‘Iron Man 3′ Review

Published 2 years ago by , Updated November 15th, 2014 at 12:43 am,

Iron Man 3 Mark 42 Armor Iron Man 3 Review

Iron Man 3 should provide enough fun and excitement for both Iron Man die-hards and newly acquired Avengers fans.

Iron Man 3 continues the story of Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.) who, after the Battle of New York in Avengers, is struggling with his place in the steadily expanding superhero community. Unable to sleep, Stark has prioritized tinkering with new suits over his personal relationships – even neglecting the one person he “cannot live without,” Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow).

However, when mysterious terrorist The Mandarin (Ben Kingsley) kills American citizens and targets Iron Man (as well as his friends), Stark is stripped of his trademark armor, and forced to investigate the threat as an ordinary man. He embarks on a dangerous mission to bring the Mandarin to justice – as well as prove that Tony Stark is more than just his Iron Man suit.

Following on the heels of The Avengers, Marvel Studios had a tough task ahead of them: deliver a batch of standalone character stories set in the Avengers shared universe, without undercutting the excitement and momentum generated by the epic 2012 superhero team-up. The first post-Avengers solo entry, Iron Man 3 is led by first-time Marvel helmer Shane Black – known for blending slick action (and humor) with memorable character stories as both a writer (Lethal Weapon) and director (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang). Does Black’s “buddy cop” movie pedigree make him the right man to usher in Phase Two of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, via a smart Tony Stark story with some exciting Iron Man combat?

Iron Man 3 Robert Downey Jr Tony Stark Iron Man 3 Review

Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark in ‘Iron Man 3′

Interestingly, while Black succeeds in presenting the most personal and intimate Tony Stark story in the series thus far, it sometimes comes at the expense of iconic Iron Man action that die-hard fans will be expecting. This isn’t to say that there aren’t plenty of exciting moments featuring the Iron Man armor(s), but Robert Downey Jr. spends a significant amount of time outside of the suit this round (even during several key battles).

That said, the Extremis super-soldier villains are a welcome change of pace from the suit-on-suit brawls of Iron Man and Iron Man 2, and the Mark 42 Armor (which Stark can remotely control) adds plenty of slick new set-pieces that are sure to be memorable for comic lovers and newcomers alike.Still, even though Iron Man 3 includes some of the best moments in the franchise, certain moviegoers will be underwhelmed by the final ratio between Tony Stark and Iron Man armor-centric action.

Like prior entries, the central story examines Stark’s relationship to the Iron Man persona – this time making it a point to show the genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist is pretty adept without his armor. As a result, moviegoers spend a lot of time watching Robert Downey Jr. fire off one-liners (with some genuine vulnerability this round) – especially when paired with kid-helper Harley Keener (Ty Simpkins). In general, Downey once again delivers with the charming and self-absorbed Stark – even in scenes where the filmmakers settled for less-subtle comedy gags (an interaction with a cable news technician, for example) or heavy-handed soap box moments (such as a second act conversation about scientific ethics).

Robert Downey Jr Don Cheadle Iron Man 3 Iron Man 3 Review

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

Nevertheless, while the film leans heavily on shared universe events from The Avengers as an emotional crutch for the Tony Stark storyline, Iron Man 3 entirely side-steps explaining why none of superhero team (or even S.H.I.E.L.D. members) attempt to provide backup  - resulting in an awkward middle-ground where some viewers might have trouble suspending disbelief.

Returning Iron Man series staples Pepper (Paltro), Colonel James Rhodes (Don Cheadle) – as well as former Iron Man series director Jon Favreau (Happy Hogan) – all offer solid turns as their respective characters, and each one is allowed a bit more to do in Iron Man 3. Cheadle especially helps solidify his place in the Marvel movie universe – as the War Machine character is less of a sidekick this round, earning his own superhero spotlight.

Franchise newcomers are a mixed bag, with Ben Kingsley presenting a captivating terrorist persona for the Mandarin. The Mandarin is unsettling, but considering the character’s importance in comic book lore (not to mention the totally unexplored ties to the original Iron Man film), longtime comic fans might be underwhelmed by Iron Man 3‘s use of the fan-favorite villain. Guy Pearce’s Aldrich Killian isn’t an especially unique (or memorable) addition to the Iron Man series roster, but scene to scene, the character is a satisfying aspect of the primary Iron Man 3 conflict. Unfortunately, Rebecca Hall’s Maya Hansen is almost entirely wasted – with an underdeveloped arc that lacks any impactful payoff.

Iron Man 3 Ben Kingsley Mandarin Iron Man 3 Review

Ben Kingsley as the Mandarin in ‘Iron Man 3′

The superfluous Hansen character serves as an example of Iron Man 3‘s biggest drawback: in an effort to deliver a movie that could follow The Avengers, the film is packed with too many characters and overcomplicated tangents that take away from a relatively straightforward character story. A lot of ideas (and comic book references) are haphazardly thrown into the mix, but few of them develop into worthwhile contributions to the onscreen storyline – and, worse yet, outright distract from the emotionally-charged Stark character journey.

Similarly, action set-pieces are bigger than prior Iron Man entries, with epic eye-popping effects, but several sequences suffer from CGI-overload, where the Iron Man armor takes a backseat to crumbling buildings and mid-air explosions. The set-pieces are enormous, but instead of highlighting Tony Stark and the various capabilities of his iconic suit, the scope sometimes undercuts would-be blockbuster moments with a muddled blur of armor and explosions.

Iron Man 3 is playing in both 3D as well as an IMAX Experience – and both versions are on-par with premium presentations of The Avengers. The 3D, specifically, relies on subtle (not pop-out) effects, courtesy of a crisp post-conversion from frequent Marvel Studios collaborator, StereoD (Jurassic Park 3D). Neither IMAX or the 3D is essential to enjoying the film, but moviegoers who are willing to spring for the added ticket cost should get their money’s worth.

Iron Man 3 Gwyneth Paltrow Pepper Potts Iron Man 3 Review

Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper Potts in ‘Iron Man 3′

In attempting to maintain the bar set by The Avengers’ superhero action, Iron Man 3 at times handcuffs its hero (and story) – throwing too much style and attempted substance at the screen without being mindful of the carefully-paced discovery and wonder that made the first film (and even the flawed second entry) so memorable. Nevertheless, Iron Man 3 is a crowd-pleasing blockbuster that includes a number of unique action beats and antagonists that break up the suit vs. suit monotony that dominated the first two entries.

It isn’t the best of the Marvel Studios shared universe offerings, but Iron Man 3 should provide enough fun and excitement for both Iron Man die-hards and newly acquired Avengers fans. If you’re still on the fence, check out the Iron Man 3 trailer below:

517670639 cv1 620 439 Iron Man 3 Review


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Iron Man 3 runs 130 minutes and is Rated PG-13 for sequences of intense sci-fi action and violence throughout, and brief suggestive content. Now playing in 2D, 3D and IMAX 3D theaters.

Let us know what you thought of the film in the comment section below. If you’ve seen the movie and want to discuss details about the film without worrying about spoiling it for those who haven’t seen it, please head over to our Iron Man 3 Spoilers Discussion.

For an in-depth discussion of the film by the Screen Rant editors check out our Iron Man 3 episode of the SR Underground podcast.

Follow me on Twitter @benkendrick for future reviews, as well as movie, TV, and gaming news.

Our Rating:

3.5 out of 5
(Very Good)

Follow Ben Kendrick on Twitter @benkendrick
TAGS: Iron man 3
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  1. A little harsh I think but mostly fair.

    • I was disappointed with the Mandarin and Maya Hansen stories as they just ended, and was underwhelmed with the action scenes of the movie although I did enjoy seeing more of the Tony Stark I did miss the Iron Man part.

  2. I left the theater disappointed but I truly believe it was because my expectations were too high.

    • I was more underwhelmed than disappointed Kyle. But I agree, I think my expectations where too high. Although at some point, they need to make expectations.

    • I did too, but I dont think it was because of my expectations. It just was a “so so” movie in comparison to other marvel movies :’(

    • Underwhelming sounds about right. I kept my expectation low especially after Thor and Iron Man 2. I was excited of course but tried to keep expectation low. In the end still was underwhelmed

    • Oh too add to what I said- Expectations being high or low is not what I think the problem most audience members watching this movie is going to have, but rather you just expected the film to be…different. Not Better or Worse, Just Different.

    • That can happen if you read too much screenrant :)

  3. its the best iron man movie…

    • Your opinion

      • No duh.

      • Yes, we know it’s his opinion.

        I think it’s the best of the 3 as well.

        There you go, that’s my opinion.

        Thought I’d get that in before you state the obvious, again.


        • I haven’t seen it yet, but lets be honest: has there ever been a time you haven’t enjoyed Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark? He seriously never ceases to amaze in his portrayal

        • your opinion. ;)

    • the best of course without any doubt…. i had some fun even my expectations was toooooo high but i did manage them…. the best of course

  4. Fair and balanced. Defo better than 2 though.

  5. Got out of a midnight screening of this a while ago. It was dreadful.

    Why is there such excessive humor in this film? Really, the humor seemed forced, and I really wanted them to take the storyline more seriously. The first Iron Man had a proper balance of humor and had a good story/characterizations. Subsequent films started to focus more on the humor and introduced more characters, subplots or plots that go nowhere, etc. Ever heard of the saying less is more?

    I know very little about the Mandarin, but his portrayal here is just flat out wrong. Maya Hansen, as Ben said, is wasted. Honestly, I couldn’t take this film seriously since RDJ seemed to be spewing out a joke a minute.

    Ug. I’m probably in the minority here, but maybe it’s time to reboot this franchise, with different actors and a better writing/directing team.

    • Felt the same when I saw it last week. The humor get grating after a while.

      Plus another disappointment was that the promos mentioned ‘Tony going back to his cave with none of his gadgets’ and I thought Stark would create some new kind of armor. In the end he comes out of ‘the cave’ with an electric glove and some fake bombs. That just crushed me.

      • i’m still waiting to proton cannon… disappointed!

  6. Well, One is by far the best imo, leaving 2 and 3 behind, both of them equally “ok”. There were too many things I didnt like about 3 – starting with a christmas setting, a bad use of the mandarin, an not so funny sidekick a la indiana jones… no real connection to what happened in the avengers, no really deep insights on tony stark… it was ok, but not epic at all imo

    • Ug, I hated that kid. All that time wasted, when it could be of been used on our main characters.

  7. One of the local critics here, Bob Bloom, gave it two stars. I believe a direct quote from his review was this:

    “If not for Robert Downey Jr., “Iron Man 3″ would be a total disaster, undermined by a haphazard, disjointed and sloppy plot.”

    He also goes on to talk about other things as well, such as his thoughts on Mandarin being one of the weakest villains in the entire MCU so far.

    I have yet to see IM3, but this is a guy I’m always 80% in agreement with. Hopefully this won’t be a mess

  8. Sounds like I should readjust my expectations. :(

    • seriously…. i dont even know why i even read these comments, hoping for a great review by one of these “critics”? all it does is diminish my fervor for the movie…. i had such high hopes.

    • Don’t get me wrong. I still think it’s a good movie. I love the new fresh take that Shane Black brings. But like a poster said above, it’s just different.

  9. I guess in a way they went with the Ultimate version of the Mandarin. J enjoyed the movie but expected WAY MORE from the Mandarin

  10. Fun movie but so many plot holes, forced humor, excess chatacters and poor fight scenes that felt unbalanced. On first viewing i
    Enjoyed it a lot then the 2nd time i really though about it. Watching the score drop from 93% to 77% was really unexpected.

  11. I think this is a very fair review.

    In my opinion, this is by far the best character driven movie of all the Marvel movies thus far – which is a nice change of pace. In terms of story, there is quite a few things left to be desired, but if you’re not going to nit-pick or analyse it too harshly, you’ll enjoy the overall narrative.
    The pacing was quite “brisk” as well, which was fantastic, I thought. The previous Iron Man movies had a much more steady pace (and a fairly underwhelming third act), but this beast was the exact opposite: you never know where it’s going next and it doesn’t ever stop to “catch a breath”.

    The main characters were all very well fleshed out.
    RDJ took his performance to a whole new level. We see such a different side of the character we’ve grown used to over the past few years, and it worked extremely well… If anything, the end of the movie really makes you wonder where things will go next. And because of that, this movie will “reignite” many people’s interest in this character (other movie franchises such as the Pirates of the Caribbean could learn a thing or two from this).
    Cheadle and Paltrow had much more important roles this time round, which was great. I don’t feel like I have more respect or admiration for the characters after seeing the movie, but it was nice that they were given something to work with besides “best friend” and “love interest”.
    Ben Kingsley’s portrayal of The Mandarin character will be a love/hate thing with most, but whichever way you feel, there’s no denying it: his actual performance was good.
    Pearce kind of played the token “evil scientist” role. Even his motivations for doing what he does comes across as a cliche, but for the most part, he’s an enjoyable character… despite being a little forgettable.
    The “kid-helper”, Harley Keener, was something I was very nervous about, and the inclusion of such a character could very well have ruined the movie, but oddly, it worked! I’m not a fan of child actors, but this kid didn’t come across as the token “Oh golly! I’m a little kid helping a superhero!”-type character. It actually felt very real and the chemistry between him and RDJ was great.
    The other characters weren’t given much to do imo… so there isn’t really anything worth pointing out on that front.

    As far as the action and VFX goes, it was insane. Visually, this is a very different movie than any of the other Marvel movies – and I can’t stress that enough… DIFFERENT. In a way, it almost felt a little too far out there at times (especially with the ways in which Stark now “suits up”), but when you have Norse gods and green rage monsters in the same “world”, I think it’s a given that people should provide a little leeway if they want to enjoy the ride.
    Some if the CGI shots seemed overly fake (again, mainly the way in which Stark gets in and out of his suits), but there are plenty of brilliant shots that’ll make you forget about those.
    In terms of spectacle and scale, don’t let the early reactions fool you: this isn’t as big as The Avengers, nor as funny – but it is the closest we might get in a while. For me, the action wasn’t as memorable as The Avengers’ either. For instance, in The Avengers we had iconic superhero fights and moments, whereas in this one, I couldn’t really find any iconic “poses” or “moves”.

    Other aspects of the film:
    The score was great. It’s not as memorable as Ramin Djawadi’s score for the first movie, but this one will most definitely go down as one of the more memorable scores in superhero-movie-history.
    The 3D was surprisingly exceptional. Like Ben’s review said, there aren’t many pop-out effects, and that’s exactly what makes it work so well! It adds depth and makes you feel closer to the characters. In fact, some of the best 3D moments in this movie were during the intimate, dialogue driven scenes.
    The post credit scene was fun. I’m not going to spoil anything, but it was super fun. That scene at the end really ties the movie up in a nice little bow.

    One’s enjoyment of the movie really depends on where one’s loyalties lie. If you’re just a casual movie fan, looking for a good time, you’ll love this movie. However, if you’re a comic book die-hard or a cinephile, I think there might very well be a few things that’ll annoy you, and distract you from enjoying the film to its fullest.
    My advise would be to go into the theater with an open mind, and your expectations dialed down a bit. Also, don’t try and compare it to The Avengers (which is what I tried to do) – if you can do that, you’ll have a fantastic time.

    In summation, I’d like to reiterate that this is a wonderful, character-driven film, and extremely different from any of Marvel Studios’ other films. The director’s vision is something that was also apparent throughout. It makes me excited to see what Alan Taylor, the Russo Brothers and James Gunn have in store for us…

    All-in-all though, I’d give this movie a 7.5/10.

    • Fair Assessment of the film. I am glad you went in depth with your explanation of your opinion. Better than just a simple line or two.

      There are certain aspects like and did not like the film but honestly I really do not have the time now to type it nor do I wish to spoil anything.

      3/3.5 out of 5 (6/7 out of 10)

  12. too many plotholes..moreover it was way too loosely connected to the avengers,like someone said ,only saving grace in this movie is Downey!

  13. also forgot to mention, i had waited for the post credits scene expecting some glimpse of guardians of galaxy or antman but instead they chose to show something totally nonsense..stark talking to bruce about his extremis episode while the latter not giving a f&ck wat he was saying..and i was like MEHHH

    • I agree with you.

      However, please try to avoid spoilers as much as possible (for those people who haven’t seen it yet). There are some people reading the review and comments who are in that category.


    • Well if you were expecting that…you shouldn’t have listed to rumors.

  14. @rayan: I’m not replying to your comment directly, because I assume it’ll be deleted, but don’t post spoilers here!
    There’s a clear warning that says no spoilers are to be posted on this page.

    Show consideration for those who haven’t seen the movie dude.

  15. The kid was funny, i enjoyed those scenes. But, rebecca hall was underutilized, and that time could have been spent with her. If not her, the mandarin. The action in this movie was easily better than the first 2 installments. The pacing was slightly off. I dont mind all the jokes because thats how this tony stark has been since the first minute.

    • Well said. Tony Stark has been that way since IM1.

  16. Iron Mans run time is 130 mins….your review run time was almost as long…geez!

    • So you prefer a review where someone just says “It was cool. I liked it when things blew up!”, over a fair, professional, in depth review highlighting the best and worsts parts of the film?

      This isn’t twitter. On Screen Rant the reviewers actually give valid reasons to support their opinions on the movies they review.

      • No, I expect someone who writes reviews to compile roughly 2 paragraphs in an intelligent manner; not dissect every scene and fill my screen with complaints and spoilers.
        I watched the movie last night and I thought it was great. It showed a side of Tony Stark we don’t often see. The film is well balanced. Life is funny, awkward and makes you vulnerable; even if you are an egotistical, playboy, superhero.

    • I agree, snack_queen. I don’t know if SR has an internal standard for how long reviews should be, but they tend to run a little too long and become repetitious. It feels as if the writer has to hit a minimum word limit and is just drawing it out. If there is indeed an internal standard word count, I think it should be cut by 20%. 80% of the way through the review, I had already got the gist of it, but just kept reading…and reading…and reading…

      Some feedback I hope SR will consider. Just like a movie can be a little too long (we’ve all had that feeling that they should have cut 10 minutes from the movie), so can a review.

    • Iron Man 3 is one of the very biggest openings all year.
      Not to mention most-anticipated. It merits a “big” review.
      And besides, about 1000 words is not out of order anyway.

  17. For me, I didn’t care for some of the character decisions and I didn’t care for the villains. The villain motive/plot line was handled a little bit on the sloppy side. I am a Shane Black fan but I found that most of the humor didn’t work in the Iron Man setting. The mobile iron man suit was entirely overused and became repetitive/predictable. There were some great looking action sequences and the tying together of story lines. Overall, I was entertained by Iron Man 3 but left the theater with no urge to see it again.

  18. Soo disappointed in this film

  19. In my opinion. The movie was wack!!!! All the hype about the Mandarin and he was a joke. Instead we get sum fire breathing lava super soldiers. I watches this movie a week early just to be disappointed faster.. Marvel needs to do better.. I hope Wolverine doesn’t turn out like this.. If so I’m sticking with DC movies..

  20. Sorry for that spoilers guys,it was unintentional, anyways i just Hope Thor 2 gets the Magic back what this movie couldn’t

  21. I thought the movie was much stronger due to the fact he was not always in the suit.

    I have come to think that Guy Pearce over acts in much of his recent stuff but he was perfect in this.

    So was Kingsley. What a brilliant performance.

  22. I thought it was very much the best of the marvel universe films.

    As good if not better than Avengers and the best Iron Man by far.

  23. The film has a fantastic and capable star in its lead that makes the film enjoyable to watch and there is some great action sequences. However, the film is bogged down by a not so clear villainous plot, repetitive and tedious beats, and a crucial twist that will leave awaiting fans and moviegoers laughing yet cheated. Funny and charismatic RDJ will entertain yet distract audience from an overcomplicated plot with no clear direction. The film manages to make no sense but yet never lower to being a bad film just not a overly good. Its okay in the end. Better than Iron Man 2 but no where near as close as to Iron Man or the Avengers.

    Honestly, the film is funny up to the point it makes the Avengers seem more serious in retrospect. It really is funny. The action is good as well. But the more interesting character story is often muddled by useless new characters or story distractions. It entertains you in the moments but looked as whole, not much is too be taken away when you leave the theater. My expectation for the film was neither high nor low but different. I expected the course of the film to be different. This is not referencing to the source material but rather the trailers painted a very different film to be watched and actually watching the film there are certain abrupt shifts in the story along the way while watching the film.

    It is not a bad film but not a great one as the first film or event he Avengers. There is not much more I can say without actually revealing certain plot details. It was entertaining and mostly funny film of Tony Stark that included some capable action sequences, but I am still not entirely sure if the film just stuck a giant middle finger at its own audience.

    Fair Review- Not Bad, Not Good, Not Mediocre. Just Okay.
    3-3.5 Stars out of 5

  24. “In attempting to maintain the bar set by The Avengers’ superhero action, Iron Man 3 at times handcuffs its hero (and story) – throwing too much style and attempted substance at the screen without being mindful of the carefully-paced discovery and wonder that made the first film (and even the flawed second entry) so memorable. ”

    That is simply not true.

    • Of course it is. I haven’t even seen it and I’m aware that a sequel RARELY captures the essence of it’s original predecessor.

      In this case, “Iron Man” and “Iron Man 3″ have completely different set-ups: Tony Stark becoming Iron Man and Tony Stark proving he is more than Iron Man.

      Also take into mind that Shane Black took over for this film instead of Jon Favreau.

      We have progessed into the 3rd chapter: it’s hard enough bringing back the same feeling the first Iron Man brought us in a 3rd film, plus the fact that you have a completely different person running the show.

  25. First of all it was better than the two and it was a great movie. BUT…… for us comic book fanatics it was a disappointment. they got everything screwed up.

    Everything was going well until the mandarin came out of the bathroom. I was hoping there would be an action packed finale between him and iron man. Maya Hansen was a waste, the extremis storyline was messed up. Modok should have been the leader of AIM. It would have made sense that way.

    I was expecting iron man to get extremis but instead he got the arc reactor out and basically quit. It was painful to watch the iron legion exploding in the sky, i was hoping he would use them in his other adventures. False advertising, disappointment and just shocking. I hope they don’t do the same for the rest of phase 2.

    • You know that little article called “Iron Man 3 – Spoilers Discussion”?

      • When you see an article called “Iron man 3 review” it wouldn’t be wise NOT to view it much less the comment section. This is Freedom of speech, you don’t own my computer that types this, if you didn’t watch iron man 3 at this time, then that’s your problem buddy.

  26. I actually liked the movie a lot. I don’t think the humor was too forced. I didn’t leave it with a “WOW!” feeling, but it was overall satisfying. Maybe I’m just easy to please.

    Any takes on the terrible after-credits scene? I literally wasted those 10 minutes waiting for nothing.

    • Btw, watched it before all you guys ^_^ came out here last Sunday

  27. Good balanced review. I was disappointed with it for a lot of the reasons you have highlighted. Will need to watch again before making my mind up but initial feeling was disappointment.

  28. Good review, Archer! Agree with you on most of your comments. I especially liked the “giant middle finger” comment (which applied to me while watching the film).

  29. 1 star cut for big twist, another for forced jokes, another for plotholes,another for no AC/DC track at all, and last but not least for making me sit 10+ minutes for a plain dumb after credits scene! And if there are more stars to cut then it’l be for no real connection to avengers!

    • This film is called “Iron Man 3″

      “The Last of the New Yorkers”
      “Tony Stark: The Iron Avenger”
      “Iron Man 3: Aftermath of Loki”
      “Iron Man 3: We Have a Hulk”
      “The Nightmare Before Avengers 2″

    • +1 for no AC/DC track comment. “Does the suit make the man, or does the man make the suit?” ‘Who Made Who’ would have been perfect! :(

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