Road to Infinity War: IRON MAN 3 Retrospective

Welcome to the Road to AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR. This is my own little retrospective of each of Marvel Studios' films every week of 2018 and by the time I am done looking back at all of the MCU movies, Infinity War will be releasing in theaters in the U.S. on May 4. I've already talked about IRON MAN, THE INCREDIBLE HULK, IRON MAN 2, THOR, CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER, and THE AVENGERS to conclude Phase 1.

Up next is the beginning of Phase 2 with IRON MAN 3...

The first film out of the gate in the aftermath of THE AVENGERS was without the helmer of its first two franchise films, Jon Favreau. Instead, Marvel Studios went with a screenplay by Drew Pearce and Shane Black focusing on the Extremis storyline from the comics, with Black in the director's chair. Marvel fans everywhere were still on such a high that the anticipation for IRON MAN 3 was beyond anything seen for IRON MAN and IRON MAN 2. Especially since the studio announced that actor Ben Kingsley would be portraying the role of iconic Iron Man villain the Mandarin.

Black, who is known for his past film work being somehow based during the winter holiday season, once again followed suit with the Iron Man threequel. He also wanted a different take on the Iron Man by not having Tony Stark face-off against another man in an iron suit as seen in both of the previous films. Black described IRON MAN 3 as being more of a Tom Clancy-like thriller novel in movie form and he also wanted to strip Stark of his own Iron Man suit for a portion of the film. All this as well as having him face his own trauma in the after effects of his sacrifice to save Manhattan from a Nuke at the end of THE AVENGERS. But most importantly was something fans were not ready for at all and that was Pearce and Black's "Mandarin Twist."

Fans wanted the Mandarin but instead they got fleeced and many were angry with this twist. Especially since the Mandarin was not the true villain and actor Guy Pearce was the main antagonist. Through all the anger and hate from a section of the fanbase, one of the best Marvel Studios performances ever was overshadowed as Kingsley literally played two different roles as a false Mandarin and as a down-on-his-luck actor with addiction problems as Trevor Slattery. Kingsley stole every scene he was in regardless of anyone's feelings toward the "Mandarin Twist" and it was by far one of the gutsiest calls by studio head Kevin Feige to give the okay on it in the film's script.

Still riding high on Marvel Studios' previous blockbuster, THE AVENGERS, IRON MAN 3 opened on May 3, 2015 with $174 million in the domestic box office. To this very day this is still the studios' fourth biggest domestic opening weekend behind only THE AVENGERS ($207M), AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON ($191M), and CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR ($179M). IRON MAN 3 brought in over $409 million, domestically, still making it the studios' third highest grossing domestic release only behind THE AVENGERS ($623M) and AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON ($459M).

Overseas, IRON MAN 3 was an even bigger hit as it took in over $805 million in International markets.

Worldwide, IRON MAN 3 was Marvel Studios' second $1 billion box office earner in a row and took in a total of $1.2 billion. Only THE AVENGERS ($1.5B) and AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON ($1.4B) stand above it.

Once released in theaters, IRON MAN 3 created a ton of fan debate about its twist on the Mandarin character. Many hardcore Marvel Comics readers drew a hard line in the sand with their distaste of the twist and their perceived misuse of the villainous character. Many other fans thought the twist was brilliant and brilliantly hidden from the public eye, since it was never leaked and only revealed once you were in your theater seat.

In the end, Marvel Studios brought IRON MAN 3 writer Drew Pearce back to write up and direct a One-Shot short film titled, ALL HAIL THE KING, with Kingsley reprising his role as Trevor Slattery. The short film was included on the Blu Ray release of THOR: THE DARK WORLD nearly nine months after IRON MAN 3 was in theaters.

At the conclusion of this short film, it was retconned that the "real Mandarin" still exists in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and he is very unhappy how Trevor was parading around using his name. The epilogue to IRON MAN 3 still fits the narrative, but it was done more so as fan service to those fans who were so distraught (a.k.a. butthurt) at the movie's shocking twist in the first place. Many other fans saw this as the studio diluting such a terrific and surprising twist with the One-Shot.

Written by Daniel Wolf, Founder & Publisher

Previous Road to Infinity War Posts:
Road to Infinity War: THE AVENGERS Retrospective