We had more questions leaving the theater after seeing Iron Man 3 than Tony Stark has mechanical suits. Some just can't be answered. Like, how did Guy Pearce's Aldrich Killian get the funding to fuel and equip a fleet of helicopters, commandeer a shipyard, stage faux terrorist attacks, and maintain a Miami pleasure palace? Wasn't the fact that he didn't get funding from Tony Stark a catalyst for his vendetta? And why the heck didn't Marvel decide to make Gwyneth Paltrow's Pepper Potts their first female superhero? We're not even going to attempt to tackle those particular headscratchers. Luckily, there are still eight juicy questions we very much can answer. Consider this your obligatory SPOILER warning, because we're taking on major plot points from Iron Man 3, including the ending and the future of the franchise.
1. How Does Extremis Work Exactly? Considering just how central it is to the plot and its primary villains, it's a little disappointing how nebulous a concept "Extremis" really is. The idea was introduced by comics author Warren Ellis in his 2005 Iron Man: Extremis series, the Iron Man story that's credited in large part for reviving interest in the character and establishing the aesthetic template of the three movies. In that comic, as in in Iron Man 3, frustrated bioengineers Aldrich Killian (Pearce) and Maya Hansen (Rebecca Hall) developed a medical treatment, involving injections that would require the test subject to be strapped-down Frankenstein-style, to "hack" into an individual's Body Recovery Center in the grey matter of the brain and artificially increase the body's rate of repair following incurred traumas. Theoretically, it could render the test subject invulnerable to any harm, much like a synthetically-induced version of Wolverine's rapid-healing mutation. (A shame that Fox has the rights to the X-Men property or that connection could have been made explicit.)
However, Extremis proved extremis-ly dangerous and not every test subject was capable of withstanding the transformation it offered. Some apparently just exploded, and so, in the movie, Killian and Hansen tried to deflect attention away from the faultiness of their product by creating a fictional terrorist, the Mandarin, who would assume responsibility for the blasts. Extremis is pretty conceptual and its logic isn't entirely consistent. There doesn't seem to be a formula for why some people adapt to it and others so violently reject it. Not to mention there's no explanation whatsoever for why it allows Killian to breathe fire.
2. What Is Westworld and Why Did Tony Stark Make a Joke About It? Westworld was a 1973 thriller written and directed by Jurassic Park scribe Michael Crichton and starring Yul Brynner. It was about a dystopian amusement park geared for adults in which visitors are menaced by animatronic cowboys. So when Tony Stark called one of Killian's henchmen "Westworld" he was basically saying that he found that guy to be wooden and personality-lacking, yet indestructibly formidable as an opponent.
3. How Is It That Robert Downey Jr. and Guy Pearce Are So Incredibly Buff? The answer is pretty simple. They don't just train for each individual movie they're in, but rather they maintain a high level of physical fitness at all times. (Or maybe those green health shakes Tony Stark is always drinking in the movies have something to do with it.) Pearce actually entered bodybuilding competitions as a teen. "I was quite a thin kid, so if I put on any muscle, you can see it...I entered [a bodybuilding competition] and I won," Pearce told Muscle Works Magazine. "I don’t think I would’ve really followed a bodybuilding path. But I was actually fascinated in a creative way, the fact that you can change the shape of your muscle was fascinating to me; it was like sculpture." Hence why Pearce has amazing definition in almost every movie he's been in since LA Confidential.
4. What Was Up With That Christmas Story Reference? Iron Man 3 executive producer and director emeritus Jon Favreau (who played the mostly comatose Happy Hogan in the movie, and directed the previous two films) was childhood friends with Christmas Story star Peter Billingsley. When Tony Stark turns to a bespectacled kid and says, "I loved you in Christmas Story," they're just making a family joke. In fact, Billingsley even served as a producer on 2008's Iron Man and had a cameo in the film. Since much of Iron Man 3 was set at the holidays, what better time to include a Christmas Story hat-tip to his friend?
By the way, in case you were wondering, that version of "Jingle Bells" that Tony Stark danced to while first summoning his Mk. 42 Iron Man suit was the Bombay Dub Orchestra's Remix of Joe Williams' bluesy take on the carol.
5. What Episode of Downton Abbey Was Jon Favreau's Happy Watching? By our reckoning this was Episode 4 from Season 2 when the Irish-revolutionary chaffeur, Branson, redeclared his love for Lady Sybil, then working as a nurse in the final months of World War I. Who knew Happy was such a romantic?
6. How Did They Shoot Iron Man's Aerial Rescue? Think that scene of Air Force One's passengers getting sucked into the stratosphere was all CGI? Think again. Stunt performers trained in skydiving actually jumped out of a plane to simulate the freefall, except that, unlike their characters, they actually were wearing parachutes. Multiple parajumpers, like stuntwoman Sarah Farooqui, who was the first person Iron Man plucked out of the sky, jumped at once and attempted to link arms Barrel-of-Monkeys-style in the sky above Oak Island, North Carolina, which subbed for Miami.
7. How Many Different Accents Has Ben Kingsley Had In His Career? Just keeping it limited to his movie career, Kingsley has demonstrated at least 10 different accents: Indian (Gandhi/The Love Guru), Arabic (Harem), Russian (Testimony), Yiddish (Bugsy), German Jewish (Schinder's List), Italian (Parting Shots), Iranian/Persian (House of Sand and Fog/Prince of Persia), French (Hugo), Cockney (Iron Man 3), Baptist Preacher (Iron Man 3). And the last two are while playing the same character!
8. What Is the Future of the Franchise? As of right now, there isn't an Iron Man 4 in the works. It makes sense, really. Iron Man 3 wrapped up Tony Stark's four-film arc (including The Avengers) pretty neatly, with him accepting the transformation of his values that had come with being Iron Man while rejecting the idea of being a superhero because of how it endangers his loved ones. He blew up his suits, finally had that shrapnel removed from his chest cavity, and seemed poised to embrace the good life.
But don't expect to see Tony Stark out of the suit for too long. In an interview with SuperHeroHype, Marvel Studios Head of Production Kevin Feige said, "We’re not developing Iron Man 4. Currently, as you may imagine, Iron Man is a big part of Avengers 2 and that’s what we’re focusing on and what Joss (Whedon) is focusing on. So where we go after that remains to be seen, but certainly, Avengers 2 being the next appearance, the next storyline for Iron Man. Do I think there will be another Iron Man movie? Of course I do. Who will be in that movie and who will be a part of that movie? Who knows? And how far down the line will it be? Will it be right after Avengers 2, will it be a few years after Avengers 2? Who knows?"
Follow Christian Blauvelt on Twitter @Ctblauvelt
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In news that doesn't really surprise anyone, MGM likes Blu-rays (but seriously, who doesn't like Blu-rays?). The studio just announced that it plans to make eight throwback titles available to consumers on Blu-ray: Three musicals (New York, New York, Hair and The Adventures of Priscilla Queen of the Desert) and five others (Death at a Funeral, The Long Riders, Posse, Vera Cruz and Original Sin). Below is the official synopsis for each:
Fresh off the farm, Claude Bukowski (John Savage) arrives in New York City to join the army, but he’s quickly swept up in the counterculture when a group of hippies introduce him to their psychedelic world…and a beautiful rich girl named Sheila (Beverly D’Angelo). When the group’s leader (Treat Williams) tries to keep Claude out of Vietnam, the consequences are shocking for everyone involved.
The Adventures of Priscilla Queen of the Desert:
They came. They conquered. They looked fabulous! With a contract to perform a drag show way out in the Australian desert, Tick (Weaving), Adam (Pearce) and Bernadette (Stamp) each has his own reason for wanting to leave the safety of Sydney. Christening their battered, pink tour bus “Priscilla,” this wickedly funny and high-drama trio heads for the outback…and into crazy adventures in even crazier outfits. You go, girls!
New York, New York:
Acclaimed director Martin Scorsese teams with Academy Award® winners* Liza Minnelli and Robert De Niro in this splashy, flashy musical spectacle celebrating the glorious days of the Big Band Era in the Big Apple! Jimmy is a joint-jump in saxophonist on his way to stardom. Francine is a wannabe starlet who dreams of singing in the spotlight. When they meet, sparks fly and when he plays and she sings, they set New York on fire! It's the beginning of a stormy relationship, as the two struggle to balance their passions for music and each other under the pressures of big-time show biz.
Death at a Funeral:
As the mourners and guests at a British country manor struggle valiantly to "keep a stiff upper lip," a dignified ceremony devolves into a hilarious, no-holds-barred debacle of misplaced cadavers, indecent exposure, and shocking family secrets. Packed with extras including audio commentaries and an uproarious gag reel, Death at a Funeral blows the lid off the proverbial coffin as "the film's delicious comic flourishes... sight gags, slapstick, flawless timing... are served up by an outstanding cast" (O, The Oprah Magazine).
The Long Riders:
Jesse James and his gang of outlaws ride again in this "extraordinary" (LA Herald-Examiner) western that pulsates with hard-driving action and electrifying drama. Four sets of acclaimed actor brothers David, Keith and Robert Carradine, James and Stacy Keach, Dennis and Randy Quaid, and Christopher and Nicholas Guest each depict real-life siblings in emotionally charged portrayals of the Old West's legendary bandits. The notorious James-Younger gang is the most famous group of outlaws in the country, robbing banks, trains and stagecoaches with a sense of daring that makes them folk heroes throughout the land. But when the mighty Pinkerton detective agency swears to track them down, these criminals must face an awesome enemy that will stop at nothing to see them behind bars...or dead! Only through the strength of their loyalty and blood ties can the outlaws hope to survive the brutal pursuits, unexpected betrayals and blistering showdowns that mark the end of their dangerous ride.
Mario Van Peebles (Judgment Day), Billy Zane (Titanic) and Stephen Baldwin (Fled) shake up the frontier in this "fast-paced, star-studded, big brawny western" (Janet Maslin, The New York Times)! Filled with gun-blazing, fist-pounding action and co-starring Big Daddy Kane, Blair Underwood, Tone Loc, Pam Grier, Isaac Hayes, Nipsey Russell, Aaron Neville and more, Posse takes a page missing from the history books - and unfolds it with suspense, humor and awe-inspiring power! In 1892, a group of mostly black infantrymen, betrayed by their white commander, Colonel Graham (Zane), desert the Spanish-American War. With Graham hot on their trail, Jessie Lee (Van Peebles) leads the men to his hometown, Freemanville, only to find it's also besieged by war - a racist war! Lee's attempts to bring justice and freedom to his people make for a brilliant western that's short on words and long on "killer entertainment" (Los Angeles Times)
Legendary screen icons Gary Cooper (High Noon) and Burt Lancaster (Elmer Gantry) team up for a magnificent, action-packed western from director Robert Aldrich (The Dirty Dozen) and screenwriters Roland Kibbee and James R. Webb. With sweeping vistas and larger-than-life heroics, it's a tale as bold and rugged as the characters it so brilliantly depicts. Cooper and Lancaster portray Benjamin Trane and Joe Erin, two daredevil mercenaries who journey to Mexico in search of adventure and cold hard cash during the 1866 revolution. But they get more than they bargained for when the wealthy and beautiful Countess Duvarre (Denise Darcel) hires them to escort her (and a fortune in gold!) to Emperor Maximilian's fighting forces in Vera Cruz. The trail is fraught with danger, betrayal and murder... and when Ben is swept up in the revolutionaries' fervor, he and Joe find themselves at odds with the Mexican Army and each other
Oscar Winner Angelina Jolie and Antonio Banderas sizzle in this smoldering tale of passion, deception and danger. A wealthy Cuban merchant (Banderas) only knows his mysterious bride to be (Jolie) through letters, but when he finally meets and marries her, his life takes a deadly turn. With footage too hot for theaters, director’s commentary and more, this unrated Blu-ray is sinfully satisfying
Source: MGM Pictures
This live series, set in the town of Centerville, relates the trials and tribulations of the Aldrich family: Sam, the district attorney; Alice, his wife; and their teenage children Mary and Henry. Episodes focus on the problems that befall Henry, a young, inexperienced and trouble-prone high school student who hopes one day to become a lawyer.
Based on the character created by Ezra Stone, the series was created by Clifford Goldsmith, author of the original play "What a Life!," which was later filmed as "The Aldrich Family."