The Long Dark Tea Time of Tony Stark’s Soul
Lainey is already panicking about Iron Man 3, convinced from the new trailer that Pepper Potts will die and Tony Stark will be SO SAD and that this will be a super depressing superhero movie.
This is the reason I’ve been excited for Extremis since it was confirmed at Comic Con that yes, in the third installment of Iron Man, the movies would be taking on Tony Stark’s darkest days. It’s an assault on all fronts. Stark Industries, the suits, SHIELD, Pepper? Gone. Not only does he lose everything, but his own tech turns against him. Extremis is the tearing down of not only Tony Stark, but Iron Man. It’s some dark sh*t.
Tony Stark, post The Avengers, is not fist-pumping and puffing out his chest. Instead he’s plagued by nightmares, dealing with a new layer on his PTSD. And we see, right away in the trailer, the new Extremis suit. Extremis allows Tony to control the suit directly, without the third-party intervention of computers and machines. The parts respond to him, going on and coming off without any aid (look at it scattered around his bedroom), but we also see the more independent nature of the suit. It’s linked directly to Tony’s brain. He doesn’t necessarily need to be in it for the suit to walk around and do stuff.
The question that drove the Extremis comics—my favorite Marvel storyline—was, Does the man make the suit, or the suit make the man? For much of the story, Tony struggles to control his own tech. He can’t quite trust Extremis, both what it does to the suit and what it does to him (it has a, shall we say, negative impact on his personality). Check out the suit attacking Pepper—this is why I’m stoked to see this on film. Extremis isn’t really “technology run amok”, like Terminator, it’s an embodiment of all the negative aspects of Tony Stark. He’s really fighting himself, and I cannot wait to see this as played out by Robert Downey, Jr.
As for Lainey’s concern re: Pepper, we see a little bit of what might be Pepper being tortured, or held captive, and certainly I think things will get pretty bad on that front. But I don’t think she’ll die (Happy Hogan, on the other hand…). If anything, I think we might be seeing Pepper suit up in the Rescue armor Tony makes for her. Can you imagine how insufferable GOOP will be if she isn’t just The Girlfriend, but becomes a proper superhero? (Lainey: Yes but why is Guy Pearce hitting on Pepper? Get away from Pepper, Guy Pearce!!!)
The armor I’m really into, though, is the Patriot armor designed for Rhodey’s War Machine. It looks exactly like Captain America’s uniform from The Avengers, and when the War Machine ends up with someone else (James Badge Dale’s bad guy, Eric Savin), and becomes the Iron Patriot, Iron Man is going to pummel what amounts to a Captain America effigy. I really hope this comes up later somewhere in the franchise, perhaps The Avengers 2? Given the surprisingly good chemistry between RDJ and Chris Evans, there’s some comedic value to be mined.
Iron Man 3 is, at times, going to be tough to watch. The Mandarin, the Big Bad played by Ben Kingsley, is Tony Stark’s Moriarty. He’s bad news all the way around and he f*cks Stark’s sh*t up but good. We love Tony Stark and it’s hard to watch him suffer, but I have a feeling Iron Man 3 is going to be about 110 minutes of serious suffering (before 30 minutes of epic ass-kicking). The Tony Stark that emerges from that crucible is pretty amazing. We’ll never want to say goodbye to him.