- "Before he built rockets for the Nazis, the idealistic Wernher von Braun dreamed of space travel. He stargazed. Do you know what he said before the first V-2 hit London? 'The rocket performed perfectly. It just landed on the wrong planet.' See, we all begin wide eyed. Pure science. And then the ego steps in, the obsession. And you look up, you're a long way from shore."
- ―Maya Hansen to Pepper Potts
Doctor Maya Hansen was a scientist working with Aldrich Killian on the Extremis project. When the project began killing people, Hansen sought Tony Stark's help in fixing it; however, Killian began using the designs for terrorism. When Hansen attempted to stop Killian, she was murdered.
Meeting Tony Stark
- "Where are we going?"
"To town on each other, probably back in your room. 'Cause I also wanna see your research."
"Okay, you can see my research, but that's... I'm not gonna show you my town."
- ―Maya Hansen and Tony Stark
Maya Hansen was a research scientist working on a revolutionary process to rewrite genetic codes when she attended a New Year's Eve party in Bern, Switzerland, where she met Tony Stark. They were enjoying their evening together when Aldrich Killian also tried to vie for Stark's attention. While Stark only brushed off the unwanted intrusion, Hansen accepted Killian's contact details on his behalf, yet with little regard.
Hansen and Stark made their way back to her hotel room where she showed off her research into Extremis, a design that had the potential to upgrade the human body and regrow cells. Stark was impressed, but Happy Hogan was less so and began pulling at one of the test plants. Hansen and Stark made their way to her bedroom where they continued to flirt and kiss. They were interrupted when the plant Hogan had been playing with suddenly exploded. Once they realized what had happened they laughed and celebrated New Years.
When she awoke on New Year's Day after sharing a bed with Stark, Hansen continued her research while looking over the mountains. She discovered that Stark had discreetly left, discarding her as easily as he had Killian, although he had left her a formula which had the potential of fixing the bugs within her Extremis designs. Angered by Stark's disappearance, Hansen used his formula to continue her work although she still failed to fix the bug and needed money to expand her development.
In the wake of that night in Switzerland, Hansen approached Aldrich Killian, and was accepted into the ranks of A.I.M. She brought her research with her and eventually the development of Extremis led to her leading a 40-strong team of A.I.M scientists.
The downside of Extremis was it's explosively unstable nature. Some hosts would accept it, and remain somewhat stable with regular infusions and treatment, while some exploded violently. When Extremis was tested on human subjects, a number of them went critical in public, causing Killian to invent a terror plot cover story to keep A.I.M.'s involvement a secret.
Seeking Tony Stark's Help
Hansen, unaware of the extent of Aldrich Killian's machinations, approached Tony Stark directly after he made some public boasts about stopping the acts of terror. She had reason to believe Killian and the terror plot might be connected, but moreover wanted Stark's assistance in aiding her Extremis research.
However, Hansen was not the only one drawn to Stark's mansion by the news media boasts. Armed helicopters arrived to deliver a reactionary blow and remove one of the prominent obstacles to the hidden terrorist plot. The first missile knocked Hansen back and rendered her unconscious under the rubble. Hansen found herself escaping the mansion with the assistance of Pepper Potts who was wearing the Mark XLII Armor. They made it outside as the mansion was torn apart around them, traping Stark inside.
Confessing to Pepper Potts
Hansen and Pepper Potts drove away from the rubble of the facility and Potts demanded to know why Hansen had come to Tony Stark's Mansion. Hansen explained what her research was and revealed that she believed her boss, Aldrich Killian, was working for the Mandarin.
Hansen and Potts decided to hide out in a hotel room where they continued to discuss Hansen's research and she expressed her regrets that Killian was using her ideas and designs for terrorism. She went on to compare her experiences to that of the man who had invented the bomb used to attack London during World War II. Potts comforted her and reminded her that what she had experienced was not down to her and noted that it was exactly what Stark Industries had once done when they were still designing and building weapons.
The pair were interrupted by a knock at the door, Potts answered it and welcomed the waiter with their food. Before the waiter could enter, Killian arrived and snapped his neck before grabbing Potts and pinning her against the wall. Killian demanded to know why Hansen had been at Tony Stark's Mansion and she explained that she was trying to fix the Extremis and needed Stark's intellect to stabilize it and that Potts could be used as an incentive. Hansen made it clear that she was unaware that Killian and the Mandarin intended to kill Stark.
Finding Tony Stark
Days passed, and with the world believing Tony Stark had been killed in the destruction of his home, Hansen learned the truth when she encountered him being imprisoned at Aldrich Killian's Mansion. Hansen spoke to Stark and expressed her disappointment at the circumstances and asked once again that Stark help her fix the Extremis. Stark told her that she had lost the values that he had admired in her.
Aldrich Killian arrived and explained that he wanted Stark's cooperation as much as Hansen had. Killian explained the concept behind having Trevor Slattery pose as the Mandarin to cover up the failed Extremis tests. In order to get Stark's compliance, he explained that he had taken Pepper Potts hostage and was torturing her by injecting her with the Extremis. Killian showed Stark a live video feed of Potts in pain as the Extremis took over her body and Hansen watched as Tony Stark's heart broke watching the woman he loved suffering.
Executed by Killian
- "What are you doing?"
"1200cc's, a dose half of this size, I'm dead."
"It's times like these my temper is tested somewhat. Maya, give me the injector."
- ―Aldrich Killian and Maya Hansen
Hansen became appalled by the lengths which Aldrich Killian was prepared to use to get what he wanted out of Tony Stark and decided to fight back and regain her soul. She picked up an ampule of Extremis and threatened to administer a lethal dose to herself which would cause a massive explosion, she then demanded Killian to release Stark.
Hansen made Killian consider what would happen to their research without her and what would happen to him when he's caught in the explosion. Killian briefly tried to reason with her but in the end, unwilling to waste time discussing this any further, he simply responded to the threat by shooting her in the chest and smiling as she bled out. Hansen attempted to crawl to safety but quickly collapsed and died. Killian then noted that with Hansen now dead, a high-level position at A.I.M. had now been opened up.
Maya Hansen is a good person at heart, willing to help people in the world through science. Using her latest breakthrough project, called Extremis, Hansen wanted to show the world her invention, but due to the glitch present within her virus, Extremis was rendered unstable. This caused her to take extreme measures: Taking Aldrich Killian's card and using his money for the sake of improving Extremis and distributing it to test subjects. Eventually, Killian's methods lead her to a change of heart about what she would use Extremis for, and that it was no longer meant for the people.
- Expert Scientist: Tony Stark, himself an ingenious scientist, called Maya Hansen the most gifted scientific woman he ever met in Switzerland. Her abilities in science were great enough that she created Extremis, originally created to rewrite genetic code and allow to improve the performance of the human body. However, her original design had some flaws, and she realized that she needed Stark's help to perfect it.
Behind the Scenes
- In the comics, Maya Hansen is a scientist who developed the Extremis virus alongside Aldrich Killian. When Killian steals a sample of the virus and sells it to domestic terrorists, she calls up Tony Stark to help recover it, eventually injecting him with Extremis and later confesses to assisting in the selling of Extremis as she knew it would force defense contractors to renew their funding.
- Jessica Chastain was in talks to play Maya Hansen, but dropped out due to scheduling conflicts.
- Shane Black and Drew Pearce stated on the Iron Man 3 audio commentary that Maya was originally the film's villain. Three years after the film's release, Black claimed the change was made as Marvel felt they would be unable to sell toys of a female villain, clarifying it was a corporate decision and had nothing to do with Kevin Feige. Ironically, there were no action figures of Killian.
- Rebecca Hall revealed Maya was no longer the villain when she was cast, but "I signed on to do something very different to what I ended up doing. Halfway through shooting they were basically like, 'What would you think if you just got shot out of nowhere?' I was meant to be in the movie until the end... I grappled with them for awhile and then I said, 'Well, you have to give me a decent death scene and you have to give me one more scene with Iron Man,' which Robert Downey Jr. supported me on."
- Monique Ganderton and Alisa Hensley were stunt doubles for Rebecca Hall in the role of Maya Hansen.
- Jenny Austin was a stand-in for Rebecca Hall in the role of Maya Hansen.