Bigger Stick: Every villain, arms manufacturer and government wants to get their hands on the Iron Man tech so they can be better equipped on the battlefield than anyone else. Aldrich Killian is an exception as he only needs it to kidnap the president.
If you spoke Urdu, you found out Stane was behind Tony's kidnapping an hour before Pepper translates the ransom tape.
In the scene where Hammer is yelling at Vanko for taking so long with his the Hammer Drones, the Russian simply smirks and says in his native tongue "You talk too much."
When Tony Stark asks Natasha if she actually speaks Latin, she responds with the phrase "Fallaces sunt rerum species," a quote from Lucio Anneo Seneca meaning "The appearances of things are deceptive."
Blind Shoulder Toss: In the first movie, Tony takes apart a warhead to extract .13 grams of palladium. The rest of the warhead is casually tossed behind him with an "Don't need that".
Pepper turns Tony's old arc reactor into a "Proof That Tony Stark Has A Heart" pseudo-trophy. This ends up saving Tony after his newer arc reactor is stolen later in the film.
Tony finds Powered Armor has "icing problems" at high altitudes during his first flight test of the Mark II. In the climax, he uses this to temporarily disable Stane's suit.
In Iron Man 2:
The miniature model of the first Stark Expo featured early in the film turns out to be a hidden blueprint for the element that's key to perfecting the arc reactor.
When Stark and Rhodes fire repulsor beams at each other during their fight at Tony's place, it causes a huge explosion. They end up using this in the climax to defeat Vanko.
In Iron Man 3:
When Pepper asks him how many suits he's made, we see that the actual answer is 42. In the climax we get to see most of the rest of the suits.
Collapsible Helmet: A simple version, the face plate can slide out of the way. The Mark 42's helmet can be split into many pieces along with the sliding face plate. Ivan Vanko's helmet splits apart and slides into his suit's interior.
Obadiah Stane uses the term "iron mongers" once, referring to himself and Tony as weapons dealers.
Tony calls Rhodey a "war machine" during their fight in the second flick, although they mention he once used the name in the third film where he goes by Iron Patriot.
There is a brief mention of "whiplash technology" in regards to Anton Vanko's weapons.
Natasha Romanov is called "Agent Romanov", but never the Black Widow. (Until The Avengers, anyway.)
Although a backronym was in effect on S.H.I.E.L.D. in the comics, the first movie had them referred to as the Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division before they showed the full acronym near the end.
Tony is a a subversion, as he doesn't adopt the title "Iron Man" until the end of the first film, and even then, it's mostly used to refer to the armor ("the Iron Man weapon"), not Tony himself.
Averted with The Mandarin, who is referred to as such.
Whiplash in the sequel has elements of the original Crimson Dynamo (last name's Vanko, is Russian, and builds and wears Iron Man-inspired armor) with the comics Whiplash (codename and main gimmick, which is Exactly What It Says on the Tin).
JARVIS is mostly based on HOMER from the comics, with a patina of Edwin Jarvis, manservant to the Stark family and subsequently Battle Butler to The Avengers.
Justin Hammer is a combination of his comic book self and another Stark rival, the younger Tiberius Stone.
In the third film, Rhodes uses the armor and name Iron Patriot. In the comics, Iron Patriot is the name of the armor Norman Osborn uses during Dark Reign and new paint job Rhodes gives to his War Machine armor afterwards.
Aldrich Killian is a merger of his comic counterpart, Mallen, Ezekiel Stane, and the modern incarnation of the Mandarin.
Cool Garage: Tony Stark's workshop houses a Saleen S7, a Tesla Roadster, an Audi R8, an AC Cobra and a hot rod. Oh, and a suit of power armor that is easily the most advanced piece of combat equipment ever made. He smashes one of them and sprays debris on another during his tests of the Iron Man suit. He somehow has Captain America's partially completed shield just lying around his workshopnote It's actually in one of Howard Stark's crates, which is lying around his garage. Making for yet another funny moment when he casually uses it to prop up part of his prismatic accelerator, as many a fanboy orgasm turned to horrible, horrible shock.
Taken even further when Iron Man 3 reveals that Tony has put in a wine cellar beneath his garage, along with a freaking ARMORY◊ built specifically for his Iron Man suits.
Inverted with Iron Monger, who creates an Evil Plan to get his hands on Stark's tech so he can sell it.
Discussed in the second film, when Tony asks why Ivan Vanko didn't sell his inferior but functional arc reactor and Powered Armor on the Black Market for profit. Vanko however is more concerned with getting revenge on the Starks than making money.
Drama-Preserving Handicap: In the first two films, Tony is weakened before the final battle. In the first, his improved arc reactor is removed and he's forced to use the inferior prototype, severely limiting the suit's power. In the second, he uses up his best weapon on the Hammer Drones before he fights Vanko.
Taken Up to Eleven in the third movie: Tony spends almost the entire movie including most of the final battle outside of his armour, making him very dangerously vulnerable compared to Rhodey, who is seen mostly in the War Machine- sorry, Iron Patriot armour.
Energy Weapon: Since all the major suits function around the arc reactor technology, energy weapons are inevitable.
Iron Man has his signature repulsor rays, and the uni-beam in his chest. As well as that "one-time use" super duper beam attack in his gloves.
Whiplash, having created his own arc reactors, wields a pair of, you guessed it, energy whips.
War Machine is more of a typical armoured suit with guns, but he still has the repulsor rays. He just prefers bullets.
The Ten Rings gang, despite having surface similarities with al-Qaeda, are actually a mishmash of Central Asian, Middle Eastern, and Balkan members.
In the sequel, the all-American Justin Hammer employs corrupt French policemen and a Russian Evil Genius. Meanwhile, Word of God is that the man who got Vanko his false passport, an Asian man working in Russia, is an agent of the Ten Rings.
The Mandarin's mooks in the third movie are comprised of both men and women of varying ethnicities.
Everything's Better with Spinning: In general, Iron Man's flights incorporate a lot of spinning which probably isn't necessary, but still looks pretty damned coolnote Admit it, Tony's whole personality is built on Rule of Cool. Justified near the climax of the third movie; when Tony is trapped in just his right gauntlet and his left sabaton, the imbalance naturally makes it literally impossible for him to not spin unless he grabs the wall and braces his empty foot against it.
Evil Counterpart: The major villains in every Iron Man film embody different, twisted aspects of Tony's personality.
Obidiah Stane is a fellow charming Arms Dealer, but is only interested in accumulating power.
Justin Hammer is a fellow Jerkass playboy billionaire with none of Tony's brilliance or charm.
Ivan Vanko has Tony's intelligence and ingenuity as an engineer, but is obsessed with revenge instead of redemption.
The Mandarin is a genius scientist and inventor who has created a huge breakthrough in his area of studies, but he uses his creations for evil and vengeance, and distributes the technology without caring about the consequences. In another sense, Extremis allows his subjects to go toe-to-toe with Tony's suits, pitting biological evolution against technological evolution.
Stark Enterprises in a way. Even though Howard and Tony were both great guys (well, decent guys), it seems their business partners always want to sell weapons to American enemies behind the scenes. Also subverted by Tony Stark, who points out that many of his inventions in the field of medicine and agriculture has been made possible by revenues from the military contracts.
Advanced Idea Mechanics (AIM), a scientific think tank led by Aldrich Killian who is using the Extremis formula to start a war in which he controls both sides.
In the sequel, Howard Stark is analogous to Walt Disney with his vision of a better tomorrow envisioned in his Stark Expo '74, which is analogous of EPCOT. He's even sporting the same look Disney wore during most of his shows and promos in the '60s. (Compare Walt and Howard◊.) This could even be considered Hilarious in Hindsight considering Iron Man 2 was well into production by the time Disney bought Marvel.
Stan Lee intended Tony Stark to be an analogue to Howard Hughes, with both his genius intellect and various eccentricities. Character development has lessened the resemblance over the years, but you can still see it well in the movies.
In an attempt to save face, which failed miserably, Justin Hammer tries making a point that the pilot involved in the failed Hammertech armour test actually survived. To elaborate, he survived having his spine twisted 180 degrees.
Tony threatening one of his robots with being sold to a community college seems to be comically invoking the spirit of this trope.
Tony, to ridiculous extremes. Forget the private jet that turns into a nightclub with flight attendants who double as exotic dancers. He has the personal resources and completely automated production facility to build a fully functional Iron Man suit (Mark II) in five hours... in his garage. Justified as he had already built a suit (Mark I), and the blueprints were on the private server. The only differences between the new Mark II and the red and gold Mark III appear to be the alloys used to combat the icing problem, and the usage of colors.
Justin Hammer from the sequel is filthy rich as well, converting an entire airplane hangar into a five-star restaurant. For himself and one other guy.
Floating Head Syndrome: The film posters for Iron Man 1 and 2 feature multiple head-shots of the main characters and the Iron Man suit floating around each other.
Foil: The first two movies' villains are foils of Tony Stark, representing darker sides of his character, having his vices pushed Up to Eleven or stripped of his redeeming qualities. Obadiah Stane is a shrewd businessman like Tony, but is a completely immoral profiteer and ironmonger with no sense of honor or patriotism. Justin Hammer is a flamboyant narcissistic billionaire who shares Tony's taste for douchebaggery and partying, but has none of his genius or charity. Whiplash is also a brilliant scientist who can build power armor in a shitty apartment and a son of a technology wizard, but has none of Tony's wealth or prestige that he envies so much; in addition, he seems to share Tony's drinking problem. He also doesn't really care about civilian casualties.
Jack is a foil to Pepper Potts. Both are assistants to industrialist magnates, who get put through some pretty crazy stuff. But in Pepper's case, the crazy stuff is actually for a good reason (saving Tony from Whiplash on the racetrack), while in Jack's case, the crazy stuff is just for the hell of it (being told to try to put a drone head on his own head like a helmet, when it obviously won't work). This has a great effect on how loyal they are.
The "Ten Rings" terrorist organization, who idolize Genghis Khan, with the chief the leader Raza displaying one very large and prominent ring It's his left index ring, which generally is the "psionic ring", though it is red and the novelization states explicitly that it's the Ring of Fire which is never mentioned again. Relation to Genghis and ten magical rings with individual powers are the trademarks of The Mandarin. However, Word of God states that if/when they do the Mandarin, the rings will either betechnological in nature or not really "rings".
When Rhodes sees Tony fly off in the Iron Man armor to confront Stane, he glances at the second suit of armor in the garage and pauses for a moment, and then says "Next time, baby," a reference to "his" future role as War Machine.
Stark is drinking almost constantly—he later gets shitfaced, badly, in the sequel, inspired by the "Demon in a Bottle" storyline from the comics.
The brief cameo of Captain America's shield strapped to one of Tony's workbenches. Made for an additional gag in the sequel.
On the same note, Coulson's reaction to the above foreshadows his fanboy-like appreciation of its owner in The Avengers.
S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Coulson going to New Mexico to find Thor's hammer.
When Tony is talking to Nick Fury, there is a map in the background with circles on it. They are over California, a region in the southwest US, the north east, Greenland, Scandinavia, and the eastern coast of Africa. We know that both the Iron Man 2 final fight and the Hulk incident happened in the east/north east, and the Hammer was found in New Mexico, right where the second circle is. As for the others, Africa is home to the Black Panther, and Captain America is found in the Arctic region, though the location is never specified more than that...
Stark says how Senator Stern should be giving him a medal. He does.
During Stark's ego-stroking "It's not about me!" speech during his Expo, he continues to say that instead, it's about legacy. This continues to be a theme throughout the movie as Ivan Vanko seeks to destroy the legacy of the Stark family and claim the legacy he believes to be his. Justin Hammer actually brings up the idea of 'going after his legacy' verbatim.
The brownish "health drink" makes its first appearance when Tony is in the lab/workshop, working on the Mark IV.
Forging Scene: Tony making his first armor during his captivity in Afghanistan. In the sequel, it's intentionally paralleled by Ivan Vanko making his first Whiplash suit.
Gatling Good: The preferred projectile weapon on those suits. Played straight as a ruler: Of course they don't shoot with the right rate.
Geek Reference Pool: Real life example. Certain nerds only know Gwyneth Paltrow from these movies, even though she's been around since the early 90's and won a friggin' Oscar for Shakespeare in Love. Somewhat justified in that after giving birth she deliberately did not work much, and Iron Man was one of the first roles she took when she started acting again.
A memorable example is Stark suggesting the Air Force blame certain events on a "training exercise". Rhodes tells him it isn't that simple — then we cut to him delivering a statement to the press about an "unfortunate" training exercise.
Another hilarious example involving Rhodes: When he's offered an alcoholic drink on Tony's jet, he avidly states he's not going to drink. Cut to a completely plastered Rhodes a good few hours later.
In 2, Tony is contemplating his own mortality. He asks Natasha what she would do if she knew she was going to die soon. She replies, "I would do whatever I wanted to do, with whoever I wanted to do." You'd think he'd go through with his earlier plans of shelving the party... and then there's a cut to Tony doing scratch DJing, and then dancing sloppy drunk in his armor.
Yes, Tony Stark works hard to keep the world safe, and his heart is in the right place. He's still a playboy, a glory hound, a drunkard, and an irresponsible jackass.
Howard Stark's devotion to science and the common good is commendable, especially compared to Anton Vanko being Only in It for the Money. Less commendable is having the guy deported back to the country from which he defected. As Tony himself notes, he was cold, calculating, and apparently never just out and told his son how much he cared about him. In person, at least.
Green-Eyed Monster: This is, when you get right down to it, the motivation of all of Tony's enemies.
Grey and Grey Morality: None of Tony's enemies (aside from the Ten Rings) are outright evil, Vanko just wants revenge and is shown to be a comparatively nice guy otherwise, while Hammer is a smug Jerkass but is otherwise an incompetent but ambitious weapons developer. The most evil villain so far has been Stane, but he's Affably Evil, indicates he was reluctant to have Tony killed, though more of pragmatism perhaps. Considering what we see of Tony before he reforms implies he's an irresponsible playboy billionaire taking the glory and credit while Stane keeps the company afloat, it's hard not to understand why Stane might want Tony out of the picture. Meanwhile with Tony, just look at Good Is Not Nice above.
Heads-Up Display: Starting with the "Mark II" armor, all the suits built and worn by Tony Stark in all the three Iron Man films and The Avengers feature one. There are both POV shots of it and shots inside the helmet where it's projected in front of Tony. It starts to flicker and fail when he takes damage. It completely disappears when faced with the icing problem in the first film and when it's travels into space in The Avengers.
A dialogue and exposition-free example happens during Tony's first fight against Whiplash. With one resolute glare, Tony goes from being on the ropes to winning the fight in seconds.
Tony seems fully prepared to give up and die on his couch until Stane reveals that he intends to have Pepper killed. Even paralyzed he is able to look horrified. Then he manages to drag himself downstairs to retrieve his spare arc reactor, with his heart failing the whole way.
The Hero's Journey: The movies are Tony's journey to becoming a full-fledged hero. Progress got set back at the beginning of the second film, justified because he's dying and in denial about it at the time.
Heterosexual Life-Partners: Tony and Col. Rhodes, especially when reunited after Tony's capture. Lampshaded by the fact that Tony sarcastically calls Rhodes "honey" and "dear" a couple of times.
High Up Ice Up: Very nearly gets Tony killed in the first movie when he's testing the suit; he later uses it against Stane.
Immune to Bullets: Played with slightly. Small arms fire bounces off, and nothing except a direct hit from an explosion hurts. Larger calibers (up to an including 20mm Vulcan rounds and the main cannon of a tank!) score and dent the armor, showing off the creators' CG muscle and occasionally causing problems ranging from a frozen knee joint to trouble removing the suit without a diamond blade.
In Memoriam: Iron Man 2 is dedicated to Adam "DJ AM" Goldstein, who had a cameo As Himself filmed before his death.
Imported Alien Phlebotinum: Not immediately obvious (in fact, only apparent as part of the larger Avengers film continuity) but the Arc Reactor technology was originally developed by Howard Stark, who was part of SHIELD and who apparently studied the Tesseract that came from Asgard. It became obvious in the second movie that Howard Stark made great intellectual discoveries by studying the artifact, but he was limited by the technology of his time, and that Tony was the one who eventually realized much of the potential of his father's research into Asgard tech.
Insistent Terminology: The military personnel Stark is riding with in the humvee aren't soldiers, they're airmen, being members of the Air Force.
Insufferable Genius: Tony Stark may be a veritable technology wizard, but he is one of the most self-absorbed douchebags and assholes on planet Earth. He seems to be aware of it ("Textbook narcissism? [Beat] ...agreed.") and tries to get better. He was less of it in the first film, but the fame got back into his head by Iron Man 2note Though in this case it was exacerbated by the fact that he was dying from palladium poisoning.
Intrepid Reporter: Played with; Christine Everhart clearly wants to be this, but the fact that she ends up sleeping with Tony not long after self-righteously calling him out as the 'Merchant of Death' alone indicates that she's probably not as intrepid as she wants people to think. She generally comes off as being a bit smug and incompetent.
Then again, she is the one to reveal to Tony that his company is selling weapons to the villains.
In the Future, We Still Have Roombas: Tony has robotic arm things to help him out when he is inventing, in his garage/lab, called Butterfingers, Dummy and You. They seem to get in the way more than help him though and at one point he threatens to donate one to a city college.
In the second movie, after his birthday party, Tony regresses a bit during his fight with Rhodey. The final dialogue of the scene, when they both have repulsors pointed at each other, is sheer, priceless, goading jackassery on Tony's part.
In the sequel, Justin Hammer definitely counts.
Tony's father, who is described as "cold and calculating". He never told his son he loved him.
All the villains. Obadiah Stane, who points out that Tony Stark was able to build a miniature arc reactor "IN A CAVE!WITH A BOX OF SCRAPS!'' Justin Hammer, who could best be described (non-literally) as "Tony Stark's annoying, hammy little brother." Ivan Danko, who is clearly enjoying himself in every line. And the Mandarin, both Ben Kingsley as a hammy actor playing a hammy villain, and Guy Pearce as a Drunk with Power baddie.
Tony himself counts, in several scenes in 2 (particularly when he's drunk). He's a genius, he's a larger-than-life figure, he knows it, and he wants to make sure everyone else does too.
Left Stuck After Attack: Tony does this accidentally. As he is busy, a Mook tries to headshot him and kills himself with a ricochet.
In Iron Man 2, the Navy Hammer Drones get one of these when they unload a sizable portion of their rocket ordnance on the fleeing Expo attendees. Notably, these are the only drones that successfully go after civilians onscreen. Quite a literal massacre.
In Iron Man 3, the helicopters that launch a salvo on Tony's home in Malibu.
In a deleted scene, Pepper discovers him lounging around half-out of his armor after his first combat outing in the suit, and he's badly bruised, bleeding and generally banged up. Not badly enough to account for shrugging off tank fire, but much worse than is shown in the main release.
In the sequel, Vanko gets rammed by Happy Hogan's car, twice, without the benefit of power armor, and all it does is knock him out for a few seconds. Whatever protection the exoskeleton covering his torso offered, the fact remains that his body took the brunt of that.
Meaningful Name: Although this of course comes from the comics, it's no coincidence that Tony is "Stark", meaning clear, and unblemished, While Obadiah is a "Stane", which, when spelled stain means to mark or tarnish.
Meta Casting: (Not meant as a Take That...) Tony Stark is a hard-partying enfant terrible who turns his life around, having nearly lost it. Robert Downey, Jr. knows a little bit what that is like... and his life experience was in fact cited by director Jon Favreau as one of the reasons he insisted on casting Downey in the role.
The first film has him go through two prototypes before he actually dives into battle with the Mark III.
The second film starts with Tony using the Mark IV after the Mark III armor was heavily damaged in the fight with Stane, with the Mark V (Briefcase Armor) as a back-up in case he needs to suit up on the fly. He ditches the Mark IV after upgrading his chest piece to a less poisonous element, and begins using the Mark VI armor.
The Mark II armor also gets an upgrade partway through the second movie, into Rhodey's "War Machine" armor. However, this is less technological and more "let's tape on as many machine guns & rocket launchers as possible" though. It also gets a downgrade, as Hammer "upgrades" the software from Stark Tech to his own inferior OS.
(Bunker-buster mini-missile fires and... bounces off its intended target & fizzles)
Tony: "... Hammertech?"
In The Avengers, Tony upgrades his armor to Mark VII, after the Mark VI is heavily damaged fighting Thor & during Loki's assault on the Helicarrier, to the point where it's clearly struggling to fly. The major changes from the Mark VI are the return of the circular chest piece and rocket boosters on the back so the repulsors can be used as weapons while flying.
By the time we get to Iron Man 3, Tony is working on Mark XLII. Because everyone needs a hobby.
Mohs Scale of Science Fiction Hardness: The sci-fi is considerably hard, just having One Big Lie in the form of the Arc Reactor and exploring the consequences of the Powered Armor that's made possible by it. Not that they get every scientific detail right - let's just say a tank top and sunglasses aren't proper lab equipment when dealing with atomic restructuring - but as a genre it's harder than what you'd expect from something based on superhero comics.
Movie Superheroes Wear Black: Averted. Tony's power armour is a gold/titanium alloy with hotrod red highlights, meaning the whole contraption stands out a mile, in keeping with the less-serious mood (compared to Batman) of the films (he does wear a black body stocking under the suit, though, and his civvies tend towards dark, sober suits). Tony's earlier prototype (which goes on to become War Machine's armour) is shiny shiny silver. Tony loves the "fresh from the showroom" aesthetic, which makes sense given he's portrayed as a huge Petrol Head.
Tony's driver is named Happy Hogan, who marries Pepper in the comics. The movie's director cast himself as Happy.
During the final fight, a building in the background has the logo of Roxxon, a major company in the Marvel Universe (in fact, a Mega Corp.Fictional Counterpart of Exxon).
JARVIS, the name of Tony's AI. JARVIS is mostly based on HOMER from the comics, with a patina of Edwin Jarvis, manservant to the Stark family and subsequently Battle Butler to The Avengers. In the novelisation, Pepper explains that it is an acronym for "Just A Rather Very Intelligent System".
JARVIS has since become a recursive mythology gag, being brought into the comics as the onboard AI in Pepper's suit.
Pepper: Have you ever met the actual Jarvis? JARVIS: No, ma'am. I suspect it would be rather odd.
And of course, Tony's very first suit, the one he builds in the cave? It's basically a real life version of the very first suit he had in the comics, circa 1963.
Stane's "we're iron mongers, Tony" line, the only in-film reference to his traditional supervillain name. A similar thing happens in Iron Man 2; neither Whiplash, Black Widow or War Machine are referred to as such, but Tony does say to Rhodey, "You wanna be the war machine?" at the climax of their little boxing match.
Stane grabbing a car full of civilians echoes one of the truly bastardly moves he made in the comic book Iron Monger story: nearly crushing a baby to death.
At the start the Monaco race scene, Whiplash is shown wearing a technician's uniform with a fake name patch which reads "B. Turgenov". In the comics, Boris Turgenev was a Soviet spy who became the second Crimson Dynamo.
A very slight example in the same scene is that of one of the racers listed on the screen, a British racer named Chapman. A British action hero in the Marvel Universe, one of three who used the identity Union Jack, was named Joseph Chapman. Given the auto race scenario, it could also be a Shout Out to Colin Chapman, famous race car maker who founded Lotus Cars.
We get a glimpse of Captain America's in-progress shield in Tony's workshop.
During the drone chase near the end, a sign for "Circuits Maximus", one of Tony's companies in the comics, can be seen for a second.
The sequel has a blink and you'll miss it reference to Project Pegasus, a new-energy research facility that makes many appearances in Marvel.
You get a brief glimpse of a Captain America comic book in the trunk Tony is excavating when he is looking for hints to a palladium substitute.
In the sequel, Tony tries to make romantic advances on Black Widow literally from the first scene that she shows up in. In the Ultimates (the Ultimate Marvel verison of the Avengers), the two of them are an official couple.
Newscaster Cameo: A few, to show Tony is living in basically our world. Jim Cramer of Mad Money is in the first, Christiane Amanpour and Bill O'Reilly are in the second, and plenty in the third, including Josh Elliott, Bill Maher and Joan Rivers.
Averted. Tony goes for the mechanism handling the ejected pilot's parachute rather than try to catch the pilot by himself.
Also averted in the sequel, when Iron Man is rushing to save Pepper from the exploding Hammer Drones, while he rushes to the rescue at top speed, he conspicuously comes to a near stop before picking her up.
In the first film, Stane mocks Stark as he steals the arc reactor in his chest, saying, "You really think that just because you have an idea, it belongs to you??" In the second, Stark chews out a Senate Subcommittee that insists that he is obligated to "Turn over the Iron Man weapon to The American People". However, both times, it backfires because when they do get the suit, they don't have the trial-and-error that went to it or the genius which overcomes technical issues. The lesson here is that Tony didn't just build Iron Man. He IS Iron Man.
Tony Stark and Ivan Vanko. Tony even states that if Vanko's father had won the conflict with the elder Stark, and he'd grown-up in a concrete hellhole with his alcoholic old man, he would have done the exact same thing as Vanko.
Obfuscating Stupidity: Tony Stark often acts dimwitted, but shown to be incredibly on the ball, delivering Deadpan Snarker putdowns to people who irritate him and managing to build incredible machines out whatever he has on hand.
In 3, whenever an Extremis member starts glowing, somebody reacts violently.
Omnidisciplinary Scientist: Tony Stark seems to be an expert at high-energy physics, materials science, and aerospace engineering all at the same time. Granted, he has an AI to help. Ivan Vanko, however, is a physics genius who manages, completely unassisted, to hack Hammer's entire network in seconds simply by typing at the Windows login screen, build an army of advanced robot soldiers, and control said robots effectively in combat. The Avengers shows Tony becoming a Tesseract expert after just one night of study, but that's more a case of Fridge Brilliance because he's been working with arc reactor technology for years ... and that's based off of the Tesseract! It would be like a vet who specializes in dogs learning really quickly how to treat injured wolves.
Once per Episode: Part of Tony's home gets destroyed in each movie (applies to the Malibu mansion in the Iron Man films and the New York penthouse in The Avengers):
Iron Man 1 - After a test flight with the Mk. 2, Tony cuts the thrusters early and falls through the roof of his house, destroying his piano and a couple of his cars.
Iron Man 2 - Tony and Rhodey get into a fight while wearing Tony's armor and blow up Tony's bar.
The Avengers - Tony crashes out of the penthouse window in Stark Tower to be caught by his remote-activated suit; later, Hulk and Thor comprehensively destroy the interior of the same apartment during their fight.
Iron Man 3 - The Mandarin's goons blow up most of Tony's house with missiles.
Poor Communication Kills: Tony's not very good at talking to other people about his problems, which leaves everyone around him confused and irritated by his strange behavior while he does things like build a suit of Powered Armor in his basement or slowly die of palladium poisoning.
Power Glows: Applied Phlebotinum glows, no matter what it is. The arc reactor, the repulsors, the whips, even the element that Stark synthesized all emit a lot of light.
Pragmatic Adaptation: As with any superhero movie. While the movie is based on the 616 universe, Tony's flippant and sarcastic personality doesn't come from the 616 version of the character but rather from the Ultimate incarnation of the character as written by Mark Millar. Most fans agree it was an excellent decision, as 616 Tony has never really had much of a personality to begin with. Another big change was replacing Jarvis the butler with J.A.R.V.I.S. the AI, which has also been well-received (and moved into the 616-verse).
Pre-Mortem One-Liner: Attempted by Stane before trying to kill Pepper, which gives Tony enough time to intervene.
Audi, especially the R8, is given a huge amount of screen time in the first film. The second one has it as well.
Burger King is also worked in, but it makes sense in context: he's been tortured and imprisoned for three months and you can't blame him for wanting an American cheeseburger.
Subverted, with a hint of Take That. The Stark Industries logo, which we mostly see emblazoned on missiles being shot by terrorists, is very obviously inspired by the Lockheed Martin logo. Lockheed isn't mentioned in the credits, but Boeing is — despite more Lockheed stuff than Boeing in the film, and the only Boeing thing being heavily disguised.
Database software company Oracle in the second movie. CEO Larry Ellison even makes a cameo as himself.
There's also the Sega logos at the expo. Guess who created the video game adaptations of the films?
Dr. Pepper appears a few times in the second movie. Once as a can sitting on the table where Natasha and Pepper are working, and later on banners at the Stark Expo (strangely, the logo is not the current one, or even the last one, but the one before that). Of course, the pun works nicely, but Dr. Pepper has since become one of the more consistent sponsors of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
The glaringly obvious Mountain Dew Vending Machine near the beginning.
LG and Verizon during the first movie during Tony's conversation following the missile demonstration.
During the boxing scene in the second movie, Tony is seen drinking from a Dick's Sporting Goods bottle.
Rage Helm: The closure line of the suit's helmet suggests a thin-lipped scowl.
Tony refuses to give his Iron Man technology to his own company, other engineers, and even the US government out of fear it could fall into the wrong hands, despite the dozens of positive applications it could have.
Semi-Averted by the fact that he's attempting to put the power aspect of the suit, into practical application. In addition justified by the fact that he's seen his technology falling into the wrong hands, including an the armor prototype.
By the end of 2, he's perfectly fine with his buddy Rhodey using a suit for the military.
Fully absent after 2. In Avengers he states that he's the "biggest name in clean energy" because of the arc reactor, and by Captain America: The Winter Soldier, he's given S.H.I.E.L.D. access to his repulsors for their new helicarriers.
Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Tony's escape from the terrorists' base has elements of this after he sees Yinsen die in front of him. The last we see of his face is a firerce, determined look, and then the mask slides back into place, and after that he becomes a great deal less defensive and actively starts blowing things up.
Rule of Cool: As one science-oriented film reviewer pointed out, his suit should technically start to fall whenever the jets/repulsors aren't pointing straight down to counter gravity's pull, though he seems to have a repulsor on his chestplate that takes up the slack, as well as flaps on the armor that make him a variable-geometry lifting body. His testing in the first movie also illustrates that a very small fraction of his repulsors' thrust capacity are needed to actually counter his weight. Even a very small vertical component of thrust at half or full power should be enough to hold him airborne. Of course, with the weight of the armor...
Rule of Three: Tony goes through three different suits in the first movie, and three more in the second.
Also three in the Avengers movie, although the first two appear to be the same "model." The first one (Mk VI) gets dinged up brawling with Thor, he brings a brand new (or repaired) suit on board the Helicarrier (also Mk VI), and then he brings out the new and improved model (Mk VII) for the climax.
And in the third movie, three suits were destroyed while Tony was wearing them (although he had several dozen at that point).
Three times in the movies Tony dodges a missile by simply stepping aside, and neutralizes the attacker with his own missile.
In the first film he dodges Raza's rocket and manually fires one off from his Mark I suit. Later, in the Mark III, he steps out of the way of a missle from a tank, and (looking irritated if anything) returns fire with a much smaller missle, and then demonstrates proper application of the Unflinching Walk. Finally in the, second movie, Tony's HUD alerts him to a drone about to fire a rocket, and he avoids it by merely leaning to the left a bit. Tony then destroys the drone, and two of its buddies, by firing several small rockets that penetrate the drones' armor, give them just enough time to start to move in on Tony, and then blows them to bits.
Throughtout both movies, Tony has a bad habit of messing with other peoples' cars.
Send in the Clones: A major motif in the sequel, where different rogue states, corporations and individuals try to create their own, preferably mass-produced Iron Men, with varying (lack of) success. Foreshadowed in the first movie: Raza, the terrorist leader, asks Obadiah Stane for "a gift of iron soldiers" based on Tony Stark's suit.
Also foreshadowed by Raza's 'iron soldiers' comment, Iron Legion. To elaborate: Tony's featured suit for 3 reads Mk 42. Marks I through VII go down with his house. At the climax, all other 34 suits of Powered Armour fly in and start going to town on the Extremis experiments. The Holy Shit Quotient for this movie just experienced the icing problem.
Servile Snarker: Pepper and JARVIS. JARVIS is notable in that he's an AI who's advanced enough to be snarky every now and then.
Sexy Secretary: Pepper Potts, and in the sequel, Natasha Romanov becomes this for her.
Shirtless Scene: Aplenty. First we have Tony in the first during his "heart change" operation, then Mickey Rourke in the second wearing nothing but underpants and sporting muscles and covered in tattoos.
Averted by the Ten Rings terrorists in the first movie. During the Mark I fight, they do end up actually damaging the armor somewhat by attacking it from more vulnerable angles than the front, and Raza's grenade launcher would probably have done a number on the suit if Tony hadn't been warned at the last second.
During the Mark III fight in Gulmira, the Ten Rings militants quickly realize that their weapons have absolutely no effect on Iron Man's armor, and turn their guns on their civilian hostages.
Justified in the second movie by War Machine, during the final fight versus Ivan Vanko. The Ex-Wife turned out to be useless and his minigun was destroyed just a few seconds in, so he was stuck with his forearm-mounted machine guns, which didn't even dent Vanko's armor. Presumably he thought (correctly) that he'd have better luck with them than with his palm-mounted repulsors, which Vanko had shown in a previous fight that he could deflect.
The third movie still has people shooting at the Iron Man armor and Iron Patriot armor with pistols and sub-machine guns, even by the President's Secret Service who should know better.
The same music in a big-band arrangement shows up in the background during the Las Vegas sequence.
The suitcase armor is a double shout out to the comics: Tony Stark did in fact manage to carry his armor around in a suitcase in the 60's, and the coloration is similar to that of the fan-favorite Silver Centurion armor, which was worn during the 80's.
The first movie also has shout-outs to former suits. The bulky Mark I suit is almost identical to the first suit he wore in the comics. Later, when trying to decide on the color scheme for the Mark III, we see the suit with a gold color scheme and briefly, with a silver and red scheme. The silver and red scheme is another shout out to the Silver Centurion armor. The all-gold color scheme is a look he wore in the 60's, which he intended to make him look less scary to the public than the gunmetal gray of the original suit.
Vanko pulling open the shirt to reveal the arc reactor and exoskeleton is awfully reminiscient of Superman doing the same to reveal his sigil.
That first failed armor shown during the Senate hearing (the Korean one) looks awfully close to a Mad Cat/Timber Wolf from Battletech.
The Iron Man-Iron Monger fight in the first one, and the entirety of the failed armour sequence in the second, are homages to similar scenes in RoboCop 2. The director even makes a comment on it on the second film's DVD commentary.
When Tony is drunk-piloting his suit, the partygoes first start throwing booze bottles into the air for him to shoot at. Then one of the girls shows up with a whole watermelon. Tony literally shouts out, "I think she wants the Gallagher!◊"
Self proclaimed comic book geek Howard Stern heavily promoted the first Iron Man film on his radio show, even interviewing director and casual friend Jon Favreau. In an interview on one of Stern's satellite radio channels during the promotion of Iron Man 2, Favreau confirmed that the foul mouthed Senator Stern from Iron Man 2 was in fact a shout out to his friend, the foul mouthed non-Senator Howard Stern.
Aside from the suits, Rourke went to Russia to learn about his role, including which prison tats Vanko should have...by going to Russian prisons. One of the most notable being the star that Vanko has on his right hand: very accurate, with each point of the star symbolizing a year he spent in prison.
Take a look at the War Machine armor in the Iron Man 2 trailer and promo materials: not only is it painted in the same "Compass Ghost" colors as are standard for Air Force fighters today, but it carries full, correct Air Force markings in the proper low-visibility colors, including:
An Air Combat Command badge, just above the elbow.
Proper tailcode on the shoulder—ED: Edwards AFB, 412th Test Wing; 445 FLTS, 445th Flight Test Squadron.
Aircraft serial number AF10-001 on the side, just above the waist (First USAF aircraft purchased in Fiscal Year 2010).
The airmen riding with Tony in the convoy in the first film are wearing the tiger-stripe Airman Battle Uniform that the Air Force adopted in 2007, with body armor and helmets in the blocky Universal Camoflauge Pattern typical of the Army, a typical combination for deployed Air Force personnel at the time. For bonus points, when the movie was in production, most of the Air Force was still wearing woodland and desert variants of the Battle Dress Uniform, making this bit of attention to detail relatively forward thinking.
Smug Snake: Christine Everhart, the reporter from Vanity Fair, comes off a bit like this: she clearly wants to be an Intrepid Reporter but she (rather hypocritically) doesn't let her moral objections to Tony's arms-dealing get in the way of sleeping with him despite confronting him with them very self-righteously moments before, she behaves very condescendingly towards Pepper Potts the morning after, and overall comes across as smug, self-righteous and not quite as smart and on top of things as she wants people to believe she is.
The Stinger: In both movies. The first had the well-known appearance of Nick Fury. The second showed Agent Coulson who left Tony for a trip to New Mexico to find what he was looking for - a crater, with The Mighty Thor's hammer beside it, saying 'We found it'.
In the third movie, we find that Tony has been telling the entire story to Bruce Banner, who dozed off about five minutes in.
Soundtrack Dissonance: Not "dissonance" per se, but the lyrics to the Black Sabbath song featured so heavily have absolutely nothing to do with the plot, character, or movie. But... who cares? The vocals are actually missing from the song played at that point, anyway.
Stan Winston: The genius behind the creation of Tony's battlesuits in the movies.
Staring Kid: When Tony takes his suit for a test flight for the first time, the first person to spot him is a little kid with an ice cream cone on a Ferris wheel. The kid licks the ice cream right off the cone due to lack of focus. In the second film, the kid in the Iron Man costume who stands up to a "Hammeroid." Throughout the third, Tony is assisted by a kid stuck on his own.
The title hero's cell wired through his armor. Maybe the armor is Bluetooth compatible.
Then there's the video chat on the non-armor-based cell phone in the middle of Afghanistan at the start of the movie.
In 2, the phone gets an upgrade to be able to instantaneously access projection screens. It also appears to be as big and transparent as a piece of plexiglass.
In 3, the same phone has been upgraded so it can Skype with others.
Technology Porn: The Trope Codifier. From Tony's house (with its near-sentient AI, touch-based control panels on everything, robotic arms doing every little thing, and his holographic workstation complete with motion-sensitive schematics that can respond in real time to objects placed within its boundaries in full three dimensions) to the Iron Man armor itself (tons of shifting, locking mechanisms and a prep bay with all the pieces coming out of the floor and ceiling to effortlessly suit him up for battle), you'd be lying to say you wouldn't want to be Tony Stark for a day. This is technoporn equivalent to Satoshi Urushihara.
Tech Tree: The development of the Iron Man armor in relation to its various spinoffs.
In Iron Man both Tony and Stane work off of the Mk I armor Tony used to escape captivity, yet the two armors are wildly different. Tony developed Mk II as a flight suit first and a weapon second, while Stane's armor was developed primarily as a tank-like weapon with limited flight capabilities. Two different approaches to the same basic framework.
In Iron Man 2 we see the Air Force develop on Tony's Mk II armor. While Tony's Mk III armor was the Mk II armor made with a material better for flight and with compact weaponry, the Air Force's take on it adds several guns to the ensemble.
Thou Shall Not Kill: Notably Averted in all three films. Within minutes (screentime) of Tony perfecting the Mark III, he takes out a small battalion of terrorists, including a manned tank, who were attacking civilians. He doesn't even TRY to use nonlethal force, and the experience doesn't seem to phase him later. Throughout the rest of the films, he has no moral dilemmas about killing the villains if there's no better/easier choice.
Three-Point Landing: Iron Man does it whenever he lands at high speed, seen in both movies, first in Gulmira and then at the Stark Expo. This is to be expected, as it's Iron Man's trademark pose.
Black Widow does it deliciously, though she's actually rising from a slide.
Averted with the Hammer Drones, which land in a standing posture. Presumably, having a good dozen Three Point Landings in a row would diminish the drama. Also, as drones, they have higher g-tolerances than humans, and don't need to cushion their landings.
The Savin-piloted Iron Patriot armor in Iron Man 3 does a shaky version of this when he lands in front of the president.
The actor who played Raza, trying to avoid the stereotype of the Middle Eastern terrorist and invoke the, for lack of a better term, multiculturalism of the Ten Rings, used more than one language other than English and even varied his accent a little.
Robert Downey, Jr.'s dialogue was heavily improvised in all three movies, which was intentional to help make his character seem relatively One of Us, even if he is a Fiction 500 charter member.
Twenty Minutes into the Future: The first HUD shot places the movie in late 2009. The second film, released in 2010, also takes place in 2010, six months after the first movie. The third film continues this by taking place during Christmas time of 2013, also six months after the film was released.
What Do You Mean, It's Not Symbolic?: The Hammer "supermissile" that is attempted to be used against Whiplash. It is very phallic, and fails....spectacularly. All of the characters watch as the missle leaps towards Whiplash, and bounces off, then all three villian and hero alike seem to share a moment of laughter.