The Iron Patriot: what he means for Iron Man 3

With Iron Patriot set for Iron Man 3, who is he, and what does he mean for the movie? James tells us everything we need to know...

The latest stolen glimpse of Iron Man 3 has revealed something that even the craziest Internet speculation could have predicted: an appearance by the Iron Patriot. But who is that, and why is it such a surprise? In this article, James fills you in on everything you need to know about the latest addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Who is the Iron Patriot?

It’s a simple question with an easy answer – but one that can only lead to confusion. That’s because the Iron Patriot is Norman Osborn, a villain best known as Spider-Man’s arch-nemesis and more frequently seen in his villainous identity of the Green Goblin.

In the comics, Norman Osborn assumed the identity of the Iron Patriot during the events of “Dark Reign”, a storyline that saw Tony Stark ousted as head of SHIELD while a publicly repentant Osborn, who claimed to be “cured” of his villainous insanity, was installed as his replacement. With Stark on the run, Osborn was given access to a selection of old Iron Man armours which he re-purposed into the Iron Patriot identity so that he could lead his team – the Dark Avengers – in the field.

Intended to combine the patriotic symbolism of Captain America and the technological prowess of Iron Man, the Iron Patriot was the head of a group of Osborn’s imitation Avengers team, alongside a selection of other villains, such as Venom (posing as Spider-Man), Wolverine’s son Daken (posing as his father) and Daredevil’s nemesis Bullseye (posing as Hawkeye). With Osborn running SHIELD, the real Avengers were outlawed, and a none-the-wiser public accepted Osborn’s team as their protectors.

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Unfortunately, if you think this means that Norman Osborn is going to appear in Iron Man 3 as part of a process that will integrate the Amazing Spider-Man movies into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, you’re going to be sadly mistaken. Licensing restrictions make that an all but impossible idea – especially since it looks like Osborn is already spoken for in the rebooted Spidey film. The only answer that works is that it’s someone else inside the suit.

And from the photos, we know that it’s James Badge Dale, who has already been announced as playing as Lt Colonel Eric Salvin – a character whose comic book identity is the heroic cyborg, Coldblood.

So what does this mean for Iron Man 3?

Well, it’s clear that Savin isn’t going to be Coldblood, but will instead be playing some version of the Iron Patriot. It’s fair to assume he’s not going to be best mates with Tony Stark, but will he be an outright villain? That remains to be seen.

Given that the US military has found Tony Stark difficult to work with in the previous Iron Man movies, it seems likely that the Iron Patriot will represent the US military’s attempt to create an Iron Man who is under their control. It could mean this is a modified version of Rhodes’ War Machine armour. It could mean that it’s a new suit reverse-engineered from the Stark’s. Considering Tony’s propriety over his technology, we can be pretty sure that he won’t have been the person giving the away the plans, and as a dedicated inventor he certainly won’t be pleased to see someone infringing his patents either. That suggests they’ll butt heads – but will they, in classic hero versus hero manner, then unite to face a common foe?

So, we have a pretty good idea of who the Iron Patriot is, and we can guess where he came from – but that leaves us wondering why they chose the Iron Patriot, instead of any other number of armoured heroes or villains they could have chosen?

Well, dare we speculate that the US military has done what Norman Osborn did and deliberately combined both Captain America and Iron Man? After all, they want their own Iron Man – is it too much to suggest that after catching a glimpse of Captain America during the events of The Avengers, they said, “let’s get one of those too!”

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I’m not suggesting Salvin will be a super-soldier. Instead, I’m suggesting that the US military saw a patriotic-themed hero and decided that if there was going to be one running around, he should at least be working for them. It’s just an idea, but it’d be a fantastic nod to the ways that the various films of the Marvel Cinematic Universe can influence one another now that Avengers has kicked the door wide open.

But wait! There’s something else that might explain the use of the Iron Patriot. After all, we know that China is going to play a major part in Iron Man 3, and with it, there’s the expectation that the Mandarin will appear. Perhaps the Iron Patriot is created to symbolise America’s power and influence in the face of a strengthening foreign enemy. The Mandarin was created in the 60s as a (rather politically incorrect) representation of the “yellow peril”, after all – perhaps the way the writers of Iron Man 3 are dealing with this culturally difficult character is to play up the jingoism by throwing the Iron Patriot into the mix.

Is that all?

It’s fair to say that the inclusion of the Iron Patriot has added yet another element to an already overflowing movie. We’re expecting the return of Iron Man, War Machine, Happy Hogan and Pepper Potts. We’re expecting references to Avengers, and quite probably a Maria Hill cameo. We’re expecting a trio of villains – Maya Hansen, Aldrich Killian and the Mandarin – and the Extremis Virus. And now, we’ve got the Iron Patriot as well.

All in all, it looks like Iron Man 3 is going to pack a lot of film into its running time. Perhaps that’s a valid response to Iron Man 2‘s meandering and turgid story. Perhaps it’s an attempt to go even bigger and better than The Avengers. Or perhaps it’s a huge mistake that’s going to make Iron Man 3 the most convoluted Marvel film yet. At this point, we don’t know. But the knowledge of what’s in store is just making us even more excited about what’ll happen to Tony Stark next – and after The Avengers, it’s hard not to look forward to it.

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