MOTW: What We Know about the New Characters in "Iron Man 3"

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Tony Stark uses his ingenuity to fight those who destroyed his private world and soon goes up against his most powerful enemy yet: the Mandarin.
Photo Credit: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
May 1st, 2013

MOTW: What We Know about the New Characters in "Iron Man 3"

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"Iron Man 3" is a 2013 superhero film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It's the third film in the "Iron Man" series and the seventh film in this franchise. Jon Favreau directed the first two "Iron Man" films but decided not to direct the third installment. Favreau said that he wanted to concentrate on reprising his role of Happy Hogan, whom he also played in the first two films. 

Shane Black was hired to direct "Iron Man 3" in 2011, and he also rewrote the script along with Drew Pearce. The film is based on the Extremis story arc, which comprises six issues in the "Iron Man" comic book series. This story reprises the character of Col. James "Rhodey" Rhodes (Don Cheadle), who appeared in the first two films. "Iron Man 3" also introduces three new characters: Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce), Dr. Maya Hansen (Rebecca Hall), and the Mandarin (Ben Kingsley).

Rhodey is Tony Stark's (Robert Downey Jr.) best friend and liaison between the U.S. Air Force and Stark Industries. He also operates the War Machine armor, which has been upgraded significantly since "Iron Man 2" and has a color scheme based on the American flag. Executive producer Kevin Feige stated in an interview that the red, white, and blue colors of this suit were intended to make a bold statement. He added that the character of Rhodey is a stable foil to the eccentric Tony. 

The friendship and trust between these two characters is reminiscent of the relationship between the lead characters in a buddy-cop film. Feige has also said that the president will order Rhodey to become the government's superhero after the events in "The Avengers," a previous film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The president will assign the moniker "Iron Patriot" to Rhodey when he is wearing the suit. 

Aldrich Killian is the founder of Advanced Idea Mechanics and the inventor of the Extremis virus, which becomes a worldwide threat in "Iron Man 3." Killian has several disabilities, which he has never been able to accept. He attempts to overcome these limitations with sheer determination. Many people find Killian to be irritating and obnoxious due to his single-minded tenacity. He is also highly intelligent, which provides him with the capacity for change. 

Pearce stated that he took the role because he was interested in experimental roles and did not want to play a superhero. He added that filming "The Time Machine" was an extremely grueling experience for him because he was the star of that film. Pearce also said that small roles such as Aldrich Killian are a challenge because the actor playing them is not living with the character every day. 

Dr. Maya Hansen is a botanist who also helped develop the Extremis virus. Hall stated that she took this role because it was a strong female character who was beyond her realm of experience. She added that "Iron Man 3" was her first major feature film and that the making of this film was new to her because it involved long periods of inactivity followed by frantic action. Hall contrasted this style of filmmaking with her previous experiences in independent films and small studio films, in which actors perform almost continuously.

Trevor Cassidy is a British actor recruited by Killian in "Iron Man 3" to play the Mandarin, an international terrorist who is the leader of The Ten Rings. The Mandarin is the most well-known villain in the "Iron Man" comics, primarily because he is the oldest. The Mandarin doesn't have a definitive story line in these comics, so the producers needed an original idea to introduce this character to the "Iron Man" films. Feige reported that they originally planned for the Mandarin to appear in the first film but later decided this story line would require too much time. Mandarin is Chinese in the comics but will be Caucasian in the film to avoid a stereotypical Asian villain, according to Black.

Mandarin will be a character obsessed with Sun Tzu, a warrior in ancient China who is renowned for his philosophy of warfare. Mandarin will also wear a cloak covered with symbols of Chinese culture, especially dragons. Colonel Kurtz from the 1979 war epic "Apocalypse Now" was also a strong influence on the character of Mandarin, according to Black. Kingsley said that he was cast for the role while he was filming "Ender's Game," a science-fiction film scheduled for release in 2013. Kingsley added that he was looking forward to joining the other crew members and discussing the direction in which to take Mandarin.