I'm sure by now that you have all seen the first trailer for Iron Man 3. If you haven't you can check it out here. I'll wait.
Watched it? Good. Looks pretty cool, and the geek in me is going a little insane. Not only because of the newest Marvel masterpiece to grace my eyeholes, but because of all the beautiful comic imagery that sticks out from every scene of the trailer. Of course, films from the Marvel Cinematic Universe are always full of Easter eggs, poses, one-liners and more that come straight from the comics. It’s nothing new, and has been done in super hero movies for a long, long time. But after watching the IM3 trailer about 8 more times it was clear there was a ton of history being explored in this one snippet that I couldn’t just ignore.
While I’m sure some of the new armors and characters will be vastly different from their comic counterparts, it’s always interesting to see where they came from. So let’s take a look at the comic history that laid the groundwork for Iron Man 3.
The Mandarin (Tales of Suspense # 50)
The Mandarin first appeared in Tales of Suspense #50 in 1964 as the newest villain to tackle the armored Avenger Iron Man. He started off as a hokey stereotypical madman with an intense power set and eventually evolved into Iron Man’s greatest enemy. Originally billed as a superhuman martial artist, it was soon revealed that the Mandarin was great scientist who had spent years studying alien technology. He also derived his greatest power from an alien races technology, but we’ll talk more about that shortly. In the trailer he is labelled a terrorist, which is not far from his comic book counterpart.
He is Tony’s opposite number in almost every way. The western industrialist vs. the eastern traditionalist, scientist vs. scientist, hero vs. villain, good vs. evil. Iron Man and Mandarin are Yin and Yang, and Mandarin has constantly made it his goal to destroy Iron Man and Tony Stark. To accomplish this he has a very specific power that I never thought would be anything more than an Easter Egg in the Iron Man film world. At least until I saw this trailer, which offered a quick glimpse at Mandarin’s weapon of choice.
The Ten Rings
If the Ten Rings sounds familiar, it may be that in the first Iron Man movie the terrorist cell that kidnaps Tony Stark calls itself the Ten Rings. I always assumed that was a geek nod to the fans and would never amount to much, considering the realistic feel of the movies. Alien powered techno-mystic never seemed to fit the profile Marvel Studios was trying to create. It remains to be seen if the Mandarin’s Ten Rings of Power are anything but a symbol in the movie, but in the comics each ring had a unique ability that often plagued Iron Man over the years. They are as follows:
- Ice Blast: Creates an ice blast. That one is pretty self-explanatory.
- Electro Blast: I think you can figure out that one. If not see above.
- Flame Blast: This one makes rainbows. No, no it doesn’t.
- Mento-Intensifier: Incredibly named for pretty much a mind control ring. Can also create illusions.
- White Light: Emits various forms of electromagnetic energy. Generally not white.
- Black Light: Creates an area of absolute blackness that absorbs all light. Also called Darkforce.
- Disintegration Beam: Destroys the bonds between molecules. But only once every twenty minutes.
- Vortex Beam: Spins air. Tornado style.
- Impact Beam: Shoots a beam that moves stuff around into other stuff.
- Matter Rearranger: Rearranges Matter.
Mandarin doesn’t always wear jewellery, but when he does, he wears Ten Rings of Power.
Remote Controlled Armor (Iron Man #290)
While it isn’t necessarily referred to in the trailer, it’s easy to spot Stark’s remote controlled armor setup. First appearing in Iron Man #290, the armor was created so Tony Stark could pilot the Iron Man suit while he was recovering from being dead. Seriously. Stark was recovering from some neurological disease that forced him to regrow an enitrely new nervous system, and kept him off of his feet for a short period of time. Any single other person on the planet would have just died, but Stark managed to regrow his nervous system. Comics.
Also known as the Neuromimetic Telepresence Unit (NTU), the suit was less armor and more highly sophisticated RC robot. Controlled by Stark using his headset, the suit was most well known for constantly being controlled by other forces and pretty much remaining a constant pain in Stark`s side for a long time after it was created. Soon Tony fully healed and created his 378th model of armor. The NTU was short lived in the comics, but looks to be an important part of Tony`s new armor in IM3.
Which brings us too…
Extremis Armor (The Invincible Iron Man #1)
We know that IM3 seems to be drawing heavily from the Extremis storyline, with characters like Dr. Aldrich Killian and Maya Hansen being key members of the film. Both characters originated in Warren Ellis’ The Invincible Iron Man #1 which also introduced us to a brand new armor. Stark injects himself with a modified Extremis virus that greatly amps up his armor while connecting him to every satellite and computer system on the planet. It also streamlines and speeds up his armor, which he uses to battle the similarly Extremis powered Mallen.
While IM3 will probably simplify the entire method and reasoning behind Tony`s new armor by using an easier explained nanotechnology, it is already clear that the new movie armor will be emulating some key components of the Extremis armor. The quick assemble function for one, which shows the various pieces of the armor flying across the room to form individually on Tony Stark. The sleek new look also takes the golden undersuit Tony wore in the comics and blends it with the armor itself, giving us the new gold feature color, overtaking the crimson. Time will tell if any other Extremis features make it into the film, but it certainly is a great piece of the Iron Man mythology making its way to the cinematic universe. Unlike this next armor…
Iron Patriot (Dark Avengers #1)
The Iron Patriot armor was originally worn by Norman Osborn, who most would recognize as Spider-Man’s arch nemesis Green Goblin, and first appeared in Dark Avengers #1. During a period of time known as Dark Reign, Osborn is left in charge of his own team of evil Avengers posing as the good guys, and adopts the identity of the Iron Patriot. By fusing the symbolism of the ‘deceased’ Captain America with the tech and firepower of the Iron Man armor, Osborn effectively created a brilliant marketing tool and stepped up his own devious abilities.
And that’s pretty much where it ended. Osborn’s reign fell, as did his career as the Iron Patriot, and the armor was left behind in the annals of history. The Iron Patriot armor has never been worn by Tony Stark, and I think many people were surprised when we got our first glance of the armor on set. In the trailer it looks to be the new War Machine armor, outfitted in the colors of the U.S.A.F. and piloted by Stark’s long time friend James “Rhodey” Rhodes. While I can’t say I totally agree with this design change, you can’t argue that it is a stunning visual on-screen.
And those are some of the comic influences that led to Shane Black’s Iron Man 3, and we’ve only seen the first trailer! See how much you can learn about these movies by picking up a comic book first?