UPDATE: Click here for our very own Iron Man 3 review!

Your average moviegoer in the U.S. won’t get to see Iron Man 3 in theaters for another week, but the movie has already begun opening across the pond and, thus, reviews have started trickling in. So, what do those professional film critics and the major movie bloggers think about co-writer/director Shane Black and star Robert Downey Jr.’s Marvel movie (the first released since The Avengers)?

We’ve rounded up excerpts from a handful of early Iron Man 3 reviews, which were published by some of the best-known and well-trusted entertainment sites around the Internet; needless to say, they speak for themselves.

For the full reviews, click on the respective links below (NOTE: These excerpts are all SPOILER-FREE):

Variety

The third time is neither a particular charm nor the kiss of death for Marvel Studios’ robust “Iron Man” series, which has changed studios (from Paramount to Disney) and directors (Shane Black subbing for Jon Favreau) but otherwise toyed little with the formula that has so far generated more than $1.2 billion in global ticket sales. The inevitable franchise fatigue ― plus a markedly unmemorable villain ― may account for the feeling that “Iron Man 3” is more perfunctory and workmanlike than its two predecessors, but this solid production still delivers more than enough of what fans expect to earn its weight in box office metal.

THR

Too long gone from the film scene, Black, who made his mark with the initial Lethal Weapon script, takes this assignment both very seriously and not seriously at all, which is entirely in tune with the glib determination Downey has always brought to the role of Tony Stark… the well-chosen cast members respond in kind with virtually palpable glee… Looking, if anything, younger than he did in his last couple of spins for Marvel, Downey is at his superhero genius best here… Cinematographer John Toll and production designer Bill Brzeski add class to the generic proceedings, Brian Tyler’s ultra-energetic score doesn’t grate the way soundtracks for such films often do and the special and visual effects are tops when they count.

Gwyneth Paltrow in ‘Iron Man 3′

IGN

[‘Iron Man 3′ is] a superhero flick with smarts, depth and a marvellously mischievous sense of fun When Shane Black was first announced as writer-director, there were doubts from fans due to his perceived lack of experience in the genre. But once again Marvel has been proved right, their left-field choice resulting in a comic-book movie that expertly melds action, comedy and drama to become the finest Iron Man movie yet.

The Playlist

… [It’s] the inventiveness of the film that’s probably its best feature; there are plenty of surprises in store, smart reversals and plot twists that are a reminder that summer blockbusters don’t necessarily have to stick to formula, even if they’re as factory-assembled as [‘Iron Man 3′]… With this being the third summer in four to feature a movie starring Tony Stark, it’s not surprising that at times, the film does feel more like an episode of a particularly expensive TV show rather than a movie. But for all the film’s flaws, Black brings enough to the table that it’s far from a chore, and if this level of ingenuity and surprise can be maintained, there’ll be no need for Tony to hang up his Iron Man helmet any time soon.

Time Out London

Calling ‘Iron Man 3’ a mixed bag doesn’t really do justice to the heady peaks and interminable troughs in this scrappy but overwhelmingly likeable superhero sequel… Despite his unimpeachable screenwriting CV, this is only Black’s second film as a director… and it shows. When he’s in his element Black delivers the goods in style… But he seems out of his depth during the larger set pieces… The result is a film which never settles into a comfortable groove. It tries to be an angsty ‘Dark Knight’-style game changer, an ’80’s-throwback action romp, a nudge-wink pastiche and a CG-fuelled spectacular. It’s undeniably entertaining – and worth seeing for Kingsley alone – with the misfires never fully overshadowing the moments of glory. But in the wake of the triumph of ‘The Avengers’, ‘Iron Man 3’ still feels like something of a disappointment.

Robert Downey Jr. and Don Cheadle in ‘Iron Man 3′

Empire

… Pleasingly, Iron Man 3 ticks every box. Just as Joss Whedon pepped up [‘The Avengers’] with his unique brand of jocosity, here, despite the sci-fi trimmings and goliath budget, it feels like Black’s been given carte blanche by Marvel to do his thing. The result is a swinging caper with wit, balls, heart and exploding baubles. It’s Kiss Kiss Bang Bang with a lot of extra bang. And, by some distance, the Man In The Can’s best solo outing so far… Black proves the perfect blacksmith, forging smart new tech and scenarios for the swaggering super-genius. If this does turn out to be Downey Jr.’s final solo outing, it’s a very strong exit.

HitFix

What surprised and satisfied me most about “Iron Man Three” is just how thematically tight it is… It’s almost shocking how much of a Shane Black film this is. I expected him to play around a little but within something that felt like pretty much every other Marvel movie. Instead, I recognize that this is firmly set within the Marvel universe, but the story and the voice in which it’s told? Unmistakable. “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang” fans in particular are going to find themselves howling at the film’s framing device and at a few twists and turns in the detective elements of the story. The result of this particular creative alchemy is a film that suggests they are still just starting to figure out what to do with this character, and I sincerely hope that the final credit of the film, “Tony Stark Will Return,” is not just an empty promise.

JoBlo

After taking this character on for the fourth time now, Robert Downey Jr. continues to create a layered individual who is trying to deal with the awesome nature of what he has become. The references to THE AVENGERS are especially well played here without becoming a crutch or relying on the previous film… When Shane Black was first announced as the new director in the series, it seemed to be an intriguing, yet questionable choice. Happily the director brings out some of the intensity that he did with some of his earlier scripts including LETHAL WEAPON and KISS KISS BANG BANG (which he directed as well)… As dramatic and dark as it can get, it never loses the humor which has become an important factor in the Marvel Universe…  In every way, this latest chapter is one of the best Marvel features to date. Tony Stark’s latest adventure is an enthusiastically exciting ride that never loses its humor or its edge.

So, in summation:

  • Iron Man 3 doesn’t reinvent the (iron?) wheel, but it’s a definite improvement on Iron Man 2 (and maybe the best Iron Man movie yet, depending on who you ask).
  • This feels like a Shane Black action movie, in the best ways possible.
  • There are imperfections in every department (tone, character development, action), but ultimately the good far outweighs the bad.

Iron Man 3 is currently holding a 93% Fresh score on Rotten Tomatoes, after 46 reviews and counting. Thus, it’s probably safe to say: Marvel’s Phase 2 is off to an excellent start, as far as quality goes (no doubt, box office success is a sure thing).

517670639 cv1 620 439 Early Iron Man 3 Reviews   A Strong Beginning for Marvels Phase 2

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Look for Screen Rant‘s official Iron Man 3 review when the film opens in (U.S.) theaters on May 3rd, 2013!

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