In Iron Man 3, there is an antagonist by the name of Aldrich Killian who is on Extremis medication.

  • When Aldrich meets Pepper Potts in her office, he shows a live, 3D view of his own brain, complete with 'hole' that indicates we were meant for further evolution. He implies that Extremis is the drug that will fill that hole with 'new potential' mostly in the form of repairing health.
  • Aldrich is taking Extremis, and has all the powers that are associated with it (including elevating his own body temperature, fast repair from injury, and ..breathing fire(?!?)).
  • Between 1999 and when we later see him in the movie, he has been cured of whatever it was that caused his stooped posture and awkward movements. He claims it is down to "5 years of physical therapy" but we are left to suspect it was actually Extremis that caused the change.

So I figure either the first or third statement above must be wrong. Either he actually did have physical therapy (rather than Extremis) to cure his ailment, or Extremis use did not physically fill the hole in the brain that Pepper saw.

Any pointers over where I've gone wrong?

  • 2
    On 1: we don’t see a before/after snapshot of his brain. Perhaps it filled in some, not all, of the holes. On 3: maybe he used physical therapy before starting on Extremis work, or was just reluctant to tell Pepper how advanced Extremis really was.
    – alexwlchan
    Commented Oct 27, 2014 at 6:03

1 Answer 1


There isn't anything in the official canon that addresses this, I believe, but there are a few significant details:

  1. We do see Killian looking better during the video clips of the Extremis development. He's a crazy guy, but I doubt he'd experiment such a volatile process on himself first, before it worked on others. Plus, his haircut and physicality suggests he didn't "suddenly" become his ultimate, villainously healthy self. It seems to have been a gradual process, where he got healthier and more confident over the course of Extremis's development. That, along with the fact that working on such an exciting project would energize him and encourage him to stay fit so he could continue working hard, implies that there was at least some actual physical therapy, or other long-term improvement, before he Extremis was ready for his personal use.

  2. Killian says that the hole in the holographic brain is "a slot," not "the slot." It's unlikely that the brain would have just one spot for "upgrades," as he put it. Extremis likely uses one or more of these augmentation nodes, but it's unlikely that it uses all of them, so he'd still have one or two to use for demonstration.

  3. Killian is a liar, and it wouldn't be too hard at all to alter the hologram using a prior brain scan. It's partially live, since we see it light up when Pepper pinches him, but it isn't necessarily a perfectly accurate scan.

With these three pieces, especially the first, I think we can reasonably say that Killian did undergo some conventional therapies during the Extremis development phase, prior to using Extremis on himself. We can then assume that his presentation to Pepper either used doctored imagery to make his point without giving himself away, or that he simply showed her one of the nodes untouched by the Extremis process.

  • Yes you're right. Point 1 effectively nails it. Given that, I am suspecting he did not take Extremis until some time after he left Pepper's office.. If he decided on leaving that he was going to take Pepper as a trophy it would be a natural time to think "I'm about to mess with Iron Man's squeeze, maybe it's time to be a bit ..extreme myself." Commented Nov 4, 2014 at 0:29
  • 2
    That makes sense. Personally, I don't see Killian making any move toward Stark or Pepper before all his pieces were in place, but it's entirely up to each audience member to decide that. This was a fun question! :)
    – Nerrolken
    Commented Nov 4, 2014 at 0:32

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