MCU Photo-Recap Countdown; Iron Man 3

You guys, did you know that superheroes have feelings? Did you know when they’re not out heroing, they’re dealing with their own inner shit? Sure, previous MCU movies had brought us emotions and death and consequences, but before Iron Man 3, we’d never seen one of these heroes actually DEAL with any of it. Steve Rogers was sad throughout The Avengers, but he was too busy saving the world to truly sit in it.

Iron Man 3’s action plot was… I dunno, fine, but what drew me in with this movie was Tony’s struggle with PTSD, and his admittance that he was not doing great. WHEN HAS THAT EVER HAPPENED BEFORE?? Heroes aren’t allowed to feel their pain, whether physical or emotional. They shove it all aside and downplay it and struggle silently in service to the bigger plot. But in this glorious movie, Tony’s pain WAS the plot (plus some terrorist stuff or whatever).

Just like Iron Man 2, the story was about so much more than the villain of the week. If Fake Mandarin trying to kill the president was the only layer of this movie, would I have had fun? Sure. Would I remember it beyond the two hours it took me to watch it? Nope!

As it is, any time this movie is mentioned, I find myself thinking about how honest it was, how different, and a little bit about the confusing aspect of Tony giving up his robots only to have them reappear in Age of Ultron, but let’s not think about that.

This movie was also unique in that it had a voiceover!

Iron Man 3 started with a flashback to 1999 in which Tony was headed to sexyville with Maya, a brilliant scientist on the verge of perfecting a healing treatment that could regenerate lost limbs.

Oh, and who is that with him? It’s my man Yinsen! (The low-key coolest character from the first Iron Man) What a fun easter egg that I definitely missed the first time around.

Anyway, Tony brought Maya upstairs, but couldn’t quite shake an annoying hanger-on.

Aldrich Killian wanted to recruit both of them into his company, AIM, but it was a no-go because Tony don’t need nobody!

Back in the present, Tony had thrown himself into building more and more suits to distract himself from his PTSD.

Pepper had grown frustrated with his constant need to “tinker”, but then he admitted that he’s struggling with his mental health after what happened in New York (I guess almost sacrificing yourself in a wormhole will do that to a guy). I honestly cannot express enough how much I love this. Fictional characters, especially heroes, are shown to push their own pain away, and what message does that send to the viewers who admire them? So, *slow clap* Iron Man 3.

ANYWAY – a terrorist known as the Mandarin had been clogging the airwaves, declaring war on America and its president. There had been bombings, but no evidence of physical bombs.

Rhodey (as the newly named Iron Patriot) was tasked with hunting down the Mandarin, but he hadn’t been successful thus far. During their bro-night, Tony had a panic attack and had to get the H outta there, hopping into the suit that he had left outside like a dog tied to a fire hydrant.

Meanwhile, Aldrich Killian had a meeting with Pepper where he tried to manipulate her into investing in Extremis, the treatment Maya had shown Tony back in 1999.

Pepper wasn’t falling for that shit, so Killian left, giving Pepper a wildly inappropriate kiss on the cheek. Luckily our boy Happy (the ever adorable Jon Favreau) was suspicious of the entire operation, so he followed one of Killian’s henchmen.

The glowing henchman (glowman? henchglow? we’ll workshop it) gave ANOTHER glowing fellow some more of the stuff that makes him glow, and the glow started glowing the most it had ever glowed (he blew up, is what I’m saying). The minion walked away unharmed, but poor Happy was put into a coma.

This made Tony call out the Mandarin, revealing his home address and giving him the ol, “meet in the playground after school.”

Maya (remember Maya from 1999??) showed up at Tony’s house to talk to him about Extremis, but before she could, the Glow Bros (omg nailed it) arrived with a present for Tony.  

Remember when Tony was all, “you’re the one thing I can’t live without” to Pepper, and then when she was all, “I’d like to leave the house that you have publicly revealed to a terrorist,” he was all, “you’re being unreasonable.”

If I were Pepper, I would NEVER STOP saying I told you so. Related: there’s a strong possibility I’m going to die alone.


Tony put the suit on Pepper (did SHE have those sensor things we saw him putting in his arm at the beginning of the movie? Or is it just because he waved his hands at her? Whatever, I don’t care, that was cool), and she got the H outta there with Maya.

Tony passed out during a panic attack underwater (which I assume felt rather like being inside a wormhole), so Jarvis piloted the suit to their previously agreed-upon next vacation spot.

They crash-landed and Tony dragged his suit to a farmhouse garage like it was a drunk friend going through a breakup. Oh, and he left a voicemail in his… helmet? For Pepper? She had to put the suit-head ON in order to retrieve this message, so good thing she noticed that one blinking light among the wreckage, or she would have spent the majority of the movie believing Tony to be dead (like the rest of the world).

Okay look, I know it’s a common movie/tv trope to pair a crotchety inappropriate adult with an adorable child for comedic endearment, and let me tell you, it works on me EVERY DAMN TIME. This relationship was gold, and I truly hope this young fellow makes a return to the MCU.

Anyway, this little tyke’s name was Harley, and he had the deets on the explosion that happened in his sleepy town. Turns out, a soldier whom everyone believed had killed himself with a bomb (taking out five others along with him), was on Extremis, and didn’t actually mean to blow up.

Tony tracked down the soldier’s mom for more information, which was fantastic timing, because she had been waiting with her son’s army file. Sure, it was meant for someone else, but just chalk that up to some lucky happenstance!

This lady was a Glow Gal, and she had come to squash all leads that pointed to Killian, including our guy Tony. Buuuuuut, Tony Stark is a bonafide genius, and you just don’t mess with one of those. He rigged something with the microwave and she went kaboom.

So now Tony had all the deets – Killian is ‘working with’ the Mandarin, using Extremis to create human-bombs to orchestrate a terrorist assault on the US (gasp!). So Tony had Jarvis (with the help of Harley) track down the Mandarin using… I don’t know, science, and went to face him all by his lonesome.

“I seem to do quite well for a stretch, and then at the end of the sentence I say the wrong cranberry.” hahahahahahaha JARVIS! Stop making me love you.

Okay, this joke went too long, but in my defense, I went to theatre school, so this was very funny to me.

The Mandarin isn’t the Mandarin! He’s an actor who was hired to PLAY the Mandarin, claiming he thought all the weapons around him were props, and the deaths were fake. Hahahahahahhaha, I know I’m in the minority here, but you guys, I loved this. First of all, Ben Kingsley was comic gold. Secondly, what a commentary on society’s need for an “other” to fear, and that fear’s reliance on pre-conceived notions of terrorism; and the ability of the media to manipulate the masses.

Anyway, the main Glow Bro showed up and knocked out Tony.


After bonding with Pepper about allowing her research to be used for terrible things, Maya turned out to be not so trustworthy. She gave their location to Killian, who kidnapped Pepper in order to make Tony do what they want.

Killian figured now that Pepper had been given the serum, Tony would be motivated to fix its flaws. Oh, and he revealed that HE’S the real Mandarin, which I’m fairly certain Tony had already figured out, which is just so perfect. Like, your big reveal is a bit ho-hum, guy. Anyway, Maya had a bizarrely random and unearned change of heart, and threatened to kill herself if Killian didn’t let Tony go, stating that only SHE can produce the serum, so Killian better do what she says, darnit! Then he shot her.

What was the point of Maya, you ask? Excellent question. More on that later.

Anyway, because Killian wasn’t quite cliché enough, he decided he had better things to do, and initiated the ol’ ‘bad guy leaves good guy alone with red shirt goons’ trope.

Tony called his suit from Harley’s garage and beat those red shirt goons UP, then escaped. I have questions at this juncture. So, all he needs to do to call the suit to him is flick his wrist, right? What happens if a fly lands on him and he flicks it away? What happens if he decides to conduct an orchestra? What happens when he’s… you know… having Tony Time?

Anyway, Killian had manipulated the army into sending Rhodey into a trap in order to steal his Iron Patriot suit.

Rhodey held out as long as he could, but then the suit automatically opened when it became too hot. Rhodey jumped out swinging, but apparently wasn’t even worth fighting or killing or even tying up. I guess you get cocky when you can breath fire. Anyway, they put the suit on the Glow Bro and off he popped to kidnap the president from Air Force One.

This plan worked hilariously well. He showed up in the suit and they just let him on the plane, no questions asked. Perhaps at one point the president had the thought, “maybe I should ask to see his face,” but then he thought, “naw,” and off they went. Then Fake Iron Patriot started shooting shit up and causing general havok, and people got sucked out of the plane to plummet to their certain deaths.


He had everyone ‘monkey in a barrel’ so he could save them all, and it was fun, but it also meant that the Iron Patriot suit kidnapped the president (sans the Glow Bro, who Tony put a giant hole through). Luckily Killian wasn’t done with his clichés. He didn’t want to just kill the president right there and then, no, he wanted to string him up and have the whole world WATCH, giving Tony and Rhodey time to swoop in and save him.

Rhodey very easily saved the president but who even cares because the one in REAL peril was Pepper.

As Tony was trying to save Pepper the structure collapsed and she fell to her death *wink*. So Tony and all his automated suits fought Killian and his Glow Goons. Sure, Killian is basically unstoppable and he breathes fire, but Tony is a genius, so he had a quick think about it and got himself out of the situation by trapping Killian in one of his suits and blowing it up.

Pepper! It’s Pepper, you guys! She survived the fall because of the power of the franchise Extremis, and then kicked some ass and DESTROYED Killian.

It’s cool that Extremis also protects hair and sports bras.

Cut to the super-duper happy ending where Tony blows up all of his suits in a symbolic gesture to Pepper, proving that he will now spend more energy on her and not them.

Millionaires. How much money do you think he just destroyed? *sigh*

Continuing with the happy ending, Tony sent the adorable little scamp Harley a bunch of merch, Happy woke up, the vice president (who was in on the evil plot all along) was arrested, and Tony got the mini arc reactor surgeried out of his chest. Um… if it was that easy, why didn’t he do it bef-

You know what, never mind. It’s fine.

Age of Ultron basically negates the ending of this movie, is all I’m saying.

But nevermind all that, because the after-credit scene revealed who Tony was talking to the whole time!

This was simply charming. These two are BEST BUDS. I’ll even forgive him for NOT EVEN CALLING when he saw on TV that his best friend forever’s house was blown up by a terrorist.

And that’s that! What did you guys think of this movie when it came out? What do you think of it NOW? I find that my feelings towards it have shifted since I first saw it in 2013. I felt a bit ho-hum about it at first, and couldn’t quite put my finger on why. Of course, that was before I read about some behind the scenes changes.

You see, Rebecca Hall, who played Maya Hansen, was originally meant to be the Mandarin. This was changed because the studio didn’t believe a female villain would sell toys. I’ll let that sink in. They didn’t think kids would want to buy a female toy, so her role was downgraded substantially and her character was unceremoniously shot in order to wrap up her storyline. Good thing, too, because I bet kids everywhere covet their Aldrich Killian figurine. *deep, sardonic, uncomfortably long stare*

Sure, I’m angry about the sexism of it all, but I’m more angry that they robbed us of a better movie; because let’s be honest with ourselves, Aldrich Killian was a forgettable villain at best, and a laughable one at worst. Maya Hansen would have made so much more sense, and it would have been badass.

So, looking back, I’m torn. I love that we finally see a superhero dealing with the emotional repercussions of heroing. But at the same time I’m mourning the excellent movie we almost had.

What about you guys? Where do you sit with Iron Man 3?


  • My good friend doesn’t like superheroes or sci-fi fantasy (what she calls “dragon stories”). She likely couldn’t name all of the Avengers, and yet she inexplicably LOVES Iron Man 3. I suspect it might be because it’s technically a Christmas movie.
  • I know I’m 7 movies deep with this countdown, so it’s a weird time to be asking this question, but how does Jarvis have a personality? He quips. Can coding quip? Is there an algorithm that makes him charming as hell? What I’m saying is that I have a crush on Jarvis, and I want to know how that happened.
  • Speaking of crushes, RDJ in a hoodie interacting with Don Cheadle in a tight tee is my sexuality.
  • Look, I know I’m being rough on Aldrich Killian, and I’m sure Guy Pierce did his best, but we already HAD a rich whiny white-boy villain in Iron Man 2, and I’m sorry, Guy, but Sam Rockwell did it better.
  • So Pepper couldn’t have KEPT her superpowers, huh?
  • I kept expecting to see Coulson, and then I would remember that he’s “dead”. *sad face forever*
  • The only downside to having a team-up movie followed by solo movies is that it’s rather unbelievable that NONE of the other Avengers even called Tony to ask if he needed assistance with that pesky terrorist who blew up his home. I mean… it was on the news!
  • Do you guys have those words that you hear/say and it immediately makes you do an accent? Mine is the name Trevor. Anytime it comes up, I always, without fail, say out loud: “I’m Trevor, Trevor Slattery.” Another one is donkey, because that makes me say, “That’ll do Donkey, that’ll do.”
  • Sooooooo… the whole point of the Extremis storyline is that it’s flawed, and Maya and Killian needed Tony’s genius to fix the serum, which he did in the end for Pepper. So Extremis is… where now? Did Tony scrap the whole thing because of its potential to be weaponized? Or is he out giving limbs to burn victims on the down-low?
  • Adam Pally as an over enthusiastic Tony Stark fan with his face tattooed on his forearm… just, well done, all.
  • Bechdale Test: Pass
  • If Tony Stark can admit when he’s struggling with his mental health, then so can you! The stigma around mental health was stupid to begin with, and now more than ever it’s disintegrating. There’s no reason not to admit when you’re struggling. Everyone needs help sometimes. Just look at how much it helped Iron Man!


4 thoughts on “MCU Photo-Recap Countdown; Iron Man 3

  1. I didn’t know maya was the original baddie; feel better about her character now but i have to say i LOVED the Mandarin. I loved he was an adorable dumbass with no clue.
    MCU keepin’it consistent with the “fire has no rules” schtick … kills me.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s