A Non-Geeks Guide to Iron Man

Credit: Marvel

Hey buddy, how’s it going? I’m thinking of seeing Iron Man 3 this weekend. What do you think?

Well, have you seen Iron Man and Iron Man 2: Let Us Never Speak of It Again?

Actually, no I haven’t.

Did you see The Avengers?


So, why exactly do you want to see this?

Well my…

Let me guess, “My boyfriend/girlfriend/non-genered significant other really wants me to go, so I’m going to check it out.” Cool. OK, I get it. I guess I can fill you in. 

So, what do I need to know?

Well, you should know that you should probably see those three movies first or else you are going to be a little bit lost. But Iron Man is a dude named Tony Stark who is a billionaire playboy.

Is that a real job?

It is in the comics. So, Tony Stark is a billionaire playboy and a genius.


Yes, not only does everyone in the comics have tons of money and super powers, but there are an inordinate number them that are geniuses. So, in the movie, Tony Stark is a billionaire playboy genius who gets kidnapped by a bunch of terrorists and has to make a suit out of iron to bust himself free. The problem is he was injured and has shrapnel in his chest so he has this electromagnet in there to keep it from reaching his heart and killing him. When he gets back to the real world he’s so emotionally wrecked that he builds himself a suit of armor to fight bad guys and stuff.

So he doesn’t have any super powers?

What do you think being a billionaire playboy genius is? But no, he has no super powers. But his suit has lots of powers. It has “repulsor rays” in the hands and feet that allow Iron Man not only to fly to also to blast people to kingdom come. And the suit is made of metal so he’s pretty invulnerable, and it makes him stronger and whatnot. There’s also an in-flight robot computer thingy named Jarvis (the name of The Avengers’ butler in the comics) who helps him out and tells him things. 

How does he pee in it?

That is a good question that I don’t know the answer to. But I assume he does not? Maybe there’s an elaborate tubing system? I don’t know.

Is his origin story very different in the comics?

No, not really, but it happened back in the ’60s and he was known as “invincible” and his suit was all ugly and grey and sort of looked like a Campbell’s soup can with a head on it.

But is the yellow and red color scheme any better?

God no, but it looks pretty cool in the comics.

So, the first two movies aren’t on Netflix streaming so…what happens?

Well, in the first one Stark invents the armor, defeats his father’s friend who was trying to steal his company, gets it on with his personal assistant, and then tells the world that he’s a super hero. The second one, well, it’s best we don’t talk about it.

It was bad?

I think bad is an understatement. But Iron Man faced off against Mickey Rourke with bad makeup and a whip. Or was there makeup? I don’t know. It’s so hard to tell with Mickey. Anyway Nick Fury and the Black Widow were also in the movie a lot, because it was ramping the whole thing up for The Avengers.

So Iron Man is one of The Avengers?

Yes, in both the movies and the comic books, Iron Man is a founding member of The Avengers.

What happened to him in the Avengers movie? Do I really need to know? This already seems like so much.

You don’t need to know, but to see IM3 you’re going to want to know. When the movie starts he has a bit of PTSD from fighting against space aliens that fell from a warmhole in the sky in the movie.

So, it was a documentary?

Ha, very funny. They reference this incident in New York like a half dozen times in the movie, so it’s best to know what’s going on.

Isn’t Gwyneth Paltrow in this?

Yeah, she plays Pepper Potts, who is Tony Stark’s personal assistant. They fall in love in the first movie and in the sequel he makes her the CEO of the company. Now she’s moved in. Man, she has a crazy set of abs.

It’s all the Pilates. God, I hate her.

Yeah, I do too, but she’s not awful in this.

Why is there an Iron Man suit painted like an American flag in the trailer?

That’s War Machine who has been dubbed the Iron Patriot in this movie. War Machine is basically just a version of Iron Man with more guns on it that the government uses as a super soldier. It is piloted by Col. James “Rhodey Rhodes, who is a friend of Tony Stark’s. He was played by Terrence Howard in the first movie but was replaced by Don Cheadle for the next two.


Basically he was a jerk.

Is there anyone else I need to know about?

Jon Favreau, who is money and totally knows it, plays Happy Hogan, Tony Stark’s best friend and security guard. In the comics Happy was also a villain named The Freak. Even though Favreau is a freak, that doesn’t happen in the movie. He also directed the first two movies, but this one was made by Shane Black, who wrote the Lethal Weapon movies, among other things. 

Speaking of villains, who are the bad guys in this?

Iron Man has always had really crappy villains. His big nemsis was The Mandarin, who was this Chinese guy with a long beard and 10 different magic rings that had 10 different magic powers. Ben Kingsley plays The Mandarin in the movie, but without the rings or the magic. There’s also AIM, which stands for Advanced Idea Mechanics. They’re like a group of scientific terrorists.

Oh yeah, that sounds real terrifying!

You should see their ridiculous costumes. Even comic book nerds think they’re funny looking.

Thanks, man. I’m glad you filled me in. Now I don’t need to watch all those other movies and totally know what’s going on.

You’re welcome. But you really should watch the first one. It’s quite good. And I promise, there’s not too much Gwynnie. Oh, and you should stay to the very end of the credits and there’s a little surprise scene, like there is at the end of every Marvel movie. But if you haven’t seen The Avengers, you’re not going to get it anyway. 

Follow Brian Moylan on Twitter @BrianJMoylan

A Non-Geek’s Guide to The Avengers
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