IRON MAN 3: What Went Wrong? (SPOILER WARNING!!!)

IRON MAN 3: What Went Wrong? <font color="red"><b>(SPOILER WARNING!!!)</b></font>

Iron Man 3 has exploded into cinemas the world over. Despite its critical and commercial success many of its story elements aren't sitting well with fans. Find out why here.

Feel free to read the article below or click on the short embedded YouTube video for a comprehensive look at the what went wrong with Iron Man 3.

Allow me to preface this article by saying, on the whole, there is a lot to like about Iron Man 3 It’s by no stretch a bad film, it’s got some terrific action sequences, fantastic cast performances all round, an initially intriguing premise and some genuinely funny moments. All that aside Iron Man 3 does have its missteps that hold this movie back from being truly classic comic book movie. I’m aware that it is easy to stand back and criticise a project that a lot of creative input and genuine talent went into, and perhaps it would be more constructive to offer ways in which to improve the franchise. However, I’ll save that for another day. This is what perhaps is not sitting right with people about Iron Man 3.


Iron Man: Extremis is a fantastic comic book story arc that examines what makes Tony Stark the man he is and has him pitted against a Neo Nazi psychopath injected with a powerful serum. It enables him to have strength and speed beyond that of all Tony’s suits, to the point where he can easily obliterate any incarnation of Ironman. Tony Stark realises his lost the arms race and must take drastic actions in order to stop this man killing his way across the country. Iron Man 3 only borrows elements from this story line and slaps them together haphazardly. What’s great about the comic is that its pits Tony against a villain unlike he’s faced in the past. This is no technological genius, or rival businessman, or guy…who is a dragon. He’s simply a crazy person who can easily outmatch Ironman. Its two very different men, pitted against each other.
Iron Man 3 has the extremis formula given to dozen, possibly hundreds of people, each with identical abilities. Aldrich Killian has the same abilities as each of his minions, which is a dull and uninspiring use of a terrific plot point. Without elaborating further, go grab yourself a copy of Iron Man Extremis if you haven’t already, and you can see for yourself the story telling opportunities missed.


Jesus where do I start. Probably the most common complaint concerning this film was the perceived handling or mishandling of The Mandarin. It’s safe to assume no-one saw the twist coming that Ben Kingsley is merely a goofy actor working for Guy Pearce’s Aldrich Killian. But just because a twist can’t be predicted though doesn’t make it a satisfying one. It could be said that if no one was aware of the comic book history of the Mandarin then it works, and sure that’s most likely true. But the Mandarin does have a complicated and lengthy history connected with Tony Stark, stretching all the way back to 1964 and the movie doesn’t do the character justice. Having the reveal that Ben Kingsley is an actor and just having Guy Pearce at the end saying, IT IS TRULY I WHO IS THE MANDARIN, is not enough. His character shares virtually nothing in common with whom he is based on, not his race, his abilities, his facial hair, none of it. In fact Aldrich Killian is an entirely different character altogether pulled from Extremis. A character who sells the Extremis formula at the beginning of the narrative then immediately kills himself.


The Airforce one rescue is the only scene is Iron Man 3 where Tony Stark feels truly like Iron Man. Every other action sequence is him battling in fragments of his armour or operating with a malfunctioning suit. Not necessarily a bad thing, all the action sequences on display here are pretty great. But even in the final confrontation he’s never in a suit for more than a few seconds before it’s damaged and he’s forced to scuttle for another one like frightened hermit crab. On the topic of his suits, the way they were so easily dispatched made for an unsatisfying and weak use of his armoury. It was like they were tissue paper the way they were torn apart by the T-1000 style army and Killian himself. And getting back to that air rescue I mentioned earlier and how it’s the only point where he feels like Iron Man, it turns out, he’s not even in the suit!


Iron Man 3 does a great job setting up Tony Stark at the beginning of the movie as a complete mental wreck. He’s not sleeping, living in a constant state of paranoia and resolving to always have a suit on hand. Coupled with this is an identity crisis that he feels not so super at all without his suits. But then, after multiple panic attacks, the end of the movie roles around, Gwyneth Paltrow kicks an explosive at Killian, or something, I don’t remember, but she probably kills him then Tony says something like “well, we did it, now I’m going to explode all my suits.” And he does thus. That had me scratching my head for two reasons, when was it that he mentally cured himself? He didn’t appear to have that moment of mentally clarity where he decided he didn’t need them anymore, so he just what, got better? Plus, mere second ago he witnessed his arch nemesis survive an exploding Iron Man suit encasing his body. There is the possibility that he could have survived a second explosion. No movie character should ever turn their back on a villain’s corpse. Michael Myers doesn’t keep coming back because someone is keeping a close eye on him. And neither is Mike Myers. He’s not really relevant to this piece, I just wanted to include both Michael Myers.


So as mentioned, there are problems with Tony’s sudden and seemingly magic fix to his anxiety problems. But I also take issue with the way the story resolves itself. Villain’s dead, that’s great, that second explosion worked despite my reservations, then Happy’s out of his coma, all well and good. Not to mention Tony cures Pepper of her Extremis virus totally nonchalantly, making the passing comment that “yeah, I can probably fix that,” and true to his word, he totally does. Everything just kind of resets, nobody really learns anything, except Tony learns that he is still Iron Man without the suit, a concluding sentiment that I actually take issue with.

Tony Stark in an Iron Man suit can battle Thor. Tony Stark without an Iron Man suit is splattered by Thor. I can see that the filmmakers recognised that this could be the final Robert Downey Jr Iron Man, so they wanted to wipe the slate clean. But having everything go back to the way it was is not a satisfying conclusion. I liken it to the end of The Dark Knight Rises, which on the whole I did enjoy, but what, Bruce Wayne is just not going to be Batman now? That’s who he really is. And John Blake is just going to look after the city? Is that it? Let me tell you something, if that movie had have run for another ten minutes it would have showed John Blake, in a Bat costume, leaping off a building, not being able to operate that glide cape and dying.


I was of the understanding that the Marvel Post Credit scenes were in place to tease the introduction of a new character or film. This scene did neither. Just having Bruce Banner chat with Tony Stark is not enough. Why couldn’t we have a look at Thor: The Dark World, or Captain America: The Winter Soldier, or Ant-Man, or Guardians of the Galaxy or The Avengers 2. Don’t get me wrong, you can have your amusing scene, just include two, that can work. The Avengers did it and it worked great. That’s it. Now I’m off to watch Iron Man part two in order to appreciate part three more.

At the end of the day these are all minor complaints from a genuinely entertaining comic book film. That said, what was it you liked and what didn’t you like about Iron man 3? Leave a comment below, via twitter @MrSundayMovies or visit my YouTube channel linked below for comprehensive reviews, movie news and my ongoing series Making Movie Franchise Not Terrible.

Marvel Studios’ Iron Man 3 pits brash-but-brilliant industrialist Tony Stark/Iron Man against an enemy whose reach knows no bounds. When Stark finds his personal world destroyed at his enemy’s hands, he embarks on a harrowing quest to find those responsible. This journey, at every turn, will test his mettle. With his back against the wall, Stark is left to survive by his own devices, relying on his ingenuity and instincts to protect those closest to him. As he fights his way back, Stark discovers the answer to the question that has secretly haunted him: does the man make the suit or does the suit make the man?


Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark/Iron Man
Ben Kingsley as The Mandarin
Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper Potts
Don Cheadle as Rhodey/War Machine
Guy Pearce as Aldrich Killian
Rebecca Hall as Dr. Maya Hansen
Ashley Hamilton as Jack Taggert
James Badge Dale as Eric Savin
Jon Favreau as Happy Hogan

RELEASE DATE: April 25th, 2013 (UK). May 3rd, 2013 (US).

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Filed Under "Iron Man" 5/2/2013 Source:
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Orphix - 5/2/2013, 2:06 AM
I sense when you pick "facial hair" as one of the reasons Killian is NOTHING like the Mandarin you're kind of struggling!!

I mean that was the third thing you came up with!
Orphix - 5/2/2013, 2:14 AM
In defense of the post credit scene (which I agree was lacklustre) I think when it was written and filmed not everything was set in stone for the future.

I got the feeling that they couldn't progress the bigger MCU or do some new character reveal because casting/writing/story outline issues.

They might have been avoiding a Stark/Ross scene type issue which had to be retconned, essentially, in the One-Shot The Consultant.
tonytony - 5/2/2013, 2:52 AM
You raise some valid points. But the biggest issue for me was how the mandarin was basically jack sparrow. Mandarin got butchered in that respect i felt cheated as i had gone to the cinema to watch him.
Tony's issues with panic attacks and machines doing their own thing was not really resolved either. If you can get past those issues you wil have a good time.
Orphix - 5/2/2013, 3:54 AM

How do you equate Tony with Jack? I don't see the connection but would be interested in hearing what it is.

As for IM3 the only real issue I had with it was...

*SPOILER ALERT* when Pepper 'died' in the fall and Tony seemed relatively uneffected by it. He even threw out a couple of quips before it was clear she had survived!!?! *END SPOILER ALERT*

Has an aside I wonder if that moment was a foreshadowing of what happens in CA:TWS. Two characters plunging to their 'deaths' only to survive.
marvel72 - 5/2/2013, 4:32 AM
i thought ben kingsley was fine as the mandarin up until the big reveal,where it became a wasted opportunity,funny but a waste of a classic iron man foe.

i hope marvel puts this right in the future.

the only other faults i had with the movie were.

-pepper going all extremis thank f*ck she was cured.
-killian saying that line "i am the mandarin".
-not enough iron man & iron patriot action.
-that blue song at the new year party could of pick something better.
-some of the scenes with the kid but there was only a few.
-maybe a few less jokes would of helped,especially the slapstick ones.
-& some of the dialogue could of been better.

apart from that i really enjoyed the movie 4/5.
Happy11 - 5/2/2013, 5:08 AM
Iron man 3 is the biggest disappointment of the year so far and I can't believe I'm going to say this but I bet the new Star Trek movie will be a whole lot better.
Jollem - 5/2/2013, 5:25 AM
it was a blade/spider-man 3. soooo much hype and marketing
jessepostal - 5/2/2013, 5:33 AM
I always thought of the mandarin as a lame character, I don't even think most people ever even heard of him until the movie started getting momentum. Everyone's saying that marvel completely shit on the character but which mandarin? There are a few different takes on the mandarin and none were the same. Just look at this as another incarnation. He was a robot in one book, Chinese warlord in another, a fake created by Tony Stark in another, and of course the mystical mandarin that no one really cared about until this movie was made. Purists, just enjoy the movie!
tonytony - 5/2/2013, 7:27 AM
@orphix cos they are both drunk english characters lol.
Brainiac13 - 5/2/2013, 9:24 AM

Ok I agree but 4/5? May b 2/5 as its a great character.
Brainiac13 - 5/2/2013, 9:24 AM
RT rating is going down
Brainiac13 - 5/2/2013, 9:25 AM

I guess he is Dizzy
sintzu - 5/2/2013, 9:43 AM

and the movie hasen't even come out in the u.s yet so i'm gussing it will be down to 70-75 by the time all the critics review it if not less and it's a shame to see both sequles go down hill like this cause iron man 1 was such an amzing movie and paved the way for an epic iron man series

Brainiac13 - 5/2/2013, 10:09 AM

Yes its a Shame for this movie...I had high hopes....but its a
Shane Now!!!
Brainiac13 - 5/2/2013, 10:10 AM
MOS will not disappoint...unless Zod becomes a pussy like Trevor!!
Brainiac13 - 5/2/2013, 10:11 AM
I'm waiting for Ror to review this.
Tempo - 5/2/2013, 10:44 AM
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FireKnightRises - 5/2/2013, 11:09 AM
I think Mandarin is no longer worthy to be IM greatest enemy, just look what they did to him in the movie.
iam8bit - 5/2/2013, 11:42 AM
I very much agree with your video review, but I'll add one thing: THE KID.

Aside from the fact that no one likes a smartass kid in an action movie, he had too much screen time, only to be tossed aside in an instant.

And yeah, the Mandarin reveal and the fact that the absolute best scene in the movie (the airplane rescue) was made by an empty Iron Man suit made me a bit mad.

I did enjoy the movie, but it definitely has its issues.
UrbanKnight - 5/2/2013, 11:47 AM
That title. It always sounds trollish.
marvel72 - 5/2/2013, 11:52 AM
@ Brainiac3000

ror & joshw both gave the movie 4/5
MrReese - 5/2/2013, 11:52 AM
How bout how Thor can't scratch IM in the Avengers but Extremis soldiers r easily tearing them 2 shit.

Plus the waste of an actor/villain in that shit twist

w.e bring on TTDW!!
thedangle1 - 5/2/2013, 11:57 AM
I thought the article hit the nail on the head with this garbage movie. The trailers and tv spots portrayed Mandarin as pure evil and very sinister looking. I thought Kingsly was a great choice and great actor to play him. I thought the change from the character being chinese to a modern day terrorist was OK, but when I saw the twist my jaw dropped. I did have high hopes for this movie. It was EXACTLY like spiderman 3...when I saw the trailer and saw Venom I was excited and pumped...then I watched it entirely. I mean Iron Man 3 is a little better, but not by much. Both movies became comedies more than dramas telling good stories. Yes, IM3 had some excellent action scenes, but those don't make for a good movie with a lack-luster story and ridiculous plot twists like the mandarin. And the little side-kick kid?? Oh please!! What was the purpose of this kid? Was he necessary? Was he a character in the comics? It was a useless waste of a character that had WAY too much screen time. Reminded me of the annoying kid in Indiana Jones and Temple of Doom. And here, I thought Iron Man 2 was bad and hoped IM3 would be better...boy was I wrong! This could've been one of the best (if not) the best CBM trilogy ever made, besides Nolan's Batman trilogy, but instead became only just the first movie being a pure classic. I hope they do correct the mandarin mistake in the future and maybe have somewhere in China the REAL Mandarin watching all this unfold on TV, with Kingsly's actor-character being arrested for using his name as a joke, and then finally revealing himself to the world and causing havoc. But, for now, we're stuck with this piece of shit movie we all have to deal with.
PersonaPostOvo - 5/2/2013, 12:17 PM
Will someone please answer this.

Why the need to hype up the character of The Mandarin for a twist? Why was it deemed necessary? Why the need for hype if a lot of people think Mandarin is not that great and believe the twist is justified?
zeonsdemon - 5/2/2013, 12:25 PM
so mandarin is essentially bane from tdkr?
UltimaRex - 5/2/2013, 12:25 PM
I like IM3 but I have to wonder how it'll impact the respect given to characters in the future...
Brainiac13 - 5/2/2013, 12:28 PM

Did they?

But I like to hear what they say about the twist. Still is not a 4/5 but can settle with a 6/10
Owley - 5/2/2013, 4:47 PM
Your argument is invalid, once you write "IRONMAN".
113 - 5/2/2013, 5:03 PM
Iron Man 3 was pretty bad. Very unsatisfying film. Better than Iron Man 2 though.
AlexanderLykins - 5/2/2013, 5:06 PM
The fans of the comics can hate it all they want. Money is what defines success and this movie will make plenty of it. I don't enjoy any of the glaring problems the movie had as much as the next fanboy but it doesn't matter. Marvel Studios and Kevin Feige will show us how much we really mean to the success of these films, which is not much.
JoeMomma29 - 5/2/2013, 5:06 PM
Yeah RT is not too good on this but I will reserve my full judgment call tomorrow when I watch it.
skidz - 5/2/2013, 5:12 PM
The Mandarin's always been an inconstant character. Really, how can 'purists' complain about him when there isn't a single iconic interpretation out there to draw from? About the only truly consistent thing about him through the comics is his Chinese background and Marvel had to throw that out to avoid a political standoff with China. Extremis, The Armor Wars and Demon in a Bottle are about the only iconic storylines worth drawing from and none of them have a well known villain. Iron Man is proof that you don't NEED a rogues gallery to be a great character.
Ryden - 5/2/2013, 5:16 PM
Why are people getting pissed at this reviewer? He said that he liked the film but was just pointing out and elaborating on some of his gripes. In fact I agree with him pretty much 100%, with the only exception being the difference in Aldrich Killian wasn't a big deal.

The Mandarin twist was crap. That's just a fact. I really, really enjoyed IM3 but the moment Ben Kingsley started acting all goofy and we realised he was an actor my heat sank, and it definitely put a damper on the rest of the film for me.

My brain was just thinking "Why would Feige and the rest of Marvel allow this, they surely would realise that fans will get pissed off?!" I understand Shane Black thinking it's interesting but Marvel execs should have shot that idea down pronto, knowing that there was a massive potential for fan backlash.

Or, if they HAD to put it into the film then it would have been cool for the after credit scene to allude that either A. The REAL Mandarin is out there somewhere and we still haven't met him yet. Or more interestingly B. Ben Kingsley in the jail smirking at the camera, indicating he was the Mandarin all along and Killian was such a dedicated follower that he died and tried to cover for him, as opposed to the opposite being the case.

THAT would have been cool.

Also hated the fact that Tony got rid of the shrapnel, does that mean no more arc reactor? That's a huge part of Tony's character gone now.

But aside from all of that, I really did like the film. Better than IM2, not as good as the original.
Maximus101 - 5/2/2013, 5:21 PM
Like I said before, man of steel will be the best cbm of this year. While im3 was awesome it still is not better than the first.
marvel72 - 5/2/2013, 5:25 PM
@ brainiac3000

about the twist.....

ror said "A perfect example is the soon-to-be-endlessly-debated twist involving one of the main characters. It takes balls no doubt, but it didn't work for me in terms of the overall story."

johw said "It’s difficult to talk too much about Sir Ben Kingsley’s Mandarin without spoiling the movie, but you’re either going to love or hate what he does here. It comes as a big surprise and worked for's impossible to say whether everyone will feel that way though!"

why don't you go to the reviews section & read them in full,they're both on the second page.

Ryden - 5/2/2013, 5:26 PM
Actually one more point. To the people getting a dig at the Mandarin from the comics, WHY?

I wouldn't really refer to him as an "inconsistent character". Sure there have been quite a few interpretations but all of them pretty similar. The only one that stands out as being really different was the mystical God version from that crappy Iron Man animated movie.

Mandarin has always been (first and foremost - CHINESE) secondly he's a bit of a tyrant, he represents everything Tony hates, which is opression. Tony was a victim of imprisoment and in a way, slavery. He was forced at gun-point to work for a corrupt, evil organisation. The Mandarin's all about doing just that, makes their conflict that bit more interesting, because it's like Tony's liberating himself from that cave all over again.

Which would have been especially cool in the movie considering he is head of the 10 Rings and they're who imprisoned Tony in the first place. That wasn't touched upon at all in the film, it really should have been highlighted. In fact the Extremis storyline was pointless, could have saved that for IM4 and let Mandarin take centre stage.

I'm not even pissed so much with their approach to Mandarin, in fact it was pretty cool and unique..if they had continued with that and forgot the twist all together it probably would have been my favourite film. I could even forgive the gripe at the end with the lack of the arch reactor.

[frick] it, Marvel should be asking me to their script meetings man!
StarlordX - 5/2/2013, 5:30 PM
This points are weak. I loved That Movie
SHHH - 5/2/2013, 5:31 PM
iron man 3 blew.....
AlexanderLykins - 5/2/2013, 5:42 PM
If only Kevin Feige read some of these comments. Maybe we should have some input on what goes on in these darn movies. I wonder if Feige actually read the comics? You reading this Feige? I'm calling you out! Just like Tony did the "Mandarin"! My username is AlexanderLykins and I'm not afraid of you! There's no politics here it's just good old fashioned revenge. It's just you and me! I will not however give you my home address.

Kryptoniano - 5/2/2013, 5:42 PM
The same dissapointment that the once experienced with Spider-Man 3... IM3 results an excitement for kids, and that´s all. I expected much more. Nocomments on "Shame" Black´s work.
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