Marvel's Iron Man 3 is a 2013 live-action superhero film produced by 20th Century Fox and Marvel Studios respectively. It is the follow up to the successful Iron Man franchise and the smash hit team up film The Avengers. It is the ninth film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and was released on May 3rd 2013 in theaters worldwide.
In 2010 after the profitable success of Iron Man 2 Marvel announced that there would be a third film to finish the Iron Man trilogy. It was also confirmed that Jon Favreau was signed on to direct it. In the autumn 2010 comic con Iron Man 3 was given a release date of May 2013, with all of the cast confirmed to be reprising their roles from the previous two films. Jon Favreau revealed that this movie would be having The Mandarin as its main villain, and be exploring the Ten Rings terrorist group from the first movie in greater depth. Some controversy arose from this announcement saying how the Mandarin was an offensive caricature and how centering an Iron Man film around him might not allow it to be approved for airing in China. Kevin Feige and Jon Favreau claimed they also agreed with these criticisms of the character and that they would be giving him a "Politically Correct re-imagining" to fit with modern audiences. Favreau also revealed in interviews they discussed potentially using Guardsman or Titanium as the main villains instead, but he strongly refused. Saying how he didn't want Iron Man to fight another dark parallel again, and this time focus more on attempting to combat the superhero trope of villains having the same powers as the hero.
In 2011 Ben Kingsley was announced to be cast as the Mandarin, and that Sam Rockwell would be reprising his role as Justin Hammer. James Earl Jones was also added to the cast with an unspecified role. Jon Favreau confirmed at the 2012 Comic Con that the movie would be based on the The Dragon Seed Saga and Enter the Mandarin, two of his personal favorite stories involving the character, he also revealed Jones would be voicing fan-favorite villain Fin Fang Foom. In addition he also confirmed there would be tie ins to the greater MCU and The Avengers. With Jeremy Renner joining the cast as well, returning as Hawkeye to help Iron Man fight the Ten Rings. Borrowing elements from the Tales of Suspense series where he appeared alongside Iron Man in the comics.
It was also announced that Rebecca Hall would also be joining the cast along with William Sadler and Miguel Ferrer. It was asked frequently if Mickey Rourke would be reprising his role as Crimson Dynamo for the movie, he confirmed via Twitter, that he was not.
Filming began in mid to late 2012 and the film was released worldwide May 3rd 2013.
- Robert Downey Jr. as Anthony "Tony" Stark/Iron Man
- Ben Kingsley as The Mandarin
- Clancy Brown as Fin Fang Foom (Voice)
- Don Cheadle as James "Rhodey" Rhodes/War-Machine
- Rebecca Hall as Bethany Cabe/Rescue
- Jeremy Renner as Clinton "Clint" Barton/Hawkeye
- Gwyneth Paltrow as Virginia "Pepper" Potts
- Paul Bettany as J.A.R.V.I.S.
- Jon Favreau as Harold "Happy" Hogan
- Sam Rockwell as Justin Hammer
- Leslie Bibb as Christine Everhart
- Dale Dickey as Harley Keener
- William Sadler as President Matthew Ellis
- Miguel Ferrer as Vice President Paul Rodriguez
- Wang Xuegi as Yao Wu
The movie starts with WHiH News Reporter Christine Everhart walking through the mysterious Valley of Spirits in China. She takes a sip from her canteen while talking into a recording device, saying that she thinks somewhere in this forbidden valley is a stronghold for the Ten Rings Terrorist Group. Everhart keeps walking until tripping on something, as she gets up the Reporter notices that it looks like a large bone, she walks around to see more of them realizing these bones resemble the remains of an actual Dragon. Amazed by it, Christine tries to make another recording but notices his device appears to now no longer be working. Suddenly, a group of Ten Rings footmen sneak up behind Everhart and hits her, knocking the reporter out unconscious.
She wakes up inside an Ancient Chinese Style Fortress with a hooded man sitting on the throne. Everhart asks where she is and the hooded man tells her it's not of importance, asking instead why she is trying to invade his home. Christine tries to tell him she's a tourist that simply got lost and doesn't know what any of this is. The hooded man than reveals himself to have Ten Rings around his hands and uses one of them to create fire that begins consuming Christine. The pain is too great that she confesses to being a reporter from the United States who wanted to investigate the Ten Rings. After that the hooded man uses another ring to create actual ice and stop the fire. He then proceeds to get up and take off his hood, opening his arms wide as everyone bows.
He points out that Everhart must know who he is then, the Mandarin. Leader of the Ten Rings Revolutionaries and the man who will turn society as they know it, on its head. The Mandarin walks down to Christine Everhart and asks her if she would like to be part of something greater than herself. Everhart responds by asking if the Mandarin is insane, she's never going to join this terrorist cell. The Mandarin's necklace then begins to glow yellow, with him saying she has no choice in the matter, the Heart of Knowledge can cure anyone of stubborn dogmatism. Everhart tries to run but is held down by Ten Rings soldiers, she begins shouting and asking what those bones outside are. The Mandarin though ignores the questions and simply touches Christine's chest with his fingertip, causing the reporter's irises turn the same shade of yellow as his necklace. Soon afterwards, she bows too.
The credits begin to role.
Pepper Potts is pulling up to the Malibu Mansion Drive Way and sees a large Teddy Bear with a bow tie on it. She walks into the house only to see Tony inside completely decked out in his latest Iron Man suit. Pepper asks him why he's dressed up and Tony claims that he's trying to break the newest suit in. Pepper wonders what Mark it is and he suggests maybe fifteen or sixteen (the camera reveals it however to be Mark 42). Tony asks her if she likes the early Christmas present, but Pepper says it's a little bit much. Iron Man tells her not to worry about it, he loves her and wants to cherish every moment they have together with gifts like that. Pepper asks what that means and Tony quickly dismisses it. She soon after starts trying to get him to come out of the suit but he refuses, Pepper then goes downstairs to find something to open it only to see Tony himself down there operating the suit remotely. She gets angry seeing this commenting how he's spent almost every day down there, and this was supposed to be their date night. Tony denies it asking J.A.R.V.I.S. how long he's been down there, the artificial butler quickly replying thirty-six hours. Tony says how the time must've slipped by working on the latest upgrades. He can now remotely control his suits even when he's not in inside of them, so if a threat ever arises and he can't get to it, Iron Man will still be able to stop them.
But Pepper tells him that even so this can't be healthy, Tony replies saying being part of The Avengers now means he has to improve his technology and push himself to the very limits. They can't afford to have another New York, that was too close. Pepper tells Tony it's okay to relax sometimes, that these suits might be important, but they shouldn't be a distraction from who he is. Adding on that she's going to take a shower upstairs and wants him to make it up to her and "join". He follows and comments on how Happy's been working hard at his new job too, Pepper agrees saying employee complaints have gone up 70%. At the Stark Industries Main Headquarters, Happy is walking around the Lobby asking all the security guards if they're wearing their proper badges. He then goes to the employee lounge where the newest security guard Bethany Cabe is practicing in the shooting range. Happy asks her if she set up the interview he was supposed to have with the WHiH Reporter and Cabe insists she had someone else do it. Happy is annoyed saying he asked her to do it "new blood", that there are hundreds of other tough guys who would kill to have her job, Bethany claims she didn't go into security to fill out paperwork all day, besides she's on break right now and wants to practice for when someone actually comes looking for trouble. Happy tells she's never on break, Stark Industries is always too busy.
Happy then walks into the boardroom, only for the camera to reveal he is being interviewed by WHiH reporter Christine Everhart herself, wearing thick sunglasses to hide her eyes. Happy proceeds to answer all of her questions and criticisms directed at his new promotion (being the head of security for Stark Industries now). At the end of the interview though Christine asks a cryptic and bizarre question about the whereabouts for most of the Avengers, not seeing the problem Happy answers Thor is on another planet or something, Hulk is cooped up in a lab somewhere, Cap is on some mission, and Tony is working on his latest Stark Tech. Christine thanks him saying that'll be useful for the piece she's writing on them. As she walks out Happy notices a weird tattoo on Everhart's arm that looks like the Ten Rings logo. He tells Bethany about it and she then comments how she didn't even come in a WHiH news truck, just some windowless black car. He tells Bethany he'll be back soon and heads outside to start tailing them all the way to Grauman's Chinese Theater. There, Christine and a bunch of other soldiers in sunglasses come out and reveal themselves to be terrorists on behalf of the Mandarin, revealing their yellow eyes while shooting everything with their guns and other firearms, Happy uses his own skills and training to fight them off.
At the Malibu mansion Tony is doing a run outside until he gets a call on his glasses from Bethany Cabe, when he asks if he should know who she is, Cabe explains the situation of how Happy followed some shady reporter and they're in a shoot out now, she doesn't know what to do. He stops dead in his tracks, a look of terror on his face. Tony then replies saying he'll be right there, moving quickly into the basement and telling J.A.R.V.I.S. to get the new motion control tech ready, the artificial butler asks Tony if sending an unmanned suit to the scene is a wise idea but he says it's the most practical and not to question him on this. Tony then syncs his glasses up to the Iron Man suit and sends the Mark 42 flying over there easily dispatching of the Ten Rings fighters. While doing so he starts to get PTSD flashbacks of fighting the Chitauri in New York, but manages to snap out of it. He asks J.A.R.V.I.S. to contact Rhodey and after he does Tony asks Rhodes for assistance in California, but War-Machine says it's just as bad in Washington D.C. the country is having a full on terrorist mutiny right now in a ton of major cities. Iron Man asks who's protecting them and Rhodey responds saying S.H.I.E.L.D. seems to be getting on top of things. It then shows in Ne York City where Ten Rings terrorists are harassing citizens until a quinjet lands and Hawkeye jumps out using impressive bow and arrow techniques to subdue them. Back in Los Angeles, Happy is running and about to be hit by the car driven by Christine Everhart until it is vaporized by one of Iron Man's blasts. After that it looks like the attack is over.
Tony tells Rhodey he cleared the Ten Rings out of Los Angeles and War-Machine likewise says he did the same in D.C. He then informs Tony they should catch up again soon, he'll fly over this weekend and they can get some Neptune's Net just like old times. He wanted to talk to him about something important. It then shows on the TV the Ten Rings hijacking news stations to promote propaganda. The Mandarin begins speaking about how the United States has been trying to stifle his efforts of killing off the corrupt and dying governments of his land. But he isn't surprised foreigners are the same. They need to be educated just like his native brethren do. The Mandarin then proudly confesses to the recent terrorist attacks and claims it was their first lesson. That structure breeds nothing but repression and misery, the american people only have their government and businesses to blame for what's going on. After that the entire country begins to panic with President Matthew Ellis announcing at the podium that he will be taking full measures to stop the Mandarin and the Ten Rings terrorists at all costs. Vice President Rodriguez claims similar things and encourages average civilians not to panic.
It then shows back in the Stark Industries building Pepper walking in and asking Happy how he's doing. He just says he has a broken arm, that it will take more than a couple crazies to really do some damage. Pepper then goes over to Bethany and hugs her, telling Cabe how it was really awesome that she called Tony like that. Bethany says how anyone would've done the same thing in her shoes. Pepper though insists she's getting a promotion, she looked over her transcript and knows her and Tony could use her as part of their personal security. Bethany is excited by the proposition and gladly takes it.
At Neptune's Net, Rhodey says to Tony he's worried about him. Pepper and Happy told him he's barely been sleeping, eating or doing much of anything besides working on his Iron Legion. Tony argues with Rhodey, claiming that after New York that's just called being practical. He wouldn't understand he didn't fight there. Rhodey explains that's because his armor was confiscated after the Hammertech fiasco. James says he's making up for it now, fighting the Ten Rings. Tony says "not good enough apparently" based on how they just attacked the country. Rhodey asks if Tony thinks he could do better with Stark insisting that he could. Obviously the Ten Rings have been getting bigger and bolder, the world could use a hero right about now. With all of his suits and Stark Tech, he could take down the Mandarin in under a month. Rhodey says Tony has personal stakes with the Ten Rings, they kidnapped him years ago and put shrapnel in his heart. But he simply says how that's just more reason he wants in. Rhodey says he can talk to the Pentagon about it, but no promises. Tony says this is just be what he needs, something to make him feel useful again.
Rhodey responds that he won't vouch if Tony acts like a "Dictator". After that children come over and ask for Iron Man's autograph. Tony happily complies, signing a young boy's drawing. It depicts him flying into the Tesseract's portal with the Nuclear Bomb from back in New York. He starts getting queazy thinking about that time and then the little boy asks how he got out of the wormhole, which causes Tony to bolt out of his seat and walk into the middle of the street outside. He asks J.A.R.V.I.S. what could possibly be happening and he explains that it must be a severe anxiety attack. This disturbs Tony who quickly runs away, much to the annoyance of Rhodes.
Meanwhile, everything is silent and pristine in the Valley of Spirits. Suddenly, the entire forest begins to shake. The clouds physically splitting apart as a large green Dragon flies out from them over the Valley. The Mandarin is sitting on his palace balcony smoking a pipe until the Dragon lands on the rooftop directly above him. Mandarin asks the Dragon, Fin Fang Foom, the reason for his unexpected visit. Foom reveals himself to be able to speak, answering that he knows the Mandarin's recent activism over seas and is warning him to cease the aggression. The Mandarin replies that the Western "demons" have stifled his efforts to restore China for decades now, his acts are but simple retribution. Foom tells him that when word spread to K'un-Lun that a human had discovered the remains of an old fortress, no other Dragon would even acknowledge it for fear it could expose their species to the outside world. Foom took a grave risk conversing with the Mandarin all these years, sympathizing with his revolution. But he's making too much noise with technology he doesn't understand. If that leads to unplanned exposure, they will both pay a terrible price for it. The Mandarin tells Foom he has great respect for the Dragons of Ancient China and their seven capital cities. That they're both nostalgic for a time long ago when humans worshipped them as the Divine beings they are, if that era of virtue is to be return, the regime of Democracy must be torn down first.
At the Malibu Mansion Tony and Pepper are sleeping. Tony starts to have nightmares of the Chitauri as well as when he flew into Annakul and blew up the command center. The nightmare becomes more and more overwhelming until Pepper wakes up and sees the Iron Man Mark 42 standing right above her, she screams in terror which wakes Tony as he tells the armor to power down. Stark then observes he must've called it during his nightmare. Pepper angrily says that she's going to sleep downstairs. Tony follows asking if that's really necessary and Pepper tells him of course it is! Ever since New York he's been riddled with paranoia and nightmares, doing nothing but making suit after suit. It's consuming him, he needs help. Tony claims that he knows he's a "pipin hot mess". He then sits down saying how he was so close to losing everything, out of all the experiences he's gone through in life he can't make peace with what was in that wormhole. Pepper says she wants to help him, he needs something, or else he's going to go back to drinking. Tony replies that he knows what he needs, to just feel some control in his life, some sort of power over these things, he can't sleep knowing he doesn't. So he does what he does best, he tinkers, hoping it will lead to something good, and now the Ten Rings are back in his life taking the whole country hostage. Tony promises Pepper that he won't go back to the bottle. Not this time, he's past that point in his life and will stay clean through thick and thin. She seems calmed and goes back upstairs, Tony then turns on his cellphone and sees he has a new message from Rhodey telling him that the President is interested in talking to Tony about that thing they discussed during lunch.
The next day they're both walking through the White House when Tony asks what Rhodey said to get him on the project. Rhodes insists that he didn't do anything, the President actually requested him. Tony is confused by that saying how he thought the Government agreed with his skepticism, Rhodey claims he thought that they did, but then they asked for help from some superheroes. Vice President Rodriguez lets both of them inside the Oval Office where Iron Man sees Hawkeye. Who tells Tony it's good to see another Avenger. Surprised, he simply responds saying "likewise". They all sit down while President Matthew Ellis gets up from his desk and personally greets all of them, saying it's nice to see James Rhodes and wishes he could meet the two Avengers Tony Stark and Clint Barton under better circumstances. Hawkeye says to save the formalities. S.H.I.E.L.D. is looking for answers about the Ten Rings, and the President has to say what he knows, with Clint claiming that his kids aren't happy about their Dad being away for Christmas. President Ellis claims though that he doesn't know much more than they do, but his friend, the Chinese Ambassador Yao Wu does. Yao stands up and says the Mandarin along with his Ten Rings have been a nuisance for the Chinese government since the Cold War. Slowly spreading their anarcho-fascist ideology throughout the rest of Asia, and now to North America.
President Ellis says ever since aliens poured out of the sky in New York the political climate has been suspicious towards anything even remotely... out of this world. Because of that reporters have been investigating them more closely as of late. Yao says after dealing with the Mandarin all these years they are not any closer to tracking down his location or stifling his terrorist activities then they were in the 1970s. He is using technology the likes of which they have never seen before, even rumored to be supernatural. Stark Industries inventions are the only available hardware that even comes close.
Hawkeye adds on that S.H.I.E.L.D. has theories about the Mandarin but nothing substantial. Citing Christine Everhart, the official report says the group brainwashed her, but brain scans showed her mind was completely changed, in ways they've never seen before. Tony turns his head down and claims that's why they want him to gank this guy, because they think he's the only one who knows Tech enough to stop him. President Ellis affirms that this was indeed the plan. Iron Man tells all of them he'll do it, the Ten Rings are a clear and present menace. He saw first hand in a cave in Afghanistan how deadly they are, and if he's the one who can do this, he can't sit ideally by. Rhodey adds that he has a duty to his country and he will help stop the Mandarin too. President Ellis says he's glad to hear it. Yao Wu points to coordinates saying that they've theorized the Mandarin's general location in the northeast of China, near the Mongolian border. Hawkeye says a search and seek out mission, his favorite. Rhodes asks how long until they head for China. Yao Wu says after the third party arrangements are in order. Tony asks what third parties and President Ellis says though they're happy with Stark Industries and S.H.I.E.L.D. helping to stop the Mandarin, the the United States government has pre-existing contracts in case of situations like this. Everyone is silent for a moment until Tony says "You don't mean..."
It then shows Justin Hammer sunbathing on a Floating Villa until Tony, Rhodey and Hawkeye arrive. They exchange fake formalities while Justin asks Stark how Coulson is doing. Tony is about to be triggered, but Rhodey says not to let Justin provoke him, not now. Hawkeye looks at the Villa and says he's seen bigger. Justin quickly replies saying how out of the Super Soldier, the Gamma Mutant, and the God, they gave him the Avenger who can shoot arrows. Tony says they're only here because of the President's orders, they need Hammertech to officially recognize them as allies before doing anything. Hawkeye clarifies that S.H.I.E.L.D. has default jurisdiction over problems like this, he just needs to sign off a duel partnership with Stark Industries. Rhodey hands him the paper and Justin smugly signs it. Rhodey claiming it's insane that he's not rotting in a prison cell right now after everything he did. Justin insists all the evidence connecting him to the Crimson Dynamo or the Masters of Evil are entirely circumstantial, by all accounts he should've been released earlier. But nonetheless as a free man now, all he wants to do is work for the Government and stop the Mandarin from destroying America. Tony insists that's something they can agree on as Justin tells Tony in that case he should get ready, they'll be in China first thing tomorrow.
At the Malibu Mansion, Hawkeye is getting his best bows & arrows ready, Rhodey is getting fitted into the War-Machine suit and Iron Man is prepping his Mark 42 Autopilot with J.A.R.V.I.S. Afterwards, Tony asks Hawkeye how he's been holding up lately. Clint asks what he means and Tony says he's having a hard time adjusting after the Battle of New York. What could've happened to everyone, Clint says but it didn't, they won, stopped the Chitauri and put everyone away. Tony asks again what if they didn't. Hawkeye says one thing he's learned all his life and especially during his time with S.H.I.E.L.D. is that regret and what-ifs are meaningless. In this line of work you have to just role with the punches, ignore all your preconceptions and just experience what's happening. If you keep jumping ahead and second guessing yourself, those thoughts will eat you alive. Tony claims that he wishes it were that easy for him, but clearly he's one of those people who needs the bottle or tinkering to cope. Hawkeye chuckles and says he went to space, it's going to take him more time to bounce back from that. But he has faith that he can, Fury wouldn't have asked Tony to fly through that wormhole if he knew he couldn't.
Bethany Cabe walks in and tells both of them the Quinjet is ready whenever they are. Rhodey, Hawkeye and the Mark 42 Armor all load onto the plane and shortly after fly off across the city. Meanwhile, Tony hears Pepper and Happy watching a frightening video which is revealed to be another Mandarin propaganda hijack where he criticizes the President for allowing this to happen by forcing himself and his country where they don't belong. That soon they will all pay the ultimate price for his hubris. Tony angrily looks at it and Pepper nervously asks when this will end, Tony tells her they're going to stop him, he looks over his shoulder at the jet flying. In China, Hawkeye is in the quinjet cockpit and asks how Rhodey and Tony are doing down there. It shows them in the Suit Holding Quarters and War-Machine tells Tony the strategy for the mission and J.A.R.V.I.S. answers claiming his assessment has been saved on the clipboard. Tony then comes back claiming he was drawing the Mark 43 schematics and Rhodes explains what just happened which Tony replies he updated the systems so that J.A.R.V.I.S. can manually control the suit when he's busy with something else, but Rhodey claims he needs to focus on what's happening right now and look over his plan.
Hawkeye continues flying the jet when the controls begin acting strange. He tells Tony and Rhodey that this must be why Yao Wu said the Chinese Government could never find Mandarin, he's got some sort of tech dampening systems that the S.H.I.E.L.D. firewalls can't keep out. Rhodey claims he's feeling it too and Tony back at Avengers Tower says the Arc Reactors are the key here, they're unaffected by the dead zone and if they use it to power the suits it'll keep them charged until they're done. Hawkeye says they need to carry the quinjet or else it's going to go splat in the middle of the snow. Both men exit and begin flying while carrying the jet into the safe landing. Hawkeye exists the cockpit (claiming it's crisp when he feels the cold air) and they all see a giant Chinese Style Fortress in the distance. Iron Man has J.A.R.V.I.S. translate the calligraphy on the front which reads Dragon of Heaven. War-Machine says this is bigger then he thought, they need to divide and conquer if they have any hope of clearing this place before morning. Hawkeye says he'll take the lower levels and they can search the top floors. Iron Man and War-Machine both fly up while Hawkeye sneaks in through the bottom.
Hawkeye walks inside only to see himself surrounded by armed Ten Rings soldiers. With quick thinking Clint uses trick arrows to hit all of them and afterwards quips about sneakiness being overrated. On the highest level, Rhodey is traversing through a dark hallway each wall riddled with different drawings on it. He eventually makes it into a throne room only to find the chair itself empty. Before he can even turn around a powerful blast hits him. He begins frantically shooting but no one is there. He then screams out "Mandarin!" To which he replies that his patience of intruders is beginning to ware thin. Off camera fighting between the two can be heard, before cutting to Iron Man on another level. He uses a special plasma blast setting to meld his way through an old fashioned lock on a giant metal door. He then goes inside and sees a large Dragon on the other side of the door. Tony prepares to blast it but realizes it's just a statue. He then explores the room further finding it to contain a large glowing device built in the design of traditional Chinese architecture. Ten Rings footmen soon come in behind him and Iron Man quickly dispatches them with a laser.
The two meet up and Tony telling Clint about what he found, confirming this isn't magic at all, the Mandarin has access to "mind blowing" technology. He's using some sort of EMP to blunt out their nearby tech, so advanced it makes the Arc Reactor at Stark Industries look like an easy bake oven. Hawkeye suggests the two of them stick together then. Meanwhile, as the two Avengers are talking the Mandarin is shown slowly putting on battle armor. After entering a large chamber Iron Man and Hawkeye see Rhodey on the ground, badly beaten and his War-Machine suit destroyed with the Mandarin standing over him, fully decked in the armor. He says how War-Machine is a perfect example of the societal desperation to force control over the world. He served no purpose other than to benefit the elite, just like the Avengers themselves do. Iron Man says he's had a bone to pick with the Ten Rings for a long time, but now after what they did to Rhodey he might just have to tear the whole skeleton down. Hawkeye gets his bow out and shoots an arrow which The Mandarin manages to transmute into ash with one of his rings. Bragging that his technology is far beyond theres. Iron Man asks where he got it from and the Mandarin says it found him before engaging Tony and Hawkeye in an epic brawl where his Ten Rings overpower both heroes. Even managing to destroy the Mark 42 Iron Man armor, causing Tony to suffer PTSD back in the United States from shock at Mandarin's raw power and the realization that he failed his friends. Hawkeye in China gets beaten badly by the Mandarin, who says that his american example for President Ellis, the WHiH Reporter was taken from him, why not succeed that with two icons of Justice. The Heart of Knowledge then begins glowing again and he gently touches both Hawkeye and Rhodey's chests, turning their eyes yellow and both into loyal subjects of the Ten Rings.
Tony runs into the other room with Pepper and Happy telling them how the mission failed. Mandarin destroyed the Mark 42 suit, Rhodey and Clint couldn't stop him. It then shows at a Christmas party Justin Hammer is chatting with Yao Wu discussing possible Hammertech contracts until he gets a call from Bethany Cabe saying how The Mandarin was unable to be stopped and the War-Machine suit was destroyed. Justin begins arguing with her saying how that's impossible they had an Avenger, Hammertech and, as much as he hates to say it, Stark Tech's best stuff in this. Yao Wu then asks if something is wrong and Justin tells Bethany he'll call her back, answering the ambassador that there's been a little snafu with stopping the Mandarin. In Malibu, Tony Stark is walking out of his home when he gets surrounded by a bunch of reporters asking him about the Mandarin and if he truly captured James Rhodes and Clint Barton. He refuses to answer most of them until someone says how he isn't doing anything to stop this fight. Tony stops dead in his tracks after hearing that and turns around saying there is never going to be a fight he doesn't put his all in, especially when his friends are involved. That the Mandarin is just a coward hiding on the other side of the world, who sends his cronies to do his dirty work for him. If the Mandarin wants to play like this, then he'll just have to bring out his own army. All of his Iron Man suits, hundreds of them each with different purposes all coming after him and his lackeys, even if he has to team up with Justin Hammer to make it happen. This isn't about politics anymore, just good old fashion revenge.
In rural China, a small village is working to harvest rice in the nearby swamps. This continues on until they hear gun shots and see Ten Rings terrorists begin raiding everything with all of them lead by Hawkeye and Rhodey. Eventually, the entire town is sacked and the officials are taken outside and forced onto the ground while the Mandarin himself approaches. Telling the villagers that they might not know it yet, but he is freeing them from the shackles of oppression and disappointment. He then proceeds to use his rings to electrocute all the officials standing under him while the Ten Rings footmen scream justice. The Mandarin then asks his Ten Rings soldiers how the crusade in America is going, Rhodey tells him that Tony Stark has publicly announced he will continue to wage war against them. Mandarin laughs saying he expected nothing less before insisting his first move in this newfound conflict will be between two equals. Hawkeye must be the one to strike down his former teammate. Clint says it will be done and Rhodey insists he can help, he and Tony were close before his enlightenment. He knows a good amount of his secrets, clearances, contingencies. All the chinks in his Iron Man armor, both figuratively and literally.
Fin Fang Foom is meanwhile perched on the peak of a mountain while a group of dragons ranging from multiple sizes and colors start fly above him in a circle. They claim that his relationship with the Mandarin is no longer able to subdue his radical desires. For he continues to use resources from K'un-Lun to inflict his own agenda on the world. Foom claims he was warned this would happen, but that he is blinded by his ideology. Perhaps though he is not entirely wrong in his views. He does wish to return to a time in which K'un-Lun was viewed with envy instead of neglect. The dragons all respond that the time of domination is over, both the humans and dragons agreed to live as one or part ways. This relationship has served both of them well, they have no reason to turn their backs on it. Foom claims that the old ways were better and the dragons answer better for those who seek power over wisdom. Fin Fang Foom begs for one last chance, he will make the Mandarin give up his tools for the sake of both Dragon and humankind, and if he refuses, he will slay the Mandarin himself.
In Malibu, Tony is in the basement working on ways to defeat The Mandarin. He has J.A.R.V.I.S. replay the fight in China and quickly begins to figure out what each of the Mandarin's rings can do. Learning that they're capable of generating fire, ice, electricity, light, darkness, lasers, force fields, transmutation, aerokinesis, and terrakinesis. Tony also investigates the glowing necklace the Mandarin is always seen wearing and realizes it enhances his mental capacity enough to use all the rings efficiently, holding many similarities in internal structure to the Tesseract. Tony sarcastically claims that's wonderful and rubs his temples wondering how he's going to beat this goon. Suddenly, he hears a knock on the door as Bethany Cabe slowly opens it and tells Tony that Pepper says that she wants him to come upstairs, he asks what for and Cabe claims she didn't say. Tony goes upstairs and tells Pepper that he'll be with her soon he just has some more work to do downstairs with J.A.R.V.I.S. but Pepper says she's done with this, Tony promised to snap out of this obsession with building suits. He's working himself to death! Tony responds saying his friends are in danger, there's a terrorist warlord on the loose holding America hostage, it's a little justified this time.
Pepper says he knows what she means, this is all because of New York and his inability to accept that he can't personally control everything. They argue for even longer with Pepper even threatening to walk out and Bethany watching until she gets a call from Happy. Hearing what he says she interrupts the argument and asks if either of them called Helicopters, both responding no. It shows outside an entire swarm of helicopters coming closer to the mansion with Hawkeye driving the main one, he shoots a missile and blows the three of them away destroying the living room, proudly claiming "I never miss". Inside, Tony gets up and goes to try and get his suit, but right before he can get into it starts to have another panic attack just thinking about actually being in there again, getting flashbacks to the Battle of New York again. In his stalling, Pepper runs over and jumps into the suit protecting Tony and Bethany from falling debris. Bethany than gets Tony to Happy who's waiting outside while Pepper desperately tries to shoot the Helicopters with her suit. Tony watches nervously and begins communicating with the suit talking to Pepper saying how sorry he is that he couldn't protect her, Potts says he still can, she doesn't know how to use this this. Tony takes the advice and begins walking her through the it along with J.A.R.V.I.S.
Hawkeye gets out of his Helicopter and shocks everyone having yellow eyes and working for The Mandarin. He jumps into the collapsing mansion and battles Pepper who despite his powerful arrows still manages to punch him off the ledge. Pepper begins running out as all of the Iron Man suits in the basement begin to explode and the entire house collapses into the water. Pepper quickly gets out of the suit as fast as possible and tries to find Tony, only to realize he's gone. Happy, Pepper and Bethany all call for him only to figure out he's is nowhere in sight. He completely left the entire property. It then shows Hawkeye hanging onto the Cliff with a grappling arrow, he then jumps into one of the nearby Helicopters as it takes off. Later that night, Tony walking through the town of Lancaster where he steals a poncho off of a wooden Indian and leaves Pepper a phone message saying he has a lot of apologies to make, but can't face her right now. He failed as a man and a hero back at the mansion and can't even think right now he just... needs to find a way to get through the day. Tony then walks into a nearby bar and just sits there. A homeless woman named Harley Keener sits next to him and gets a drink, she asks about the Arc Reactor in his chest and he explains what it can do before she puts the pieces together that he's Iron Man. Tony says he doesn't deserve that title anymore, he can't even the wear the suit, or save his friends, he just needs to get his mind off the chaos. She starts drinking and Tony does as well, managing to down multiple bottles of liquor in a single sitting.
The Mandarin is walking through the Valley of Spirits until Fin Fang Foom abruptly lands, flatting all the nearby trees while the Mandarin himself doesn't flinch, simply asking the Dragon why he wished to speak to him away from the Fortress. Foom tells him that he and his kin have spoken at great length about him, deciding that he they wish to take back the Ten Rings and the Heart of Knowledge to K'un-Lun where it belongs. The Mandarin says how the Heart of Knowledge and its ring sat for thousands of years before him, where were the Dragons then. Foom snarls pointing out that he spent decades preserving his right, an outsider, to use these relics. He sympathized with his crusade, but now he has gone too far attempting to start a world war. He has lost the respect he once had for him and the privilege to use K'un-Lun's treasure. Mandarin says he thought the Dragons were supposed to be more sophisticated than mere men, but that they've grown soft over the years, just as his brethren have. Enslaved by the structures and governments of their own making, he then supposes he'll have to free them too then and quickly touches Fin Fang Foom's head using the Heart of Knowledge on the Dragon, just before he's about to breath fire and burn the Mandarin his eyes turn yellow.
Rhodey is in the Fortress pouring tea until the Mandarin enters, Rhodes tells him that Hawkeye destroyed Stark's Residence. All his suits, technology, and dignity fell with it. The Mandarin asks if the man himself was destroyed but Rhodey says his body was unaccounted for. The Mandarin responds that Iron Man is irrelevant now, because after years of waiting, he finally has the freedom to reshape the world as it should be. Rhodes asks how and the Mandarin answers by telling him a story of how the Valley of Spirits used to be forbidden for any to enter, but even in his reckless youth he refused to bend down to society's expectations of him. He spent weeks travelling the Valley until coming across the ruins of an ancient palace that was once part of the mystical city of K'un-Lun. Rhodey mentions how that's the same K'un-Lun from the old Chinese folklore, surprised that it's real, just like Asgard. The Mandarin further continues that K'un-Lun is just one of Seven Heavenly Cities located around the globe, ruled by sentient Dragons with technology so advanced it appears identical to magic. It's how he found the Heart of Knowledge and the Ten Rings of power that go with it. For years the Dragons of K'un-Lun feared exposure to the outside world and forced him to only use these magnificent powers for local revolutions. Rhodey asks what about now and the Mandarin tells him now, he's converted his keeper and with it acquired the most powerful artifact from K'un-Lun he could ever hope for. Rhodey runs outside and opens the door only to see a yellow eyed Fin Fang Foom outside being maintained by Ten Rings soldiers.
In the White House, Justin Hammer is drawing schematics on a white board for a potential missile to drop on the approximate vicinity of the Mandarin's fortress. The President claims though that there are villages scattered across the entire region, the Chinese would never allow something like that to occur on their territory. Justin argues saying he needs to talk them into it before the screens all over the country and in the very room begin being hijacked for more Ten Rings propaganda. It shows The Mandarin holding a gun to an American citizen on the ground below him. Mandarin explains how the Ten Rings with the help of their secret weapon managed to successfully raid a Roxxon Oil Field in east China, taking an accountant hostage. President Ellis must call him on the phone in the next fifty seconds or else he will shoot the Roxxon accountant in the head in front of everyone. Vice President Rodriguez and Justin try to convince Ellis not to let the Ten Rings control him like this, but he refuses to put an innocent man's life at stake. Mandarin receives the call but doesn't answer it, shooting the accountant on live television. The Mandarin gloating about how he just exposed a crack in the pathetic american institution, how even phone call from the President couldn't say the life of his own citizen. Now there's just one lesson left, one that will expose how futile every government around the globe truly is. No one will be able to stop the truth from coming out and for Anarchy to reign. It reveals that broadcast was on screens all across America, with Tony Stark as a drunk, homeless vagabond oblivious to the fact the propaganda is playing on a free TV inside a department store.
Tony eventually sits an alleyway sharing a bottle of Vodka with Harley Keener. She tells him how everything going on with the Mandarin reminds her of the Battle of New York. She then asks Tony if it reminds him and he claims that he doesn't want to talk about it but Harley continues the questions about if the aliens are going to come back and if he has PTSD, causing Tony to suffer another panic attack. She apologizes after and he says it's fine, and to just pass the Vodka.
Before Harley can grab the bottle she begins crouching down in pain, Tony asks what's wrong and Keener says she thinks she's going into labor. Tony sets her down and for awhile tries his best to talk her into giving birth to the baby, but struggles without hospital equipment. Soon after he notices Bethany Cabe walk up to him and use her mild medical training to successfully deliver Harley's baby. Tony is so surprised to see her and emotionally overwhelmed by the event ends up passing out from exhaustion. He awakens the next day in the hospital with Bethany standing by the bed. Cabe tells him that she didn't tell Pepper or Happy anything, it might get her fired but she couldn't figure out how to say... Tony says how he fell off the wagon. He then starts crying saying he can't believe he threw everything away. Bethany encourages him saying everyone falls down sometimes, have moments of weakness, where everything feels too difficult and you all that can save you is the bottle. But he crawled out of that hole, and if he could get clean once, he can do it again. Tony asks how she found him and Bethany says she's his personal bodyguard, she wasn't hired just to protect him from other people, but from himself. Tony then hears a baby crying in the other room and comments how even when he was at rock bottom, he still saved a life by delivering that baby. Imagine how many more babies he could save if he just pulled his act together and put on the damn suit. Inspired by this line of thought Tony tells Bethany to call Pepper and explain everything, he has a job to do.
President Matthew Ellis is boarding the Air Force One plane alongside Vice President Rodriguez and Justin Hammer. The secret service explaining it will take at least a couple hours to make it to the safe house. Ellis tells them to just do it as soon as possible while Justin asks if there will be any Mai-ties where they're going. Once they take off and fly for a couple hours, the President is sitting comfortably until the pilot notices they have a bogey on their tail. Soon noticing Fin Fang Foom following them with the Mandarin riding on his back. Foom breaths fire at the wings of the plane, effortlessly melting them and causing it to fall out of the sky and into the water. President Ellis, Vice President Rodriguez and Justin Hammer are all pulled out and taken onto a hijacked fishing vessel by yellow eyed former fishermen before the Mandarin lands on it and finally dismounts Fin Fang Foom. He then walks over to the trio and tells President Ellis that it's nice to finally meet him. Ellis says nothing while the Mandarin warns Matthew not to feel glum, his downfall will lead to a new age in world history, it's an honor. Justin Hammer points his finger to the Mandarin claiming they are Americans, and won't be intimidated or bullied by him! Justin then insists he has connections, and if he wants to can easily wipe the Mandarin and all his Ten Rings thugs off the face of the Earth. The Mandarin simply gives Justin a disgusted look and makes a motion with his fingers, Fin Fang Foom afterwards breaths fire burning Hammer to death.
In China, Yao Wu is working inside his office within the Zhongnanhai answering phone calls and filling out important paper work until outside the window Hawkeye is perched on a building and uses an arrow to slide across and jump into the ambassador's office. When he enters Yao tries to use his phone to call for help, but Hawkeye's arrow is laced with the same tech dampening EMP within the Mandarin's Fortress. Yao quietly asks what he wants and Hawkeye just tells him the Ten Rings need to teach the world something very important. In the United States, Tony and Bethany are walking until the camera shows them standing right next to Avengers Tower all the way in New York City. He tells her he always did consider it his home away from home. As he walks in Pepper immediately stops what she's doing and runs over to Tony giving him a hug, trying to hold back tears saying she's sorry. He tells her not to apologize, he clearly needs help with this and shouldn't have been ignoring the signs this whole time. He then asks Happy how far this Mandarin incident has gone up. Happy says there've been reports of the Ten Rings not just around the US, but in England, France, Germany, and all over China. Bethany adds on that's just the tip of the iceberg, the President is missing. Tony grits his teeth and goes over more of the reports, realizing it's not just the President who's kidnapped, world leaders and politicians seem to be too in every country they sacked. This must be what the Mandarin was planning this entire time.
Tony runs upstairs and tells Bethany that he'd normally need a team to stop what the Mandarin's doing, but the Avengers are all busy with their own problems. She asks what he could do then and Tony says he spent seven months working on a contingency in case the Chitauri ever came back. Fighting the Mandarin wasn't quite their intended purpose, but if you can't bring Muhammad to the mountain, you gotta bring the mountain to Muhammad. He then tells J.A.R.V.I.S. to preform the House Party protocol. All the suits scattered throughout Avengers Tower begin powering up. Tony almost goes into one of them, but begins feeling deep anxiety again and backs down. Meanwhile, news stations across the world are getting hijacked by the Ten Rings Propaganda. The Mandarin proudly telling everyone he hopes they're having a wonderful Christmas Eve because the final lesson is here. The camera then shows President Ellis, Vice-President Rodriguez, Ambassador Yao Wu, and multiple British, French and German politicians all tied up to a drill in the Roxxon Oil Field. Mandarin reveals that what they're standing in is the biggest international Oil Facility in all of China. The result of a historic deal made between Chinese and American companies. It's poetic that this is where both countries and their allies will die. Their leaders shot like cattle, and the governments they represent reduced to nothing.
As the broadcast ends Yao Wu tells the Mandarin he is a traitor to all Chinese people. He laughs saying that he is the opposite, humans were never meant to toil under rules and regulations. His "glorious" country is the finest example of that, suffering under cruelty all the way from Genghis Khan to the Japanese Empire. He wraps his hand around Yao's neck claiming it all ends now. He then hears Iron Man's voice who abruptly tells him he's right, it will end, for him. The Mandarin looks surprised that Iron Man is back, but Tony corrects him by simply stating they call themselves the Iron Legion revealing he has multiple other suits backing him up. The Mandarin begins using his Ten Rings to start fighting all the suits while Hawkeye and Rhodey both help, Tony though refusing to hurt them. Multiple Iron Legion suits begin freeing President Ellis, Vice President Rodriguez, Yao Wu, and the other politicians. The suits then begin flying over to the Dragon of Heaven Fortress and start raiding the base until Fin Fang Foom is seen in the sky overheard savagely roasting all the Iron Man suits. Tony in Avengers Tower is in shock over witnessing an actual Dragon attack and becomes distracted, allowing the Mandarin and Hawkeye to destroy the remaining Iron Man suits at the Roxxon Oil Field. Mandarin tells Clint and Rhodey that the only suits left are the ones flying the prisoners to safety in Beijing. Fin Fang Foom then lands in the oil field with the Mandarin claiming this is the final lesson, using a Dragon to ravage the capital, ending the state tyranny and re-establishing freedom to the world. Mandarin, Hawkeye and Rhodey all mount on Foom as he flies to Beijing.
Back in the United States, Tony is informed by J.A.R.V.I.S. all drones fighting The Mandarin are offline. Tony claims he needs Iron Legion suits now to stop Mandarin and his pet Dragon. J.A.R.V.I.S. responds it'll take at least an hour for the drones to get to Asia. Tony says under his breathe it would be quicker if he was manning a suit himself. He then starts to have a panic attack at the very thought, but then remembers his new perspective on life and how he would try to be strong when the time came. Tony takes a breath and stands up, putting his arm out as the Mark 42 suit begins forming around his entire body and goes online, to which Iron Man says it feels good to be back. He starts walking onto the Tower balcony while Bethany follows and insists she wants to help, she is his bodyguard after all. Pepper points out that Bethany doesn't have any experience in a suit, she knows first hand how hard they are to casually use, but Tony says he has the perfect model made in case a situation like this ever come up. He tells J.A.R.V.I.S. to initiate the Training Wheels Protocol which reveals a special suit that Bethany can control. He says he made it in case he ever needed a rescue in the field from someone without experience, this complies. Bethany quickly gets into the Rescue suit and two fly off together.
The Mandarin begins terrorizing Beijing riding atop Fin Fang Foom. Rhodey leads the Ten Rings footmen to instill terror in the populace while Hawkeye uses his precise aim to shoot down the Iron Legion suits carrying the President, Yao Wu, and the other Politicians to safety. After shooting them down they all begin falling to their death until being rescued by Bethany Cabe. Rescue holds everyone telling them they're safe now as Iron Man confirms she's already getting the hang of it. He then flies right to the Mandarin tanking a full fire breath from Fin Fang Foom, suffering minimal burns, much to the Mandarin's surprise. Tony then says a face to face duel between them was long overdue. Mandarin responds that indeed it was, he'll finish what he started in Afghanistan. Iron Man then flies above Foom and knocks the Mandarin off his Dragon, bashing him through all of Beijing while Pepper along with Happy start controlling the Iron Legion to repel the Ten Rings soldiers. Hawkeye and Rhodey keeps attacking the Legion while Pepper and Happy desperately try to control them as best as they can without causing anymore casualties. Fin Fang Foom begins flying after the Mandarin and Iron Man tells Rescue to take care of the Dragon. She listens to Tony's command and begins shooting plasma blasts at Foom, but to no avail. Fin Fang Foom responds by trying to kill Bethany with his fire breath and massive strength, Rescue getting the idea to simply lead him away from the city.
The Mandarin gets flown by Iron Man into the side of the Great Wall but he manages to transmute his flesh into steel which weakens the blow. He then uses his light ring to force Iron Man into his grasp and flings him onto the wall, smashing his armor to near destruction. Tony weakened asks why he's doing this and the Mandarin says society abused him all of his life. Growing up a peasant farmer he spent whatever money he could to try and be something better, to make a difference like everyone said he could. But eventually he lost all his money and was persecuted for not paying taxes. Society holds him back, inhibited him and everyone else. He wants to free humanity from that bondage. Tony says he doesn't see a savior, he sees a man who recklessly spent everything to his name and blames everyone else for his own stupidity. Even pointing out he has to use that thing on his chest to brainwash everyone into blindly agreeing with him. Mandarin says despite his ignorant words he actually admires Stark. When his men captured him those years ago, he only saw a disposable profiteer from the American Imperialist machine. Not worth being converted with the Heart of Knowledge. But because he didn't take action, Iron Man was born, he won't make that mistake again. The Mandarin then puts his hand to Tony's Arc Reactor and touches it, but he doesn't become mind controlled. Mandarin tries again, insisting that this usually works.
Iron Man attacks him and the two begin fighting again, with Mandarin once again winning and hurting Iron Man badly. Iron Man yells that his new heart is protecting him. He then says he'll return the favor and yanks off Mandarin's necklace with his hand. The Mandarin then gasps in horror as his eyes begin to twitch and his mind becomes too unsophisticated to grasp the complications of controlling the Ten Rings without the Heart of Knowledge. Rhodey and all the footmen throughout the city lose their yellow eyes as does Hawkeye. Pepper and Happy via the Iron Legion ask if they're alright, while Hawkeye simply wonders what he's done. Fin Fang Foom outside in the mountains is on the cusp of destroying Rescue but once the yellow in his eyes disappear, he stops attacking and instead uses his giant hand to help her up. Back at the Great Wall, the Mandarin begins screaming in agony as he indirectly starts powering all the Rings and is about to blow. Hawkeye then latches over and kicks Mandarin off the wall, while he explodes in the middle of the forest. He finally says under his breath again, "I never miss".
Hawkeye helps Iron Man up, apologizing for everything, but Tony claims he made up for it in the end. Iron Man then gets contacted by Rescue who tells him she's with the Mandarin's Dragon, he needs to see this. Tony looks down at the Heart of Knowledge still in his hand, and with it flies to the mountains where Fin Fang Foom and Rescue are. Tony is prepared to use the Heart of Knowledge against him but Foom begs Tony to stand down, he only wishes to thank him for freeing his mind from the Mandarin's infernal grasp. Tony awkwardly tells him not to mention it, just doing his job. Foom says nonetheless he feels deep shame as his actions have indirectly exposed the existence of K'un-Lun and its Dragons to the world in a terrible light. Rescue points out he didn't expose anything, nobody knows anything about him or where he came from. Lots of crazy stuff has been happening recently, a Dragon sighting in China won't get people's attention the same way it once did. Iron Man tells him Bethany's right, they can keep the truth about all of this a secret between the three of them. Tony begins handing Foom the Heart of Knowledge back but the Dragon insists he should keep it for himself, use it for the pursuit of wisdom as it was intended. Let its light of knowledge illuminate the future of humanity. Iron Man and Rescue wish him well as Fin Fang Foom gracefully flies into the sky through clouded gates of K'un-Lun out of sight.
Days later in the United States on New Year's Eve, all the heroes are in Avengers Tower celebrating. Happy walks over to Bethany and tells her he's not one for formalities, or really anything nice to say about anyone, but he feels really happy she's Tony's bodyguard now. He's in good hands being protected by Rescue, Bethany smiles and thanks Happy for giving her his blessings at last. Tony is explaining to Rhodey that the "Dragon" seen in Beijing was a Makulan from the planet kakaranathara. Their spaceship crashed into China thousands of years ago and the Mandarin stole their technology, it's where his Ten Rings came from. Rhodey asks what about all that stuff the Mandarin said about K'un-Lun, Stark responds it was just part of some false persona he was trying to convey to his followers. Rhodey is surprised to hear that and eventually walks off, Hawkeye claiming to Stark that the military and the media might believe that crazy story he concocted, but S.H.I.E.L.D. knows that was a real Dragon. Tony puts his hands in the air and sarcastically claims "you got me". Clint insists they won't tell if he thinks it's better to keep all of that a secret. Just like they won't say anything about him keeping the Heart of Knowledge for himself. Tony insists he's learned more from it than he has eight years at MIT. Clint insists that it's the final nail in the coffin, a trophy and a reminder that he might've lost some battles, but won the war. After that everyone begins insisting that Tony give a speech which he agrees to do. Discussing his struggles with alcohol, PTSD, and even greed. Through all those lessons he's learned that you create your own enemies. That you have to be grounded, and strong to be a truly fulfilled man in this brave new world. Tony then holds up the Heart of Knowledge and says things like this have no affect on him anymore, everyone begins clapping afterwards.
Later, he walks over to the Avengers Tower balcony and looks out at the city. Pepper follows him and asks when she should expect him to start working on Mark 43, but Tony says not for a long time. Surprised, Pepper asks what that's about and he says the speech in there was all true. She was right about the suits being a distraction, he has to learn he can't control everything and make peace with what he can. It's the only way for him to really move on. From everything that's been plaguing his life over these last couple years, he's so exhilarated to have learned it now and gets to spend every second he has left with her. Pepper claims she feels the same way and kisses him. Tony still looking into the distance proudly says, "I'm not a legion, I'm not a fortune teller, I'm just me. I am Iron Man."
First End Credits
Teasing Avengers: The Ultron Imperative
Tony in the Avengers Tower lab tells J.A.R.V.I.S. to open up space in his schedule for a new project. He reminds Tony that he did tell Pepper he wouldn't be working on more suits for the foreseeable future. But Tony says it's not another addition to the Iron Legion. That just because he's a man, doesn't mean his work is done, It just means something better has to come along to stop The Mandarins and Lokis of the world. J.A.R.V.I.S. asks what he wishes to do and Tony replies back the Ultron Imperative.
Second End Credits
Teasing Captain America: The Winter Soldier
A group of Ten Rings terrorists are going through the rubble of the Dragon of Heaven Fortress. They talk about trying to find any scrap of technology they could use for themselves. To restart the Ten Rings and succeed The Mandarin. They'll do it better this time, and finally kill Iron Man. But before anything else could be said the terrorists start hearing footsteps. After asking if anyone's there a metallic arm with a red star on it flies over to them and casually snaps their necks shortly after flying somewhere else off screen.
- Each Iron Man movie appears to largely deal with Tony trying to make peace with a certain period in time. The first movie focused on changing his ways in the present, while the second was about learning to deal with and accept what his father did in the past, and the third finished the pattern by having Tony finally come to terms he can't control the future.
- The place Tony and his team stay after his Malibu home is destroyed is Avengers Tower. Which was ironically called Stark Tower before being changed at the end of The Avengers.
- In the comics, each suit in the Iron Legion is controlled by a different individual person instead of just one using an advanced A.I. system.
- The Ten Rings terrorists, who are the main antagonists of the movie, appeared already in Iron Man. Being that Iron Man was the first Marvel Cinematic Universe movie, this fact makes the Ten Rings the first ever antagonists to appear in the MCU.
- Fin Fang Foom comes from the city of K'un-Lun which is in the comics is heavily connected to the mythology of the character Iron Fist as well as Chinese Mythology.
- In the comics, Pepper Potts donned the Rescue armor, instead of Bethany Cabe who instead was referred to as Iron Woman years earlier. Jon Favreau mentioned this change occurred as making Pepper become a superhero after all this time felt contrived. But that he did reference her status in the comics by having her wear the suit temporarily while the Ten Rings attacked the Malibu mansion.
- Hawkeye being brainwashed by the Heart of Knowledge and working with the Ten Rings is a reference to him originally being a villain when he first met Iron Man.
- Dragon of Heaven, the name of Mandarin's fortress in the Valley of Spirits, in the comics is instead the name of his gigantic flying helicarrier style base. In the MCU, the fortress is likely named after Fin Fang Foom and his origins in the Seven Heavenly Cities.
- Tony Stark returning to alcohol and becoming a homeless vagabond while helping a woman give birth is inspired directly from the comic story arc where Obadiah Stane pressured Tony into a similar state.
- In the comic, the Heart of Knowledge is called the Heart of Darkness which offers anyone who wields it a variety of powers. None of them however have ever been mind control abilities.
- Fin Fang Foom in the comics has no connection to K'un-Lun and is instead part of an alien species called Makulans. Foom's comic history was actually used verbatim during the film as Tony Stark's made up story that he told Rhodey and the Media to conceal Foom's true identity and origins.
- While telling J.A.R.V.I.S. to start up the House Party Protocol there is a suit that looks nearly identical to the Extremis Armor from the comics.
- The Ultron Imperative is a reference to the notorious super villain Ultron. Who had been confirmed by the time of Iron Man 3's release to be the main villain for The Avengers inevitable sequel.
- The metal arm which slays the final Ten Rings terrorists resembles the appendage of a super villain called The Winter Soldier. All the way down to the red star on the shoulder.