IRON MAN 3 Concept Art Appears to Show EXTREMIS in Action


Update, 7/3: Entertainment Weekly's advance Comic-Con coverage continues to be newsworthy, with the reveal Tuesday of Iron Man 3 concept art that appears to show an Extremis-enabled Tony Stark controlling his armor with his mind.

The image, by concept artist Ryan Meinerding, shows Tony Stark in the midst of equipping his armor, seemingly without the bracelet-remotes from Avengers. It's established that the Iron Man 3 plot draws upon the "Extremis" story arc for inspiration, where Stark's armor is integrated into his physiology, and the concept art certainly seems to be showing that in action.

More on Iron Man 3 will be revealed Saturday, July 14, at the Marvel Studios panel in Hall H of Comic-Con International in San Diego.


Update, 5/16: Variety reported Wednesday that actor James Badge Dale (The Departed, Shame) has been cast in Iron Man 3 as Eric Savin, the Marvel cyborg better known as Coldblood.

The news prompts more new questions than it provides answers — Deadline reports that Dale's character is a villain, though Coldblood is a heroic character in the comic books. And not only does Coldblood not have a part in the "Extremis" storyline that Iron Man 3 is at least partly based on, he really has no history at all with Iron Man in the comics.

Exactly what this all means remain to be seen, but in the meantime, we've got another new addition to the Iron Man 3 cast.

Original story: The Avengers has only been out for about a week in US theaters —and is rapidly adding to its massive box office total — so naturally, it's the perfect time to start talking about what's next for Marvel Studios.

Luckily, we know the answer to that: Iron Man 3, directed and co-written by Shane Black, starring Robert Downey Jr. and slated for release on May 3, 2013. Filming is scheduled to start this month, and earlier this week Variety reported Rebecca Hall looks to be added to the cast in an important yet unspecified role.

That still leaves a lot of unknowns, so we've taken what's publicly known, added in some educated guesses, and tried to tackle a few of the biggest questions fans might have about Iron Man 3, a film that's becoming increasingly important with each financial record that Avengers breaks. (And, oh yeah, no Iron Man 3 art exists yet, the main image above is from The Avengers.)


What does "Extremis" have to do with it?: A lot, probably. It's long been speculated that Iron Man 3 would be based on "Extremis" — a popular, influential storyline by writer Warren Ellis and artist Adi Granov that started in 2004 and ran through Iron Man #1-#6. Now it's completely out in the open, and it's known that Guy Pearce has been cast as one of the key figures in the story, Dr. Aldrich Killian.

For those unfamiliar, Extremis is essentially an injection of nanotechnology intended to replicate the super-soldier serum that transformed Steve Rogers into Captain America. In the case of one test subject, Mallen, it had distinctly negative results, turning him into a dangerous and powerful villain.

In an effort to defeat Mallen, Tony Stark received a specific version of Extremis that allowed him greater interaction with technology, making the Iron Man armor a physical part of him, with crucial underwiring stored in the hollows of his bones and the rest controlled mentally. Though he's had some ups and downs with it since, it's still a part of him in current comic books.

It's important to keep in mind that as an adapation, characters and plot details might be changed, combined or dropped. Still, it's clear that "Extremis" is a huge source of inspiration for the Iron Man 3 filmmakers, and looks to be driving a significant part of the story.


Who will be in it: RDJ is back as Tony Stark/Iron Man, of course. As is Gwyneth Paltrow as Petter Potts and Don Cheadle as Rhodey/War Machine, plus Paul Bettany as the voice of JARVIS.

In addition to new cast members Ben Kingsley and Rebecca Hall (more on them later) and Pearce, multiple sources have reported that Andy Lau (a main actor in Infernal Affairs, the Hong Kong film that was the basis of The Departed) will play an "old friend" of Tony Stark.

Who won't be in it: It's known that Scarlett Johansson, who initiated her role of Black Widow in Iron Man 2, won't be in the this movie. Additionally, it's not known yet if Samuel L. Jackson will reprise his role as Nick Fury in this production, though it's always possible he could at least sneak in for a cameo.

As far as a cameo from any of the rest of The Avengers, nothing has specifically been ruled out, but Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige told ABC News that Iron Man 3 will be a departure from past efforts.  

"It’s going to be very different, very unique and I think not ascribe to any specific formula that they think they may have pegged us on," Feige said. "


Ben Kinglsey is Mandarin, right?:  As soon as Ben Kingsley was announced as playing a villain in Iron Man 3, conventional wisdom targeted him as long-time Tony Stark nemesis The Mandarin. The fact that the movie is filming partially in China — the character's home country — only sped up speculation. The Mandarin has been foreshadowed since the first Iron Man film — "The Ten Rings," and all that. Also, The Mandarin has been involved in Extremis-related storylines, attempting (and failing) to release it to the human race en masse.

There are a couple of stumbling blocks, though. One, it would be a rather un-PC move to cast Kingsley, born in England and of partial Indian descent, as a Chinese character. Sure, comic book characters change ethnicity in their transition to screen fairly frequently — Nick Fury and the Kingpin both did it — but seeing as how he's called "The Mandarin" and all, it would take a rather extensive retooling to make it work.

Also, it seems that Shane Black really isn't a fan of The Mandarin — CBR reported that he dismissed the character as a "racist caricature" at last fall's Long Beach Comic Con — which could either be taken at face value or a possible smokescreen.

So if not Mandarin, who is Ben Kingsley playing? Maybe Mallen, the previously mentioned character established in the "Extremis" arc.


How about Rebecca Hall?: Hall's prospectively (reportedly originally offered to The Help's Jessica Chastain) is also a question mark.

While there are plenty of females in Tony Stark's life — from Sasha Hammer to Madame Masque to Bethany Cabe — the simplest solution targets her as scientist Maya Hansen, one of the creators of Extremis, who also happens to have a romantic past with Tony Stark.

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