The big (really big) picture of all that goes down in "Iron Man 3" is becoming clearer with the release of the new trailer, which gives us new looks at the villainous Mandarin, the army of flying (and seemingly sentient-ish) Iron Man suits and a new set of armor that looks like it would fit the Hulk just fine (if the Hulk were, you know, suddenly not into going shirtless all the time).
Drawing from the new trailer, the original teaser, the Super Bowl spot, the stills released so far and other scattered sources across the Marvel Universe, we've compiled a list of the most important "Iron Man 3" facts to keep in mind as we prepare for the film's release in less than two months.
1. There are at least three villains
One for each "Iron Man" movie released so far! The big baddie of "Iron Man 3" is, of course, the Mandarin, played by an oft-hooded and sunglasses-wearing Ben Kingsley. The Mandarin was originally considered as a character in both "Iron Man" and "Iron Man 2" before both stories got too big to also accommodate so big a villain. The Mandarin is one of Tony Stark's most notorious enemies, and his wrath in "Iron Man 3" threatens to strip our hero of everything -- and everyone -- that he holds dear.
The Mandarin is Chinese in the comics, so why isn't he being played by a Chinese actor? Director Shane Black spoke with Yahoo! Movies about the film's reworking of the character for Ben Kingsley.
"His nationality is not even clear because he is shrouded in secrecy," said Black. "He has crafted himself in the manner of the Mandarin, of a warlord. And I think that's great because you get to do the comic book but you don't ... have to deal with the specifics of Fu Manchu stereotyping.
"We're not saying he's Chinese, we're saying he, in fact, draws a cloak around him of Chinese symbols and dragons because it represents his obsessions with Sun Tzu in various ancient arts of warfare that he studied."
Meanwhile, Guy Pearce will be playing Aldrich Killian, another familiar character from the "Iron Man" comics. Killian is a geneticist who teams up with Stark's old pal Maya Hansen (Rebecca Hall) to create a new technology known as "Extremis" ... though we'll get to that in a moment.
Finally, James Badge Dale makes three as Eric Savin, aka Coldblood. In the comics, Savin is a U.S. Army officer in charge of Killian's Project: Ultra-Tech who's reinvented as a mercenary cyborg after he steps on a mine. We doubt "Iron Man 3" will go full-throttle with that character origin, though it's probably safe to assume that he'll be some sort of heavy for Killian.
2. The plot will draw from the 'Extremis' story arc
Speaking of suits and armor and whatnot, what's with all the multiple Iron Men in the new trailer and recent posters? "Iron Man 3" is said to be based in part on "Extremis," a six-issue story arc collected in "Iron Man" (vol. 4) issues 1-6 (2005-2006). Written by Warren Ellis and illustrated by Adi Granov, "Extremis" served as a sort of reboot, reinventing Tony Stark as a weapons designer (one who once stepped on a land mine of his own invention, which may be a nod to Coldblood's origin) and taking place just prior to the second Gulf War.
The main storyline follows the creation, implementation and aftermath of "Extremis," a military nanotechnology serum -- and yet another attempt to recreate the Super-Soldier Serum -- which interfaces with the brain's 'repair center' and prompts the body to rebuild itself from scratch, as if it were all wound tissue to be replaced.
The serum was developed by Aldrich Killian and Maya Hansen, though in "Iron Man 3," Killian goes rogue after the U.S. government shuts down the project. He teams up with the Mandarin to experiment on unwilling test subjects and exploit the technology for his own nefarious desires.
It looks like Tony Stark has his own upgrades going on in "Iron Man 3" as well, as he's developed the technology (perhaps with the help of Killian before he turns villainous) that allows him to remotely control his suits of armor with ... well, with his brain, apparently. We see glimpses of this in the new trailer, from the small scale (his Iron Man mask slams onto his face of his own accord at one point) to the rather large (an army of Iron Men serve as the battle backup for Stark and James 'Rhodey' Rhodes).
Really, it's all about the suits in "Iron Man 3" -- you've no doubt seen Rhodey (Don Cheadle) in his red, white and blue Iron Patriot armor. Not exactly subtle, though certainly effective in sending a message to those who would try to blow up America.
And speaking of not-exactly-subtle suits...
3. Something resembling the Heavy Duty Armor makes an appearance (and smashes things)
What the hell is that giant mega-suit thing at the very end of the new trailer? In recent comics, Tony Stark has developed a Heavy Duty Armor, an oversized, extra-fortified suit for when his regular one just won't do, though the squared-off head and massive shoulders are also reminiscent of an earlier suit known as "The Hulkbuster," designed for if and when Stark ever had to take on his favorite "giant green rage monster." It's safe to assume the new ultra-suit in "Iron Man 3" incorporates elements of both, though by the end of the film it may be known as "the Mandarinbuster."
4. Love is complicated in superhero movies ... and dangerous
Tony Stark and Pepper Potts are still together romantically, and in fact getting even closer -- the new trailer shows Stark giving her a necklace, which isn't quite an engagement ring but still makes for an impressive gesture of commitment from the notorious playboy. But as many comic book characters have discovered, having a ladylove complicates the whole superhero thing, as it gives the bad guys a weak spot to hone in on ... and gives the superhero in question second thoughts about leading so dangerous a lifestyle.
Indeed, something has been haunting our hero "since New York" (referring to the events of "The Avengers") that's been making for some sleepless nights -- does he perhaps have a feeling that some sort of mighty storm is a'comin'?
When the Mandarin conducts a series of attacks against the U.S., Stark actually first retreats to the sidelines, telling Pepper that he's determined to protect "the one thing I can't live without" while the media asks, "Where is Tony Stark?" However, Tony jumps back into action (and his suit of armor) after sneak attack by the Mandarin leaves his lady threatened, his home destroyed and himself bruised and battered.
Indeed, the Mandarin becomes Stark's most personal enemy to date -- or at least the one that riles him up the most. "I'm not afraid of you," Stark says to his foe via a press conference. "No politics here -- just good old-fashioned revenge."
Whew, that's a lot for one movie! And we're sure it will be a blast (several, actually) to see all of these characters, backstories, conflicts and awesome flying armors come together into a single (hopefully) coherent narrative. The official countdown to the May 3 release of "Iron Man 3" has commenced.
Watch the 'Iron Man 3' trailer again: