With The Avengers successfully completing the first chapter, dubbed “Phase One,” of Marvel Studios’ cinematic universe, Phase Two begins next summer with Iron Man 3. Last week the studio released the official synopsis for Thor: The Dark World, which also releases next year, and Disney is sharing the lowdown on Iron Man 3.

Before Iron Man 3 began production and before The Avengers hit theaters, rumored plot details pointed towards the threequel being based on Warren Ellis’ Extremis miniseries from Marvel Comics, a story which raised the question of whether it’s the man who makes the suit, or the suit who makes the man.

That is exactly the theme to be explored in Shane Black and Drew Pearce’s screenplay, as evidenced by the official Iron Man 3 synopsis. Stark’s journey will build off of important character-defining moments from Iron Man 2 and The Avengers (recall: Captain America asking Tony what he was without his suit):

Marvel Studios’ “Iron Man 3″ pits brash-but-brilliant industrialist Tony Stark/Iron Man against an enemy whose reach knows no bounds. When Stark finds his personal world destroyed at his enemy’s hands, he embarks on a harrowing quest to find those responsible. This journey, at every turn, will test his mettle. With his back against the wall, Stark is left to survive by his own devices, relying on his ingenuity and instincts to protect those closest to him. As he fights his way back, Stark discovers the answer to the question that has secretly haunted him: does the man make the suit or does the suit make the man?

Starring Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Guy Pearce, Rebecca Hall, Stephanie Szostak, James Badge Dale with Jon Favreau and Ben Kingsley, “Iron Man 3″ is directed by Shane Black from a screenplay by Drew Pearce and Shane Black and is based on Marvel’s iconic Super Hero Iron Man, who first appeared on the pages of “Tales of Suspense” (#39) in 1963 and had his solo comic book debut with “The Invincible Iron Man” (#1) in May of 1968.

“Iron Man 3″ is presented by Marvel Studios in association with Paramount Pictures and DMG Entertainment. Marvel Studios’ President Kevin Feige is producing and Jon Favreau, Louis D’Esposito, Stephen Broussard, Victoria Alonso, Alan Fine, Charles Newirth, Stan Lee and Dan Mintz are executive producers. The film releases May 3, 2013, and is distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.

We’ve known since Shane Black took over the director’s chair from Jon Favreau that Iron Man 3 would embrace a darker tone more along the lines of The Dark Knight, described as an “technological crisis thriller.” From the footage we saw at Comic-Con and the descriptions of the Iron Man 3 trailer, this holds true and we expect Stark to deal with major personal loss and conflict.

Oddly enough, while the “enemy” mentioned in the plot description refers to the Mandarin character who’s goal (at least one of them) is to destroy Stark’s life and status as a hero, there’s no mention of Stark’s friend and ally James “Rhodey” Rhodes (War Machine) who we learned yesterday will have more of his story explored in the Iron Man 3 prequel comic.

Fans can head to the official Iron Man Facebook page and ‘like’ to help re-energize Stark’s Arc reactor and thereby release a sneak preview for Iron Man 3. We already know the trailer release date on October 23 and there’s no target amount of ‘likes’ so we don’t know if fans can affect the trailer release date.

It won’t be long before we find out how the future of Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man will be changed forever.

Iron Man 3 is directed by Shane Black based off of his and Drew Pearce’s screenplay, and stars Robert Downey Jr., Ben Kingsley, Don Cheadle, Gwyneth Paltrow, Guy Pearce, Jon Favreau, Rebecca Hall, William Sadler, James Badge Dale and the voice of Paul Bettany.

Iron Man 3 releases May 3, 2013, Thor: The Dark World on November 8, 2013, Captain America: The Winter Soldier on April 4, 2014, Guardians of the Galaxy on August 1, 2014The Avengers 2 on May 1, 2015 and Ant-Man on November 6, 2015.

Follow Rob on Twitter @rob_keyes.

Source: Marvel

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IRON MAN 3  (in Digital 3D and RealD)
MARVEL STUDIOS presents in association with PARAMOUNT PICTURES and DMG ENTERTAINMENT

Genre: Action-adventure
Rating: TBD
U.S. Release date: May 3, 2013
Running time: TBD

Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Guy Pearce, Rebecca Hall, Stephanie Szostak, James Badge Dale with Jon Favreau and Ben Kingsley

Director: Shane Black
Producer: Kevin Feige

Executive Producers: Jon Favreau, Louis D’Esposito, Stephen Broussard, Victoria Alonso, Alan Fine, Charles Newirth, Stan Lee, Dan Mintz
Screenplay by: Drew Pearce and Shane Black (credit not final)

Marvel Studios’ “Iron Man 3” pits brash-but-brilliant industrialist Tony Stark/Iron Man against an enemy whose reach knows no bounds. When Stark finds his personal world destroyed at his enemy’s hands, he embarks on a harrowing quest to find those responsible. This journey, at every turn, will test his mettle. With his back against the wall, Stark is left to survive by his own devices, relying on his ingenuity and instincts to protect those closest to him. As he fights his way back, Stark discovers the answer to the question that has secretly haunted him: does the man make the suit or does the suit make the man?

Starring Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Guy Pearce, Rebecca Hall, Stephanie Szostak, James Badge Dale with Jon Favreau and Ben Kingsley, “Iron Man 3” is directed by Shane Black from a screenplay by Drew Pearce and Shane Black and is based on Marvel’s iconic Super Hero Iron Man, who first appeared on the pages of “Tales of Suspense” (#39) in 1963 and had his solo comic book debut with “The Invincible Iron Man” (#1) in May of 1968.

In Marvel’s “Iron Man 3,” Tony Stark/Iron Man finds his world reduced to rubble by a malevolent enemy and must use his ingenuity and instincts to protect those closest to him as he seeks to destroy the enemy and his cohorts.

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