Iron Man 3 (stylized onscreen as Iron Man Three) is a 2013 American superhero film featuring the Marvel Comics character Iron Man, produced by Kevin Feige of Marvel Studios and distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures. It is the sequel to Iron Man and Iron Man 2, and the seventh installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, being the first major release in the franchise since the crossover film The Avengers, and the third installment in the Iron Man film series. Shane Black directed a screenplay he co-wrote with Drew Pearce, which uses concepts from the “Extremis” story arc by Warren Ellis. Robert Downey, Jr. reprises his role as the title character, with Gwyneth Paltrow and Don Cheadle reprising their roles as Pepper Potts and James Rhodes, respectively. Jon Favreau, who directed the first two films, serves as an executive producer and reprises his role as Happy Hogan. Guy Pearce, Rebecca Hall, Stephanie Szostak, James Badge Dale, and Ben Kingsley round out the film’s principal cast.
After the release of Iron Man 2 in May 2010, Favreau decided not to return as director, and in February 2011 Black was hired to rewrite and direct the film. Throughout April and May 2012, the film’s supporting cast was filled out, with Kingsley, Pearce, and Hall brought in to portray key roles. Filming began on May 23, 2012 in Wilmington, North Carolina. The film was shot primarily in North Carolina, with additional shooting in Florida, China and Los Angeles. The film’s visual effects were handled by 17 companies, including Scanline VFX, Digital Domain, and Weta Digital.
Iron Man 3 was converted to 3D in post-production. The film premiered at the Grand Rex in Paris on April 14, 2013. It was internationally released on April 25, 2013 in IMAX and was released on May 3, 2013 in the United States.
Tony Stark recalls a New Years Eve party in 1999 with scientist Maya Hansen, inventor of Extremis—an experimental regenerative treatment intended to allow recovery from crippling injuries. Disabled scientist Aldrich Killian offers them a place in his company Advanced Idea Mechanics, Stark promises Killian that he will meet him on the rooftop, Killian waits on the roof but Stark never came.
Years later, Stark’s experiences during the alien invasion of New York are giving him panic attacks. Restless, he has built several dozen Iron Man suits, creating friction with his girlfriend Pepper Potts. A string of bombings by terrorist the Mandarin has left intelligence agencies bewildered by lack of forensic evidence. When Stark Industries security chief Happy Hogan is badly injured in one such attack, Stark overcomes his stupor and issues a televised threat to the Mandarin, who responds by destroying Stark’s home with helicopter gunships. Hansen, who had come to warn Stark, and Potts survive the attack. Stark then finds himself in rural Tennessee after his artificial intelligence JARVIS followed a flight plan from Stark’s investigation into the Mandarin. Stark’s experimental armor lacks sufficient power to return to California, and the world believes him dead.
Teaming with Harley, a precocious 10-year-old boy, Stark investigates the remains of a local explosion bearing the hallmarks of a Mandarin attack. He discovers the “bombings” were triggered by soldiers subjected to Extremis, which at this stage of development can cause certain subjects to explosively reject it. After veterans started exploding, their deaths were used to cover up Extremis’ flaws by manufacturing a terrorist plot. Stark witnesses Extremis firsthand when Mandarin agents Ellen Brandt and Eric Savin attack him.
With Harley’s help, Stark traces the Mandarin to Miami and infiltrates his headquarters using improvised weapons. Inside he discovers the Mandarin is actually a British actor, Trevor Slattery, who says that he is oblivious to the actions carried out in his name. The Mandarin is a creation of Killian, who appropriated Hansen’s Extremis research as a cure for his own disability and expanded the program to include injured war veterans. After capturing Stark, Killian reveals he is the true Mandarin; he has kidnapped Potts and subjected her to Extremis to gain Stark’s aid in fixing Extremis’ flaws and thereby saving Pepper. Killian kills Hansen when she has a change of heart about the plan.
Killian has also manipulated American intelligence agencies regarding the Mandarin’s location, luring James Rhodes—the former War Machine, now re-branded as the Iron Patriot—into a trap to steal the armor. Stark escapes and reunites with Rhodes, discovering that Killian intends to attack President Ellis aboard Air Force One. Remotely controlling his Iron Man armor, Stark saves some surviving passengers and crew but cannot stop Killian from abducting Ellis. They trace Killian to an impounded damaged oil tanker where Killian intends to kill Ellis on live television. The vice president will become a puppet leader, following Killian’s orders in exchange for Extremis to cure his daughter’s disability.
On the platform, Stark goes to save Potts, and Rhodes saves the president. Stark summons each of his Iron Man suits, controlled remotely by JARVIS, to provide air support. Rhodes secures the president and leads him to safety, while Stark discovers Potts has survived the Extremis procedure. However, before he can save her, a rig collapses around them and she falls to her apparent death. Stark confronts Killian and traps him in an Iron Man suit that self-destructs, but fails to kill him. Potts, whose Extremis powers allowed her to survive her fall, intervenes and kills Killian.
After the battle, Stark orders JARVIS to remotely destroy each Iron Man suit as a sign of his intention to devote more time to Potts. The vice president and Slattery are arrested. With Stark’s help, Potts’ Extremis effects are stabilized, and Stark undergoes surgery to remove the shrapnel embedded near his heart. He pitches his obsolete chest arc reactor into the sea, musing he will always be Iron Man.
In a present day post-credits scene, Stark wakes up Dr. Bruce Banner, who fell asleep listening at the beginning of Stark’s story.
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