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The following FAQ entries may contain spoilers. Only the biggest ones (if any) will be covered with spoiler tags. Spoiler tags have been used sparingly in order to make the page more readable.
For detailed information about the amounts and types of (a) sex and nudity, (b) violence and gore, (c) profanity, (d) alcohol, drugs, and smoking, and (e) frightening and intense scenes in this movie, consult the IMDb Parents Guide for this movie. The Parents Guide for Iron Man 3 can be found here.
The reason for this is not directly referenced in the film and is left to the viewer's interpretation. It has been noted that the star in the center of the shield has been replaced with an "A", the symbol for anarchy. Kevin Feige has said that the Mandarin uses "symbolism of various cultures and iconography that he perverts for his own end." A popular theory is that he is attempting to twist the ideals the shield represents. This fits in with the speech that he gives in the film: "Ladies, children, sheep... Some people call me a terrorist. I consider myself a teacher. Lesson number one: Heroes, there is no such thing."
The complex design of the Mark 42 made for some unique properties: Each piece of independent armor had to have its own power supply to utilize the repulsor/anti-gravity flight capacity and each piece had to be able to independently and cooperatively know where it needed to be and in what order it needed to arrive to make the suit viable upon receipt. This mean they were all capable of managing their own power resources. Each unit is capable of functioning independent of any other pieces (see Tony's unconventional one hand, one foot aerial ballet of destruction) and thus they are likely not able to be easily recharged unless the suit is in one piece. The Mark 42 did not seem to be as physically strong as some of the other designs, possibly because of its very modular nature. Since the suit was designed to fit more than Stark, we see Pepper using it quite well, it makes sense to have the suit function without a direct link to the Arc reactor in Tony's chest. It also makes sense to allow the suit to be recharged on ordinary electricity in the event Stark is not around (as it proved to be a useful feature). Recharging on ordinary electricity was a feature of the comic version of Iron Man from the very first designs. His suits were designed to absorb solar energy constantly, absorb some electromagnetic energy from his enemies or to be powered directly from land-based power supplies. He could even hook his armor to land based power supplies to augment his strength briefly.
Yes: Tony Stark can be seen lying on a sofa in a doctor's office. It is revealed that the voice over in the beginning was the start of a movie-length flashback: Stark has told the entire story to his friend Bruce Banner, wanting to get it off his chest, even though Banner isn't exactly a doctor of psychology.
He can be seen at the Miss Chattanooga pageant as one of the judges. He is briefly shown on a video monitor holding up a white sign with his critique of one of the contestants.
"Something To Fight For" by Joseph Trapanese
There were rumors that Robert Downey Jr. may not return as Iron Man after Iron Man 3, which is the reason why there is no allusion to a future movie after the credits of this movie (originally, Tony Stark was to meet the Guardians of the Galaxy, setting up the premise for Guardians of the Galaxy). However, a new deal signed with the studio ensures Downey Jr.'s participation in Avengers: Age of Ultron and Avengers 3. The future thereafter is unsure, as Downey Jr. has indicated that he may want to retire the character after the third Avengers movie, meaning that Iron Man 4 is out of the picture; but this may change in the future, depending on the commercial results of the next movies; also, Downey Jr.'s previous announcement enabled him to secure a better deal with the studio for himself and his Avengers cast mates, so anything is possible.
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