To say that Iron Man 3 will have plenty of cooks in the kitchen is an understatement. We get a darker, more serious Tony Stark recovering from a near-death experience; a mysterious villain bent on destroying the billionaire hero; and a bigger role for the Iron Patriot (Don Cheadle). Oh, and a few dozen suits of armor.
That many side characters might usually relegate the relatively well-established relationship between Tony Stark and Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) to comedic relief or classic 'damsel in distress' plot devices. But according to Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige, Pepper won't be getting less screen time at all; in many ways, Pepper Potts is who Iron Man 3 is all about.
A more important role for the scarlet-haired character is nothing new to fans of the comic books, as Pepper eventually received her own RESCUE armor with which to protect the innocent. Even if the movies have largely strayed from the source material in regards to Pepper and, say, Tony's bodyguard Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau), the die-hard fans know that the potential for more development has always been present.
When speaking with About.com, Feige opened up about what Iron Man 3 will bring for Potts and how the oft-used convention of a 'love triangle,' despite the added actresses to the cast, will have more to do with Tony's armor than his heart:
"The love triangle in this movie is really between Tony, Pepper and the suits. Tony, Pepper and his obsession with those suits, and the obsession with technology. And, it’s sort of unique for a big superhero summer blockbuster franchise to have that kind of layers.
"Yes, there’s a bad guy. Yes, the stakes are very, very high--the President of the United States is in danger. Air Force One is attacked. There are big stakes to this movie. But the real stakes are, is Tony going to be able to set aside the obsession to spend all day, every day in that workshop, tinkering with the suits in order to focus on, as he says in the trailer, the one thing that matters most - Pepper. And that actually is what the entire movie’s about."
Feige's comments mirror those of Paltrow and director Shane Black, who previously explained that Tony's reliance on his armor would be a major point of contention in his and Pepper's relationship. It may not be the only one, either. The impact that Maya Hansen (Rebecca Hall) will have - beyond her knowledge of the Extremis virus - isn't clear just yet, but Feige has hinted that Tony may feel a kinship with her that he doesn't with Pepper.
All of that comes in addition to a telling shot from the very first Iron Man 3 footage, showing Stephanie Szostak's character seeming to force herself onto a surprised Stark. Now that Szostak's character has apparently been revealed, we only have more questions about what that scene might entail. We knew Tony would be dealing with a much larger number of armors this time around, and it's seeming more and more like the number of women in his life may increase to match.
New love interests may be coming into Tony's life, but the past films (and The Avengers) have shown that Pepper isn't the kind of girl to back down from a fight. That resolve and determination make her a poor fit for a 'damsel in distress,' even if the trailers have shown she may undergo one heck of a transformation. Feige explains what a female character that strong brings to the story:
"I will tell you this. In this movie we play with the convention of the damsel in distress. We are bored by the damsel in distress. But, sometimes we need our hero to be desperate enough in fighting for something other than just his own life. So, there is fun to be had with "Is Pepper in danger or is Pepper the savior?" over the course of this movie.
"In terms of where we go with future movies, we’ll see. In the comic books she does get a taste for the suit and becomes her own hero named Rescue, who doesn’t necessarily battle other people, but is on missions to help people and to save people. Will we do that down the line with Gwyneth Paltrow? Who knows. But her being in the suit is something we have been playing with since Iron Man 2, where we did some designs and it didn’t end up fitting in that movie. But [the idea] is something that we’re certainly interested in."
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(Pepper's armor, from "Invincible Iron Man" #29)
We don't yet know how Pepper's relationship with Tony's armor will impact the series as a whole, but Marvel and Black have teased that a new story could begin with the third Iron Man movie. Nothing will be set in stone until fans see the movie for themselves, but it's obvious that plenty more stories could be written about Stark and his surrounding associates - both planetside and in space.
What do you think of the story arc being set up for Pepper Potts? Is this a twist you've been waiting to see since the beginning, or would Pepper suiting up feel more like a gimmick than a true evolution? Leave your thoughts in the comments.
Iron Man 3 releases May 3, 2013.
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Source: About.com (via Collider)