'Downton Abbey' heads to the big screen in 'Iron Man 3'

"Iron Man 3" meets "Downton Abbey"

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By Ree Hines

It's been over two months since PBS aired the season three finale of "Downton Abbey," but time hasn't dulled the memory of it for fans. Who could forget the sprawling estate, the upstairs-downstairs drama, the fully-articulated, remote-controlled, red and gold exoskeleton, the ... wait, what?

If that last bit doesn't seem quite right, it will soon. On Friday, "Iron Man 3" opens in theaters nationwide, and that's when the worlds of Tony Stark and the Dowager Countess collide.

In the movie, scenes from the Masterpiece hit, featuring beleaguered Branson and his now-lost love Sybil early in their romance, play on a TV while "Iron Man's" Happy Hogan looks on.

"Eh what?" tweeted Branson actor Allen Leech when he learned he'd soon make a small-screen-on-the-big-screen appearance in the action flick. But after getting more details, the "Downton" regular called the cameo "brilliant."

In fact, it turns out his very brief and indirect presence in "Iron Man 3" might be more important than the average bit of background chatter.

"Pay attention to what #DowntonAbbey scene Happy is watching in #IronMan3. It was carefully selected," the man behind the driver-bodyguard, Jon Favreau, later tweeted.

Given the fact that both Branson and Happy have (or had) similar careers, the likely link has something to do with chauffeurs finding love. Hmm.

See the scenes for yourself in theaters on May 3. As for seeing "Downton Abbey" on the small screen again, the wait will be a little longer -- and by a little, we mean a lot. New episodes of the drama aren't expected to air in America until winter 2014.