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After an interstellar team building vacation in New York this past summer the armoured Avenger is making his way back to the west coast for his third solo feature film. Yes Marvel and movie fans alike your favourite Shellhead is returning to the big screen yet again. The Golden Avenger is... okay enough with the fanboy nicknames. Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle and Jon Favreau (not as the director this time) are all returning next summer to the franchise that help build the Marvel Studios brand in Iron Man 3. Although some lucky 2012 Comic Con attendees got the initial sneak peek this past July today the Marvel released the first official full length trailer for Iron Man 3 and it was not what most people were expecting. But in a good way. I'll explain that in a minute but first take a look.
Kind of dark eh?
Marvel maybe labeling this as a 'trailer' but after the dozens of questions swirling around my brain after watching those explosive 2 minutes I would be inclined to consider it more like a 'teaser'. Again, that's not a bad thing. The trailer opens with Tony crash landed in a snow blanketed forest at night wearing a battle damaged Mark VIII (version 8 for all you keeping track) Iron Man suit. Downey as Stark narrates this opening by apologizing for something still unknown and then loosely referencing the events from The Avengers. That's all you get regarding Earth's Mightiest Heroes because the rest of the trailer is 100% Tony Stark and Iron Man. Like I said there are a lot of questions here so I go over some of them and highlight other moments:
Part of what made most people become fans of the previous two Iron Man films was Downey Jr.'s sarcastic dry humoured delivery as Tony Stark, and there was none of that here. Director Shane Black looks to take a different and darker direction to the characters within this area of the Marvel Studios universe in his first endeavour in the Iron Man franchise. As much as I would have liked Jon Favreau to return to the director's chair and complete the trilogy he begun in the first two films I'm excited to see what Black will do back with Downey on superhero scaled film. Shane Black and RDJr have previously collaborated together before he first suited up in the Mark I, in 2005's dark comedy Kiss, Kiss, Bang, Bang. If you've seen that film you don't have to worry about the classic Stark humour going anywhere and from the look of the trailer Black has found an eye for action sequences.
The humour wasn't the only thing absent from this trailer, a story-line is also missing. No clear explanation for how Pearce and Hall fit into the story or what exactly is going on with Sir Ben. Like I said earlier Iron Man 3 seems to have a connection to a 6 issue arc in the comics back in 2005 called "Extremis". I won't go into it too much but essentially Pearce and Hall's characters create a virus (codename: Extremis) which falls into the hands of domestic terrorists. The virus is actually more like the Super Solider Serum from the Captain America in that it gives whoever is injected/infected super-human abilities.
I don't want to spoil anymore of the story for those who haven't read that comic book series but how this story arc relates to his new armor is the Vectored Replusor Field tech created in those issues. Sorry did that get too nerdy for you? Basically Tony links his armor to his mind. That's why in the trailer when one of his gauntlets goes from lying still on a counter top to shooting across the room and on to his hand; like as if he was Luke Skywalker using the force to grab his lightsaber. I think I just doubled the nerd factor there by referencing Star Wars to explain comic book terminology.
I really dug the revamped design for Rhodey's War Machine. Of course since the U.S. military is probably still involved with that armor is why it got the patriotic paint job; which from what I can remember in the comics only ever happened to Iron Man not War Machine. The biggest shock in the trailer had to be Sir Ben's introduction as Iron Man's archenemy The Mandarin. From what little information the trailer gives us on The Mandarin he will be some form of a terrorist, but how the first live-action adaption of the character will play out is still a huge mystery. A brief shot of Kingsley wearing the Ten Rings, which if you fans remember there was subtle hint about the rings dropped in the original Iron Man, but no hint at if they will have the same origin as alien powered rings in the comics. There is also buzz on the net already about the Captain America shield tattoo on the back of The Mandarin's neck. So many geek questions.
The Avengers vastly expanded the already huge universe Marvel Studios set their individual franchises with the introduction of the Chitauri army and the Thanos cameo at the end of the credits. After watching this trailer its hard to say if Iron Man 3 will continue that progression. Favreau admitted to taking the Chris Nolan/Batman Begins route with the original Iron Man film in that it was grounded in a realistic reality. The character of Tony Stark and Iron Man obviously have since gone far away from that initial element of realism but after seeing this trailer for Black's take on the franchise's third and next chapter it's a coin toss which way the movie will go. And that's what gives this geek chills about this trailer.
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[Here the mini teaser that came out the day before]
Andrew Burns loves film and comics, and can be found writing about when those worlds converge. You can follow him on Twitter at @myAndrewBurns.