"Ready for another lesson?"
"Ladies. Children. Sheep. Some people call me a terrorist, I consider myself a teacher. Lesson number one: Heroes. There is no such thing."Iron Man 3
— The Mandarin
is the 2013 sequel to Iron Man 2
and the seventh film in the Marvel Studios produced and Walt Disney Pictures
distributed note Marvel 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:
You can watch the first and last trailer for the film here
This film provides examples for the following tropes:
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- Absence of Evidence: Rhodes mentions after the first Mandarin broadcast that the baffling thing about the Mandarin "attacks" is that they never have found any bomb casings or explosives at any of the bombings, which is because the "bombs" are Extremis users who are unable to control their Power Incontinence.
- 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.
- Action Girl:
- Tony assembles the Mark XLII 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.
- Dark Action Girl: Ellen Brandt and the other female Extremis soldiers.
- Adam Westing: Ben Kingsley's role as a hammy Anglo actor playing an Ambiguously Brown villain is most likely a reference to his roles in Prince of Persia, The Dictator and Thunderbirds, among others.
- It's also likely poking fun at his background as a former Shakespearean actor who's appeared in some not-so-high art.
- Adaptation Distillation: Combines elements of the "Extremis" arc by Warren Ellis, the "Sentient Armor" arc by Joe Quesada, the Mandarin's origin story, more plot points from the "Armor Wars" arc, "The Five Nightmares" arc with Ezekiel Stane, and the "Civil War" story. The trick of all the Iron Man suits fighting at the same time was used in the New Avengers.
- 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 the main villain and the one behind the fake Mandarin.
- Adaptational Attractiveness: Aldrich Killian is much better looking here than in the comics.
- Adaptational Heroism: In the 616 comics, the Iron Patriot armor was worn by the villainous Norman Osborn. Now, it's the heroic War Machine's new paint job.
- Adaptational Villainy:
- 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 Tony's Arch-Enemy more than the actor he hired as a scapegoat, if his Badass Boast is 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 XLII responds to chip implants that read Tony's brainwaves. Even when he's asleep and having nightmares.
- All Your Base Are Belong to Us: Killian launches a missile attack on Tony in the hero's Malibu home.
- Alone with the Psycho: Pepper with Aldrich Killian.
- 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. It proves less confusing when he turns out to just be a British actor hired by Killian to impersonate the Mandarin.
- American Robot: Rhodes's War Machine gear has a new paintjob as Iron Patriot, meant to evoke the appearance of a certain star-spangled Avenger.
- An Asskicking Christmas: Set in the lead-up to Christmas.
- Animated Armor: The Mark XLII, which can operate even while separated from Tony through JARVIS reading chip implants in Tony's forearm. In the climax, all of Tony's remaining suits fly piloted by JARVIS to the rescue.
- Anti-Climax: The Mark XLII flies in to save Tony, only to hit the side of a crane and fall apart.
Tony Stark: Whatever.
- Subverted a minute later when Tony uses it to trap Killian, then tells JARVIS to blow it up.
- Arc Words: "You know who I am."
- Arch-Enemy: The Mandarin finally makes his film debut as a Diabolical Mastermind out to destroy Tony. Except that he doesn't; the true Big Bad is Aldrich Killian, who is every bit as smart as Tony, but much more ruthlessly manipulative and clever enough to hide in anonymity. The real Mandarin has yet to appear on screen.
- 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.
- Armor-Piercing Question/From the Mouths of Babes: In the middle of a panic attack, Tony's kid sidekick says "if you're a mechanic, why don't you build something?" Tony instantly calms down. What's interesting is that we actually see him testing Tony's PTSD earlier, pushing the limits of acceptable behavior a lot like Tony does.
- Artistic License – Physics:
- At several points, Tony fires repulsor blasts or uses his repulsors to fly while only wearing parts of his armor. 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? Does it come from their bodies?
- 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."
- Ass Kicks You: A mechanical version. When Tony tests the Mk 42 suit, it goes less than smoothly. The assembly finally seems complete, but immediately after his Badass Boast ("I'm the best"), the butt-plate slams into place unexpectedly, at high speed, sending Tony flying and disassembling the suit.
- Badass Boast:
- The Mandarin promises to tear down everything Tony has built.
Mandarin: You know who I am. You don't know where I am. You will never see me coming.
- Tony delivers one to the Mandarin via mobile phone.
Tony: I'm not afraid of you. No politics here. Just good, old-fashioned revenge.
- Tony's final thoughts before the credits.
You can take away my house, all my tricks and toys. But one thing you can't take away? I am Iron Man.
- Played for laughs during the Mk XLII testing sequence (see Ass Kicks You).
- Badass in Distress: Both Tony and Rhodes are captured at different parts of the film.
- Badass Normal:
- Both Tony and Rhodes show they are capable of fighting supervillains without armor. In the case of Rhodes, that shouldn't be unexpected: he's a Colonel, after all.
- Empowered Badass Normal: Tony's put Wi-Fi-esque implants into his body to control the Mk. 42, making him a cyborg. (Well, he already had the arc reactor to keep the shrapnel away from his heart, so *more* of a cyborg.)
- Happy tries to invoke this but he doesn't put up much of a fight against Savin and is nearly killed after a Punch! Punch! Punch! Uh Oh... moment.
- Bad Dreams: Tony's been suffering from them ever since the last film.
- Batman in My Basement: Or, more accurately, "Iron Man in my Garage". Notably, Tony's in and out over the course of, apparently, a single night. There's also "Iron Man in my Van" when Tony hides in a news van that happens to owned by a guy who's a big fan of his.
- Battle AI Butler: when Tony initiates the House Party Protocol, JARVIS takes control of the 30-odd suits all fighting. Meaning JARVIS is effectively acting as a One-AI Army.
- Beneath the Mask/Broken Ace: Killian managed to rebuild himself, both physically and psychologically, into a good-looking, wealthy, confident ubermensch. In the scene where he admits Pepper is there as his trophy, the mask slips, and we briefly see the nervous, weak Stalker with a Crush he's always been.
- 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 that Aldrich Killian operates behind. The One-Shot All Hail The King further reveals that not only is Trevor not the true Mandarin, neither is Killian. And the actual Mandarin is pretty upset that his identity was stolen...
- Big Bad Wannabe: "The Mandarin" is Wicked Cultured on camera, but is revealed to be a scatterbrained, drug-addict stage actor when Tony confronts him in person. This could also be argued of Killian, given how pathetic and petty his entire revenge plot actually is and how he arrogantly claims to be the true Mandarin.
- 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 thirty JARVIS-controlled Iron Man suits swooping in to take down the Extremis army.
- Big "NO!": Killian screams one 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: Poor Trevor Slattery. He is pretty much going to jail for life for actions he thought were not real and just publicity stunts (and in All Hail the King, he's apparently going to be taken to be executed by the real Mandarin, 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 all his armor suits.
- Blunt "Yes":
So now you're just gonna leave me here, just like my dad? Tony:
- Body Horror: Extremis, even if you survive it, doesn't look particularly pleasant to live with. And it's implied that even if you are stable, you still have some risk of eventually experiencing a Super Power Meltdown.
- Bond One-Liner: Tony says a couple of these.
: Walk away from that
, you son of a bitch.
- Book Ends
- 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.
- Brick Joke
- Happy's favorite show is Downton Abbey, so Tony has it play in his hospital room.
- 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 Aldrich Killian became disgruntled with Tony Stark.
- Brought Down to Badass
- 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 Big Bad'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).
- Bullying a Dragon:
- Happy probably shouldn't have picked a fight with Savin like that.
- Tony giving his address to a terrorist without a plan behind it isn't much better.
- Burning the Flag: One of the images the Mandarin uses in his announcements is of an effigy of President Ellis being set on fire with an American flag attached, and the Mandarin shooting the President's picture in the head.
- Burning with Anger/My Blood Runs Hot: What happens when you piss off someone upgraded with Extremis.
- 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.
- Call Back: A number of events from the previous Marvel Cinematic Universe films feature heavily in the plot of Iron Man 3.
- Tony is suffering post traumatic stress following his near death experience at the end of The Avengers.
- Tony and Pepper are now living together after becoming romantically involved at the end of Iron Man 2.
- The Mandarin is styled as leader of the Ten Rings, the terrorist organization who kidnapped Tony at the beginning of Iron Man. Only to be subverted as he's just an actor hired by Killian to cover up the work of AIM's Extremis program.
- Bruce Banner being at Tony's house in The Stinger, referencing him driving away with Tony at the end of The Avengers.
- Killian realizes that they need a flair for the dramatic to get peoples' attention.
- Tony is seen using a prototype version of calling his suit in The Avengers (the wrist cuffs). In this film, we see him expanding on the idea via implants.
- In Iron Man, Ho Yinsen mentions while in captivity that he has met Tony before at a conference in Bern, Switzerland. Now we get to see it.
- Call Forward: The film opens in 1999 at a conference in Bern, Switzerland, the place Ho Yinsen mentioned he had met Tony back in Iron Man and depicts Stark and Yinsen's first encounter.
- The Cameo: The standard Stan Lee cameo (as a beauty contest judge), as well as Yinsen from Iron Man in the opening and Bruce Banner from The Avengers in the post-credits sequence.
- 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: Eric 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.
- The Cavalry: Tony summons his entire fleet of AI-controlled Iron Man suits in the Final Battle to save the day.
- 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). Unfortunately, this movie reveals 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 frighteningly realistic; PTSD can take a while to hit.
- Character Development: As soon as Pepper calls Tony out on his behavior early on, Tony admits he has a problem, instead of avoiding the issue and hiding in a bottle.
- Chekhov's Armoury: The add-on to Tony's Malibu home, plus all his new armor.
- Chekhov's Gun:
- The "glitch" of Maya's plant.
- Tony wearing the Mark XLII armor at the beginning of the movie. Note that in The Avengers he just started using the Mark VII.
- 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 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 Hansen, who he also blew off that night.
- Chekhov's Skill:
- Tony pulling out an arm-mounted missile and blasting it to blow up a helicopter. Pepper does the same thing in the climax against Killian.
- The Mark 42's ability to encase anyone Tony points at comes in handy at the end.
- The Chew Toy:
- If the Mk. 42 armor could be considered a character, then it is definitely this, getting beat up and bashed to hell in humorous ways throughout the movie.
- Dummy the robot suffers both "emotional" and physical abuse.
- Christmas Episode: Takes place during the season, but is otherwise subtle about it.
- 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.
- Comicbook Movies Dont Use Codenames: Averted more often than in past installments of the Marvel movie franchise.
- The name Mandarin is used frequently. However, it's just being used by Trevor Slattery as part of his role; Aldrich Killian claims at the end that he is the true Mandarin, but All Hail the King reveals that even that was a lie.
- 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 modern incarnations of the Mandarin, to contrast with Trevor's fictional "Mandarin" being based on the classic Yellow Peril version of the character — though All Hail the King proves he was never the actual Mandarin at all.
- 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.
- Tony still hates being handed things, as in The Avengers and Iron Man 2.
- The "Dummy" robot is stuck on clean-up duty after a typical screw-up.
- Tony's advice to a kid with daddy issues is awkwardly say "no need to be a pussy about it," nodding to his own daddy issues in Iron Man 2.
- We actually see some people basing their "looks" on Tony at the end of Avengers, and we briefly meet one in this film.
- The Roxxon Oil company previously showed up at the gas station in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Thor's Hammer.
- 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
- 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.
- Creative Closing Credits: The end titles are based around a Split Screen montage of shots from throughout the Iron Man film series.
- Creator Thumbprint: Robert Downey Jr. as a snarky anti-hero? A casual, somewhat meta voiceover with a cameo from the character's best mate at the end? A Disney Death or two? Set at Christmas? Lots of Mood Whiplash? Nice to see you again, Shane Black.
- Create Your Own Villain:
- Tony caused Killian's Start of Darkness by being a jerkass.
- 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.
- Curse Cut Short: "I don't wanna to be a dic..." (looks around) "...tator." Tony then tries to recover by calling Rhodey "Richard".
- Cursed with Awesome: Extremis makes you virtually unkillable but it also seems to make you a violently unstable drug addict and you might explode if you're not careful.
- Dangerously Genre Savvy: Even if No One Could Survive That, Killian knows that since they Never Found the Body, Tony Stark is still alive.
- 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.
Tony: I just stole a poncho off a wooden Indian.
- Death by Adaptation:
- 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.
- Detachment Combat:
- 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.
- Do Not Adjust Your Set: The Mandarin videos.
- The Dragon: Eric Savin serves as the Mandarin's and Killian's second-in-command.
- Driven to Suicide: Defied for Killian. He was about to jump off the roof after Tony screwed him over, but he instead took the act as a Start of Darkness.
- Dunce Cap: "Dummy" is wearing a pointed white paper hat with "Dunce" on it while sweeping up Tony's lab.
- Dying Message: Tony is put on AIM's trail by seeing Happy trying to point to Taggert's dog tags.
- Elite Mooks: The Extremis soldiers.
- Embarrassing Password: WARMACHINEROX. Even the Ten Rings thugs Rhodey's holding at gunpoint chuckle at it (until he brandishes his weapon at them again).
- Equal-Opportunity Evil: The Mandarin has several female Mooks in the ranks of his organization, and from many different races.
- Eureka Moment: Tony is suffering from a bout of PTSD and wasn't sure what he was gonna do next, and then Harley gives this question:
Harley: If you're a mechanic, why don't you build something?
- Evil Cripple: Killian, as well as some of the Extremis soldiers, all used to be crippled. They used Extremis to regrow their limbs.
- Evil Is Hammy: The Mandarin's melodramatic video packages.
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.
- Evil Sounds Deep: This version of the Mandarin has a deep bass voice. Trevor's actual voice is that of a crazy old Cockney fellow.
- Exactly What I Meant To Say: JARVIS has just said 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.
- Exact Words:
- 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.
- Expy: Red eyes? Check. Slicked back blond hair? Check. Volcanic Veins? Check. Evilutionary Biologist? Check. Man Behind the Man? Check. Give Aldrich Killian a pair of sunglasses, and he could pass for Albert Wesker.
- 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.
- Famous, Famous, Fictional: The Mandarin rounds off a list that includes bin Laden and Gadaffi.
- 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.
- First-Person Smartass: Tony's narration at the beginning and end of the film.
- Flawed Prototype/Logical Weakness
- 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 credits do show that the shooting was in fact staged).
- The fortune cookie rant after the theatre bombing: Look Chinese, sound Chinese, but they're actually an American creation, hollow, and 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.
- When we see the studio where the Mandarin records his speeches, there's an obvious teleprompter with part of the Mandarin's speech displaying. Why would the leader of a terrorist cell with a cult like philosophy need to read a speech off a teleprompter to communicate to his people? It's because he's an actor reading off the scripts that Aldrich Killian writes for him. Also, if you look, the guns next to the Mandarin's throne are plastic replica weapons.
- Killian explicitly tells everyone before the Mandarin starts recording not to make eye contact with him. Because doing so might induce Trevor into breaking character, which Killian cannot afford to have happen.
- 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 smartphone. Given that the Vice-President 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".
- The climactic final battle, where Tony uses an army of fully automated Iron Man suits to defeat Killian, seems to foreshadow him creating an army of fully automated Ultron drones.
- Framing Device: Tony's voice-overs were Tony telling the story to what turns out to be his psychiatrist (well, sort of).
Bruce Banner: I'm not that kind of doctor.
- Freeze-Frame Bonus:
- The Slap Chop commercial before the second Mandarin broadcast.
- When the Mandarin comes in for his broadcast, sharp-eyed viewers will realize that the weapons by his throne are actually plastic replicas that can't fire real bullets. 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 hijacked by Killian's crew.
- 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, using the face of the Mandarin to cover up his actions.
- Gadgeteer Genius: When deprived of his armour, Tony slowly descends into a Heroic BSOD until an obnoxious kid points out, "You're a mechanic, why don't you build something?" One shopping trip later, he's Solid Snake with a spud gun.
- Genetic Engineering Is the New Nuke: Killian wants to use Extremis for military applications...once some issues get sorted out.
- Genre Savvy: All over the place.
- When a tied up Tony escapes Killian's guards, the last one just quits when he realizes Tony has him outgunned.
- Godzilla Threshold: The "House Party Protocol." is reserved for when there is no other option left because it involves a lot of firepower in one place with little precise control over what it hits.
- A Good Name For An Autobiography
- Glowing Eyes of Doom: One of the effects of Extremis, crossed with Red Eyes, Take Warning.
- Good Old Fisticuffs: Killian combines this and his Extremis-granted reflexes, heat, and durability into a basic but effective fighting style.
- 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.
- Groin Attack:
- 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).
- He Cleans Up Nicely: Aldrich Killian of 2012. In 1999 he was a pimply, greasy-haired Hollywood Nerd.
- Heroic BSOD: Tony has anxiety attacks every time someone mentions what happened in New York or the wormhole.
- Hidden Villain: Aldrich Killian.
- 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.
- Hurting Hero: Tony, suffering from post traumatic stress after the events of The Avengers.
- Human Weapon: The purpose of Extremis. Sometimes taken to the most literal meaning as some subjects explode, turning into human bombs.
- Hyperspace Is a Scary Place: One of the words that can trigger a panic attack is "wormhole".
- I Have You Now, My Pretty: Pepper thinks that Killian is holding her to force Tony's co-operation. He is, but Killian admits (rather shamefaced) that he has more primal motives as well.
- I Have Your Girlfriend: And Killian tortures her in front of Tony.
- Improvised Weapon:
- 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.
- Incendiary Exponent: Extremis gives subjects Super Strength and a Healing Factor, but generates a massive amount of heat that can potentially turn the user into a living bomb.
- Incredibly Lame Pun: Lampshaded.
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.
- Kick the Dog:
- The Mandarin shoots an oil company CEO on live TV, just to prove how evil he is. Although he doesn't really.
- Killian injecting Pepper with Extremis. The process is very painful, possibly deadly, and there's no real reason for him to do it other than to piss off Tony. This one ends up being a bad idea.
- Killian shoots Maya in front of Tony.
- Killed Off for Real: Maya Hansen, courtesy of Aldrich Killian.
- Know When to Fold 'Em:
- Large Ham/Evil Is Hammy: 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.
- Leaning on the Fourth Wall:
- 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.
- Love Makes You Evil: The Vice President, who has a handicapped daughter.
- Love Triangle: Aldrich Killian shows interest in Pepper, who's with Tony.
- MacGyvering: Stranded, isolated, hunted, out of power and stuck in the middle of nowhere, Tony still manages to jerry-rig weapons for himself.
- Macross Missile Massacre: Gunships disguised as news helicopters launch a salvo of missiles on Tony's home in Malibu.
- Made of Explodium: The oil barrels at the Roxxon oil tankers explode very easily.
- Magic Pants:
- Extremis users can generate enough heat to cut through steel like a hot knife through butter, but their clothes are apparently made of some amazing material that will never melt or burn.
- This is especially prevalent in the final battle, when Killian is running so hot that his skin is transparent, yet only loses his shirt to unrelated damage.
- When Pepper falls into a large fire, her clothing remains intact.
- The Man Behind the Curtain: The Mandarin, purportedly a dreaded terrorist mastermind, turns out to be a washed-up British actor hamming up the Fu Manchu for coke and girls.
- subverted though, as revealed in Hail to the King; The Mandarin is very real, and very upset about the identity theft.
- The Man Behind the Man: Aldrich Killian, the founder of A.I.M. and the true mastermind behind the Extremis terror attacks. However, his ego leaves him not especially good at hiding the fact.
- Masquerading As The Unseen: A variation with the Mandarin, who is implied in the movie itself to be an Invented Individual, but the One-Shot "All Hail The King" establishes that Killian got the idea from a real Mandarin — who is not impressed about having his identity stolen.
- Meaningful Echo: The final line of the film: "I am Iron Man."
- 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 is probably why he stole the Mandarin's mantle for his own purposes.
- Me's a Crowd: In the final battle, JARVIS pilots thirty-five Iron Man suits simultaneously.
- Mission Control: Much like an actual deployed fighter jet, Iron Patriot has a dedicated support staff feeding him intel and keeping him up to speed. They're not heard from during the extended period that he goes AWOL, nor when someone else is in the suit.
- "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.
- Mood Whiplash:
- Morality Pet: Harley, the boy who helps Tony repair and recharge his armor after he crash-lands in Tennessee, serves as Tony's moral compass.
- Mythology Gag:
- 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.
- Killian has a tattoo on his chest of Fin Fang Foom, a dragon that belonged 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.
- Multiple for Warren Ellis' Extremis arc;
- Dr. Maya Hansen and Aldrich Killian are key characters.
- The POTUS is named Matthew "Ellis".
- Savin takes a Uni-beam through his chest at contact range.
- Killian 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.
- Never Trust a Trailer:
- 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 so.
- 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?" never comes up 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 Killian has a bigger role than expected and that he, not Ben Kingsley's character, is the true Big Bad. The trailers consistently built up Kingsley's character as the Arch-Enemy.
- In the trailer, Rhodey suggests that Tony calls for backup. 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.
- New Powers as the Plot Demands: Killian can breathe fire...unexpectedly. Immediately lampshaded by Rhodes.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero:
- 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 Celebrities Were Harmed/Does This Remind You of Anything?:
- The Mandarin as played by Trevor Slattery is a combination of Ming the Merciless from Flash Gordon and Osama bin Laden (with the long beard).
- Slattery himself seems to be channelling Russell Brand.
- 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: The apparent Mandarin's true identity is different from the comics.
- Not in Front of the Kid: See Curse Cut Short, above.
- Not in the Face!: Almost directly quoted by Tony in Florida, as the pieces of the MK XLII 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.
- Not Quite Dead: Killian survives a full body contact explosion from the Mark XLII and is disfigured and pissed at Tony.
- Not That Kind of Doctor: Invoked word for word in The Stinger. Bruce Banner is not a therapist.
- Obligatory Joke: Tony's "cheesy one-liner" during his fight with Brandt.
Tony: You walked right into this one. I've dated hotter chicks than you.
- Obliviously Evil:
- Official Couple: Tony and Pepper, albeit with a few arguments here and there.
Tony: I'm in a committed relationship.
- Older Than They Look: Maya Hansen's age is never given, but unless she is supposed to be a Teen Genius in the 1999 scenes, she is presumably at least a few years older than Rebecca Hall.
- 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.
- OOC Is Serious Business:
- 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.
- Person of Mass Destruction: Killian and, on a lesser scale, Extremis soldiers can do a lot of damage to a town.
- Pet the Dog: Despite being annoyed by Harley, he and Tony have some heartwarming moments.
- Playing with Fire: People upgraded with Extremis can generate enough heat to melt metal. One of them can breathe fire.
- 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 (with their deaths then being explained as Mandarin attacks). Others can control their powers with no such risk.
- Pre-Asskicking One-Liner:
- President Evil: The Vice-President gave Killian the info he needed to kill the President in exchange for using Extremis to regenerate the lost leg of the Vice-President's crippled daughter.
- Pre-Mortem One-Liner: "JARVIS, I want you to do me a favour and blow the Mark 42."
- Pragmatic Adaptation: The Mandarin. Yellow Peril wouldn't fly, especially with Chinese investors, so Kingsley is cast as an Ambiguously Brown bad guy with Just a Stupid Accent, and a little twist in his back-story. Namely, he's actually not the Mandarin at all. This wound up backfiring; while most fans didn't mind the initial Race Lift, more than a few felt insulted at the twist and the attempt to make Aldrich Killian the real Mandarin. Whether or not All Hail the King was made to placate them, it has left the door open for a more traditional Mandarin to appear later.
- Product Placement:
- 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".
- Properly Paranoid:
- Tony continues upgrading the already formidable Iron Man armor out of fear his enemies will target his loved ones. Later in the film, Killian's forces 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.
- Punch Clock Villain:
- Quoting Myself: Played with at the beginning:
"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, the Mandarin's videos include footage and symbolism associated with the Middle East (crossed scimitars, veiled women, angry armed turbaned men, etc.).
- Race Lift:
- The Mandarin. The comic book version of him 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 Big Bad is Aldrich Killian, played by the Caucasoid Guy Pearce, who claims with his Famous Last Words to be the true Mandarin — though he's actually not.
- Jack Taggert (known in the comics as Firepower) went from African-American to Caucasoid.
- Reality Ensues: Frequently.
- 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 was the last MCU film for which Robert Downey Jr. was contracted, which affected certain aspects of the ending. The fact that he got hurt on the set might relate as well. However, it was confirmed a month later that he has signed on for two more The Avengers films, plus Captain America: Civil War.
- 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.
- Red Eyes, Take Warning: One of the effects of Extremis, crossed with Glowing Eyes of Doom.
- Redemption Equals Death: After Maya goes through a Heel-Face Turn, she doesn't stay alive for long.
- 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 thirteen 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 ten 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.
- Rule of Symbolism:
- 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.
- Much like his description of a fortune cookie, the so-called "Mandarin" is an American invention, hollow and full of lies.
- Invoked by Killian with the "Death by Oil" plan to give the President a Viking funeral. He doesn't care about the president or the politics behind the oil or its tanker. He just knows that it would play well on the news.
- Running Gag:
- Tony's "limited edition" Dora the Explorer watch.
- For Colonel Rhodes, his new nickname "Iron Patriot" doesn't get as much love as "War Machine" by a long shot.
- The Mark. 42 suit is made to come apart and pull together very easily. This, of course, results in it getting knocked/blown/smashed apart as many times as the movie can get away with.
- Sadistic Choice/ Take a Third Option
- Sarcasm Failure: Something finally happens so surprising that even Tony can't quip: a surprisingly alive Pepper saving Tony from Killian.
Tony: ...I got nothing.
- Say My Name: Pepper undergoes this when Tony appears to have died after his Malibu home is blown up.
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: After Tony takes out a room full of mooks, the last one standing drops his gun and runs away.
- 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 fewer fight scenes than in 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 for more exploration of Tony Stark's character.
- Series Finale: Since this is the last Marvel movie that Robert Downey Jr. was 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. Downey 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 (the guy would have lived whether or not the President made the call, since the shooting turned out to be staged).
- 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.
- Sequel Hook: The title card after the credits reads "Tony Stark Will Return." And it has been confirmed that Robert Downey, Jr. has signed on for two more The Avengers films.
- 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.
- Shell-Shocked Veteran: Any mention of New York, aliens, or wormholes sends Tony into panic attacks.
- Shipper on Deck: Happy is determined to keep Pepper and Tony together — particularly funny when you factor in that in the comics, Happy is in love with Pepper.
- Shoo Out the Clowns:
- Tony is shown to have a Wing Chun training dummy in his workshop. Robert Downey Jr. is a real-life practitioner of Wing Chun kung fu.
- The "Tony Stark will return" Title Card at the end is very reminiscent of the stingers in James Bond films and the Title Card in Thor.
- Tony refers to Savin as Westworld during their first fight.
- A kid who looks like Ralphie from A Christmas Story asks for Tony's autograph and he mentions this film by name. Added points for the fact one of the producers and actors in Iron Man is Peter Billingsley, who played Ralphie in A Christmas Story (he plays Stane's chief technician in the "Built this IN A CAVE! WITH A BOX OF SCRAPS!!" scene).
- At one point, Happy refers to the Avengers as the Super Friends.
- Tony calls Trevor "Meryl Streep".
- Killian has dragon tattoos that look like the Iron Man villain Fin Fang Foom.
- Happy's favorite show is Downton Abbey and Tony has it play on his hospital TV. More specifically, Branson and Lady Sybil.
- 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, then Killian surges out of the fire, as indestructible as ever, ready to continue the fight.
- You'd need freeze-frame to catch it in the actual film, but the Mark XXXVIII "Igor" Armor looks like Warhammer 40,000 Space Marine Terminator armor◊, complete with stripped power gloves and all.
- At one point, Stark starts having a panic attack and adds "ERIN HELP ME" to a young fan's drawing of Iron Man while autographing it.
- Harley gave Tony a Dora the Explorer watch.
- 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.
- JARVIS apparently develops problems with saying the wrong cranberrynote at the end of sentences, not unlike what sapient computer Holly suffered in the episode Angels and Demons: "An electrical fire has knocked out my voice recognition unicycle! Many Wurlitzers are missing from my database. Abandon shop!"
- So Last Season: Tony goes from the Mark VII at the end of the The Avengers to the Mark XLII 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 like Aldrich Killian, 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 following Savin and observing his meeting with Jack Taggart.
- 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.
- Spell My Name with an "S": Jack Taggert is now "J. Taggart"...hmmm...
- Stalker with a Crush:
- 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 Pepper Potts when she 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 shoots her.
- Storming the Castle: Tony sneaks into a Miami mansion where the Mandarin is located, taking out the guards with weapons he improvised himself.
- Stripping The Scarecrow: Tony Stark finds himself stranded in Rose Hill, Tennessee in the middle of winter. He steals a poncho from a wooden Indian to keep warm.
- Superhero Packing Heat:
- 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 ambiguous as to whether he got rid of the Extremis material 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 armored 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 to be exposed as Eric Savin), 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.
- Three-Point Landing:
- The Iron Patriot greets the President this way before boarding Air Force One, although the shaky way the suit lands should tell you that Savin is piloting the suit instead of Rhodes.
- The Creative Closing Credits include a sequence of shots of three-point landings from throughout the series.
- Throat Light: Red light shines out of Extremis subjects' mouths when they lose control and are about to combust.
- Too Dumb to Live: The Secret Service lets a heavily armed and armored man with a concealed face walk onto the Air Force One, without bothering to double-check if Rhodes was in fact the man inside the suit, especially since the real Rhodes been AWOL for at least several hours. With predictable results once Savin reveals himself as the suit pilot.
- 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.
- Took a Level in Kindness/Jerkass: Tony is a nicer guy all around, continuing the Character Development that's been in progress since the second act of the first film. However, his Troll level has also increased exponentially since The Avengers. This being Tony Stark, that is truly an accomplishment.
- 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.
- Torso with a View: Tony offs Savin this way via Unibeam.
- Trash the Set
- Tony's Malibu home is blown up in a missile attack and falls straight into the ocean, with Tony's Mark 1 through Mark 7 Iron Man armors blown up one by one along with it.
- In Rose Hill, Savin causes a water tower to collapse in an attempt to drown Tony.
- The self-destruct mechanism of Mark 42 used to try and kill Killian managed to destroy the supports holding up the oil rig and causes it to collapse.
- Universal Ammunition: Averted. Rhodey can't give Tony extra ammo during the final battle because their pistols are different. While both of their pistols use 9mm ammunition, 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.
- Violently Protective Girlfriend: Pepper kicks ass at the end and saves Tony while doing it. Killian won't be bothering anyone else again.
- 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's Evil 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.
- Water Tower Down: Savin collapses the Rose Hill water tower by melting the structural supports, in an attempt to drown Tony
- Weaponized Exhaust: Aside from the usual, the Mark 40 "Shotgun" can use its repulsors to enhance the power behind its punches.
- Wearing a Flag on Your Head
- The War Machine suit has been repainted with American flag colors and motifs. This is mocked by everyone.
- The Mandarin (though he's not the real McCoy) has a red, white and blue shield tattoo similar to Captain America's iconic weapon on the back of his neck.
- Western Terrorists: AIM are the real villains; the Ten Rings don't show up at all.
- What the Hell Is That Accent?: Tony lampshades that the Mandarin's speech mannerisms are similar to that of a Baptist preacher's despite the guy 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.
- Whole Costume Reference: War Machine's new paint job is based on the Iron Patriot armor worn by Norman Osborn in Dark Reign.
- "World of Cardboard" Speech: The final lines of the film:
"You can take away my house, all my tricks and toys. But one thing you can't take away? I am Iron Man."
- World of Snark: Shane Black takes the trademark snark of the previous Iron Man movies and ramps it Up to Eleven.
- 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 (though All Hail the King reveals he was based on an actual Mandarin who's been in hiding) specifically catering to American Sinophobia.
- You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Maya attempts to use herself as leverage to convince Killian to not kill Tony. Sadly, Killian decides she has become replaceable.
- You're Insane!:
- 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.
- The Cameo:
- Phil Coulson appears on a monitor screen, preparing to have a conversation with Tony.
- Thor and the Quinjet piloted by Black Widow make a brief appearance.
- The rest of the Avengers make a cameo in the shawarma restaurant when Rhodey finally has time to make it to New York.
- Comic Book Movies Dont Use Code Names: Averted. Rhodey actively refers to his suit as the War Machine armor, though Tony explains that he meant for the name to be an offhanded insult.
- Continuity Nod
- 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.
- Shipper on Deck: Rhodey arrives at Tony's Malibu house just as Pepper is officially moving her things in; he's openly delighted, even giving her a hug. Considering his usual role as The Stoic of the franchise, it's quite the Crowning Moment of Heartwarming.
"You can take away my house, all my tricks and toys. But one thing you can't take away? I am Iron Man."