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The Story
In developing the story for Marvel's "Iron Man 3," producer Kevin Feige wanted to make sure that it was not only a natural overreaching arc for Tony Stark, but also in alignment with previous events in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

"The exciting thing about 'Iron Man 3,' is that it's not only the culmination of the first two films, but it's also a follow-up to 'Marvel's The Avengers,'" says Feige. "It's one of the first situations where you have a movie that is the sequel to two different films and in a way that liberates it to be more unique than anything that has come before it, which is what we're most excited about."

Feige continues, "Tony Stark is a man who is all about the journey and character arc. When we first met him in 'Iron Man,' he was a pompous fellow, building weapons, and almost immediately he suffers a life-changing accident when he is blown up by one of his own missiles in Afghanistan. It galvanizes him into building the Iron Man suit and to get out of the weapons game. 'Iron Man 2' tests that resolve as he has some health problems and then in 'Marvel's The Avengers' he faces a world-changing event that not only includes seeing the powers of other superheroes, but also having a portal to another world opened above his head."

For the storyline of Marvel's "Iron Man 3," the filmmakers decided on a "back-to-basics" tone where they could explore what Tony Stark would do if all of his money and toys were stripped away from him and he was forced to find a way back to being a superhero.

"Early on in the development, we talked about this notion of taking Tony Stark back to basics because we 2wanted to see him just use his brain," explains executive producer Louis D'Esposito. "You want to see what he can do when the odds are against him and it makes you wonder, 'How is he going to get out of this one?'"

Executive producer Stephen Broussard explains the filmmakers' decision to blend two different storylines together for the film. "There are two classic stories that have appeared in the 'Iron Man' comics -- one is older and the other is more modern," explains Broussard. "The older is the character called The Mandarin, and he is one of the most famous villains in the franchise. The character dates back to the 1960s and we wanted Shane [Black] and Drew [Pearce] to take that idea and make it contemporary for present-day audiences."

Broussard adds, "We also wanted to combine that with another storyline in the comic called Extremis, which came out not too long before the first 'Iron Man' film in 2008. It deals with the biological enhancement of humans and Tony must face super-powered humans in that. So we just thought, wouldn't that be interesting if we tried to combine these two stories into one for 'Iron Man 3'?"

An early believer in the Extremis storyline, Robert Downey Jr. recalls, "I remember when we were getting ready to shoot 'Iron Man,' I started reading 'Iron Man' comics and there was this one called 'Extremis.' I thought it was really interesting and cool. Shane [Black] really latched onto the Extremis idea and thought about how we could bring it into play in 'Iron Man 3.' So, in the story, Extremis is what brings Maya into play and it's what brings Killian into play."

"The thing about the Extremis storyline that always interested me in the comic books was that you had a sense that Tony Stark puts on an iron suit and hides inside it in a way," says director Shane Black. "The character wouldn't call it that, but that's kind of the case. With the Extremis people, you always got a sense that they're burning up from the inside. So one of them could actually say to Tony, for instance, 'You drive a car, I am the car.'"

There is plenty of angst from "Marvel's The Avengers" to fuel Tony Stark's arc, too. Before "Marvel's The Avengers," Tony Stark thought he was the only superhero in the world, and in "Iron Man 3" he must deal with the revelation that he is not the only one out there.

"Tony is a very scientifically minded guy who thought he was at the cutting-edge of science and suddenly he learns in those brief moments at the end of 'Marvel's The Avengers' that there is an infinite amount that he doesn't know," says executive producer Stephen Broussard. "That makes him feel small in a certain way and I think even encountering those other characters in 'The Avengers' made him feel like he may not be the most powerful person in the world, which he doesn't like. He may be the smartest person in the world, but not necessarily the most powerful."

For Robert Downey Jr., the journey of Tony Stark in Marvel's "Iron Man" franchise is one that is very relatable to audiences. "The great thing about 'Iron Man 3' is that we really are going back to kind of an extension and continuation of some of the things that made the franchise fly to begin with," says Downey Jr. "With the execution and incredible success of 'Marvel's The Avengers,' we're afforded the opportunity to not have to set up another film and can really explore the character of Tony Stark in ways that are very organic and connectable and play to the strength of the franchise."

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