‘Iron Man 3′: Required Reading

by Brett White

Iron Man 3” finally lands in theaters next Friday and to get everyone prepared, we’ve compiled a list of five Iron Man stories that fill in a little bit of the film’s primary characters’ backgrounds. Sure, this may seem like a hefty reading list to tackle over the next week, but it’s Iron Man. Isn’t it worth it? This is the film that kicks off Phase Two of the Marvel Cinematic Universe! There’s going to be a post-credits scene and Easter eggs galore! Most importantly, Robert Downey Jr. will be on-screen as Tony Stark again. If none of that makes you excited, then you really should crack open the collections listed below. They are 100% guaranteed to get you pumped up.

Iron Man is coming, and he craves your enthusiasm.

“Armor Wars,” “Iron Man” #225-232 (1987)
While this story line isn’t directly tied into “Iron Man 3,” it does feature a lot of elements that we have a hunch will play a major role in the film. For one thing, it features Tony Stark and James Rhodes (played by Don Cheadle in the film) teaming up against a bunch of armored foes. Even if bad guys like the Beetle, Shockwave, the Crimson Dynamo, and Titanium Man don’t show up in the film, Tony still has to fight approximately one bajillion suits of armor. This is a classic Iron Man story from classic Iron Man creators Bob Layton and David Michelinie, so you know you can’t go wrong with it.

“Extremis,” “Iron Man” volume 4 #1-6 (2005)
This modern classic by Warren Ellis and Adi Granov created many elements that are in place for “Iron Man 3.” The characters Rebecca Hall and Aldrich Killian debut in this storyline, as does the Extremis technology that Guy Pearce talks about in this clip. This story line is also worth a read as it heavily influenced the very first “Iron Man” film; Ellis took Tony Stark’s extremely dated origin and updated it, along with a lot of Stark’s philosophies towards his weapon-building past, and provided excellent source material for director Jon Favreau to draw from. “Extremis” may have the rare distinction of having two different superhero films based on it.

“Dark Avengers Assemble,” Dark Avengers #1-6 (2009)
By now everyone knows that there’s a new, colorful suit of armor in town, and it’s called Iron Patriot. But the original Iron Patriot armor debuted in this series by Brian Michael Bendis and Mike Deodato. To make matters a bit more confusing, the armor has only been worn by Spider-Man villain Norman Osborn in the Marvel Comics (Osborn will pop up in next summer’s “Amazing Spider-Man 2,” played by Chris Cooper). In “Iron Man 3,” Iron Patriot will be Jim Rhodes because Osborn’s film rights aren’t owned by Marvel Studios. This means that Iron Patriot may have the rare distinction of having two different film studios own separate halves of his identity.

“World’s Most Wanted,” “Invincible Iron Man” volume 2 #8-19 (2009)
Numerous trailers have shown Pepper Potts suiting up and rescuing Tony Stark, something that she did for the first time in this story line by Matt Fraction and Salvador Larroca. The arc forces Stark to face his leftover sins from the superhero Civil War and puts him in direct combat with Norman Osborn. In addition to Pepper Potts, the story has appearances by Thor and Captain America.

“The Future,” “Invincible Iron Man” volume 2 #521-527 (2012)
If you want to see just how deadly the Mandarin is, and get a lowdown on what to expect from Ben Kingsley’s performance, this is the arc to check out. As the final story by longtime Iron Man creative team Matt Fraction and Salvador Larroca, the story pits many of the principal players of Iron Man 3 (Pepper Potts, Jim Rhodes, Tony Stark) in a plot so epic that writer Fraction nicknamed it “Armor Wars III.”

Are there any Iron Man story lines we missed? Let us know in the comments below or hit us up on Twitter!