okay, so you all are going to have to bear with me for a moment because i have a lot of feels and i need to spew them all over the place before i explode. there are a lot of scenes in iron man 3 that i could use to properly highlight the depth of pepper’s feelings for tony and how much she cares for him, but i’m going to use this particular moment because i think it is hugely important and yet easily forgotten about among everything else.
you have to keep in mind that this moment takes place during or immediately after phase 2 of extremis. phase one, as killian said, is just a lot of pain. so pepper has been captured and against her will has forcibly been injected with this highly experimental and imperfect gene, and thus has been undergoing intense, agonising pain as her body decides either to accept the gene or essentially blow up. she’s frightened, she’s tired and she’s no doubt still in pain and yet when killian brings her around she immediately reaffirms the faith she has in tony.
she doesn’t tell him, ‘oh tony will come and rescue me and beat you up’ or ‘tony will never let you get away with this you bad man.’ pepper’s first words are her complete faith that tony will not give up his beliefs and sink so low as to join killian in developing extremis into what he wants, even for her. she knows that her tony is above that, he has morals and he has a good heart and that’s what truly sets him apart from what aldrich has become.
see, in comparing the two couples; maya and killian with tony and pepper you get this really interesting contrast and yet similiarity at the same time. killian had the money, the resources, the brains and the think tank. maya had the idea, the foundation and her eyes on the stars. but she lost her morals. killian lost what kept him grounded. his desperation made him bitter. maya’s desperation made her abandon her sense of what was right. the pure idea became tainted. however with tony and pepper they were the phoenix from the ashes.
what started as tony being some greedy, self-obsessed playboy, has developed into a story of growth. afghanistan lit the flames and he began to change not only himself but his company. stark industries used to create weapons and chaos. tony was a destructive person. but that changed. tony changed and his company changed. they both started to help rather than harm. and pepper who has stood by tony longer than anyone else, witnessed that change and could no doubt see what tony has become. and she is so evidently proud of that.
she has faith in tony and that he is a good person who will do what’s right now just for himself but for everyone. and i knows there’s been a lot of mixed feelings after the whole ‘tinker with that’ comment but pepper is only human. she’s known tony for a long time and put up with his shit for longer than anyone else. their relationship will never be the definition of normal and despite everything tony stark will always be tony stark. but they love each other so much. they rely on each other. they are the constant in each other’s lives. and if you don’t think that those words don’t haunt pepper in those moments when she’s having the extremis pumped through her body or when she’s hanging from that ledge facing a fiery drop I can bet you’re wrong. i’m sure one of the things she wishes she could do is apologise for saying those to tony and not staying the same way when she falls I’m sure tony wishes he could say sorry for all the bad things he’s ever said or done to her and im sure there have been times. that’s how relationships are.
look at that little half smile on her lips. she knows if tony doesn’t do killian’s bidding that’s probably the end for her and yet she defy’s aldrich and takes comfort and pride in knowing that tony won’t sell out his beliefs or morals like maya even for an incentive like her. she would happily die knowing that extremis wasn’t released to the world because pepper of all people knows tony wouldn’t be able to live with himself if he helped weaponise something like that. it’s just such a simple moment and yet there is so much that can come from it.
so by all means, have your reasons for disliking pepper or hating pepperony as a ship but don’t you dare for a second tell me that pepper potts does not care about tony stark because you’re either blind, stupid or both. these two love and care for each other. she’s the one thing he can’t live without and he’s all she has too. so that’s the end of that.