One of the plot points of Iron Man 2 is that Tony Stark is being slowly poisoned to death by the palladium that powers his chest arc reactor; and he can't just do without the reactor, because that is the only thing that prevents the shrapnel in his chest from entering his heart. Within this movie, the problem is resolved by creating a new arc reactor powered by a nontoxic unnamed element.

But then, at the end of Iron Man 3, Stark decides to undergo surgery to remove the shrapnel from his chest, thus eliminating his need for a chest arc reactor. Why wasn't this option entertained in Iron Man 2? I appreciate that the surgery might be risky, but if the alternative is death by palladium poisoning, you might be willing to take the risk (and that's not even counting the fact that Stark, being the genius he is, could have devoted time to devise ways to lower the surgical risk).


1 Answer 1


I think it was in partly psychological. Stark did not want to give up being Iron Man, but at the end of the third movie when he threw the reactor into the ocean, he had decided to put Pepper before being Iron Man. That fact that he didn't stop being Iron Man after that is sort of neither here nor there. He decided to let go of what had happened to him and move on. Which means also finding out a way to get rid of the shrapnel (he found a way to get it out after fixing whatever the crazy guy did to Pepper). Before then there was no way to remove the shrapnel and he didn't really want to find a way.

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    Additionally, Tony has shown that he likes trying to solve his problems himself, plus a belief that technology can fix everything, for example, he chose to mess with replacing his arc reactor completely alone, until finally he asked Pepper to help. And his choice to create Ultron. Getting surgery to remove the shrapnel was like admitting his fallibility.
    – Kai
    Commented May 11, 2016 at 15:17
  • Yeah, he has issues... But he is still the best superhero in my book :)
    – Rincewind
    Commented May 11, 2016 at 15:37
  • Oh yeah, it's because of the fact that he's very deeply flawed, and possibly bipolar, that he's one of the most interesting superheroes. =)
    – Kai
    Commented May 11, 2016 at 16:30
  • I dunno if having issues make him interesting... but as far has superheros go he has the most interesting backstory.
    – Rincewind
    Commented May 11, 2016 at 18:26

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