Iron Man’s Final MCU Mystery Missed A Perfect Answer 3 Years Ago

  • Shang-Chi missed the opportunity to address Extremis from Iron Man 3 in MCU's Phase 4.
  • Extremis was introduced in Iron Man 3 as a fascinating yet volatile nanotechnology with explosive risk.
  • Shang-Chi had the potential to explore Extremis and build a connection with the true Mandarin but focused more on the film's magic elements instead.
Marvel's Phase 4 could have paid off one of the last biggest Iron Man mysteries. However, the perfect opportunity was ultimately missed with 2021's Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. Introducing Shang-Chi as a martial arts hero and the son of the true Mandarin in the MCU, Shang-Chi could have addressed enduring question marks that have persisted ever since 2013's Iron Man 3.
As seen in the third Iron Man movie, Aldrich Killian and his think tank Advanced Idea Mechanics (AIM) co-opted the Ten Rings and Mandarin names to orchestrate complete control over the war on terror. This was also done through their creation of Extremis, a volatile nanotechnology that could repair limbs and strengthen the body but also risked exothermic explosions due to overheating. To that end, the return of the real Ten Rings and Mandarin in Shang-Chi could have been the perfect means of following up on Extremis and its fate which Iron Man 3 neglected to answer.
Related How To Watch the Marvel Movies In Order (By Release Date & In Order Of MCU Timeline Events) Want to catch up before the next release, or just revisit the universe for a refresher? Here"s the order to watch the entire MCU timeline.
Shang-Chi Could've Had The Perfect Extremis Payoff But Missed It Extremis Was Featured In The Movie Close In Iron Man 3, Killian had an actor named Trevor Slattery play the role of the Mandarin, a public face to instill fear with Killian also intending to have control over the President of the United States once President Ellis was killed and the Vice President took over (who was in AIM's pocket). However, it was eventually revealed that the real Mandarin did exist in the MCU, one who was none too pleased that his name had been used as confirmed in the one-shot All Hail the King and later on in 2021's Shang-Chi.
Iron Man 3 PG-13 Iron Man 3 pits genius-billionaire-playboy-philanthropist Tony Stark (Iron Man) against the Mandarin, an enemy whose reach knows no bounds. When Stark finds his world destroyed by his mysterious antagonist, he embarks on a dangerous quest to find those responsible. His journey will test his character at every turn. 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 and determine whether or not the suit makes the man or if Tony himself is the hero.
Director Shane Black Release Date May 3, 2013 Studio(s) Marvel , Disney Distributor(s) Disney , Marvel Writers Drew Pearce , Shane Black Cast Ben Kingsley , Guy Pearce , Paul Bettany , Don Cheadle , gwyneth paltrow , Jon Favreau , Robert Downey Jr. Runtime 130 Mins Franchise(s) Marvel Cinematic Universe prequel(s) Iron Man 2 , Iron Man Budget 200 Million Expand While Shang-Chi did address Sir Ben Kingsley's Trevor who had a role in the film and had been the Mandarin's prisoner, the film also had the chance to address what happened with Extremis, but ultimately didn't. In the wake of Iron Man 3, very little was done with Extremis aside from some brief references and involvement in ABC's Agents of SHIELD. However, Shang-Chi did feature someone with Extremis in their system who makes a brief cameo just before Wong fights the Abomination. While this confirms Extremis was still floating around seedier parts of the MCU, the nanotech was never directly addressed.
Why MCU's Shang-Chi Needed To Miss Out On An Iron Man 3 Follow-Up A More Magic-Focused Story (And Already Had Trevor) Ultimately, it makes sense why Extremis didn't play more of a role in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. After all, Trevor was already featured in the movie as the follow-up connection to Iron Man 3 with its Mandarin and Ten Rings ties. Furthermore, Shang-Chi has a very strong magic focus with the actual Ten Rings the crime syndicate is named after, along with the mystical realm of Ta Lo. As such, a more science-flavored tangent with Extremis would likely have felt out of place beyond the small cameo that was made.
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings PG-13 SuperheroActionAdventureFantasy Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is the 26th installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Simu Liu plays Shaun (Aka Shang-Chi), a valet living and working in San Francisco, along with his friend Katy (Awkwafina), when one day, his past comes knocking back at his door. To protect himself and Katy, Shaun reveals himself to be Shang-Chi and his lineage, with his father being the actual "Mandarin," the leader of the Ten Rings criminal organization. His father is now reaching out to him, and his estranged sister and Shaun must head back to China to save his sister and figure out his father's true motivations. Shang-Chi was one of the first films in the fourth phase of the MCU.
Director Destin Cretton Release Date September 3, 2021 Studio(s) Disney , Marvel Distributor(s) Disney Writers Dave Callaham , Steve Englehart , Jim Starlin Cast Awkwafina , Simu Liu , Tony Leung Chiu Wai Runtime 132 minutes Franchise(s) Marvel Cinematic Universe Budget $150-$200 million Main Genre Superhero Expand That said, it is odd that someone as powerful and well-connected as Shang-Chi's father seemingly didn't have an interest in claiming the Extremis technology for himself and his forces. After all, the true Mandarin likely knew about the nanotech's potential considering he knew that both his name and his organization were being used by Killian and AIM. However, delving further into the Extremis' fate would have likely detracted from Shang-Chi's bigger story.
MCU's Actual Extremis Answer Was Way More Confusing Secret Invasion Had Extremis Close That being said, it's rather unfortunate that Extremis' true return in the MCU was so confusing in 2023's Secret Invasion series. Extremis was included in the DNA samples and subsequent powers retrieved by Gravik to turn himself and his followers into Super-Skrulls. However, nothing was revealed about what had happened to the nanotech over the years nor why it didn't seem to cause any of the previous side effects or combustion issues as had been seen in the past.
Secret Invasion PG-13 AdventureDramaActionSuperhero Based on the Marvel Comics event, Secret Invasion is a chapter in the Marvel Cinematic Universe that sees Nick Fury attempting to reckon with an alien invasion that has been occurring for years - without humanity even knowing. Fury discovers that the Skrulls have been infiltrating society for far longer than he realized, and danger arises as plans start into motion.
Cast Samuel L. Jackson , Ben Mendelsohn , Emilia Clarke , Cobie Smulders , Olivia Colman , Christopher McDonald , Carmen Ejogo , Kingsley Ben-Adir , Martin Freeman , Don Cheadle Release Date June 21, 2023 Seasons 1 Streaming Service(s) Disney+ Franchise(s) Marvel Cinematic Universe Writers Kyle Bradstreet Directors Ali Selim Showrunner Kyle Bradstreet Expand Extremis suddenly being so stable could perhaps be attributed to Skrull genetics allowing for better regulation of body temperature. That said, it was never confirmed either way. Seeing as how the Mandarin of the original comics had ties to Extremis on the page, it certainly would have been nice if similar connections had been established in Shang-Chi after Iron Man 3 failed to provide adequate closure for the fascinating MCU nanotech.
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