges on him remaining a nobody in the eyes of the world.
Grand Finale: For the individual Iron Man films for the time being. Tony however will be back in the Avengers movies.
Grand Theft Prototype: Rhodey's Iron Patriot armor is hijacked from him by an Extremis-powered Killian. In the climax, Rhodey goes and takes back his armor with his own two hands, saving the president's life at the same time.
Having armor that can have each piece fly to you? Awesome. Having the codpiece fly to you too fast and smack you in the crotch? Not awesome.
Take away Tony's armor and guess what he does.
Healing Factor: The objective of Extremis is to imbue this onto its subjects up to and including regrowing limbs. Extremis-powered agents invoke this to make themselves superhuman (along with being sentient nuclear reactors).
Hoist by His Own Petard: Turns out turning Pepper into an Extremis was a bad idea for Killian as it not only saves Tony, but leads to his own death as well.
Hookers and Blow: Trevor Slattery is fueled and quite happily controlled through this.
Hot Wind: Ellen Brandt experiences this when Tony meets her for the first time. Justified by the winter weather in Tennessee at the time.
How Do I Shot Web?: When Tony puts Pepper into the Mark 42 armor and tells her to get Maya and herself out of the house, she tries to blow out a plate glass window to escape through. Unfortunately, she can't get the hand-mounted repulsor to work — until it fires accidentally when she drops her hand to her side, and throws them both through the glass.
The 42 isn't really ready for battle when Tony gets ambushed in his own home by a pack of helicopters. What does Tony do? Launch pianos at the helicopters and manually rip out his forearm mini-missiles, throw them, and give them a repulsor shot to detonate them.
He also blasted Ellen Brandt by setting a fire, opening an LNG gas line, and microwaving a set of dog tags to create a spark.
Then there was the time when he MacGyvered a bunch of stuff from the hardware store and built a tranquilizer nailgun, a makeshift taser, a taser-glove, and Christmas-ornament flashbangs.
Tony:(to Ellen Brandt) You walked right into this one — I've dated hotter chicks than you!
In The Style Of: The credits song, "Can You Dig It" is a 70's style action series theme, complete with strings, bongo beats, horns, organs and tambourine.
It's Personal: For Tony, it crosses the line when Happy is put in a coma. For Killian...it always was.
Kid Sidekick: While in Tennesee, Tony picks up a kid named Harley, who serves to annoy Tony and aggravate his PTSD. Harley also saves Tony's life, helps fix his suit, and helps him break through the PTSD.
Tag Along Kid: Defied. Harley insists that he and Tony are connected and claims that Tony leaving is like when his father left. So you think Tony will keep Harley with him for the rest of the movie, right? No, Tony has none of that. Though he does outfit Harley with a Cool Garage in gratitude, possibly grooming him for R&D down the line.
Rhodes jumps out of the overheating Iron Patriot suit and proceeds to drop-kick Savin. Then Killian shoots a stream of fire at him from his mouth. Rhodey evades, but he is immediately aware that he can't win that fight.
Rhodes: You can breathe fire?! Okay... [stands down and gets knocked out]
Large Ham: The Mandarin. Or at least Trevor is, considering that he's played by Ben Kingsley in his "let's gobble up scenery" mode. Killian, on the other hand, is considerably calmer aside from the Evil Gloating at the climax.
Last-Second Word Swap: When Rhodes and Tony are talking in the diner, Rhodes has to revise his language when he realizes kids are approaching.
Rhodes: I don't want to sound like a dic... tator.
The banter between Tony Stark and former Iron Man series director Jon Favreau's character Happy Hogan.
Happy Hogan: Don't talk to me like that. You're not my boss. I don't work for you anymore.
The Stinger opens with a line where Tony thanks the person he's been telling the story to for sticking around—applicable both to Bruce Banner, the person he was literally telling the events of the movie to, and the audience, who would have stayed through the entire credits and likely all three movies.
Legendary in the Sequel: By the third movie, Tony has firmly established his reputation as a great hero. His fame and legendary status are acknowledged several times.
Le Parkour: Tony has picked up some of this, using it to help him move around the shipyard in the final battle scene. It's a rather useful skill for someone who's picked up martial arts, to make use of.
Leno Device: Continuing from the previous two films, both Bill Maher and Joan Rivers with the Fashion Police crew cameo as themselves on their shows, this time commenting on the look of the Iron Patriot. They're even full-blown scenes in the DVD.
Lighter and Softer: While there is so much danger enhanced by Tony being unable to don his armor for most of the movie, the film doesn't try to hide that it's set in a World of Snark, and it's even more comedic than the predecessor.
Meaningful Name: A Mandarin was a Chinese official, described in the movie as "an adviser to the king". Killian talks frequently of being "the power behind the throne", which adds to the interpretation that he's the real Mandarin.
Me's a Crowd: In the final battle, JARVIS pilots 35 suits simultaneously.
"Mister Sandman" Sequence: Subdued because it wasn't actually that long ago (as of 2013 - given a few decades, it'll truly become this), but the first scene is set in 1999, where Eiffel 65's "Blue (Da Ba Dee)" is the background music of choice.
Monumental Damage: The courtyard of Grauman's Chinese Theater is destroyed early in the film.
The Roxxon Oil company is a long-time institution of the comics universe, most notable for its involvement in the creation of various incarnations of Deathlok.
At one point when Happy and Pepper are discussing security procedures at Stark Enterprises, he addresses someone offscreen as "Bambi", the first name of Tony's most famous secretary in the comics, Mrs. Arbogast. A few seconds later, we see a brief glimpse of a woman approximately where "Bambi" would have been, and she looks like a young (early 30s at most) version of Mrs. A.
The circular basement complete with a series of armors is nearly identical to Tony's base from the 90's Iron Man cartoon.
The Mark XXXVIII "Igor" Armor is based off the comic's second Hulkbuster armor.
The Mark XXXIII "Silver Centurion" Armor is inspired by the 1980s Silver Centurion Armor.
The Mark XV "Sneak" Armor is inspired by the modern comic's Stealth Armor.
The black Mark XVI "Nightclub" Armor is inspired by the 1980s Stealth Armor.
Pepper briefly dons the Iron Man suit, referencing her stints as the armored superhero "Rescue" in the comics as well as the few times she wore the suit for one reason or another.
The real Mandarin has a tattoo of Fin Fang Foom, a dragon that belonged to to the alien race that created the Mandarin's rings in the comics.
Tony starts the final battle in the Silver Centurion suit, then goes into a red-and-gold number, and when that gets wrecked switches to basic War Machine-ish gray. He's basically re-enacting twenty years of the armor's development over the course of five minutes of fighting.
The little nifty flick-out one shot repulsor used by Tony to attack Savin, is based on the Repulsor Gun used by Tony in Ultimate Iron Man: Armour Wars (another Warren Ellis work).
The movie's version of the Extremis Enhancile combines elements of the Extremis Enhancile from the "Extremis" Arc, along with elements from "The Five Nightmares" arc.
In the comics, the Iron Patriot armor was worn by the villainous Norman Osborn. Now, it's the heroic War Machine's new paint job. In Ultimate Comics, Iron Man is also using the code name of Iron Patriot and using a specially designed and painted Iron Patriot suit, to help rally Americans back under one banner after their country went to pot following the destruction of Washington D.C. Its use for Killian's purposes may be a nod to its use by a major villain in the comics.
Dr. Maya Hansen and Aldrich Killian are key characters.
The POTUS is named "Ellis".
The Dragon takes a Uni-beam through his chest at contact range.
The Big Bad breathes fire. Though that last one is admitted in-universe to be ridiculous, and it's never mentioned again. It was one of the key powers of the original Extremis enhancile along with superhuman speed, which was also removed for the movie.
The more gold inclined armor of the Mark XLII is potentially a reference to the original Iron Man suit from the 60's◊, which was painted exclusively in gold.
Happy says that people laughed at him when he told them he was Iron Man's bodyguard. In the comics, the cover story for Iron Man was, for a long while, that he was an employee of Tony Stark, usually his bodyguard. Also, the comics Hogan dies after being put in a coma protecting Tony, much like this Happy was put into a coma and almost killed investigating Savin.
Tony couldn't spare one armor from his Iron Legion for Rhodey because none of them were calibrated for Rhodey's brainwaves; in the comics, Rhodey ended up going insane from using Iron Man armor that had specifically been calibrated for Tony.
The trailers and posters gave the impression it was much Darker and Edgier. Despite reaching Darkest Hour moments, it's the most comedic of all installments, being as lighthearted and snarky as Iron Man 2, if not more.
The Mandarin's line from the trailer, "Mr. Stark, I'm going to offer a choice. Do you want an empty life or do you want a meaningful death?" is not in the film itself.
Likewise, Tony's narration in the first trailer is cut together from many different speeches he gives.
The first trailer makes it seem like Tony's armor rebels and begins trying to kill him, as various versions have done in the comics. It doesn't, and the featured scene of it acting on its own was him subconsciously controlling it while he was having a nightmare.
Tony never says "Ohh boy" when trying to choose who to save of the falling passengers of Air Force One, likely because instead he saves them all.
There's the set up that Aldritch has a bigger role than expected and that he, not Ben Kingsley's character, is the true Mandarin. The trailers consistently built up Kingsley's character as the Arch-Enemy.
In the trailer, Rhodey suggests that Tony calls forbackup. In the film proper, it's Tony himself who actually says it, as a rhetorical question.
The conversation between Tony, Pepper and Maya in the living room of the Malibu mansion was Played for Laughs in the trailer, but is delivered more seriously in the film itself, where it takes place in the middle of an argument between Tony and Pepper. In particular, Pepper's line "This is normal in our house, yes!" is said much more angrily in the film proper than in the trailer.
In the opening of the film, Tony outright admits that he's partly responsible for the events that take place during it.
Tony: We all make our own demons.
If Tony hadn't brushed Killian off, and if he hadn't only left Maya with a partial formula after sleeping with her, the entire situation could have been avoided, because neither of them started out as villains. They only wanted to help people.
Tony: You start with something pure, something exciting. Then come the mistakes. The compromises.
No Conservation of Energy: The Extremis regeneration works even when the body doesn't have any obvious source of mass to replace destroyed tissue, let alone possess the required amount of energy to do so and release such an immense amount of heat that can melt metal. Extremis users are never seen eating piles of food or taking in some kind of fuel to sustain them.
Not His Sled: Mandarin's identity is different from the comics.
Not in the Face!: Almost directly quoted by Tony in Florida, as the pieces of the Mk 42 fly to him; the last one is the face plate, which he catches in midair rather than letting it slam into place, paraphrasing this trope at the same time.
Only Sane Man: The AIM guard that Tony spares sees himself this way. He's the only one scared of the man with the MAC-10 and the repulsor glove, and has seen enough movies (Like Machete, which almost certainly inspired that scene) to know what'd happen if he kept shooting.
Guard:[surrendering] Honestly, I hate working here. They are so weird.
Tony is completely shocked he of all people had an anxiety attack.
Pepper gets a similar moment later on - Tony Stark actually apologized? And admitted he had a problem? Something is really wrong here...
Out of the Inferno: Several Extremis enhanciles demonstrate it: when you can voluntarily generate heat of over 3000 degrees and instantly heal yourself as you go, walking through an ordinary open gasoline fire is a minor feat.
People Puppets: A mild version. Tony's "Barrel of Monkeys" plan involves electrifying the hands of all 13 falling people so their grips are tight enough to form an unbreakable chain. For all purposes, it worked.
Pop-Cultural Osmosis: It isn't immediately clear for the movie watcher, but as soon as someone says he has created a group named "Advanced Idea Mechanics", any comic book reader (or someone who has seen the Avengers animated series) will realize that's the bad guy.
Power Glows: Extremis superpowers cause users to glow red, lighting up their skeleton and internal organs. At lower power levels, it can look like Volcanic Veins.
Power Incontinence: Zig-Zagged. Some Extremis users lose control of their powers due to incompatible genes and/or a willpower deficiency and explode. Others can control their powers with no such risk.
Several scenes prominently feature the logos of Sun Microsystems and Oracle, who use Iron Man in their online marketing. The new computer Tony buys for Harley has a Verizon FiOS screensaver, and there are the usual Audis that have appeared throughout the film series. Other products also appear.
The Chinese cut of the film prominently features the drink Gu Li Duo in scenes exclusive to Chinese theatres. This is made more blatant when said cut even opens with a short advertisement proclaiming Gu Li Duo as the drink that Iron Man "relies on to revitalize his energy".
Tony continues upgrading the already formidable Iron Man armor out of fear his enemies will target his loved ones. Later in the film, the Ten Rings do just that, destroying the hero's home in the process.
To a lesser extent, Happy gets a bad vibe from Killian and Savin right from the beginning, which isn't a lot given his reputation as head of security and his suspicion that Killian might be moving in on Pepper, but he is quickly vindicated. Unfortunately, he falls into a coma before he can relay what he learns to Tony.
Psycho Soldier: All the Extremis goons are former soldiers who lost limbs and more than a few of them are rather psychotic.
"A famous man once said, 'We create our own demons.' Who said that? What does that even mean? Doesn't matter. I said it 'cause he said it. So now, he was famous and basically getting said by two well-known guys; I don't, uhh... I'm gonna start again."
Qurac: Next to Chinese imagery, Mandarin's videos include footage and symbolism associated with the Middle East (crossed scimitars, veiled women, angry armed turbaned men, etc.).
The Mandarin. Both of them. The Comic Book Mandarin is half English, half Chinese, but Trevor Slattery, who portrays "The Mandarin" in-universe, is played by the half-white half-Indian Ben Kingsley. The film's "real" Mandarin is actually Aldrich Killian, played by the Caucasoid Guy Pearce.
As seen in the trailers, Tony publicly challenges the Mandarin, and his entire house is destroyed in an attempt to kill him shortly thereafter.
Tony refuses to take Harley into danger, and keeps him as safe as he can.
The Iron Man suits, which have been churned out quickly and are all basically in the prototype stage, are ripped apart easily by the Extremis soldiers, whose heat output is up to 3000 degrees Celsius.
During the final battle, Tony runs out of bullets for his gun and asks Rhodey for a new magazine. Rhodey replies that they have different types of guns, so their clips aren't compatible.
In the same scene, Tony and Rhodey are hiding behind a crate. Tony quickly ducks out to assess the situation. When Rhodey asks for details, Tony replies that he did it too fast and didn't see a thing. Most untrained people would have trouble assessing a situation at a quick glance.
Part of Tony's main arc throughout the film is the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder he is suffering from previous films. This is something that he suffers with throughout the entire film, and is never presented with an easy fix-all.
Real Life Writes the Plot: This is the last MCU film Robert Downey Jr. is contracted for, which affects certain aspects of the ending. The fact that he got hurt on the set might relate as well. Though it has been confirmed a month later that Robert Downey, Jr. has signed on for two more The Avengers films.
Recoil Boost: Several times in the film, when in desperate close combat, Tony fires his repulsers in the opposite direction to whip the body part right at his enemy.
Reconstruction: Why are grandiose pulp villains like the Mandarin so jarring and out of place in the modern world? That's because he's a fictional character, created by Killian as a decoy. Killian, who is the real grand manipulator and comics Mandarin's actual MCU counterpart, instead takes advantage of anonymity.
This also alludes to the Mandarin's own character evolution in the comics through the years - starting off as a Yellow Peril pulp villain (similar to Trevor's character), and later becoming a suave, manipulative businessman who works from the shadows (similar to Killian).
Red Herring/The Reveal: The apparent Mandarin is just a stage actor named Trevor Slattery. The real villain is Aldrich Killian, who set the whole thing up to cover up his Extremis failures, and to drum up a fake terror threat to replace Tony.
Required Secondary Powers: Extremis is just a tissue-regeneration mechanism whose side effects result in extreme durability and heat generation as requirements for said body-part regeneration. Heat is released by all biological processes (which is the source of living body heat as well as the elevated temperatures of a fever) and the heat that would be released by the body as it is regenerating an entire limb in seconds would be tremendous. Similarly, a body physically capable of generating that kind of heat and withstanding the temperatures would be naturally very durable, which lends the Extremis soldiers their strength and toughness on top of tissue regeneration. So in this case, the Required Secondary Powers become the primary powers of the Extremis troops.
Reveal Shot: When the camera pans down from the Vice President to his daughter, revealing that she has lost a leg. Gee, that'd be a practical application for that Extremis stuff don'tcha think?
Revenge Before Reason: Killian targets Tony for leaving him on a rooftop 13 years ago, even though it's to the detriment of Killian's main plans. He feels the experience gave him the desperation to do anything to beat Tony at his own game, and is perfectly willing to try and use Tony to further his plans.
Revised Ending: An animatic posted by one of the storyboard artists who worked on the film shows a scene, just before Tony's prototypes sweep in to save the day, of Trevor getting his hands on a batch of Extremis, with unfortunate results. In the film, he doesn't explode, survives the assault on Killian's ship and is ultimately led off to jail.
Ring of Power: The Mandarin's 10 Rings, which in the comics grant him various powers. Here they're just a visual theme. Sharp-eyed viewers will spot Killian's rings early on and clue in that he's involved with the Mandarin.
Ripped from the Headlines: Roxxon's incident off the coast of Florida is very similar to not only the Exxon Valdez incident, but also the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig.
When Tony first tries out the Mark 42 suit - designed to be assembled around his body - the faceplate doesn't work at first. Instead, it hovers, facing Tony directly. One of the overarching themes in the film is Tony's debating over whether he is defined by being Iron Man or Tony Stark.
Sequel Escalation: Averted compared to previous Iron Man films. While Tony is all over the country trying to solve the mystery of the bombings and the Mandarin, he spends most of the time out of armor, there are far less fight scenes than the previous movies, and his villains are not robots or guys in big suits of armor but rather, men and women who can burn things. This is a good thing, however, in that the toned down setting allows more exploration of Tony Stark's character.
Series Finale: Since this is the last Marvel movie that Robert Downey Jr. is contracted for, the film is set up as a conclusion to Tony Stark's story arc in case Downey doesn't come back. The Creative Closing Credits also include clips from all three films in the series. Robert Downey Jr. is however returning for two more The Avengers films.
Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right: The Mandarin proclaims that he will kill a man on live television if the President does not call him in thirty seconds, as his cell phone has the number for the phone next to the Mandarin. When the Vice-President objects to the President beginning to call as "we don't negotiate with terrorists", the President replies he doesn't care; he has to try to save the man's life.
Sdrawkcab Name: Tony has a Eureka Moment when leafing through a soldier's files. He flips the paper around, and the thick MIA stamp on the file now reads AIM.
Self-Destruct Mechanism: All the newer Iron Man suits seem to have them, which can be detonated by JARVIS on command.
Shadow Archetype: Aldritch Killian is a brilliant and arrogant weapon designer like Tony Stark, but uses his creations for evil instead of to atone for past mistakes. Whereas Tony declared to the world "I am Iron Man. Also, here's my home address. And someone get me a cheeseburger.", Killian instead hides in the shadows and puts someone else forward as the face of his campaign.
During a fight, Iron Man is pinned down by rubble and has to defend himself with a spike that extends from his arm. It has almost the exact blocking and camera angle as a similar scene in RoboCop (1987).
There's a scene in the final battle that closely resembles a scene from the first Terminator movie, when Tony has apparently defeated Killian but is trapped under some rubble, and then Killian surges out of the fire, as indestructible as ever, ready to continue the fight.
The scene in which Pepper, in bed, is creeped out by an empty, remote-controlled armour is a bowdlerised version of the notorious near-group-sex scene between Dr. Manhattan and Laurie in Watchmen.
So Last Season: Tony goes from the Mark 7 at the end of the The Avengers to the Mark 42 at the beginning of Iron Man 3 out of fear over new threats to himself and his loved ones. It's also partially as a 'distraction' due to his PTSD. Of note is that his new armors, while more specialized, don't perform any better than his originals.
Something Completely Different: Scenes with Chinese actors were added into the version distributed in China to make it more appealing to the booming market in the PRC. They're completely unrelated to the main story and never interact with any of the main characters in any meaningful way. It's more or less like "Oh no, people are exploding all around the country! They're trying to kill the President! Oh, by the way, here are some Chinese heart surgeons for some reason."
Space Whale Aesop: Don't be a jerk to awkward, crippled, disheveled nerds, or they will become evil, rich, and work with terrorists in hopes of destroying your whole life.
Spanner in the Works: Much of the plot would never have happened as it did had Happy not been at the Chinese theater.
Spared by the Adaptation: Happy getting badly wounded and falling into a coma mirrors what happens to him in the Civil War crossover. While that storyline ultimately saw him becoming braindead and eventually either passing on from his wounds or Tony using his connection to the Extremis to shut off his life support and Mercy Kill him, in the film his wounds aren't as severe and he eventually awakens.
Killian to Pepper. He wants her as a "trophy" to get back at Tony.
Milder Played for Laughs example: The guy who runs the news van Tony breaks into has a creepy obsession, but is ultimately harmless.
Stealth Pun: How would you describe Tony Stark's girlfriend that is infected with Extremis? A hot pepper. How would you describe her when she's wearing the Iron Man armor? Iron Potts. Also Tony gave her the armor to save her in an attack. As in he Rescued her. The dialogue all but says that.
The Stinger: After the credits, Tony's voiceovers are revealed to be him recounting the events of the film to Bruce Banner, who fell asleep at the beginning.
Stop, or I Shoot Myself!: Maya Hansen threatens to kill herself if Killian doesn't let go of Tony, reasoning that he still needs her expertise on Extremis. He just kills her himself.
As always, War Machine/Iron Patriot has bullet based weaponry, but this time Rhodey shows his military training when he was removed from the suit.
When Tony extricates himself from imprisonment in the Mandarin's mansion, he only gets the right gauntlet and the left boot from his Mark 42 (the rest lagging a bit behind). He supplements his improvised repulsor thruster acrobatics with various firearms taken from foes he already waylaid in the bedlam.
And in a case of Supervillain Packing Heat, Savin, when in the Hijacked Iron Patriot armor, uses a stolen hand gun to kill the President's guards rather than the on-board weapons, due to his inexperience with the armor.
Super Prototype: Killian is shown to be much more powerful than a "standard" Extremis Super Soldier, and fights Iron Man one-on-one in an extended final battle.
Super Power Meltdown: Extremis test subjects who are physically and/or mentally unable to control the heat output that goes with their powers explode.
Super Toughness: Killian is able to take on a full body contact explosion and survive while others like Brandt die when in close proximity to an explosion.
Superpowers For A Day: Pepper after getting injected with Extremis, which she uses to finish off Killian. At the end, she is fixed by Tony, but it's left deliberately unclear if he got rid of the powers completely or just fixed the Superpower Meltdown issue.
Super Soldier: A byproduct of Extremis, which was initially designed to repair and regrow living tissue. There's also a side order of burning hot bodies involved.
Swiss Cheese Security: Iron Patriot, an armoured man with a concealed face, is allowed to enter Airforce One just like that without so much as a word. Nobody bothers to check that he's actually Jim Rhodes (all he had to do was to remove the mask), and this led to disaster. Especially bad since that very suit of armor had been hijacked by enemies in the last Iron Man movie.
Take a Third Option: Done by Killian when Maya threatens to kill herself if he doesn't let Tony go. He shoots her when he decides that she's disposable and keeps Tony imprisoned.
Taking You with Me: Whenever the Iron Man suits in the final battle are being overwhelmed by the Extremis soldiers, they'll crash into something and self-destruct to kill their attackers as well.
There Are No Therapists: Played with and averted. While Tony is suffering anxiety attacks and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, nobody but Harley asks him about his problems. Eventually, he does talk out his problems on a chaise longue with Bruce Banner, but he's not a therapist. He doesn't have the temperament for it.
Throat Light: Red light shines out of Extremis subjects mouths when they lose control of their powers.
Too Dumb to Live: The Secret Service lets a heavily armed and armoured man with a concealed face walk onto the Air Force One, without verifying his identity. After he had been AWOL for at least several hours. With predictable results.
Took a Level in Badass: Pepper. In the first film she was Tony's PA, in the second she was promoted to CEO, in The Avengers she designed Stark Tower in New York and now she's getting in on the action scenes, especially at the end.
Tomato Surprise: A minor one occurs when Tony is saving the passengers from Air Force One plummetting towards the water. After the "barrel of monkeys" save, he checks to make sure they're all safe and takes off over the bridge. A semi truck runs flat into him...and the pieces of the Mark 42 scatter across the bridge. Tony only winces in disgrace as Rhodey opens up the door to the dark room he was in.
Universal Ammunition: Averted. Rhodey can't give Tony extra ammo during the final battle because their guns are different.note While both their handguns use 9mm ammo, the magazines are designed differently, and Rhodey does not have the time to manually unload rounds from a spare mag to give to Tony to manually load back into his empty mag.
Up to Eleven: Tony goes from the Mark 7 Iron Man Suit to the Mark 42 between the end of The Avengers and the start of this film. The Final Battle includes all of them.
Vapor Trail: During the diner fight, Tony splashes a trail of fuel towards Agent Brandt and then throws the canister of fuel at her before igniting the trail with red hot remains of his handcuffs.
Villain Ball: Killian had no reason whatsoever to leave Rhodey alive after dumping him out of the Iron Patriot armor. Indeed, he had every reason to kill him since a) he was a commando, capable of escaping their mansion (which was not guarded by Extremis mooks) and b) he could identify Killian himself. After knocking Rhodey out, they don't even bother to tie him up.
Throughout the climax, Killian could have killed Tony several times over if he could resist a single opportunity to stop and make him squirm. Somewhat justified as his motive (and to an extent his will to live) is formed entirely around spiting him, so playing things safely and quickly (and thus less painfully) defies the whole point.
Visual Pun: The Mandarin at one point can be seen sitting next to a fruit bowl full of, you guessed it...Mandarin oranges.
Voodoo Shark: Rhodes has an "Iron Patriot Support Staff" whom he communicates with and gets his orders from, making him operate more like a soldier than a completely autonomous unit (which was the issue with Iron Man in the first place). However, this explanation creates the question of "what the hell was the Iron Patriot Support Staff doing when Rhodey was AWOL for hours, then comes back without saying a word to anyone or checking in at all."
War for Fun and Profit: Killian'sEvil Plan is to profit off of a war in which the villains control both sides, one with support from the Vice President and the other with his Extremis mooks.
The War on Terror: The story revolves around a series of terrorist attacks using operatives enhanced with the Extremis virus.
What the Hell Is That Accent?: Tony remarks that the Mandarin's speech mannerisms are similar to that of a Baptist preacher's despite being Ambiguously Brown and using a Chinese name. Justified, as it was all an act to exploit America's fear of its recent terrorist enemies.
The accent is really over the top with overly drawn out R's, almost as if the Mandarin was an unskilled British actor trying to do an American accent.
Worf Had the Flu: Tony spends most of the movie with either scraps of armor, no armor at all, or a series of prototypes that were never as powerful as the originals since he assembled many of them over a short period of time with no sleep and never bothered to test them.
Xanatos Gambit: The Mandarin holds a gun to a man's head on national TV. He tells the President that if he doesn't call, he'll kill the guy. If Ellis doesn't call, the guy dies and the president loses face for not saving him. If he does call, he shows that the Mandarin has power over him. This is Truth in Television with many terrorist tactics; there is a reason official policy for most countries is simply "We do not negotiate with terrorists."
Xenafication: Robert Downey Jr. and Gwyneth Paltrow pushed heavily for Pepper Potts to be an Action Girl. Thus, Pepper has her own action scene where she kills Killian. As she's usually so peaceful, though, her sudden aggression surprises her.
Pepper: [after killing Killian] ...oh my god...that was really violent!
Yellow Peril: Exploited. In the movie, the Mandarin is a fictional character specifically catering to American Sinophobia.
Tony says this to the bad guys several times, almost verbatim.
One mook has this to say of his boss just before he quits and runs away.
Iron Man 3 Prelude contains the following tropes:
All There in the Manual: The book explains why War Machine was not present during the events of The Avengers. It turns out he was foiling a terrorist attack from the Ten Rings over in Hong Kong during the Chitauri invasion.
At the start of the book, Tony and Pepper are shown working on Stark Tower, which would end up becoming a major plot point in The Avengers.
The tank used by the Ten Rings members fires the same type of "Bunker Buster" missile Justin Hammer installed in War Machine's armor during Iron Man 2. This time it actually works.
Tony ends up calling Rhodey for assistance during the Chitauri invasion seen in the climax of The Avengers. Being in China, Rhodey is obviously unable to make it back to New York in time. In the next issue, he does find time to get to New York just in time for the Avengers having shawarma.
Mid-Season Upgrade: Rhodey is given a new, sleeker suit of armor to replace the bulky Mark II armor Justin Hammer customized for him during Iron Man 2.
Mythology Gag: Tony confiscates Rhodey's Mark II armor at the start of the book, stating the armor wasn't calibrated for Rhodey's body and could have killed him. This mirrors a comic story where Rhodey temporarily became Iron Man, only to slowly be driven insane with paranoia due to the armor being calibrated for Tony's brainwaves.