When Marvel Studios held an Iron Man 3 presentation at Comic-Con last summer, revealing a new suit of armor, footage from the film and a series of confirmations about key characters including The Mandarin, we wondered what secrets were still being kept hidden away. Then there was the reveal of the Iron Legion, teased in the Iron Man 3 prelude comic and fully revealed in the latest posters and trailer.
Outside of the story twists and turns we expect from Shane Black's take on the Tony Stark mythos and rumors of post-credits scenes teasing future Phase Two Marvel movies, one of the remaining mysteries surrounds the role Stephanie Szostak plays in Iron Man 3.
We have a rather good idea of what path most of the core roster of characters will follow, from Rhodey (Don Cheadle), Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) and Maya Hansen (Rebecca Hall), to Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce), The Mandarin (Ben Kingsley) and Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) himself. But we have little official information to go on about Szostak's character, listed as "Bethany Cabe" on the reliably unreliable IMDB.
Marvel was able to keep Stephanie Szostak mostly under the radar until they released the official Iron Man 3 synopsis where her name was front-listed, giving credence to rumors that she may have larger part to play:
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.
With old rumors hinting at a post-credits sequence potentially introducing Ant-Man, and the confirmed involvement of A.I.M. (Advanced Idea Mechanics) - an organization Ant-Man and Wasp have had multiple run-ins with in Marvel Comics - one of the more common theories is that Szostak could be playing Janet van Dyne AKA Wasp, a character that was originally set to appear in The Avengers. The latest Iron Man 3 trailer even features a brief shot of Szostak's character undergoing what we can assume is some of sort of super soldier/Extremis treatment.
If she is in fact, Bethany Cabe, than her character arc may simply be just that from Marvel Comics. Cabe in the books was another one of Stark's love interests who eventually wore an armor suit of her own when teaming up with Rhodey's War Machine when - get this - he formed his own "Iron Legion" while Stark was away after faking his own death. Sound familiar? She eventually became Stark's head of security in the books.
Bethany Cabe may be the most likely and believable, given what we know about Iron Man 3, but the latest bit of info discovered by ComicBook.com is throwing a wrench in things. On the official Iron Man 3 website, the production notes state the following (it was taken down from the main site but is still available on the mobile version):
Is this the confirmation that Stephanie Szostak is playing Ellen Brandt or smart misdirection? In Marvel Comics, Brandt fell in love and married a scientist named Ted Sallis, who comic book aficionados will recognize as the character who became Man-Thing, after injecting himself with a serum he was working on for S.H.I.E.L.D. (attempting to replicate the super soldier formula). This connection - although also related to S.H.I.E.L.D. - has little to do with Ant-Man but the potential for a Man-Thing reference for something unexpected down the road is very intriguing.
We should note also that the reason Sallis injects himself in the books has to do with A.I.M. (confirmed to be in Iron Man 3) sending an agent to infiltrate the project, an agent who happens to fall in love with Ellen Brandt, resulting in her also enlisting in A.I.M.. It's her actions that resulted in Sallis becoming Man-Thing.
Taking this another step into geek territory, in the comics, after years of living a troubled life as a villainous wreck, Brandt encountered Man-Thing in Florida, opting to place herself between the "monster" and the oncoming bullets from the local Sheriff. She would have died had it not been for Doctor Strange, a character confirmed to get his own film in Phase Three of the Marvel cinematic universe.
As you can see, there are quite a few directions Marvel may be planting seeds here for, and while Stephanie Szostak's character may only have a limited amount of screen time, her role could pay off in a variety of ways depending on what elements from Marvel Comics Shane Black and co-writer Drew Pearce took for their screenplay. The fact that she does seemingly get injected with the serum A.I.M. is working on, does add a little mystery and confusion to her character. And it could be that, none of these story arcs are being explored in the movie.
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, Stephanie Szostak, 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, 2014, The Avengers 2 on May 1, 2015 and Ant-Man on November 6, 2015.
Follow Rob on Twitter @rob_keyes and let him know what character you want Szostak to play!
Man-Thing art by Greg Land from Man-Thing (2007) #1.