- “I had a thought that would guide me for years to come. Anonymity, Tony. Thanks to you, it's been my mantra ever since, right? You simply rule from behind the scenes. Because the second you give evil a face, a Bin Laden, a Gaddafi, a Mandarin, you hand the people a target.”
Aldrich Killian is the main antagonist from the 2013 Marvel film Iron Man 3. He was a scientist involved with Extremis, another attempt at the super soldier serum, using nanotechnology along with Maya Hansen.
Aldrich Killian was originally a scientist with several disabilities impeding him in life, which he grew up determined to one day overpower them. In 1999, Killian initially asked for Tony Stark's support for his project under Advanced Idea Mechanics, only to be shunned and ignored by the latter. After the realization that Tony had ignored his proposition, Killian decided to work on his own, creating an expansive business for himself.
Over the years, through A.I.M. and with the aid of Maya Hansen's designs, Aldrich Killian created a team to further research and develop the Extremis formula, which imparts unusual levels of strength and resiliency to human subjects. While these tests did backfire and resulted in death among the test subjects, they allowed Killian to eventually recruit Eric Savin and Ellen Brandt to his cause. At some point, he funded the Ten Rings organization by masquerading as their leader, the Mandarin, without the real Mandarin's knowledge. To maintain this illusion he used British actor Trevor Slattery to impersonate the Mandarin. The organization would cover up Killian's Extremis experiments as terrorist attacks in case the former subjects would degenerate and explode.
By injecting the Extremis formula into himself, Killian's disability had been cured and he was able to utilize its full power, thereby granting him super strength, durability, heat-based abilities and high-speed regeneration. He was shown as being able to breathe fire akin to that of a dragon. His body was adorned with dragon tattoos, which fueled his claim about being the "real Mandarin".
Essentially a foil to Tony Stark in terms of personality, he was described as one of Tony's very own demons, in which Killian was a "mistake" that Tony had committed in his old life. Initially describing himself as one of Tony's greatest fans, Killian would grow to resent Tony after being shunned by the latter. While Justin Hammer wanted to be seen as Tony's superior, Killian wanted to be just like him, having originally idolized Tony. Acting as a parallel to Tony Stark, Killian is obsessive, arrogant, and immature in his dealings. He sees his creations not as a distraction but as his purpose, as he seeks to exploit war and death for profit. He also desired the women that were associated with Tony, having hired Maya Hansen and killing her when she displayed feelings for Stark, as well as describing Pepper Potts as his "trophy." His goals revolved around wanting to punish Stark by systematically giving him the same sense of desperation he felt 13 years ago.
Powers and abilities
Extremis: The Extremis formula, developed by Killian, endows Killian several superhuman abilities. In addition to completely healing Killian's body of his disabilities, Extremis enhances the body, upgrading strength, speed, and durability to superhuman levels. Killian was shown to have the most advanced capabilities through his infusion with Extremis.
- Enhanced Strength: Extremis enhanced Killian's physical strength, allowing him to tear through dense substances with ease, including those of the the Iron Man armors.
- Enhanced Healing: Extremis gives the human body instantaneous healing abilities. With Killian, Extremis heals his disabilities and is able to regenerate lost limbs in a matter of seconds. Even when caught in an explosion, a weakened Killian still managed to rise from the resulting wreckage.
- Exothermic Reaction: Killian can consciously raise the temperature of parts of his body. Killian can control this heat to the extent that it might only scorch skin, or increase to the point where it can melt steel into a molten state. Another advanced ability, the ability to breathe fire from the mouth, seemed to be unique to Killian, as none of the other Extremis enhanced superhumans demonstrated such power or control.
After curing himself of his disability by using a dose of his own Extremis formula, he orchestrated many terrorist attacks as part of his experiments, while appropriating the image of the terrorist known as "The Mandarin" through the use of an actor, to mask his illegal activities. He orchestrated the attack at Tony's home, kidnapping Pepper Potts afterwards. Having Pepper Potts as his "trophy" and hostage, he injected her with the Extremis formula to further motivate and antagonize Tony.
After his henchmen had abducted President Ellis, Killian had planned to orchestrate a live feed showing the murder of Ellis, only to have Tony Stark and James Rhodes to interrupt and attack their base with the help of Tony's J.A.R.V.I.S.-controlled Iron Man suits. In the ensuing battle, Tony finally found Pepper, only for her to be trapped under debris. Before he was able to rescue her, an angry Killian attacked Tony. Tony managed to distract Killian so as to allow him to rescue Pepper.
While Pepper seemingly died after falling to her apparent death, Killian approached Tony and taunted him for a one-on-one battle. The two engaged in a brutal fight with Tony switching between various Iron Man suits as Killian destroyed each one after another. As Tony was unable to attach any more extra armor onto himself, JARVIS sent the Mark 42 prototype to aid Tony in his battle. Tony then kinetically attached the armor onto Killian to stall his movements. After commanding the suit to pin Killian against the wall, Tony then activated the Mark 42's self-destruct function, thus blowing Killian up in the process.
After the scaffolding in which the two were fighting was destroyed, the battered Tony is confronted by Killian who is shown as surviving the explosion. Taunting Tony, he elaborated upon the revelation that he is the true culprit, claiming that he's the "Mandarin", and that the two should stop hiding behind "false faces." Just before he is able to attack Tony, Pepper attacked him from behind, having survived her fall with the help of her new found Extremis superpowers. Just before Killian was able to retaliate, Pepper knocked him away. After ripping an arm off from one of the stray Iron Man suits, Pepper attached it to her herself and utilized its capabilities to finally end Killian for good.
- “ You really didn't deserve her, Tony. It's a pity. I was so close to having her... perfect. ”
- “ I know it's a little over the top sometimes. It's not entirely my fault; he has a tend... he's... he's a stage actor. They say his Lear was the toast of Croydon, wherever that is. Anyway, the point is, ever since that big dude with a hammer fell out of the sky, subtlety's kinda had its day. ”
- “The whole world's gonna be watching.”
- “No more false faces.... you said you wanted The Mandarin... you're looking right at him. It always was me, Tony. Right from the start: I AM THE MANDARIN!!!”
- ―Killian's last words[src]
- Aldrich Killian is the only Iron Man villain that doesn't use armor or any variation of a mechanical suit.
- Aldrich naming himself as the real Mandarin seems heavily inspired by the comic Iron Man: Director of SHIELD (#15-28). Within the comic, not only does the actual Mandarin attempt to use Extremis-enhanced soldiers as a part of his plan to cleanse humanity, but he is also depicted as fighting shirtless during his battle against Iron Man, much like how Aldrich Killian is depicted in the film Iron Man 3.
- The dragon tattoos on Aldrich Killian's chest are a reference to Fin Fang Foom.
- Jude Law was considered for the role of Aldrich Killian.
- In the Iron Man 3 video game, Aldrich is revealed to have survived, but A.I.M. has uploaded his consciousness into a new enhanced form, called M.O.D.O.K. (Mental Organism Designed Only for Killing).
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