This is part of a series of blog posts, discussing my rewatch of the Marvel Cinematic Universe FOLLOWING my viewing Avengers: Endgame on opening weekend. If you HAVE NOT seen Endgame, I suggest you wait to read these posts as I will be mentioning and referencing plot points from the most recent film(s) including Captain Marvel and Avengers: Endgame.
7. Iron Man 3 (2013)
How do you follow up something that’s never been done before? How do you continue individual stories after having the most amazing team-up of all time?
In 2013 Marvel had an incredible problem on their hands. One that is not dissimilar to the one that faces them today, post-Endgame. What does an Iron Man film look like, after Iron Man has teamed up with the full Avengers list. We actually got two different answers to this question in 2013 in the forms of Iron Man 3 and Thor: The Dark World. Iron Man followed 11 months after Avengers and told us what Tony Stark had been doing since the battle of New York. Mostly it’s freaking out.
Both these films eschew the team ups that we’d get in Phase 3 for true solo missions, in Iron Man’s case an enemy from his past reemerges in a new form to threaten his relationship with Pepper as well as his life and the world. While Rhodey is back in this one (complete with new paint job & moniker “Iron Patriot”, and Jarvis is embodied with dozens of empty Iron Man suits in the final act, this movie takes the “solo” idea to its extreme crash-landing Tony in Tennessee on his own (except for his kid sidekick, Harley, who reappeared to stump everyone in the funeral scene in Endgame).
Lots of people hate this film for lots of reasons, and I’ll admit that Aldrich Killian is the worst of the three primary villains in this film franchise, BUT The Mandarin himself is an awesome idea, playing on the most fearful aspect of real-world characters like Osama Bin Laden, AND the Shane Black dialogue is sparkling, particularly in the scene where Tony calls in his recharged Iron Man suit to save the day but it’s delayed and the two henchmen he’s threatened snap back at his would be quips.
I love the relationship between Harley and Tony (and sincerely hope that Harley’s presence at the funeral hints at Disney’s plans to use him again as a kid-Iron Man of sorts. This friendship is one of the big stepping stones to preparing Tony to meet Peter and to have a child with Pepper, it is integral to the story of Tony Stark as portrayed in the MCU, and for that we should all be thankful.
The misstep of the fake Mandarin (and the terrible effects generally for the Extremis villains) is righted in the brilliant Marvel One-Shot, All Hail the King. Seriously, if you’ve never seen that one, please do yourself a favor and go now:
This was one of my big wishes for Phase 3 or 4 is that we’d get the “real” Mandarin revealed. I suppose it’s still possible, but will be less impactful if he (or she) doesn’t get to fight Tony Stark himself, but instead whatever proxies are holding down the Iron Man franchise in the future. He could make an interesting big bad for a series focused on the Young Avengers or an Avengers Academy series where they’re regularly fighting the Mandarins recruits and young trainees building up to a real confrontation with the master directly. The short above plays for laughs throughout while in the final moments setting up that grave threat behind the scenes. A Mandarin/Kingpin team-up down the line would be fascinating to watch, or the Mandarin and Dr. Doom sharing secrets of the dark mystic arts. There is SOOO much potential in Marvel’s well that you actually wonder how they’ll properly take advantage of all of it now that characters like the Fantastic Four and the X-Men are back in their hands while the characters they’ve seeded and developed on screen like Valkyrie and the Wasp are just beginning to pay off.
It is literally the best sort of problem to have for a media corporation like Disney. All hail THAT king.