In 2012, the Mandarin and his organization the Ten Rings claimed responsibility for a bombing that decimated an area of the United States. Immediately afterwards, the Ten Rings bombed four other areas over the course of eighty weeks, one of those areas being the Ali Al Salem Air Base in Kuwait.
By December 2012, the bombing attacks had whipped the country into a frenzy, with the public in a state of mass panic and the international community bewildered by the total lack of forensic evidence. Around the same time, Stark Industries CEO Pepper Potts was approached by former love interest Aldrich Killian, who had founded a privately funded think-tank and developed a regenerative treatment known as Extremis.
Suspecting that Killian had something to hide, Happy Hogan discreetly followed the scientist's bodyguard Eric Savin to Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Los Angeles, where he had arranged a meeting with former United States Army soldier Jack Taggart.
- "Help! Help me!"
- ―Jack Taggart
Hogan watched Savin as he expressed his concern about Taggart's addiction to Extremis before handing him a briefcase containing several injections. As Taggart prepared to leave, Hogan collided with him in order to check the briefcase. He proceeded to help Taggart pick the spilled injectors up off the ground only to try and flee the scene after witnessing the effects of Extremis on Taggart's face.
Savin, who recognized Hogan from their earlier encounter at Stark Industries Headquarters, collided with Hogan and began taunting him only for Hogan to reveal that he had one of the injectors in his possession. When Savin tried to take the injector back by force, Hogan punched him in the face and broke his nose. Savin allowed the Extremis to heal his injury before picking Hogan up and throwing him across the forecourt.
Taggart, meanwhile, had injected himself with a high dose that was causing his body to rapidly build up energy. He desperately called out for Savin's help only to explode seconds later and emit a shockwave that decimated the surrounding area.
Hogan, having managed to hide behind a nearby cart, barely survived the blast but was severely injured. Savin, meanwhile, lost his right leg in the explosion but was able to walk away due to the Extremis causing the limb to regrow.
Threatening the Mandarin
- "Here's a little holiday greeting I've been wanting to send to the Mandarin. I just didn't know how to phrase it until now. My name is Tony Stark and I'm not afraid of you. I know you're a coward. So I've decided that you just died, pal. I'm gonna come get the body. There's no politics here. It's just good old-fashioned revenge. There's no Pentagon. It's just you and me."
- ―Tony Stark
Following the explosion, the Mandarin hijacked television signals across the country and claimed responsibility, comparing the destroyed movie palace to a fortune cookie. He then proceeded to speak directly to President Ellis, announcing that his campaign would end with the President's "graduation".
Stark, meanwhile, visited a now-hospitalized Hogan and subsequently called the Mandarin out in front of several reporters before leaving to conduct his own investigation into the terrorist leader.
Uncovering the Truth
While reviewing footage from the explosion, Stark noticed that Hogan was using his remaining strength to point to where Taggart was standing, a realization made evident by Taggart's dog tags. Upon further inspection, Stark discovered there were no bomb parts within the blast radius. He reviewed incidents with a similar heat signature as the "bombings" orchestrated by the Mandarin and discovered that one such incident took place in Rose Hill, Tennessee in 2009.