This past weekend, Tony Stark returned to the big screen once again to launch "Phase Two" of Marvel's incredible cinematic universe. From the trailers alone, audiences knew that this would be the best Iron Man film to date, with plenty of action and the coolest bad guy yet: The Mandarin. Iron Man 3 promised to start things with a bang, hyping up audiences for the far off Avengers 2.
However, Iron Man 3 was arguably the weakest film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (excluding all non-Avengers films like Daredevil and Ghost Rider) when it comes to capturing the feel and excitement of The Avengers and the films leading up to the massive event. So just what exactly went wrong for this unfortunate film? Here's how Iron Man 3 could've kicked off Phase Two and left audiences wanting more.
What Could Have Been
After the events of The Avengers, the country lies in shambles. New York has been completely obliterated by the attack, despite the team's best efforts. While things could have been much worse, the damage has been done, and the recovery will be long and expensive. The members of the team have split and gone into seclusion; Thor has returned to Asgard, Captain America, Hawkeye, Black Widow and S.H.I.E.L.D. have gone into hiding after disobeying the direct orders of the US government, Dr. Bruce Banner has returned to his research, vowing to leave the Hulk behind forever.
This, of course, leaves Tony Stark. The only Avenger whose true identity is public knowledge, and the only one who happens to be a billionaire celebrity. After the destruction of most of New York City, the public attention has all turned to Stark, who is harassed to the point of being ostracized by those who believe he should take responsibility for what happened. The public is split on the issue. Many believing that Iron Man and the Avengers saved the entire world despite how much damage was caused, while equal amounts of people (those who've lost money due to the extreme damage) demand
Stark, now an emotional wreck after being pushed past the brink of death when he went through the wormhole to stop the invading forces, remains quiet and keeps a low profile (to the best of his ability). Unable to reach any of his fellow Avengers, he is completely alone and feels powerless.
Soon, a terrorist leader known only as The Mandarin, calls for Starks head on a plate for his "crimes". The Mandarin attacks his luxurious Malibu estate, nearly killing Stark and Pepper Potts in the process. The two are forced to flee and regroup, and must figure how to stop The Mandarin.
It is soon discovered that Adrian Killian, a former rival of Stark's, is supplying The Mandarin and his army with Extremis, creating an unstoppable force. Stark soon comes back into contact with one of the only friends he has left: Colonel James Rhodes aka War Machine. In order to hide his identity from a government who don't feel safe trusting superheroes anymore, Rhodes takes the name Iron Patriot, using a new set of armor specially built for him by Stark, who has also built a suit for Pepper Potts. The three set off to defeat The Mandarin.
Afterwords, Stark has decided that, with the Avengers gone, his life as Iron Man must come to a close. This is where Iron Man 3 would've ended.
Now, yes, I realize this whole plot sounds very Batman-esque, but think about how perfectly this sets up the rest of Phase Two. With the inevitable threat of Thanos on the horizon, a new team of heroes dubbed the "Guardians of the Galaxy" come to earth to fight off the Titan. During this time, Thor is fighting a war in Asgard, and is simply too busy to intervene as he defends his home. The Guardians defeat, but do not kill Thanos, who retreats into the cosmos.
The public's faith in superheroes is slowly but surely returning, when a new hero, Ant-Man arrives tobegin the new age of heroes. As things return to the way they were before the events of the Avengers, Captain America and Black Widow return to stop the new threat: The Winter Soldier, who they defeat.
During this time, Thanos, defeated and humiliated, gathers the Infinity gems and begins his return to power. As the Titan carves a path of destruction headed straight for Earth, the heroes decide it is finally time: The Avengers must return.
Thor returns to Earth to join Captain America, Ant-Man and Black Widow as they form the bigger, better Avengers team. Convinced by his former colleague Hank Pym, Bruce Banner returns, ready to unleash the full potential of the Hulk if need be. The Guardians of the Galaxy return once again to help put Thanos down for good. Finally, as the team prepares for their final showdown, Iron Man returns, and Thanos arrives on Earth.