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Marvel Cinematic Universe: Everything You Need to Know Before Watching Ant-Man

Marter | 15 Jul 2015 08:00
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Directed by Shane Black. Produced by Kevin Feige. Written by Drew Pearce and Shane Black. Release date: May 3, 2013.

The internet, as a collective, did not seem to like Iron Man 3. Everyone saw it, and it was decided that it wasn't a good movie based solely on the way it handled the Mandarin, the film's "villain." And yet, in a lot of ways, it's actually the deepest movie in the series, here dealing with Tony Stark's PTSD after The Avengers and actually stripping him of his suit for much of the movie.

The Characters:

Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey, Jr.): Our leading character. A genius inventor, he became the superhero Iron Man in the first film. He saved the world in The Avengers along with the rest of the team, but he came the closest to dying in the process. He now has mental health issues as a result.

Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow): Tony Stark's former personal assistant and current love interest. Briefly gains superpowers in Iron Man 3.

James Rhodes/War Machine/Iron Patriot (Don Cheadle): Tony Stark's friend and holds an important position in the United States Air Force. He becomes War Machine - an Iron Man-esque hero - and in Iron Man 3 paints it with "American" decor.

Trevor Slattery/The Mandarin (Ben Kingsley): The leader of a terrorist organization called The Ten Rings - the one that kidnapped Tony Stark in Iron Man - it is later revealed that he is actually just an actor hired to play the role of "the Mandarin."

Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce): The creator of the Extremis virus who hires Travor Slattery to pretend to be the Mandarin while eventually taking up the mantle himself. The film's villain.

Maya Hansen (Rebecca Hall): Geneticist who aided in the creation of the Extremis virus.

J.A.R.V.I.S. (voice of Paul Bettany): Tony Stark's AI.

The Plot:

Some time after The Avengers, Tony Stark is struggling with PTSD after having nearly died in New York. He's become neurotic, building dozens of Iron Man suits in the process. He and his girlfriend, Pepper Potts, are on shaky grounds. A terrorist known as the Mandarin has begun bombing places. Stark issues a threat to the Mandarin on television, which results in his house getting blown up. Inside an Iron Man suit, piloted by his AI, J.A.R.V.I.S., Stark finds himself flown to Tennessee.

In Tennessee, stripped of his money and power, Stark starts to investigate the bombings, including one that happened nearby. It turns out that the bombings are occurring thanks to people being blown up by the Extremis virus, which causes them to overheat and explode, hence how they leave no evidence. Stark eventually escapes Tennessee and traces the Mandarin to Miami, only to discover that the "Mandarin" was a cover. The actual Mandarin, it turns out, was Aldrich Killian, an inventor whom Stark humiliated years earlier.

Eventually, Pepper gets captured and infected with Extremis, Stark and Killian battle it out, Pepper uses her Extremis powers to kill Killian, and then Stark cures her before she explodes because of the virus. Stark also gets J.A.R.V.I.S. to destroy all of his Iron Man suits and undergo surgery to remove the shrapnel that his arc reactor was keeping at bay, proving his devotion to Pepper and potentially - although we eventually learn that this isn't the case - retiring as Iron Man forever.

Is It Any Good?

Assuming that the changes made to the character of the Mandarin don't upset you to the point that you can't enjoy the rest of the film, Iron Man 3 is pretty good. It keeps things fresh by being a more psychologically interesting film and downplaying its action scenes, giving us some much-needed depth to Tony Stark. It's well worth seeing.

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