Iron Man 3 is a 2013 American superhero film based on the Marvel Comics character Iron Man, produced by Marvel Studios and distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.[N 1] It is the sequel to Iron Man (2008) and Iron Man 2 (2010), and the seventh film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). The film was directed by Shane Black from a screenplay he co-wrote with Drew Pearce and stars Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark / Iron Man alongside Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Guy Pearce, Rebecca Hall, Stéphanie Szostak, James Badge Dale, Jon Favreau, and Ben Kingsley. In Iron Man 3, Tony Stark wrestles with the ramifications of the events of The Avengers during a national terrorism campaign on the United States led by the mysterious Mandarin.
After the release of Iron Man 2 in May 2010, director Favreau chose not to return for a third film. Black was hired to write and direct the sequel in February 2011, working with Pearce to make the script more character-centric, focus on thriller elements, and use concepts from Warren Ellis's "Extremis" comic book story arc. The film's supporting cast, including Kingsley, Pearce, and Hall, were brought on throughout April and May 2012. Filming took place from May 23 to December 17, 2012, primarily at EUE/Screen Gems Studios in Wilmington, North Carolina. Additional filming took place around North Carolina as well as in Florida, Los Angeles, and China; an extended version of the film specifically for Chinese audiences were created. Seventeen companies provided the film's visual effects.
Iron Man 3 premiered at the Grand Rex in Paris on April 14, 2013, and was released in the United States on May 3, as the first film in Phase Two of the MCU. It received praise from critics for its performances, visual effects, action sequences, humor, and Brian Tyler's musical score, while critics and audiences gave a mixed reception to its Mandarin plot twist. The film was a box office success, grossing over $1.2 billion worldwide making it the second highest-grossing film of 2013 and the sixteenth film to gross over $1 billion. At the time it also became the fifth-highest-grossing film of all time while its opening weekend became the sixth-highest of all time. The film received Best Visual Effects nominations at the Academy Awards and the BAFTA Awards.
At a New Year's Eve party in 1999, Tony Stark meets scientist Maya Hansen, the inventor of an experimental regenerative treatment named Extremis that allows recovery from crippling injuries. Disabled scientist Aldrich Killian offers them a place in his company Advanced Idea Mechanics, but Stark rejects him. In December 2012, seven months after the battle of New York, Stark is suffering from a post-traumatic stress disorder and is having frequent panic and anxiety attacks due to his experiences during the alien invasion and subsequent battle. Restless, he has built dozens of new Iron Man suits to cope with his insomnia, creating friction with his girlfriend Pepper Potts.
A string of bombings claimed by a terrorist known as the Mandarin has left intelligence agencies bewildered by a lack of forensic evidence. Stark's security chief Happy Hogan is badly injured in one such attack at the TCL Chinese Theatre and is put into a coma, prompting Stark to boldly issue a televised threat to the Mandarin, revealing his home address in the process. The Mandarin sends gunship helicopters to destroy Stark's home. Hansen, who came to warn Stark, survives the attack with Potts. Stark escapes in an experimental new Iron Man suit, which his artificial intelligence J.A.R.V.I.S. pilots to rural Tennessee, following a flight plan from Stark's investigation into the Mandarin. Stark's new armor is not fully functional and lacks sufficient power to return to California, leaving the world to believe him dead.
Stark investigates the remains of a local explosion bearing the hallmarks of a Mandarin attack. He discovers the "bombings" were triggered by soldiers subjected to Extremis whose bodies explosively rejected the treatment. These explosions were falsely attributed to a terrorist plot to cover up Extremis's flaws. Stark witnesses Extremis firsthand when Mandarin agents Savin and Brandt attack him: Stark kills Brandt and incapacitates Savin. Meanwhile, Killian resurfaces and kidnaps Potts with assistance from Hansen. American intelligence agencies continue to search for the Mandarin's location, with James Rhodes—the former War Machine, now re-branded as the Iron Patriot—lured into a trap to steal his Iron-Man-like armor.
Stark traces the Mandarin to Miami and infiltrates his headquarters using improvised weapons. Inside, he discovers the Mandarin is an English actor named Trevor Slattery, who is oblivious to the actions carried out in his image. Killian, who appropriated Hansen's Extremis research as a cure for his disability and expanded the program to include injured war veterans, reveals he is the real Mandarin behind Slattery's cover. After capturing Stark, Killian reveals he has subjected Potts to Extremis in the hope Stark will help fix Extremis's flaws while trying to save her. When Hansen betrays Killian by threatening to jeopardize his operations, Killian kills her.