We’re opening this feature on something most die-hard Iron-fans will have seen – the multi-suit reveal that featured in the trailer. But be warned, there are some HUGE spoilers to follow.
These 50 Best Moments features are designed to go in-depth on the experience of watching the best films of the year – to remind you of bits you enjoyed, or highlight stuff you might have missed first time out, to encourage you to see it a second time.
But these features are not for the uninitiated, so if you haven’t seen I
ron Man 3
yet, turn away now!
Still here? Good. We adored
Iron Man 3
, and we’re looking forward to discussing the best bits with you.
With Tony and Rhodey backed into a corner and flanked on all sides by energy-flinging, mega-pissed Extremis soldiers, all looks lost.
That is until Tony calls in the cavalry.
And oh, what a bombastic back-up it is, with over 30 never-before-seen Iron Man suits flying into provide automated, firepower-flinging support.
And if you want to go even
in depth, join the discussion and debate raging on our spoileriffic video analysis.
And now we’re diving straight into
territory, so consider this your final warning!
The Dark Knight Rises
may have used Clean Slate to erase criminal records, but Tony's application could prove even more conclusive and affect the future of the series as a whole.
With Pepper newly superhero-ised, his villains vanquished, and a newfound reliance on himself over his suit, he decides to initiative 'Clean Slate' which causes all of his suits to implode in spectacular fireworks.
Where that leaves his defences and future plans are anyone's guess, but it's certainly an intriguing place to start.
Tony's Christmas dance
After seeing Tony dance to AC/DC and Daft Punk in the first flicks, the sight of him getting his groove on to a generic Christmas tune in his lab whilst test-driving his new suit was – like so much in
Iron Man 3
– slightly disorientating. And hilarious.
In the absence of showing that moment for posterity, here's a YouTube video of someone in an Iron Man fancy dress breakdancing in a park.
Improv (super-violent) ballet
Tony's assault on The Mandarin's mansion is a masterclass in destructive improv, as he cobbles together all manner of budget nerd-tech to shock, silence and tranquillise his enemies.
Not only is his systematic takedown the weirdest and most entertaining action ballet we've seen in a while, but it brought back (far less violent/bemuscled) memories of Arnie's mansion assault in
What do you get the girl who has everything?
Anything except a giant rabbit with arms that look like boobs, probably.
Sadly, Tony didn’t get that memo.
Seriously, if there’s a weirder object in a superhero movie this year, we’ll… well, we’ll be more surprised than we imagine Pepper was when she unwrapped this monstrosity.
As Stark is dragged further and further into the ocean depths by the wreckage of his home, all looks lost when the power starts to fritz out of his suit and water starts to rise in his helmet.
Just as the light dies and the end seems near, his suit's glove detaches from Tony's hand, whirrs into the watery deep and boomerangs itself back into the rubble to drag Tony's lifeless body out of the wreckage.
The Swiss Army knife of life savers.
Malibu mansion attack
Not only was the first major action setpiece gloriously visceral - with lots of bone-crunching, claustrophobic and chaotic first-person shots of Tony going down with the ship, but the set-up was wonderfully understated.
Maya interrupting Tony and Pepper's bickering with a simple, chilling question pointing out what was happening on the TV - and specifically, seeing a bird's eye view of the missiles feet from hitting the building was a brilliant way of kick-starting the mayhem.
Trial and error
It's always good to see how temperamental Tony's suits can be, but the 'Intro to Suit 42' was a particularly entertaining highlight.
As the first proper time he attempted to use thought control to bring the different parts of the suit to his body, it was executed with slapstickian genius.
The terror of having a heavy metal groinplate whiz through the air was brought to comedic life as the various suit parts thwacked into place - before a final showboating mid-air somersault caught the faceplate in fanboy-pleasing place.
The reality may undersell the set-up somewhat, but it's hard to deny that Ben Kingsley's interpretation of the character of The Mandarin is pretty spectacular. Sure, it's designed to draw on all manner of terrorism-related iconographies, but everything from the costume design, to the carefully crafted broadcasts and Kingsley's amazingly precise, drawled enunciation gives off a truly, fearsome, menacing air.
Up until the moment the smoke and mirrors disappear, we were genuinely expecting he'd be able to hold his own against Iron Man - how is a completely different question, but the fact we bought into it so whole-heartedly should be applauded.
Skip past the illogical and highly impractical lack of security checks, and the moment when the newly piloted Iron Patriot stomps down to ground and clunks his way onto Air Force One oozes physical menace.
Quite how the President and all his security staff didn't twig that the suit had started moving around like a very stumpy Robocop is beyond us - but it's brilliant image watching a highly weaponised Trojan Horse stroll onto the most protected plane in the world.
It's a simple but plot-catalysing speech, but Tony's introspective confessional to Pepper when his suit crash-lands defines his character arc and sets him on the path to bigger (and more explosive) things.
It also repositions Pepper as the centre of his world. Not only is he answering to another, but he'll do anything he can to protect it.
Bechdel would approve
The Bechdel Test is an interesting pop culture tool that measures movies on three key criteria - (a) does it have at least two women in it, who (b) talk to each other, about (c) something besides a man. You'd be surprised how many fail that very simple test.
Yet Iron Man 3's brief exchange between Pepper and Maya fits every criteria and bucks the generic tend of sticking a former and current love interest in the space and expecting them to pull each other's hair.
Not only did they skirt very amusingly past the sexual history in the mansion, but post blowing-up, it was refreshing to see the two chat business in the car, without resorting to 'who loves him more' bitchery.
While the specifics are never really made clear, while his colleagues burn up into smooshy fiery mini-bombs, Aldrich Killian takes pretty well to the Extremis virus.
The super-human strength and regenerative abilities may come as standard, but it's his - ahem - 'fiery' temper that really - double ahem - ignites the conflict, as he quite literally breathes fiery hell down on anyone stupid enough to get in his way.
Trapped alone in a basement, tied to a metal gurney and with no hope in sight, Tony's seeming bravado with his captor goons looks, at first, pretty suicidal.
Luckily Drew Pearce and Shane Black's script gets comic timing pretty darn well, meaning that his failed attempts to call his armour parts from hundreds of miles away is met with a resounding and repeated bafflement on the goons' part.
Inside Killian's brain
Sure, Killian's sexually suggestive business pitch was never going to win Pepper over, but at least it looked purty whilst he was doing it, as he magicked together an immersive, interactive holographic map of his brain.
His show of technological force was another strong use of 3D - and even in 2D, it's still a beautiful, colourfully dazzling,
-esque way to explore otherwise waffly exposition.
One for the European fans this, but the very, very unexpected shout-out to south London town Croydon was as random as it was hilarious. For those of a non-English persuasion, imagine a small vaguely backwater city suburb with no real selling points. Now imagine Sir Ben Kingsley namechecking it in one of the biggest blockbusters of the year.
Iron Man, in his time, has battled all manner of extraterrestrial, super-powered and God-like beasties. But the Extremis soldiers offered a whole new challenge - how to beat someone with regenerative limbs?
The first time we saw a limb lopped off, only to regrow after a brief physical inconvenience, it was clear they were the real, deadly deal.
We'd like to see Captain America do that.
Stan Lee cameo
Recent news reports haven't put Marvel God Stan Lee's health in the best of shapes, so we were happy to see him continuing his Marvel movie cameo streak, and be just as comical and twinkly eyed as ever, popping up as a judge at the beauty pageant Tony's jacking the energy source from.
Surprise death no.1
Rebecca Hall may have had a comparatively minor supporting role, but it was an important one. As a dark echo to the life Tony could have been leading, Maya had comprehensively sold her soul for the big bucks.
But there was always the glimmer of redemption flickering behind her eyes - none moreso than in the emotional, brutally honest tete-a-tete between Maya and Tony. And while we knew she'd always get her comeuppance, we were at least expecting her to pull of a redemptive heroic move.
Nope - Black and Pearce crushed our dreams with one swift bullet hole to the heart, just as she looked like she could've been turned back to the Light Side.
Blue da ba WUT?!
If there's one way to immediately undermine and surprise your audience, it's to open one of the summer's biggest blockbusters with one of the cheesiest party tunes of all time.
Black set the fun-filled, irreverent tone and set the flashback scene in one fell swoop simply by blaring out Eiffel 65's 'Blue (Da Ba Dee)' as the Paramount logo swooshed into view.
An 'extended look'
Sure, this may not be a direct part of the film, but the Superbowl teaser trailer still features a classic Stark gag - and one that, on retrospect, hinted at the flippant humour to come.
In the corporate world, they call it a 'trust exercise'.
In the Iron Man world, we call it 'bad-ass'.
With every suit at his disposable, but no real time to get into any of them, Tony uses his flying armada in the only way he can - in a game of super-tech hopscotch. It's the ultimate show of faith as he runs and leaps blind into the air, timing the fall perfectly to land on a passing suit and fly off to safety.
Oh, Jarvis - we knew thee well.
On the surface at least, Tony's always been somewhat of a one man band. But the moment where his suit finally gives up the ghost after crash-landing in a forest gives a heart-breaking glimpse at the extent of his isolation.
"Come on buddy, don't leave me," whimpers Stark as Jarvis confesses his exhaustion and shuts down.
Short of suit and AI companion, he's finally, truly alone.
Tony Stark will return...
Sure, Iron Man's involvement in
The Avengers 2
is a foregone conclusion, but it's interesting to see that the movie's final tease didn't necessarily specify an
Iron Man 4
'Tony Stark Will Return' points towards another Avengers adventure, but when you think about how neatly
Iron Man 3
wrapped up Tony's arc, it's questionable whether there's even a need for
Iron Man 4
And could it even allude to a final appearance in the Avengers sequel that he doesn't walk away from? It's certainly something we discussed in our Spoiler-Filled Analysis video - let us know what you think!
Tony’s just saved a bunch of people from falling to their grisly deaths.
He’s smugly flying off into the sunset when suddenly, out of nowhere, he’s hit by a truck and is scattered across the freeway.
It was yet another surprise in a movie stuffed full of them - and once again proved why Tony is one of the smartest guys on the planet. Why stress about saving everyone when you can genuinely be in two places at once?
CIA, Iron Man-style
Back during pre-promotion, Shane Black commented that
Iron Man 3
would have a different tone to its predecessors, and would be "more like a Tom Clancy thriller".
That influence is felt throughout, but particularly in the moments where Tony has to use his smarts and detective skills to clue together the story behind the destruction.
Visually and narratively, the moment where he picks apart the Chinatown bombing with a 3D visualisation of the crime scene is a perfect blend of smarts and tech - Tony Stark's greatest assets.
"I'll leave the door unlocked"
In perhaps the most ballsy (and retrospectively dense) decision Tony's ever made, his anger at the hospitalisation of best friend Happy gives rise to a spectacular act of bravado.
With the world's press badgering him for a comment on The Mandarin's very personal attack, Tony turns around and lays the metaphorical gauntlet down.
"My name's Tony Stark and I'm not afraid of you…. Here's my home address. 10880 Malibu Point, 90265. I'll leave the door unlocked.'
Unsurprisingly, things did not go too well. Cue attack helicopters.
Asgardian worlds, epic cityscapes and globe-trottingly beautiful locations are all par for the course in the Marvel cinematic Universe. So seeing Tony forced to research a mystery in the heart of rural Tennessee provided a welcome, refreshing change.
From the small-town locals to the quaint, homely township buildings, it's a delight to visit. Even if there isn't a whole lot of it left standing at the end of Tony's visit.
Most credits trundle in with the inevitability that the audience is already half-way out the cinema.
But true to unexpected form,
Iron Man 3
's credits slam onto the screen with, appropriately enough, as much colourful energy as the movie that preceded it.
Brian Tyler's horn-filled, super-fun score compliments the comic-booky visuals listing the major characters, and guarantees the wait until the inevitable post-credits scene isn't as laborious as usual.
Considering Tony’s miniature arc reactor has been a central plot point for the previous two films, the sight of him tossing it into the sea in act of slate cleaning is actually pretty shocking.
Not only did it raise the question of whether he's Rose DeWitt's long-lost grandchild, but more importantly - just where do they go from here?
One of the most surprising and enjoyable aspects of the script was Tony's buddy partnering with Dad-less tween Harley.
But best of all is Tony's blackly humorous approach to parenting - as Harley bemoans how his father went out to buy scratchcards and never came back, Tony quips back: "Dads leave - there's no need to be a pussy about it."
Even better, it was a line that Downey Jnr improvised.
During the attack on Tony’s Malibu mansion, Stark thinks fast and mind-controls his Mark 42 suit onto his one true love.
Not only is it an instinctive and revealing reaction, but it gives us our first glimpse at Pepper's true temperament in the face of a crisis.
Sure, she looks bad-ass in the HUD display, but she manages to save Maya (well, give or take the odd jet-propelled somersault).
It’s a moment that wouldn’t look out of place in an
film. After wiping the cellar clean of gun-toting goons with nothing but an Iron Man boot, hand-repulsor and a gun, Tony trains his weapon on a henchman, who immediately gives up the ghost.
As he drops his gun to the floor, and throws his hands in the air cowering, he says: “I don’t even like working here, these guys are weird.”
It got one of the biggest laughs in the screening we were in, and rightly so.
Tony’s always had an affinity with kids – witness the moment in
Iron Man 2
when he allows one of his fans to take the credit for blowing away on of Hammer’s drones – which makes the moment where he plays Santa to Harley even more special.
And just think, that little kid has a lot of the equipment he needs to make his very own Iron Man suit. Spin-off, anyone?
Phase 1 was all about teasing Marvel's wider interconnected world, with glimpses of character names, weapons and codenames littered all over the place. But
Iron Man 3
's were far subtler - not only with the aforementioned post-credits scene, but also with a blink-and-you'll-miss-it throwback to the first movie.
In the opening flashback, we briefly see the return of Yinsen, AKA the scientist who becomes trapped with Tony in the middle eastern cave - and the catalyst for the birth of Iron Man.
Tony's biggest fan
We knew Tony was a famous man - after all, it was his global fame that allowed him to issue such an easy invitation to the The Mandarin.
But the fanboy adulation/obsession that he comes across when he recruits TV technician Gary to help him is as hilarious as it is terrifying.
With a facial do and tattoo in the style of/designed on Stark, Gary's eager beaverness is unexpected and insta-comical.
“Tony needs Gary.”
The audience would agree.
It’s arguably the cleverest post-credit sequence in Marvel movie history – it’s certainly the first to wrap up a mystery established in the film (just who was Tony talking to in that voice-over?).
As Tony waffles on in a psychologist's chair, the camera pans back to reveal none other than Mr Bruce Banner (AKA The Hulk).
Except he'd dozed off during Tony's epic emotional confessional.
He's not *that* kind of Doctor, you see.
Warm, charming and continuity-bolstering, it may not have been The Avengers cameo many had hoped for, but it worked nonetheless.
President's phone call
Back when we thought The Mandarin was actually menacing, the moment when he forces the President to phone him, before shooting an innocent man in the face, is actually pretty tense.
Little did we know, it was all method acting and - cough – ‘green screen’.
Still, as a declaration of chilling brutality, the illusion certainly worked.
Iron Patriot's password
“War Machine Rocks. With an X.”
It’s one of the funniest scenes in the movie, not least because it ends with Iron Patriot threatening to shoot a bunch of innocent people for laughing at him.
And you thought Hulk had anger issues.
Guy Pearce's wig
All the promotional material showed Guy Pearce in full-on hunk mode (hair, teeth, suit: all perfect) – so it was quite a shock to the system to see Guy geeking out in those opening moments.
It’s an early-tone setter, and one of several moments that threw us off-balance in a really satisfying way.
Fans of the comics are used to Marvel seeding all manner of Easter Eggs within their movies, but never so blatantly as in
Iron Man 3
's suit-filled climax.
As Tony calls in every incarnation of the suit he's ever worked on to back him up in a fight against an Extremis army, we see countless versions zip around the screen.
But it's one hefty tank of a suit crashing through shipping containers that got us really pumped - a suit that looked very much like the Hulkbuster, a suit Tony builds as a contingency plan against the Avengers' big green and bitey monster.
The Avengers 2
There's a lot you can tell about a man by his televisual taste.
And we're pleased to report that after seeing that Happy's favourite TV show is
, his recovery meant as much to us as it did Tony.
Leftfield pop culture gag FTW!
Super hot assassin
One justifiable complaint of the first two films is that they both ended with metal men fighting each other.
One of the cleverest elements of Pearce and Black’s screenplay is the creation of the Extremis army – essentially the T-1000 with lava-blood instead of liquid metal.
It helps that the first one that Tony fights is a super-hot (in more ways than one) woman - but more importantly, it leads onto an action scene unlike any other we've seen in the series to date - outgunned, out-armoured and situated in the heart of a tiny American town, Tony's got to use his pretty sizeable wits to come out on top.
Considering that some early theories had Iron Patriot as one of the villains of
Iron Man 3
, this sweet scene in which Stark gently ribs his pal Rhodey is a nice treat for fans of the pair’s friendship.
Their chemistry has rarely been better, and it sows the seeds for a buddy act as fun as any ‘80s action flick.
And Rhodey's save after accidentally saying the word 'dick' in front of a couple of younglings? Priceless.
Tony’s latest Iron Man suit is mind-controlled. Cool when he’s in a good mood, not so fun when he’s mid-nightmare.
For such a lighthearted film, the moment when Pepper wakes up to find an unmanned suit looming over her, is genuinely scary.
Not only does it personify the horror behind his mental torment, but it's a terrifying look at the not-so-cool realities behind the tech.
It’s arguably the most
Last Boy Scout
moment of the movie – Tony’s just released himself from bondage, and is delivering on his promise to kill the henchman who have just been taunting him.
Oh, and he does it with one suit boot and gauntlet on, firing a handgun and floating around the place like a spinning, confused angel of death.
Rhodey being bad-ass
Tony’s not the only person to do some out-of-costume ass-kicking.
Lest we forget, James is a military man, and he’s clearly spent extra time in his unarmed-combat classes. Henchmen beware.
Tonally, it's quite the shift from previous incarnations, and great to see him get as many air-punching action moments.
It’s easily one of the most joyful moments of the film.
Pepper’s fallen to her apparent death-from-a-great-height-and-into-flames, but because she’s been injected with Extremis, you know she’s probably going to be okay.
But what is a surprise is how much of a bad-ass she becomes. This is the first Marvel movie to end with the movie’s main female kicking the ass of the lead villain.
Considering the fact that Tony spent most of the first act moping about how he needs to protect her, it’s ace to see her step up to rescue him.
Arguably the film’s best use of 3D and, in a film full of special effects shots, easily the most-convincing.
If you managed to make it through this bit without squirming in your seat, well, you’ve got more of a head for heights than us.
Exhilarating, and with a punchline to die for.
The big reveal
If you've somehow landed on this page by accident, the following is a massive spoiler. Please don't read on if you haven't seen
Iron Man 3
The Mandarin is a complex and troublesome character to bring to the big screen for many reasons. And while the character has evolved with the times in the comics, it's hard to rationalise a Big Bad who has dodgy racial stereotypes and power-zapping magic rings at his core.
Which is why Drew Pearce and Shane Black did something that - depending on your POV - was either masterful or sacrilegious. While we're massive comic fans here at Total Film, when it comes to the enormous bait and switch behind the movie incarnation, we're definitely opting for the former. All the promotional materials pointed to Ben Kingsley's Mandarin as being a unique and terrifying new villain.
And at least an hour into the movie, we were still waiting for his epic power to strike. But then the most curious, unexpected and hilarious thing happened - the whole character was a joke, and a carefully constructed front for a globally marketable terror.
Kingsley's ridiculous, silly and very common reaction to a bunch of gun-toting superheroes coming for his puffed up thesp was perfectly played out. As was Tony's (and the audience's) reaction.
Remember - if you want to go even
in depth, join the discussion and debate raging on our spoileriffic video analysis.
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