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‘Iron Man 3′: What Should Have Happened…
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Hulk Vs. Iron Man - Hulkbuster

Shane Black‘s Iron Man 3 has already grossed over $700 million worldwide, and while a box office success, it isn’t unanimously beloved by critics or audiences like Marvel’s last homerun, Joss Whedon’s The Avengers.

On Rotten Tomatoes, the popular aggregate movie review website, Iron man 3 currently sits at 78% (67% among top critics). On Metacritic, a more analytical aggregate site, Black’s film currently scores 62 out of 100. To put things in perspective, two of 2012′s most divisive blockbuster films amongst fanboys, The Dark Knight Rises and Prometheus, are locked in at 84% and 74% respectively. Iron Man 2, the black sheep of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, is at 73%.

In my review, I took issue with misplaced character motivations and the way co-writers Shane Black and Drew Pearce approached Iron Man’s greatest foe, the Mandarin. Well, even after a 1,300-word review, I’m still not finished talking about Iron Man 3. The only way to get over my disappointment with the third (and hopefully final) Iron Man film was to write about how great it could have been if it wasn’t, well, the movie it turned out to be.

So, in an effort to channel the passion and insanity of Patton Oswalt’s epic Star Wars/Avengers rant on NBC’s Parks and Recreation, here are some thoughts on what should have happened in Iron Man 3.

Quick, what were your two favorite things about Joss Whedon’s The Avengers? Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner (the Hulk) and the subsequent banter between Ruffalo and Robert Downey Jr.‘s Tony Stark, right? For me, watching Banner and Stark use their brilliant intellects to brainstorm and work out Loki’s insidious plot was a highlight of the film and something I wanted to see more of in subsequent Marvel films.

Instead of Malibu, Iron Man 3 should have picked up in Manhattan at Stark Tower, referred to as Avengers Tower now thanks to the single A on the side of the building. Tony Stark and Bruce Banner are at work on unlocking the secrets of inter-dimensional travel, wormholes, space aliens – you know, genius stuff.

Meanwhile, overseas, Iron Patriot (Don Cheadle) is fighting a one-man war against The Ten Rings, a terrorist organization using a stockpile of Stark Industries weapons to kill innocents and spread fear. The Ten Rings are lead by a mysterious warlord known as the Mandarin (Ben Kingsley) – a master of deception who sits in the shadows and threatens the American people with Al-Qaeda-like taped messages.

Marvel Comics The Mandarin

Sounds pretty good so far, right? Iron Patriot busts up a terrorist cell and destroys a stockpile of Stark weapons only to get captured by the Mandarin, whose special powers are glimpsed briefly. The Mandarin releases a video showing James Rhodes held hostage, the Iron Patriot suit dismantled like a cheap plastic plaything. The Mandarin reveals himself, stepping out of the shadows, with a gun pointed to Rhodey’s head. This catches Tony’s attention, who has been consumed with his work at Avengers Tower.

As for Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) and Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau), they’re still around – but they’re not a huge part of this story. They’re back in Malibu, where Pepper is running Stark Industries. Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce) and the Extremis storyline could still work here but, in all honesty, I just don’t care about yet another industrialist with a grudge against Tony. Let’s get back to the cool stuff, already.

The Mandarin waxes poetic on the American military-industrial complex and the Iron Patriot, who he compares to Captain America – pure propaganda. The Mandarin considers Patriot a cheap knockoff; he wants the real thing: the Avenger. He challenges Iron Man to reclaim his patriotic puppet. If Stark doesn’t show up in 24 hours, the Mandarin is going to execute Iron Patriot on national television.

To put things in perspective, the events of Iron Man 3 are happening parallel to Thor: The Dark World and Captain America: The Winter Soldier, explaining why the Avengers don’t show up. Banner stays behind at Avengers Tower to continue his research – he offers to help but Tony admits that this is his fight and he’s responsible for The Ten Rings’ rise to power and Rhodey being captured.

Tony suits up in his new Mark 42 armor. There’s a quick glimpse of his vault filled with suits and it’s hinted at that Banner may have helped him create a few for… special circumstances. Tony flies across the world using Jarvis’ navigational abilities and immediately engages the Ten Rings. If you want, throw a few Extremis super soldiers in there – or not – who cares, I’m falling asleep even thinking about plot points from Shane Black’s Iron Man 3.

The Invincible Iron Man

Anyway, Iron Man is doing sweet-ass Iron Man things like blowing up tanks, destroying weapons stockpiles, using a lot of crazy new gadgets to take out terrorists. Jarvis alerts Tony to a beacon coming from the Iron Patriot suit that leads Iron Man to a compound – a royal palace – where the Mandarin awaits.

Long story short, Tony’s first fight with the Mandarin doesn’t go as planned. This is the first time we really get to see the extent of the Mandarin’s mystical powers, derived from the ten magic rings he wears on his fingers. In the battle, Tony fails to save Rhodey, who is murdered at the hands of the Mandarin. Tony’s suit is blasted beyond repair and Iron Man barely makes it out of there alive.

Let’s be honest, Don Cheadle isn’t a great War Machine/Iron Patriot. Marvel isn’t going to move forward with an Iron Patriot standalone film, and I can’t really see Cheadle suiting up with the Avengers, so why not kill him and have his death actually mean something to Tony’s progression as a character. Killing Rhodes also avoids that lame third act ‘surprise’ where Tony fails to save Pepper Potts, who then reappears as Liquid Magma Super Girl and saves Tony.

Tony Stark makes it to Malibu where he’s nursed back to health by Pepper Potts and Happy Hogan. The Mandarin continues releasing tapes, touting his victory over the Iron Patriot and Tony Stark, the poster boy for capitalism. He promises one more salvo before his ‘teachings’ are complete; he’s going to finish what the Chitauri started by leveling New York City to the ground.

A determined, revenge-obsessed Tony recovers and heads to New York. He shows Banner playback from his helmet of the battle with the Mandarin and the two theorize what sort of energy source is fueling Mandarin’s awesome powers. They determine that it isn’t an arc reactor – that it doesn’t appear to be alien technology – it’s something they’ve never seen before.

Like Marvel slowly folded the cosmic realm into the Marvel Cinematic Universe with Thor, the Mandarin would herald magic and mysticism to an ever-expanding world of unique heroes and villains. By introducing Mandarin and his ten magic rings, Marvel could lay the ground work for a Dr. Strange standalone film and Thanos’ eventual quest for the Infinity Gauntlet.

The Hulk Vs. MandarinLook, I don’t have everything worked out, but I know how this theoretical movie ends. There’s a final showdown between Iron Man and the Mandarin in New York City.

Iron Man’s suit is supercharged thanks to some upgrades, but Mandarin’s mystical powers are too much for him. In crowd-pleasing fashion, Bruce Banner “suits up” as THE HULK and they tag-team the Mandarin. Instead of wasting Ruffalo screen time on a throwaway after-credits sequence, give the fans what they want and have Hulk SMASH once more!

When it looks like Mandarin is defeated, he casts a mystical spell on Hulk and takes control of the beast, aiming him like a weapon toward Iron Man.

Hulk comes after Iron Man, who takes off toward Avengers Tower. Hulk jumps and leaps through the city after him and eventually snatches him out of the air. Tony uses every gadget, but none of them can stop the big guy. Hulk throws Tony like a fastball, sending him crashing into Avengers Tower. The Mandarin continues to puppeteer the Hulk, who scales the building (bonus points for a King Kong allusion!) to smash ol’ shell-head to bits.

Here’s the big reveal: Tony emerges from the vault in HULKBUSTER ARMOR! We got a brief glimpse at the heavy-duty suit in Shane Black’s film, but it was a complete waste of pixels after Tony arbitrarily decided to self-destruct all of his suits. In my Iron Man 3, Tony goes toe-to-toe with the Hulk and it’s a knock-down, drag-out brawl.

The fight goes through Avengers Tower, onto rooftops, and eventually back down to street level. Jarvis gives Tony an update on the Mandarin’s location and Tony attempts to push forward towards his arch-nemesis while fighting off the big green rage monster.

Hulk tries to squeeze the life out of Tony and crush the suit, but Tony delivers a crushing blow to the Hulk’s head and gets free, just long enough to get his hands on the Mandarin. In the Hulkbuster armor, Tony grabs Mandarin and crushes his hands, preventing him from using the magic rings. Hulk shakes off the spell and slowly regains self-control, transforming back into Banner.

Mandarin and his magic rings are taken into custody by S.H.I.E.L.D. Tony and Bruce exchange playful banter about the epic brawl they just had. Banner is relieved by how well the Hulkbuster suit worked, while Tony takes the opportunity to ask Banner about his wormhole, inter-dimensional research. Banner says, “Oh yeah, about that…”

After-Credits Scene: Pepper Potts is on the phone with Tony Stark, who’s flying around in the Iron Man suit. They’re making dinner plans and Tony tells Pepper to book the reservation for 7. “On second thought, better make that 7:30.” At this point, we’ve only see Tony’s face, inside the suit, talking to Pepper via the heads-up display in his helmet. The camera cuts to an exhilarating reveal of Tony in all-white DEEP SPACE ARMOR, flying through the cosmos!

Cut. Print. That’s the Iron Man 3 I wanted to see, anyway. Maybe it’s the insane ramblings of a geek, or just glorified fanboy fiction, but I feel better for getting it out of head. Now I can move on and see the rest of this summer’s cinematic offerings which, hopefully, aren’t as disappointing as Shane Black’s ‘splosion-filled spectacle.

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  • Rpd7x

    That was beautiful!!! 8D
    I liked it, and understood why you would kill off some people (Rhodey…), but i call it a slight bit extreme. It was still great! You gave the (real) mandarin a good spotlight, which is was the only thing missing from Iron Man 3.
    In all honesty, i like what they did with Killian, but i HATED that they made him the Mandarin…
    You made a lot more references in your version, which is what the movie needed. And everyone would have loved to see the Hulk again – considering he is not getting a standalone.
    You have my admiration for expressing your opinion – and what an opinion it was. I hope my opinion somewhat contributes as feedback!

  • John William

    I was thinking the EXACT same thing. Iron Man 3 was a waste!!!

  • Gareth Matthee

    Iron Man 3 sucked ass. I was such a big Iron Man fan based on the first 2 movies and The Avengers. The third movie was a great disappointment. I strongly believe that this movie was such a failure due to the fact that Jon Favreau (who plays Happy Hogan in the movies) did not direct it. Shane Black really sucks for messing this movie up. Jon Favreau directed the first 2 movies and they were really good in my opinion and then Josh Whedon did a great job with The Avengers and then came Shane Black (you know how that turned out.) This fan fiction kicks the third movie’s ass. I am greatly impressed and wish that your story was actually the movie.

  • Phil

    Love it dude! this was great, I would go watch Iron man 3 and pay 3d if they re-did the movie in this fashion, despite it would be Iron man 3: revised.
    (they would think of a better title to replace Iron man 3).
    Though if the Mandarin were to attack with his heli’s I was surprised they weren’t picked up by radar or something ages before they got to malibu. I would have launched the other iron man suits on stand by to guard after challenging a tyrant dude like the mandarin. doesn’t take a billionaire genius to figure that out.

  • totz the plaid

    Hm… let’s see:
    1) You’ve got the Mandarin as the racist caricature that Marvel brilliantly sidestepped by having Ben Kingsley be a red herring and Aldrich Killian being the real mastermind.
    2) You kill off the only major person of color in the Marvel Cinematic universe so far.
    3) You sideline one of the major female Marvel film characters so far, of which there are only a handful, compared to the guys.
    4) You ignore the logical PTSD which was perfectly portrayed in the actual film.

    Fuck that shit. It’s implicitly racist and sexist.

    It’s also dark and dreary for no good reason.

    Basically, your idea is shit. I’m glad Kevin Feige didn’t hire you.

  • Topsykreet

    the moment that really make me sorrow is when Tony decided to unplug the arc reactor on his chest. i mean, what is iron man without his chest- arc reactor?… and the mandarin?…. please!!!!!

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  • DL

    Metacritic, rotten tomatoes, they’re all garbage man children with temper tantrums. Their reviews are embarrassing on most movies and games

  • goosh69

    That MIGHT work but for the fact that you said “cast spells.” Meaning you did not know that his rings were not really magic. Fail.

  • thefraze

    1) actually, if you noticed – I left Mandarin as the same character, more or less, that Ben Kingsley portrayed him as – he isn’t a racist caricature – he’s the same character, with actual powers.
    2) Nick Fury doesn’t count? Rhodes isn’t a compelling character, and Cheadle doesn’t make him worth keeping around – so get rid of him. Don’t blame me for Marvel’s ineptitude.
    3) Sidelined would be more respectful to her character than turning her into a sports-bra wearing piece of bait. Let’s not call her a “major female character” when all she’s been used as so far is a possession for Tony and Guy Pearce to fight over…
    4) Yeah, no one else seems to be suffering PTSD – not even Banner, who has a Monster inside him… I think a billionaire playboy should be OK with accepting the fact that he’s a hero.

  • Eggimations

    Honestly, I thought Iron man 3 was great. It showed Tony in a way never seen before, he had to improvise because he was vulnerable. It was at the very least on par with the first, but much better than the second.

  • Marlon Perez

    hey that story it doesn´t so bad it all man you have a great story telling you should do something about it it{s a great material that is should not be wasted you are great like kevin said I had a better time reading this than watching the actual movie this is amazing

  • Marlon Perez

    totally agreed I{ll do the same thing

  • MitchAll2gether

    I certainly did not say he casts spells, and its been awhile since I read the article here, but I don’t think he said cast spells either. He said it would be like Thor, The Mandarin coule use Magic and mysticism. I think its just a word to him. Really, what other word could you use for Thor’s, or Mandarin’s “Power”

  • happy

    His is so much better than the film, I think even a plot to explore other dimension from going up into the worm hole would have a good twist where tony could have still been in a coma in this world……

  • Redd

    Nice. I like the concept. Didn’t hate Iron Man 3, but this would have been a great way to get into Phase 2.

  • goosh69

    I thought you were the author answering. Anyway TOP says “When it looks like Mandarin is defeated, he casts a mystical spell on Hulk and takes control of the beast, aiming him like a weapon toward Iron Man.”

  • MitchAll2gether

    I stand (I’m actually sitting) corrected, he did say that. But I believe he didn’t mean it as a literal casting of a spell. The word ‘Magic’ is used in this context just to describe a weapon that Humans don’t fully understand. It’s advanced alien technology that we dont understand how it works and how it has the powers that it does. As Thor said, Where he comes from Magic and Science are one in the same. And I remember that one of his Rings on his left hand has a Mind-manipulating ability. I’m Curious as to how you would phrase or describe why and how the rings have abilities? And I am not wanting to sound like a dick, I am truly curious…

  • Patrick

    You are a genius sir! This would’ve been a way better plot.

  • Richard

    Hate to tell ya but no. they already comfirmed that RdJ is on for 2 more films. think Avengers 2. and iron man 4. if not iron man 4 then he will probably die in Avengers 3. But it’s been hinted that Captain America dies. Sense Ultron does kill him in the comics.

  • MoTres

    I feel like I watched the movie in my mind. And, it was AWESOME. I want a refund from Iron Man 3.

  • Charles A. Marshall

    DAMN. That was a movie, this is how you tie other movies and allow for spin-offs. Hurt my feelings to watch IM3

  • Ruufus

    Yours was a well told synopsis in full visual effect of would have made a better movie! Well Done!

  • MrONegative

    I think, what it is is, this is the point when all of the actors have the most power they’re ever gonna have. They only really ever sign up for 3 movies. If the first was successful, they’re thankful for a 2nd. Once the 2nd one is successful, suddenly they all want the last one on their terms.

    They want more lines, more screentime, a more vital, heroic role. Because by now they’ve been this character for almost a decade. Halle wanted Storm to be a bigger character, Gwyneth wanted Pepper to be a part of the fun stuff.

    And the studio is scared, because they know renegotiating for more, contract-less films will be costly hell, so this last one has to be a huge splash. They need every gimmick. They need Venom. They need Phoenix AND the cure.

    And then sometimes the reach far exceeds the grasp. The Dark Knight Rises was the most ambitious non-Inception blockbuster of the last decade imo. The problem is, the film needed to be about 40 minutes longer. It needed the Joker to transition where TDK ended to when Bane reaches town. And it needed to not feed into the worst characteristics of both Batman Begins and TDK. Because it really was the weakest instincts of BB and TDK writ large. And it also needed Bane to not sound like that, or to make such a joke out of the mechanics of the city and its police being taken hostage.

    I think the best chance we have for a great 3rd film is probably Captain America.

  • mjgardnerfilms

    Nice original idea: let the final fight happen in New York because thar city has only been destroyed in Transformers Superman, Avengers, etc.

    You just rehashed a bunch of plots and aspects already covers. Black did something original that’s why you have a blog and he has a movie.

  • Joesatmoes

    I do think your story idea sounds cool. However, I think anyone in the art industry- specifically books, movies, plays, games and tv shows- anything with a story- will say that you can’t judge a story based on what you wanted it to be. What I mean is, it’s okay to want certain parts to be better, or changed slightly, but you can’t want the whole story to be different.

    For example, take the Harry Potter series: it’s okay to want different romantic relationships, or even something as different as Harry dying. But it is wrong to judge the series if you wanted it to turn into a murder mystery or a comedy mid-series.

    Going back to this, this is pretty much just fanfiction. You are judging this movie based on the fact that it was very different from the story you had in mind.

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