After the release of Iron Man 2 in May 2010, Favreau decided not to return as director, and in February 2011, Black was hired to rewrite and direct the film. Throughout April and May of 2012, the film's supporting cast was filled out, with Kingsley, Pearce, and Hall brought in to portray key roles. Filming began on May 23, 2012 in Wilmington, North Carolina. The film was shot primarily in North Carolina, with additional shooting in Florida, China, and Los Angeles. The film's visual effects were handled by a number of companies, including Scanline VFX, Digital Domain, and Weta Digital.
Iron Man 3 was converted to 3D in post-production. The film premiered at the Grand Rex in Paris on April 14, 2013, and was internationally released on April 25, 2013 in IMAX and was released on May 3, 2013 in the United States.
The movie starts off with Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) narrating that he has lost everything due to the demons that he created in his past. The movie flashes back to 1999, where Tony is at a party with Maya Hansen (Rebecca Hall), a botanist who specializes in DNA reproduction. As Tony heads for the elevator to his hotel room with Maya, he is approached by a crippled scientist, Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce). Aldrich forces his way into the elevator with Tony to speak with him. Aldrich wants Tony to provide funding for his endeavor Advanced Idea Mechanics (AIM). Tony promises to meet Aldrich at the roof of the building they are on in five minutes.
Tony and Maya enter her room where Maya shows him the research she is working on. It involves utilizing DNA to reproduce the limbs of plants. Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau) is there with them. Tony and Maya proceed to the bedroom for some alone time. Happy follows them into the bedroom and rips off a leaf and stem of an experimental plant Maya is working with. The plant regenerates its leaves and stem. However, a few minutes later, the entire plant explodes in the room. Happy tackles Tony in the bed to make sure he is okay. After checking everything out in the other room, Happy says everything is okay and leaves the room. Maya and Tony proceed to have a one night stand. Aldrich is shown on top of the building waiting for Tony, but Tony never arrives. In the morning, Maya is left with a note from Tony that says "You know who I am."
The movie flashes back to present-day. On the television, there is news of a string of bombings that has been caused by the terrorist known as the Mandarin. The Mandarin openly challenges the president of the United States and states that he will be coming after him. A scene is shown where the president orders War Machine to find the Mandarin. Colonel James Rhodes and Tony Stark meet at a restaurant. Tony asks Rhodes about the Mandarin. Rhodes tells him the information is classified, but proceeds to tell him that the string of bombings are unique because there is no evidence of a bomb or explosive device being used.
The movie shifts to Stark Industries where Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) meets with Aldrich. She is surprised to see that Aldrich is no longer crippled and is very handsome and fit now. Aldrich shows her his new experiment that he is working on which involves being able to isolate and empower certain areas of the human brain. He throws three metal balls which act as a projector and displays his research. Happy video chats with Tony to tell him about Pepper's meeting with Aldrich. Aldrich asks Pepper to fund his project, but she refuses because she believes his research can be weaponized. Aldirch leaves disappointed, but tells Pepper he will see her again soon.
Pepper returns to Tony's home. Outside is a large stuffed dog that Tony has bought for her as a gift. They have a discussion, where he tells her about his panic attacks and sleep insomnia. He also questions her about her meeting with Aldirch, to which she gets mad at him for spying on her. Tony apologizes and they patch things up. Pepper tells him she can join him in the shower.
At the Grauman's Chinese Theater in Hollywood, Happy Hogan is walking around and notices Aldrich's bodyguard/henchman, Eric Savin (James Badge Dale), who was present at Stark Industries during Pepper's meeting with Aldirch. Another henchman nearby injects himself with some type of medicine, and slowly begins to glow red and turn super hot. He eventually explodes into pieces and causes a massive explosion inside the theater which wounds Happy seriously. As Happy drifts into unconsciousness he points his finger at some dog tags for Tony to pick up on.
Tony is distraught over Happy's injury. He goes on live television when he is interviewed and states his home address on the news. He issues a threat to the Mandarin and tells him to come find him. When Tony returns home, Maya comes to visit him and tells him that she needs to meet with him alone to discuss an important matter. Meanwhile, Pepper is packing for a trip and comes down to meet with them. On the TV in Tony's home, Maya notices helicopters coming to attack Tony's home. Tony's home is destroyed, but Pepper and Maya manage to get away safely with the help of the Iron Man suit. Tony falls into the ocean with his suit on. His artificial intelligence system, JARVIS (voiced by Paul Bettany) flies him to rural Tennessee. Tony questions Jarvis on why he chose to send him here, out of all the places in the US. JARVIS lets him know it is because there was evidence of an early Mandarin bombing in Tennessee that Tony could use to find him. Thus, the computer system guided the suit to fly him here.
Tony calls Pepper to let him know he is alive and drags the suit to an abandoned looking farmhouse. His suit is out of power and cannot fly him to California. As he is working on his suit, the son of the farmhouse owner returns to find Tony. After some bantering and recognizing the Iron Man suit, the boy, whose name is Harley (Ty Simpkins) agrees to help Tony in his investigation.
Tony investigates the remains of a local explosion that is similar to the Mandarin attack. He notices that six deaths were reported, but there were only five burned shadows on the surrounding walls where the explosions took place. He finds it suspicious that one individual seems to have completely burned up without leaving any traces behind. He eventually finds the mother of one of the individuals who died in the explosion. They meet in a bar, and she passes him a file of a soldier believed to be dead, Eric Savin, who the audience knows is alive because he is Aldrich's henchman. At this point, two Mandarin agents, Ellen Brandt (Stephanie Szostak) and Eric Savin attack Tony. During the battle, the two agents are wounded multiple times, but their body miraculously heals immediately. Ellen is eventually killed by Tony. Eric is rendered immobile after Tony knocks him out with a spare Iron Man plasma blaster he kept as an emergency weapon on him. Tony gets away safely with the help of Harley.
Tony reads Eric's file and notices that the word's MIA on his file also spells AIM, when the document is flipped backwards. He uses Colonel Rhodes' – the former War Machine, now re-branded as the Iron Patriot – (Don Cheadle) army login credentials to investigate and discovers the Mandarin explosions were all triggered by soldiers from the Extremis program. The Extremis program is an experimental treatment intended to allow people to recreate their limbs and recover from all types of debilitating injuries. However, if the user cannot accept the treatment, he/she will turn bright red, heat up and explode into pieces.
After his discovery, Tony traces the Mandarin to Miami. He infiltrates the headquarters using homemade weapons. Eventually he confronts the Mandarin (Ben Kingsley). Tony discovers the Mandarin is actually a British actor named Trevor Slattery. Trevor has substance abuse problems and confesses that he was hired by Aldrich to act as the Mandarin. In return, he got drugs, alcohol, and women. Trevor has no idea what Aldrich is doing with regards to the explosions around the world. He just acts out the lines provided to him by Aldrich on television. After this discovery, Tony is knocked out by Aldrich's henchmen.
When Tony awakes, he sees Maya, who confesses that she was in cohorts with Aldrich the entire time. Aldrich used her DNA research to create the Extremis program. The research was used to cure his own physical disabilities. They also used the research to cure those of injured war veterans who have lost limbs. Tony tells Maya that she still has her soul and knows that what Aldrich is doing is wrong. He also apologizes for how he treated her in the past.
Aldrich enters and tells him that he has kidnapped Pepper and subjected her to Extremis. He wants to use her as leverage to convince Tony to help fix the drug's flaws and prevent more people from blowing up. Maya threatens Aldrich to stop and let Tony go or she will inject herself with Extremis, which could kill her and prevent any further developments in the drug. Instead of doing as he is told, Aldrich shoots Maya in the heart without hesitation.
In the next scene, Iron Patriot is captured when he enters a trap set by Aldrich. Iron Patriot flies to a foreign factory that looks like they just manufacture sports clothes. As he is about to fly off, one of the workers shakes his hand. The individual is revealed to be Aldrich's henchman, who has undergone the Extremis treat. The henchman disables Iron Patriot's suit by subjecting to extreme heat using his hands. Rhodes is captured and brought before Aldrich. Rhodes is subjected to torture when Aldrich slowly heats up the Iron Patriot suit with Rhodes inside. Aldrich has the ability to generate extreme heat with his palms as well. Eventually, Rhodes jumps out of the suit and battles with Aldrich and his henchman. However, he is no match for Aldrich, who can apparently breathe fire. Rhodes is eventually knocked out.
Meanwhile, Tony's suit from the Tennessee farmhouse is fixed. It flies to him and he uses it to break out of his captivity. He reunites with Rhodes who is located at the same facility. They fill each other in on Aldrich's plan of kidnapping the president of the United States. Rhodes calls the vice-president to tell him about the situation and tells him to notify the president's security team to not let the Iron Patriot suit on. The vice-president (Miguel Ferrer) agrees and hangs up the phone. He approaches his granddaughter and tells her he loves her. The audience sees that she is missing half her leg and is stuck in a wheel chair.
Aldrich uses the suit as a Trojan Horse and sends it abroad Air Force One. The president (William Sadler) is kidnapped and the people on board Air Force One are thrown out of the plane. Tony uses his Iron Man Suit to fly to the individuals that are thrown out. He instructs them to form a tandem circle and catch each other as they are falling. Eventually, all of the people are rescued and dropped into the water. After saving the people, the suit starts to fly away and is hit by a large transport truck. The suit breaks into multiple pieces. It is revealed that Tony was using the Iron Man suit remotely to save the people thrown out of the plane.
Tony and Rhodes track Aldrich to an oil drilling platform. They notice the president is inside the Iron Patriot suit and hung up. Television cameras are aimed at the president. Aldirch intends to execute the president on live television by setting him on fire. Aldrich's plan is to rule the US. The vice-president of the United States will become a puppet president under the control of Aldrich upon the death of President Ellis.
Upon reaching the platform, Rhodes and Tony split up. Rhodes is tasked with saving the president while Tony goes to save Pepper. Although the audience was lead to believe that Tony only had one suit left, he actually had a secret underground storage room for multiple suits under his destroyed house. He tells JARVIS to deploy the suits to help him under the "house party protocol". The suits arrive and destroy many Extremis soldiers. James Rhodes secures the president and flies him to safety after regaining control of his Iron Patriot suit.
Tony eventually finds Pepper and discovers she has survived both phases of the Extremis drug administration. However, before he can free her, the rig collapses around them. He tells her to reach for his hand, but she cannot. Eventually, she falls to her apparent death. Aldrich witnesses her death and tells Tony that is too bad he could not save her. Aldrich also states that he would have been able to. He then reveals to Tony that he is the reason for all this chaos. Aldrich holds a strong grudge against Tony for not meeting him on the roof of the building in 1999. Aldrich thought of committing suicide due to being ditched by Tony. However, as he watched the fireworks show in the sky, he realized his life was meant for so much more.
Tony and Aldirch fight and Aldrich is clearly winning. He easily rips apart multiple suits that Tony jumps into due to his ability to generate extreme heat with his body. Eventually Tony traps him an Iron Man suit and orders JARVIS to self destruct the suit with Aldrich inside. However, Aldrich still manages to survive (Killian reveals he is the real Mandarin). As Aldrich is about to attack Tony one more time, Pepper shows up again and slams Aldrich hard with a metal pole. Her Extremis powers allowed her to survive her fall. She battles Aldrich and throws him into the air, launches a bomb at him and uses an Iron Man plasma glove to set off the bomb all in one swift motion. This finally kills Aldirch. She tells Tony she is surprised at how violent that was.
After re-uniting with Pepper and telling her how sorry he is, Tony orders JARVIS to perform a "clean slate." JARVIS destroys each Iron Man suit remotely, which looks like multiple fireworks being set off into the sky. The vice president is arrested with Rhodes looking on. Happy is shown waking up in the hospital and recovering from his wounds. Pepper undergoes surgery to remove Extremis, and Tony undergoes surgery to remove the shrapnel near his heart. In a voiceover, Tony states that it is time for a change. After the surgery, Tony throws his old chest arc reactor into the sea to symbolize the beginning of his new life. He plans to spend more time focusing on Pepper He notes that he will always be Iron Man, even with no armor.
After the credits, it is revealed that Stark has been recounting his experiences to Dr. Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo in a cameo), who awakens, having fallen asleep at the beginning of Tony's story.
- Robert Downey, Jr. as Tony Stark / Iron Man: A self-described genius, billionaire, playboy, and philanthropist with a mechanical suit of armor of his own invention and now struggles to come to terms with his near-death experience in The Avengers. On making a third Iron Man film, Downey said, "My sense of it is that we need to leave it all on the field — whatever that means in the end. You can pick several different points of departure for that." On following up The Avengers, Downey said they "tried to be practical, in a post-Avengers world. What are his challenges now? What are some limitations that might be placed on him? And what sort of threat would have him, as usual, ignore those limitations?".
- Gwyneth Paltrow as Virginia "Pepper" Potts: Stark's girlfriend, longtime associate, and CEO of Stark Industries. Paltrow says of her character's relationship to Tony, "[She still] adores Tony, but she absolutely gets fed up with him. He gets caught in a feedback loop." Kevin Feige comments on Pepper's role in the film: "The love triangle in this movie is really between Tony, Pepper, and the suits. Tony, Pepper, and his obsession with those suits, and the obsession with technology." Feige also states that the film plans to play with the damsel in distress trope with the character and posits the question, "Is Pepper in danger or is Pepper the savior?" Paltrow has confirmed that Pepper will wear the Iron Man armor in the film.
- Don Cheadle as Col. James "Rhodey" Rhodes / Iron Patriot: Stark's best friend, the liaison between Stark Industries and the U.S. Air Force in the department of acquisitions. Rhodes operates the redesigned/upgraded War Machine armor, taking on an American flag-inspired color scheme similar to the Iron Patriot armor from the comics. Kevin Feige said of Rhodes and the armor, "The notion in the movie is that a red, white, and blue suit is a bold statement, and it's meant to be. With Rhodey, he's very much the foil to Tony's eccentricities, and in this one you get to see this and be reminded of the trust and friendship between them in that great Shane Black buddy-cop fashion." In the film, the president asks Rhodey to take up the moniker "Iron Patriot", and don the red, white and blue suit, in order to be the government's "American hero" in response to the events in The Avengers.
- Guy Pearce as Aldrich Killian: The creator of the Extremis virus and the founder of Advanced Idea Mechanics, who later revealed himself to be the real Mandarin. Killian develops Extremis to cure his own debilitating disability; in addition to his regenerative healing qualities, he has superhuman strength and the ability to generate extreme heat. Prolonged exposure to Extremis also grants him the ability to breathe fire. On taking the role, Pearce said, "I feel a little more experimental in what I'll take on these days, but I still don't know that I would want to play the superhero myself, since I'm playing a different kind of character in this film... The main difference was that, when I did The Time Machine, I was pretty much in all of it, so it was a really grueling experience. Prometheus and Iron Man are really kind of cameo stuff, so the experience of shooting them... I mean, on some level, it's tricky because you feel like a bit of an outsider. You don't really live the experience that you do when you're there all day every day with everybody. But at the same time, it can be more fun sometimes because you're just working in concentrated spurts." Pearce described his character as a man "who came into this world with a number of physical disabilities. He's never been able to accept those limitations though and has spent most of his life trying to overcome them in any way he can. His tenacity and blind determination in fighting for a better life are seen by some as irritating, as he often comes across as obnoxious. He just won't accept the cards he was dealt, and being as intelligent as he is, has real drive to change and become a different person." Shane Black specified, "Ultimately we do give you the Mandarin, the real guy, but it's Guy Pearce in the end with the big dragon tattooed on his chest." He elaborated, "Do they hand me a blank check and say, 'Go break something!' Or, 'Go violate some long-standing comic book treaty that fans have supported for years?' No, but they'll say: 'Let's break something together.' So it's okay to come up with these crazy things, these far out ideas … and they'll fly. It's just that the Marvel guys have to be in the room."
- Rebecca Hall as Dr. Maya Hansen: A botanist whose work helped create Extremis. Hall confirmed that Hansen would be a "strong female character," and described her decision to take the role, saying, "I decided to do Iron Man 3 because I've never done the 'hurry up and wait' movie before. Even the studio movies I've done have been small studio movies, or indie films that we made on a wing and a prayer. I love those, but Iron Man is refreshing in a way because it's something out of my realm of experiences."
- Stephanie Szostak as Ellen Brandt: A war veteran who became an assassin after her exposure to Extremis. Describing Brandt, Szostak says, "...[Extremis] was a second chance at life. We talked about what you feel like and I think it almost makes you a fuller version of who you are, all your weakness and your qualities - just everything gets enhanced. I saw it as very freeing, almost you become your true-self and your fantasy-self all at once."
- James Badge Dale as Eric Savin: Killian's Extremis-powered henchman. Dale stated that his character in the film was "loosely based on" the comic version of the character. According to Dale, "Ben Kingsley is the mouthpiece. Guy Pearce is the brain. I'm the muscle."
- Jon Favreau as Happy Hogan: Tony Stark's former bodyguard and chauffeur, now Stark Industries head of security. Favreau, who served as both actor and director on the previous two Iron Man films, described his participation on the new film saying he was "like a proud grandfather who doesn't have to change the diapers but gets to play with the baby."
- Ben Kingsley as Trevor Slattery / Mandarin: A drunken British actor hired by Killian to pose as a terrorist who calls himself the Mandarin and claims to be the leader of the international terrorist organization The Ten Rings. Kingsley was filming Ender's Game when he was cast, and said that, "Quite soon I'll be with everybody and we'll be discussing the look and the feel and the direction of the character. It's very early days yet, but I'm so thrilled to be on board." The Mandarin was initially set to appear in the first Iron Man film, but he was put off for a sequel as the filmmakers felt that he was "too ambitious for a first [film]". On the character, Feige stated, "The Mandarin is [Iron Man's] most famous foe in the comics mainly because he's been around the longest. If you look, there's not necessarily a definitive Mandarin storyline in the comics. So it was really about having an idea." Shane Black explains that Ben Kingsley's Mandarin is not Chinese in the film as he is in the comics in order to avoid the Fu Manchu stereotype: "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." The filmmakers also cited Colonel Kurtz from Apocalypse Now as an influence for the character.
- Ty Simpkins as Harley: The first child featured prominently in the Iron Man films, Harley is a troubled boy living with his mother, who must work all hours since Harley's father left them before the events of the film. After Stark arrives in his town, Harley becomes his sidekick and helps to repair his suit and track down the Mandarin.
Paul Bettany reprises his role from previous films as J.A.R.V.I.S., Stark's AI system. Ashley Hamilton portrays Jack Taggert / Firepower, and Wang Xueqi plays Dr. Wu. Initial reports had Wang playing Chen Lu, who was Radioactive Man in the comics. William Sadler plays President Ellis, and Stan Lee makes a cameo appearance as a beauty pageant judge and Fan Bingbing and Wu Jing were cast in unspecified roles. Mark Ruffalo makes an uncredited cameo appearance in a reprisal of his role as Hulk from The Avengers in a post-credits scene. Miguel Ferrer plays Vice President Rodriguez. Shaun Toub reprises his role as Yinsen from the first Iron Man film in brief cameo. Joan Rivers, Thomas Roberts, and Bill Maher have cameo appearances as themselves on their respective real-world television programs.
- “Truthfully, the way to go about doing a part 3, if you're ever in that position, as I'm lucky enough to be, is to find a way that the first two weren't done yet. You have to find a way to make sure that the story that's emerging is still ongoing and, by the time you've finished 3, will be something resembling the culmination of a trilogy. It's about, 'How has the story not yet been completely told?,' and I think we're getting there. I think we've really found ways to make this feel organic and new, based on what's come before, and that's what I'm happy about.”
- ―Shane Black, director of Iron Man 3, on the film.
Following the release of Iron Man 2, a conflict between Paramount Pictures, which had distribution rights to certain Marvel properties, and The Walt Disney Company, Marvel Entertainment's new corporate parent, clouded the timing and the distribution arrangement of a possible third film. On October 18, 2010, Walt Disney Studios agreed to pay Paramount at least $115 million for the worldwide distribution rights to Iron Man 3 and The Avengers. Disney, Marvel, and Paramount announced a May 3, 2013 release date for Iron Man 3.
Iron Man and Iron Man 2 director Jon Favreau said in December 2010 that he would not direct Iron Man 3, opting to direct Magic Kingdom instead. He remained an executive producer of director Joss Whedon's crossover film The Avengers and will also serve as an executive producer of Iron Man 3. In February 2011 Shane Black entered final negotiations to direct and write the screenplay, and in March Drew Pearce was hired to co-write the screenplay. Black described his take on the film as not being "two men in iron suits fighting each other", and more like a "Tom Clancy thriller", with Iron Man fighting real world type villains. Downey, who had previously starred in Black's film Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, said, "Bringing in Shane Black to write and direct Iron Man 3 to me is basically the only transition from Favreau to a 'next thing' that Favreau and the audience and Marvel and I could ever actually sign off on."
In September 2011, Marvel Studios reached an agreement to shoot the film primarily out of EUE/Screen Gems Studios in Wilmington, North Carolina. Michigan was also in contention to land the production, but the Michigan Film Office could not match North Carolina's tax incentives. In April 2012, Ben Kingsley entered into negotiations to play a villain in Iron Man 3. The film's fake working title was revealed to be Caged Heat, and Marvel Studios worked with the Tona B. Dahlquist Casting company to hire extras in the North Carolina area. The following week, producer Kevin Feige revealed that Iron Man 3 would begin shooting in North Carolina "in five weeks", and said that it "is a full-on Tony Stark-centric movie... very much inspired by the first half of Iron Man ... [H]e's stripped of everything, he's backed up against a wall, and he's gotta use his intelligence to get out of it. He can't call Thor, he can't call Cap, he can't call Nick Fury, and he can't look for the Helicarrier in the sky." A few days later, The Walt Disney Company China, Marvel Studios, and DMG Entertainment announced an agreement to co-produce Iron Man 3 in China. DMG will partly finance, produce in China with Marvel, and handle co-production matters. DMG will also distribute the film in China in tandem with Disney.
The next week, Guy Pearce entered into final talks to play Aldrich Killian, a character who is featured in the "Extremis" comic book story arc.> Chinese star Andy Lau became involved in negotiations to join the film, as a Chinese scientist and old friend of Tony Stark's who comes to his aid. Jessica Chastain entered into discussions for a role in the film but bowed out due to scheduling conflicts. In May, Rebecca Hall was cast in her place, and her role was described as "a scientist who plays a pivotal role in the creation of a nanotechnology, known as Extremis". Over the next few weeks, James Badge Dale was cast as the villain Eric Savin, Ashley Hamilton was cast as the armored villain Firepower, and Jon Favreau was set to reprise his role as Happy Hogan from the first two films. William Sadler was also cast in the film, as the President of the United States. Despite erroneous early reports that Cobie Smulders would reprise her role as Maria Hill from The Avengers in the film, Smulders wrote on her verified Twitter page that this was not so. Scarlett Johansson also dismissed rumors she would reprise her role as Black Widow in the film.
Filming began in Wilmington, North Carolina on May 23, 2012 at EUE/Screen Gems Studios. From June 4 through June 6, filming took place in Cary, North Carolina at the Epic Games headquarters, with a large Christmas tree set up on the front lawn. A scene was also shot at the Wilmington International Airport. On set photos in North Carolina featured an actor wearing armor similar to the "Iron Patriot" suit from the comics. It was later reported to be the War Machine armor painted in red, white, and blue. Another picture appeared online showing a building with a sign saying AIM, Advanced Idea Mechanics. In late June it was reported that the large water tank in the EUE/Screen Gems Studios was being used to film a scene in which Stark's Malibu mansion would be destroyed and fall into the ocean. It was also reported that Andy Lau had turned down the role he was negotiating to play, due to the birth of his first child on May 9. With Lau out, other actors in consideration for the role included Chen Daoming and Wu Xiubo. Chinese actresses reportedly contacted for separate roles included Yao Chen and Fan Bingbing.
From July 19 to August 1 filming took place on Oak Island, North Carolina, to "film aerial drops over the Atlantic Ocean". In late July, it was reported that Stephanie Szostak had been cast in the film. Filming took place in Rose Hill, North Carolina in early August 2012. On August 14, actress Dale Dickey said she had been cast in the film, and was currently shooting her scenes.> On August 15, production was halted when Robert Downey, Jr. suffered an ankle injury. Shooting had resumed by August 24. In early September, it was reported that Wang Xueqi had been cast for a role for which Lau had initially been cast.
Cast and crew began arriving in Florida on October 1, to shoot scenes on Dania Beach and around South Florida. That same day, Robert Downey Jr. returned to the set after his ankle injury. In early October, scenes were shot at a replica of the Malibu restaurant Neptune's Net, and filming took place on location at the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens. Scenes were shot during the daytime inside the Miami Beach Resort at Miami Beach on October 10 and 11. The production returned to Wilmington in mid-October for additional filming. On November 1, scenes were shot at the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens and at an abandoned cement factory made up as an Afghanistan village market. Filming in the United States wrapped on November 7 in Wilmington.
Filming began in Beijing, China on December 10. Filming was scheduled to wrap a week later on December 17, 2012. The China filming did not include the main cast and crew. In January 2013, it was reported that a film crew led by Shane Black would begin location scouting in Hyderabad, India and Bengaluru, India between January 20 and 24. Also in January, Don Cheadle confirmed that reshooting was taking place in Manhattan Beach. Shooting also took place on the week of January 23, 2013 at TCL Chinese Theatre in Hollywood.
Chris Townsend served as visual effects supervisor for the film, which featured over 2,000 visual effects shots and was worked on by 17 studios, including Weta Digital, Digital Domain, Scanline VFX, Trixter, Framestore, Luma Pictures, Fuel VFX, Cantina Creative, Cinesite, The Embassy Visual Effects, Lola, Capital T, Prologue, and Rise FX. Townsend said that from January 2013 through the film's wrap in April, the collective crew had one day of downtime, otherwise working seven days a week and 14 to 18 hours a day.
Digital Domain, Scanline VFX, and Trixter each worked on separate shots featuring the Mark 42 armor, working with different digital models. The studios shared some of their files to ensure consistency between the shots. For the Mark 42 and Iron Patriot armors, Legacy Effects constructed partial suits that were worn on set. Townsend explained that "Invariably we'd shoot a soft-suit with Robert then we'd also put tracking markers on his trousers. He would also wear lifts in his shoes or be up in a box so he'd be the correct height – Iron Man is 6″5′. During shooting we used multiple witness cams, Canon C300s, and we had two or three running whenever there was an Iron Man or Extremis character." The artists studied time lapse photography of decaying fruit and vegetables and actual phenomena such as the aurora borealis as reference for the effect of the glowing Extremis characters.
The film's production was delayed following Downey's leg injury, and for certain shots they were forced to create a double for Downey. Townsend explained that "The collective VFX [supervisors] and unit leads ran into a room as soon as the incident happened to try to ascertain what sequences could they shoot." Certain shots were filmed with a body double on set, and Weta Digital created a digital body double for others.
A total of three hours and 15 minutes of footage were shot before editing, where it was brought down to 130 minutes (119 without the credits), marking the longest stand-alone Iron Man film. Post-production also had a 3D conversion and a digital remaster for the IMAX release. Todd-AO mixed the sound in Dolby Atmos to enhance the immersive experience.
- Main article: Iron Man 3 (soundtrack)
In October 2012, Brian Tyler signed on to score the film. The score is being recorded with the London Philharmonic Orchestra at Abbey Road Studios utilizing the recent Dolby Atmos recording technology. Tyler is the third primary composer to score an Iron Man film, following Ramin Djawadi of Iron Man and John Debney of Iron Man 2.
ReleaseWalt Disney Studios Motion Pictures with the exception of China, where it was released by DMG Entertainment, and Germany and Austria, where it was released by Tele München Group. The Chinese version of the film offers specially prepared bonus footage made exclusively for the Chinese audience. This version features a four-minute longer cut of the film, with a scene showing Dr. Wu on the phone with Iron Man visible on a television screen behind him, as well as a longer scene of Dr. Wu operating on Stark. The extra material also features product placement of different Chinese products.
The United States premiere of the film was held at the El Capitan Theatre on April 24, 2013. The UK premiere of the film, originally set for April 17, was pushed back to the 18th in order to avoid possible unrest over the funeral of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, which took place on the 17th. The film was shown in the 4DX format, featuring strobe lights, tilting seats, blowing wind and fog and odor effects in selected countries. In Japan, the technology opened its first room at the Korona World theatre in Nagoya, Japan with the release of the film. Regal Cinemas, AMC Theatres, and Carmike Cinemas put presale tickets on hold, two weeks before the US premiere. The cinemas were in a contract dispute with Disney, who wished to receive more of the ticket sale profit than they currently did, largely based on the projected premiere-weekend intake Iron Man 3 was expected to have. Carmike was the first to come to terms with Disney. It was later reported that Cinemark Theatres had also stopped selling presale tickets, and Regal Cinemas had removed all marketing material for the film from its locations. On April 25, 2013, Regal, AMC, and Disney ended their dispute, which allowed Regal and AMC to proceed with selling presale tickets again.
In July 2012, at the San Diego Comic-Con International, a new Iron Man armor from the movie, the Mark XLII, was on display on the convention floor, along with the Marks I-VII from the first two Iron Man movies and The Avengers. A panel was held, during which Shane Black, Robert Downey, Jr., Don Cheadle, Jon Favreau, and Kevin Feige discussed making the film, and several minutes of footage from the movie were shown. The first television advertisement aired during Super Bowl XLVII on the CBS network in the United States. On March 25, 2013, Marvel and Disney revealed on the official Iron Man Facebook page, "Iron Man 3: Armor Unlock", to reveal suits Stark has made before the events of the film.
Disney also promoted the film at its domestic theme parks. Disneyland's Innoventions attraction received a Stark Industries exhibit beginning April 13, and Monorail Black of the Walt Disney World Monorail System was given an exterior Iron Man scheme. The exhibit, entitled "Iron Man Tech Presented by Stark Industries", features the same armor display that was shown at the 2012 San Diego Comic-Con, with the Marks I-VII and the new Mark XLII. In addition, there is a simulator game, titled "Become Iron Man", that uses Kinect-like technology to allow the viewer to be encased in an animated Mark XLII armor and take part in a series of "tests", in which you fire repulsor rays and fly through Tony Stark's workshop. The game is guided by JARVIS, who is voiced again by Paul Bettany. The exhibit also has smaller displays that include helmets and chest pieces from the earlier films and the gauntlet and boot from an action sequence in Iron Man 3.
In January 2013, Marvel Comics released a two-issue comic book prelude by writers Christos Gage and Will Corona Pilgrim with art by Steve Kurth and Drew Geraci. The story set between Iron Man 2 and Iron Man 3, centers on War Machine and what he was up to during the events of The Avengers and why he was not present during the battle in New York. Comic Book Resources gave the first issue two-out-of-five stars, saying the writing is front-loaded with exposition and overly terse at the end, and the art, while not awful, flounders compared to other superhero comics.
The international version of the film has a number of Chinese elements sans the extra footage only shown in the Chinese version. Some of these elements include minor shots with actor Wang Xueqi at the meeting in Switzerland in 1999 and as the doctor removing the shrapnel from Tony's chest. A TCL television is located in the hospital room where Happy is resting. The Mandarin has dragon tattoos on his chest and can breath fire. During the surgical procedure acupuncture needles are in Tony Starks' chest.
Iron Man 3 was released by Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment in digital download form on September 3, 2013. This was followed by the film's release on Blu-ray disc, 3D Blu-ray, DVD, digital copy and on demand on September 24, 2013. The home video release includes a Marvel One-Shot short film titled Agent Carter starring Hayley Atwell as Peggy Carter from Captain America: The First Avenger.
The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reported a 78% approval rating with an average rating of 6.9/10, based on an aggregation of 257 reviews, saying: "With the help of its charismatic lead, some impressive action sequences, and even a few surprises, Iron Man 3 is a witty, entertaining adventure and possibly one of Marvel's best yet". Breaking-Views India said Iron Man 3 is a perfect summer blockbuster for the entire family. Giovanni Fazio, in his review for the Japan Times, called the film "a popcorn flick par excellence". Metacritic gave a score of 62 out of 100, indicating "generally favorable reviews". For the audience, 83% of people liked it, with a average score of 4.1/5 from 145,968 users. On IMDB, the film carries a 7.7/10 from 130,979 users.
In an early review by the trade magazine The Hollywood Reporter, Todd McCarthy said that, "After nearly crashing and burning on his last solo flight in 2010, Iron Man returns refreshed and ready for action in this spirited third installment ... [that] benefits immeasurably from the irreverent quicksilver humor of co-writer and director Shane Black.... Calling the film "darker and more serious than its predecessors," Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times credited director and co-writer Shane Black for "chang[ing] this billion-dollar-plus franchise's tone for the better while keeping the same actor as Tony Stark. ... There is quite a bit of Black's trademark attitude and humor here as well, things like a throwaway reference to the sci-fi classic Westworld and a goofy character who has Tony Stark's likeness tattooed on his forearm. Black and company throw all kinds of stuff at the audience, and though it doesn't all work, a lot of it does and the attempt to be different and create unguessable twists is always appreciated." Rafer Guzman of Newsday characterized Iron Man as "the anti-Batman, all zip and zingers. He's also, suddenly, rather family-friendly. Some of the movie's best moments are shared by Stark and latchkey kid Harley (Ty Simpkins), who mock their budding father-son relationship while acting it out." Nick De Semlyen of the UK film magazine Empire had criticisms, even while giving the fiilm four of five stars. Finding it "a swinging caper with wit, balls, heart, and exploding baubles," he said the villainous "super-soldiers who can regenerate body parts and survive astounding damage [are] visually interesting ... but their motivation is murky and unconvincing." Likewise Joshua Rothkopf of Time Out New York bestowed 3 of 5 stars, saying, "Black has massively upped the verbal sparring and kept the broad inventiveness of comic-book malleability in mind. ... The most wonderful of Black's surprises harkens back to his '80s reputation for character revision and is simply too good to ruin here." But, he asked, "[W]hy, finally, are we down at the docks — in the dark, no less — for one of those lumbering climaxes involving swinging shipping cranes? The energy bleeds out of the film; it's as if the producers were scared the crowd would riot over not enough digital fakeness."
Reacting more negatively, Stephen Whitty of The Star-Ledger found the film "slickly enjoyable" for the visual effects, but said, "[T]here's something empty about the film. Like Tony's suits, it's shiny and polished. But this time, there's nobody inside. ... This movie has neither the emotionalism of the first film, nor the flashy villains of the second. ... Tony's relationship with girlfriend Pepper Potts is in inexplicable jeopardy — and then simply fixes itself. A supposedly cute kid sidekick — a true sign of authorial desperation — is introduced, and then dropped." Michael Phillips of the Chicago Tribune echoed this, saying that, "[I]n a gleefully cynical bid for a preteen audience (a few years too young for the violence in Iron Man 3, I'd say), Stark befriends a bullied 8-year-old [sic] (Ty Simpkins) who becomes his tag-along and sometime savior. ... Stark no longer needs to be in the Iron Man suit. He's able to operate the thing remotely when needed. The movie's like that too. It's decent superhero blockbustering, but rather remote and vaguely secondhand. At this point, even with Black's flashes of black humor, the machinery is more or less taking care of itself, offering roughly half of the genial wit and enjoyment of the first Iron Man. Psychology Today concluded that the film presented an accurate portrayal of Tony Stark's posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms.
Iron Man 3 has earned $409,013,994 in North America, as of May 25, 2014, and an estimated $806,426,000 in other countries, as of May 25, 2014, for a worldwide total of $1,215,439,994. Worldwide, it is the sixth highest-grossing film, the second highest-grossing 2013 film, the second highest-grossing film of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the highest-grossing film of the Iron Man film series, the highest grossing solo superhero movie, as well as the third highest-grossing film distributed by Disney. It achieved the sixth-largest worldwide opening weekend with $372.5 million. On the weekend of May 3–5, 2013, the film set a record for the largest worldwide weekend in IMAX with $28.6 million. On its 23rd day in theaters, Iron Man 3 became the sixth Disney film and the sixteenth film overall to reach $1 billion. It is the fourth fastest film to reach the milestone.
Because the law in China, the box office in China is not belong to The Disney Company, instead of DMG Entertainment and China Film Co. Ltd.
Outside North America
Iron Man 3 is the sixth highest-grossing film, the second highest-grossing 2013 film, the second highest-grossing superhero and comic-book film, and the third highest-grossing film distributed by Disney. The film earned $13.2 million on its opening day (Wednesday, April 24, 2013) from 12 countries Through Sunday, April 28, it earned a five-day opening weekend of $198.4 million from 42 countries. The film's opening-weekend gross included $7.1 million from IMAX venues. It set opening-day records in the Philippines, Taiwan, Singapore, Vietnam, Malaysia, China, Ukraine, Russia, and the CIS, as well as both single- and opening-day records in Thailand and South Africa. It also scored the second-biggest opening day in Argentina (only behind Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2). The film set opening-weekend records in the Asia Pacific region, in Latin America, and in individual countries including Argentina, Ecuador, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Vietnam, Taiwan, the Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, South Africa, and the United Arab Emirates. It also achieved the second-largest opening weekend in Mexico, in Brazil, and in Russia and the CIS. IMAX opening-weekend records were set in Taiwan, the Netherlands, Brazil, and the Philippines. It is the highest-grossing film of all time in Indonesia, Malaysia, and Vietnam.
In China, where part of the production took place, the film set a midnight-showings record with $2.1 million, as well as single-day and opening-day records with $21.5 million (on its opening day). In India, it had the second best opening weekend for a Hollywood film after The Amazing Spider-Man. Through its first Sunday, the film earned an opening-weekend total of $64.1 million. China is the only market where the film earned more than $100 milllion, besides North America.
Iron Man 3 is the fourteenth highest-grossing film, the highest-grossing 2013 film, as well as the fourth highest-grossing comic-book and superhero film. By the end of its opening day, Iron Man 3 made $68.9 million (including $15.6 million from late Thursday shows), achieving the seventh highest-grossing opening day. By the end of its opening weekend, the film earned $174.1 million, scoring the second-highest opening weekend of all time (behind Marvel's The Avengers). 55% of the opening-weekend audience was over 25 years old and 61% were males, while only 45% of the gross originated from 3-D screenings. Opening-weekend earnings from IMAX amounted to $16.5 million. The current domestic gross of the film is $409,013,994. It topped the box office during two consecutive weekends. It achieved the fourth-largest second-weekend gross with $72.5 million.
|2013||BMI Film & TV Awards||Film Music||Brian Tyler||Won|
|Golden Trailer Awards||Best in Show||Iron Man 3 "Not Afraid"|
|Summer 2013 Blockbuster Trailer||Iron Man 3 "Not Afraid"|
|Best Action||Iron Man 3 "Not Afraid"||Nominated|
|Best Sound Editing||Iron Man 3 "Not Afraid"|
|Best Summer Blockbuster 2013 TV Spot||Iron Man 3 "Escape"|
|2013 Teen Choice Awards||Choice Movie: Action||Iron Man 3||rowspan="6"|
|Choice Movie Actor: Action||Robert Downey, Jr.|
|Choice Movie Actress: Action||Gwyneth Paltrow|
|Choice Movie: Sci-Fi/Fantasy||Iron Man 3|
|Choice Movie Actor: Sci-Fi/Fantasy||Robert Downey, Jr.|
|Choice Movie Actress: Sci-Fi/Fantasy||Gwyneth Paltrow|
According to director Shane Black, Robert Downey, Jr.'s contract with Marvel Studios, which expires after the release of Iron Man 3, may be extended in order for the actor to appear in a second Avengers film and at least one more Iron Man film. He said: "There has been a lot of discussion about it: 'Is this the last Iron Man for Robert [Downey, Jr.]?' Something tells me that it will not be the case, and [he] will be seen in a fourth, or fifth." Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige has said that the character of Tony Stark will continue to be featured in the Marvel Cinematic Universe regardless of Downey's involvement. Downey has since said he is open to extending his contract, stating he feels "there's a couple other things we've gotta do" with his character. Feige said the character's next major appearance and storyline would be in The Avengers sequel, which was confirmed by writer/director Joss Whedon.
In an April 2013 interview, Don Cheadle mentioned the possibility of James Rhodes appearing in Captain America: The Winter Soldier and The Avengers sequel. Cheadle told Empire magazine that Iron Man 3 could be the final film in the series: "The door is always left open in these kinds of movies especially when they do as well as they have done. I know there was talk of making sure we did this one right, and if it worked it could be the last one. There's room for more to be done with these characters. We're getting to a sweet spot with Tony and Rhodey, anyway. Robert's really busy, he's just had a kid, and if he were to say I need a break for a second, I would not blame him." Actor Ty Simpkins has signed a 3 picture deal for Marvel Studios.
In 2014, rumour around the internet began circulating about a possible Iron Man 4.
As part of the deal transferring the distribution rights of future releases of Marvel Studios films to the Walt Disney Studios, the Paramount Pictures logo appears instead of any Disney logo, as was the case in the film The Avengers. However, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures is credited at the end of the film.
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