"So much of the journey of Iron Man 3 is informed by Tony's experiences in The Avengers. It's almost like post-traumatic stress. He really has retreated after the events of The Avengers into his workshop, where he's building advanced versions of his suits. He has [designed] a version of the suit that can latch onto him in individual pieces anytime, anywhere. As he starts to realize, it's basically because he doesn't want to be out of the suit. He's seen a lot of things in Avengers and has encountered a lot of powerful people, much more powerful than he is."
The producer and Marvel Studios executive also reveals that we get to see the Tony from the first half of Iron Man, putting Tony 'in a corner' to see how he can get out of it.
"It brings us back to the Tony we met in the first part of Iron Man where he's removed from that convoy and brought to the cave with nothing but a box of scraps. It's fun for all of us to watch Tony try to figure out how to get out of that scenario. Much of the movie is Tony in the middle of the country without his tools and a fairly broken suit to help him. But that's his superpower: he wasn't born on Asgard, he wasn't hit by gamma rays, and he doesn't have the super soldier serum. His power is his brain. It's fun to put Tony Stark in a corner with nothing and see how he can get out of it."
Kevin Feige also spoke about introducing the Mandarin (Ben Kingsley) as the new villain, in a way that hasn't been done before.
"We felt there was leeway to explore the Mandarin in a way that hasn't been explored before. We found we couldn't point to any sort of definitive Mandarin story in the comics - but if you print this, I'm sure a million fans will point to a specific story - so as we've done with many of the films, we did an amalgamation. The Mandarin is relentless: he's a non-stop threat, and you've seen that in the first teaser trailer when Tony Stark's house tumbles into the sea. He doesn't mess around, this guy."
The producer also praised Robert Downey Jr.'s performance, and how director Shane Black truly made this movie his own.
"Robert Downey Jr. gave his all to this performance. He left no stone unturned. No one has been shy - myself, Robert and [original Iron Man director Jon] Favreau - about how Shane worked in the shadows of the first Iron Man film, helping with certain scenes and helping with tonal things. This film, it's much less the culmination of the previous Iron Man movies in part three: this is 'Iron Man: A Shane Black Film.' That, to me, is by far the most unique thing about this movie."
The producer also compared Tony Stark to classic characters like James Bond and Batman, who aren't defined by the actors who portray them.
"Characters like James Bond and Batman, whose stories go on and on and on - I think Tony is one of those characters. Where we go directly after Iron Man 3 ... I'm not looking too far ahead. I'm looking to finish Iron Man 3, getting into The Avengers 2, and then seeing where we go from there. But I do think we have more Tony Stark tales to tell, and we'll take it one movie - or maybe two movies - at a time."
Iron Man 3 was released May 3rd, 2013 and stars Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Guy Pearce, Rebecca Hall, Jon Favreau, Ben Kingsley, James Badge Dale. The film is directed by Shane Black.