By Darren Franich
March 05, 2013 at 08:53 PM EST
  • Movie

Marvel released a new trailer for Iron Man 3 today that is positively brimming with new stuff: New scenes, new mysteries, a surprisingly new tone of dark romanticism. (You can watch the trailer here.) The film marks the official beginning of Marvel’s Phase 2, which also means that it marks the official beginning of “The Phase Where Marvel Has To Prove These Solo Movies Are Just As Good As Avengers.” Let’s take a closer look at the trailer and see what we can uncover, shall we?

Michael Tran/Getty Images

The trailer focuses lots of attention on Tony’s relationship to lady love Pepper Potts. The two had a nice sparkly Hepburn-Tracy chemistry in the first couple movies, but it’s clear that Iron Man 3 takes their relationship very seriously. Obviously, nothing can go wrong!

Larry Marano/Getty Images

A close-up on her necklace. THEORY: At some point in Iron Man 3, Iron Man will walk through a destroyed building, discover this necklace, hold it up in the air, and say “Noooooooo!” Or maybe “Pepperrrrrr!” Or possibly “Goooooooooop!

Andrew Lipovsky/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images; Daniel Boczarski/Redferns; Helen Boast/Redferns

Well, if it isn’t the lovely and talented Rebecca Hall, who joins the Iron Man cast as scientist Maya Hansen. Hansen was originally introduced in the Iron Man story arc “Extremis,” which apparently served as a key inspiration for the movie. It looks to me like the superhero is taking her out of his destroyed penthouse. We can imagine that whatever science Maya was working on has gone terribly, terribly wrong. (FUN FACT: Maya was originally going to be played by Jessica Chastain, who also played a character named “Maya” in Zero Dark Thirty. We were thisclose to a non-canon crossover. Alas.)


“I’m Tony Stark. I build neat stuff. I got a great girl. And, occasionally, save the world. So why…can’t I…sleep?” The threequel apparently finds the beloved billionaire glamour tycoon feeling a bit down in the dumps, possibly due to some PTNTBHSD (Post-Taking-a-Nuke-Through-a-Black-Hole Stress Syndrome.)

A close-up on Tony Stark, looking very serious and un-Starky. A question to ponder: The first two Iron Men were arguably fun specifically because they weren’t grim or melancholy or Nolanesque. Does the darkening tone of Iron Man 3 mean that the fun is over?

William Sadler joins the cast as the President of the United States. “You elected me on a single platform,” he intones. “I will defend this country at all costs.” The first Iron Man flirted with lots of Bush-era imagery, and the fact that this new President is apparently focused on capturing the terrorist villain known as the Mandarin feels like the subtext is getting explicit. FUN FACT: Sadler played the turncoat soldier Colonel Stuart in Die Hard 2. I’m guessing he will not be introduced in Iron Man 3 doing naked karate.

David E. Kelly Productions promo

Don Cheadle’s Iron Patriot salutes his Commander-in-Chief.

A mysterious shot of what appears to be a hobo-scientist’s nuclear bunker. Where are we? Could this be a secret headquarters of the mandarin? Are those grave markers in the background?

Guy Pearce plays Aldrich Killian, one of the film’s baddies, who also hails from the “Extremis” story arc. The last time Guy Pearce had hair that blond, the result was Memento.

Oh wait, you though that they were going to hire Shane Black to make an Iron Man movie and not feature characters being blown up through the air in slow motion? Well, you were wrong. DEAD wrong. And when Tony’s mansion is attacked, we get to see a fancy new system that allows him to draw his armor to him in bits and pieces — exemplified by this snazzy “Mask Off/Mask On” move:


GIF it, kids!

Tony and Pepper are separated by the evildoers. Is Pepper captured? Is Tony captured? Just how dark is this movie? Is this maybe the long-delayed Empire Strikes Back of the franchise, with Iron Man 1 as A New Hope and Iron Man 2 as a trumped-up Star Wars Holiday Special?


“You don’t know who I am. You’ll never see me coming.” The trailer shows us a bit more of Ben Kingsley’s mysterious Mandarin, who tends to lurk in very shadowy places and say things like “I’m gonna offer a choice. Do you want an empty life? Or a meaningful death?” It’ll be interesting to see how this version of the Mandarin fits into the Iron Man franchise. Previous baddies were very rooted in Tony’s industrial-scientific arena; the Mandarin seems more like a Ra’s Al-Ghul figure — or, heck, Jigsaw — a man with a purpose who’s going to teach our hero important philosophy lessons before he dies.

The Mandarin, shown here on the set of Game of Thrones. He doesn’t specifically say “I am Stark Industries’ reckoning,” but that’s clearly implied.

Robert Voets/CBS

We already saw in an earlier trailer that Pepper is apparently taken captive and held in a weird device that looks like a roller-coaster safety chair…

Ray Mickshaw/Fox

But now here we see several people in that apparatus, presided over by Killian. Are these people controlling Iron Man suits? Are they being controlled?


The trailer constantly returns to this sequence, with an apparently injured Tony besieged by the media and also one really annoying guy taking video on a flip phone. In an ideal world, Tony would grab that flip phone, scream “What is this, 2004?” and crush it with his teeth. Instead, he offers a very simple and direct roadmap for Iron Man 3: “No politics here. Just good old-fashioned revenge.”

Robert Voets/CBS

We cut to Tony undergoing some kind of medical experiment. I might be wrong, but that look on his face doesn’t say “I need to do this surgery to save my life.” It says “I need to do this surgery to make myself stronger, at the risk of my own soul.” At least that’s what I read into it. (Seriously people, go read “Extremis.”)

What is Tony doing wearing that ugly cap and that ugly jacket, covered in bruises? Could he be hiding himself? Is he on the run? Could it be that, having lost everything he ever loved, he is forced into the shadows, where he uses what few resources he has to build some cool weapons and go on a rampage?

To quote Sterling Archer: IT’S A RAMPAAAAAAGE!

An absolutely essential shot of Gwyneth Paltrow in a bra. This is important information, because otherwise you’d walk out of the theater wondering, “Wait, so does Pepper Potts work out with Tracy Anderson?” And now you know. Mystery: Solved! Ambiguity: Dis-ambiguified! Take that, Nolan Brothers!

Darren Michaels/CBS; Eric McCandless/ABC; Michael Yarish/CBS

THEORY: That helicopter is just not going to be around for much longer.

Dale Berman/Bravo

The Mandarin spreads his cape. You can make out a phrase on the left, “Redeemed Through Blood.” Am I the only one who thinks that the imagery is vaguely suggestive of a dollar bill? What higher power do supervillains worship? The Almighty Dollar?

Oh wait, you thought that they were going to hire Shane Black to make an Iron Man movie and not feature a shot where a character jumps from a high place while that high place explodes behind him? Well, you were wrong. DEAD wrong.

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Indicating that the film is not going to be all dark and dreary, Tony and Rhodey get a nice moment together where they banter about needing back-up. (This seems like a good moment to remind everyone that Shane Black’s first big screenplay was Lethal Weapon.) An important note on this shot: Tony Stark is wearing a shirt with the logo “A.I.M.” Comic fans know that A.I.M. stands for “Advanced Idea Mechanics,” a group of technocrat terrorists with the stated mission of using technology to conquer the world. (In the comics, they all wore matching Yellow Beekeeper costumes. Presumably, Shane Black won’t stand for that.)  


And here we come to the big reveal of Tony Stark’s Iron Army. “There’s my boys,” he says. Are these men in suits, or are they people remote-controlling the suits…or are they robots? And, more importantly, are they on Stark’s side…or the Mandarin’s?


In the immortal words of Homer Simpson: I call the big one Bitey.

So there you have it, people. More Iron Men. More romance. More rampage. More symbolic political subtext that the filmmakers will insist is completely apolitical. What do you think of this extended look at the Iron Man threequel? Who do you like more: Evil Smarmy Blond Guy Pearce or Evil Bizarro-Accented Speechifying Ben Kingsley?

Follow Darren on Twitter: @DarrenFranich

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  • PG-13
  • 129 minutes
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