Iron Man 3 closes out what we here at the channel lovingly refer to as the Tony Trilogy and it brings with it a tonne of Easter eggs. We’ve discussed Iron Man 1 and 2 last week and this really is the cherry on top in terms of Easter eggs.
Throughout this post, we’re going to be breaking down many of the movies’ parallels, the scenes that don’t pay off until much later in the saga and some of the things you may have missed. This isn’t a fully extensive list as the movie’s been taken apart more than Tony’s armour but it should cover some of the best ones that you only notice after binge-watching the MCU.
Obviously, there will be Heavy Spoilers here so if you haven’t had a chance to check out all of the Infinity Saga movies then I highly recommend that you check out now.
Similarities to Other Heroes
Ok so Iron Man 3 whilst not the culmination of Tony Stark’s arc in the MCU, is the closing of his trilogy. We’ve already talked about how the character had a similar origin story in some ways to Captain America. Both were left with nothing but due to their heart and a friendly scientist they were able to go beyond their shortcomings. These similarities were even shown in the death of their mentors but you may not know that their trilogies also end similarly.
Each character in the trinity of MCU heroes made up of Iron Man, Captain America and Thor all has a lot of things that line up.
For example, Tony has a weakness which is his arc reactor. He had to use it to save his heart but at the end of Iron Man 3, he gets rid of it after finally finding a way around it. He destroys his suit to save his relationship and turns his back on being Iron Man.
In the Captain America trilogy, Steve’s main weakness is his friend Bucky and at the end of his trilogy he ends up throwing away the relationships that he’s built with the rest of the Avengers to save him. He throws away his shield and turns his back on being Captain America but manages to save Bucky from Hydra’s mind control.
In the Thor trilogy, Thor’s main weakness is his relationship with his brother Loki…sorry adopted brother. Loki can trick him several times and betray him because he trusts him so much. This is similar to how Steve constantly sticks with Bucky even though he does some bad things as The Winter Soldier. In the end, Thor manages to repair his relationship with his brother and similar to Iron Man and Cap who both get rid of their main weapons, Thor loses Mlojnir realising the true power comes from within.
As for the movie itself it opens with Tony saying that we create our demons. Whilst this is definitely the case in this film, it’s something that has followed Stark throughout the entire MCU.
In Iron Man 1 he refused to work alongside Obadiah and though he was a bad guy this eventually caused him to turn against the character. In Iron Man 2 Justin Hammer just wanted to work with Tony but he pretty much cast him to the side and ended up causing him to become an enemy. In Iron Man 3 a similar situation to Hammer happens with Killian and of course, Tony would later go on to create Ultron.
Tony creates his own demons to the point that it has repercussions on other characters.
We, of course, know that he lead to both the Vulture and Mysterio being formed but it goes far beyond that.
Tony is one of the main causes of the Avengers falling apart and in some ways, not being together to take on Thanos allowed the events of Infinity War to play out which cost the lives of half the universe.
So it’s somewhat of a poetic way to start the finale of his trilogy as we know this line would have ever-lasting effects in the larger MCU.
Cut to Bern and we see Happy Hogan looking like Vince Vega from Pulp Fiction.
We also witness the meeting of Tony and Dr Yinsen which was told to the character in Iron Man 1. Yinsen said that if he was as drunk as Tony was then he wouldn’t remember him either and yeah…fair enough… the guy had had a few.
Tony shakes hands with Doctor Wu who would end up removing the arc reactor from the character at the end of the movie. The movie was changed for Chinese audiences and had a lot of scenes added including an extended one with Wu and his assistant Fanbing Bing. Both are big Chinese stars so these elements were added to attract overseas audiences.
Tony’s name badge says you know who I am which is of course a play on the catchphrase ‘I am Iron Man’ that is featured at the end of the first film, the end of this movie and the end of Endgame.
Yinsen says perhaps another time and you betcha life buddy you’ll be meeting again.
We can also hear the song I’m Blue by Eifel 65. Though this is pretty upbeat it actually has a hidden meaning about a man who is so blue, as in down, that it’s reflected in everything around him. This is of course similar to Tony who, on the outside seems upbeat and positive is dealing with PTSD from The Battle Of New York.
That’s our one big reach, I swear.
Why Does Tony Not Like to be Handed Things?
He meets Maya Hanson who in the comic books co-created Extremis with Kilian much in the same way that the movie plays out.
We learn that Kilian is the founder of AIM, and he goes to hand Tony a business card but Tony allows Maya to take it. If you’ve been watching our breakdowns so far then you’ll know that Tony doesn’t like to be handed things. This was first shown in Iron Man 2 at the start when he was summoned to the senate. Later in the movie, it happened when he was being served strawberries. In Avengers it happens at Stark Tower in the interaction with Coulson and the only time that we’ve found outside of Iron Man 1 where he’s ok with it is taking Flowers from his father in Endgame.
We’ve often wondered why this is and after going back and rewatching Iron Man 1 after doing my breakdown I think because normally when this happens it brings bad news with it. In that film, Christine Everheart gives him some photographs of the damage that his weapons have done to Yinsen’s home and in Civil War, which happens after the events of this film I might add, to show how bad the Avengers are.
We don’t know for definite exactly what’s going on but as this is the finale of the trilogy I thought I’d offer up my thoughts.
We also see Maya wearing Tony’s glasses after she gives them to him and this would later be reflected in Peter who takes the Edith Glasses.
Parallels to The Incredibles
Maya takes the card and this is how she, not Tony, ends up working with him, and this is where the Incredibles parallels start. Shoutouts to Super Wizard Magic for spotting that there is a tonne of similarities in the films including a character that idealises the hero becoming the villain. A relationship being rocked, a character needing to get their suit back. There are tonnes of them so definitely go Google that because it’s way too much to talk about and to get all the easter eggs in one post.
Cut to the present and Tony is injecting himself with tech that will allow his armour to fly directly to him. I dunno if this is an idea that he got from Thor but the idea of having your weapon fly to you definitely apes the God of Thunder’s ability.
The character is also seen practising Wing Chun which is a real-life fighting technique that Downey has actually studied. If you remember our Civil War breakdown then you’ll know we talked about how he uses this when fighting Captain America.
We learned in an article in Iron Man 1 that his robot arm was his first invention and the small text told us it was called Dum-E. Here we see it wearing a Dunce hat carrying forth the notion that it’s stupid. It’s ok buddy I still love you.
Now I have seen some Easter eggs on Reddit that said Tony doesn’t have a cut lip but he does after attaching the face mask. The furthest back I can trace this to is a user called ie9wueg which I hope I pronounced right who noticed it three years ago. After watching the film on a 4k tv, 60-inch baby you know how we do, you can see that his lip was cut before the helmet went on though it is very subtle.
I think there’s also a continuity error with it as I noticed that the lip isn’t cut when he meets Rhodey but it is through the rest of the entire movie every time we see him.
The Ten Rings
The Mandarin Broadcast has Ten Rings similar to the banner in the first film that was shown in the hostage video and we also see that Trevor wears Ten Rings on his fingers.
He talks about Americans stealing the land from Native Americans and then calling it theirs which could be a hint to how Trevor has taken the Mantle of the Mandarin. I don’t think this was intentional at the time but now we know that the real Mandarin is going to feature in Shang Chi it could also be a nod to how Killian took the name from the villain.
The president is known as Mathew Ellis which may be a nod to Warren Ellis who wrote the Extremis story. We are also introduced to Iron Patriot which is the new version of War Machine. We learn that this armour was created by AIM, Killian’s company and he likely got this through the Vice President who we learn is helping him later in the movie.
It also shows how his henchman can don the suit without any training and complete the mid-air hijack.
When Tony meets Rhodey he talks about how he built a device that can catch explosions in the air. Throughout our breakdowns, we’ve spoken about how Tony constantly upgrades his tech every movie to stop himself from running into problems. Some great examples of this are how he changes from nanotech shield to an energy one in Endgame after using it against Thanos depleted his resources. The helicarriers in Winter Soldier also ended up using Jets after Tony became stuck under one of the turbines.
Here he’s developed this so he doesn’t have to fly into space again and risk his own life should a nuke be fired at a city again.
We see kids drawing of the Battle Of New York which is of course a reference to the Battle Of New York and Tony actually climbs back inside the suit from that movie to calm himself down. Like a little security blanket from that film.
Killian shows Pepper the inside of his brain and the holographic tech he uses and the blue dot layout is similar to Tony discovering the new element in Iron Man 2.
We see Tony dumping the Mark 42 below the wine cellar and can also see that he has numerous suits hidden below which is a tease for the ending.
Tony also looks up Killian and we can see that through his phone AIM is flipped to MIA which hints at how he ends up missing in action in the movie.
Yes, we’re back to reaching.
Pepper wears a very light lilac/white suit, which becomes the colours of the character throughout the series. In most of the movies, she wears these colours.
Speaking of Fashion Tony sleeps in his black vest that we have also seen throughout the series. This always appears when the character is at his most vulnerable and it has been a motif throughout his entire journey.
He initially wore it in Iron Man one in the cave when building the Mark One armour. In Iron Man 2 when he was at death’s door due to palladium poisoning, he wore it when trying to discover a new element that would save his life.
Here he wears it when suffering from PTSD and from that point onwards he has to rebuild his mental state from this point of vulnerability.
He also wears it in Avengers Endgame when he and Nebula are adrift in space and it’s nice that this tank top pops back up to signify where the character is at mentally.
Explosion at Tony’s House
Happy barely survives his explosion and once more we get a video from the Mandarin talking about Fortune Cookies and how they are actually Americans. This once more could be a nod to the cultural appropriation motif.
Tony records a message for the Mandarin and then destroys the phone which…yeah that’s going nowhere now mate.
The Mandarin still gets his address, probably because of all the cameras about but also likely because Killian already knows it.
Also shoutouts to Tater Salad on Reddit for noticing this within the last month.
But when Tony is scanning for heat signatures you can see one from Springfield MO which is the same place that Ego planted a seed in Guardians Of The Galaxy Volume 2 so they’re likely the same.
Maya shows up to see Tony and Killian’s helicopters come in too. Tony saves Pepper using his suit to rescue her and he later gives her her own suit in Endgame.
Another interesting thing that happens at this point is that Tony takes down one of the helicopters by taking a rocket out and throwing it at the aircraft before shooting it.
Pepper also does this at the end of the film when fighting Killian and she does the same thing to kill the character, showing that she may have learned this move from Tony.
Tony escapes with a little helping hand and he goes to Tennessee.
Upon landing, he records a message for Pepper which he has to do through a payphone. This reaches the helmet and Pepper can listen to it. We see him leaving another message in the helmet to Pepper at the start of Endgame and of course to Morgan and the family at the end of the film.
He also meets Harley Keener who is of course the character that shows up at Tony’s funeral at the end of Endgame.
Tony also visits a mural set up for the victims of an Extremis explosion and I dunno if it’s just me but I got a lot of flashes of the mural from Far From Home which we see in honour of Tony Stark.
Tony gets to the bottom of the Extremis mystery and he’s attacked by Killian’s forces. Tony shoots Killian’s henchman in the head seemingly killing him but if you look carefully you can see him blinking which shows that he didn’t really die and could be healed.
We see Stan Lee playing Bingo and Tony meets someone that modelled themselves on him. You laugh but I bought some EDITH glasses this month…and the wife won’t let me wear them outside now…I still do but I feel like an idiot…anyway…
Tony finds the Extremis footage and there’s sort of foreshadowing to Pepper being put in the programme as the woman Tony just killed is seen with red long hair.
Do not write ‘this boy is reaching…’ it’s like poetry they rhyme.
Little boy Iron Lad tells Tony to just build something when he doesn’t know what to do and this is how the character has solved his problems…except for Endgame in which he was saved by Captain Marvel, which is the one part of that movie I don’t really like.
Finding The Mandarin
Tony goes to the Mandarin compound and finds Trevor, the truth, does a bit of Wing Chun and then carries out the aeroplane rescue.
Can we just give it up for one of the best scenes in the MCU as well? It’s nice to see a superhero movie where they have a full scene just dedicated to saving people.
We get a big twist at the end of the scene where we learn that Tony was using the suit as a Drone. This is something he learned from Vanko in Iron Man 2 who said Drone Better.
Tony launches the suits from under where the Wine cellar was and we get a big fight at the end. These scenes have been broken down tonnes of times and all the suits have been discussed in depth so I don’t wanna retread old ground but a couple of interesting ones pop up.
Firstly Mark 41 is actually able to disassemble and reassemble. As it’s the 41 it was built before the 42 and shows that this design carried over.
We also see the space suit as well which Tony likely developed after the events of The Avengers. In that, his suit started to lose power and almost shut down so it makes sense that he would make a suit designed precisely for that kind of environment.
Also, we see a larger and bulkier suit that sort of looks like the prototype of the Hulkbuster which we would, of course, see in Age Of Ultron and Infinity War and Endgame.
Tony also calls Mark 42 the Prodigal son when it arrives and as we said in our Iron Man 1 breakdown, this is likely a callback to the line at the award show in which Tony is called the Prodigal son.
Tony fights Killian and uses the Mark 42 to blow him up and then we get the Pepper scene which calls back to the helicopter.
She also destroys the Mark 7 from The Avengers which could symbolise Tony’s PTSD being overcome with it too.
Tony takes the Extremis out of Pepper, she sells some scented vagina candles and he also gets the arc reactor removed.
You can see the scars of this operation in Civil War and slightly in Endgame carrying over from this operation.
Tony uses the shrapnel from his heart to make a symbolic heart necklace which he then gives to pepper. This balcony scene calls back to the balcony scene in Iron Man in which I think the character first realised that he liked Pepper.
Tony throws the arc reactor into the ocean at his home and this entire scene was actually a full-head CGI replacement for Robert Downey Junior who was injured at the time.
Whilst it looks like he’s finally giving up on being Iron Man he finds a screwdriver showing that he will continue building.
He saves Dum-E…thank god and the movie ends with him saying I am Iron Man which would become a line that is synonymous with the character’s chapter ends. It ended his first film, this movie and were the words that he carried out before saying the snap.
The post-credits scene reveals that Tony was talking to Bruce Banner the entire time and getting therapy from the character.
Bruce Banner is of course the Hulk and yada yada yada it’s like poetry they rhyme.
And that’s the Iron Man Trilogy. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the breakdown and if any easter eggs should’ve made the list.