‘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:

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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. Pains me to say. I was also diassapointed the whole villan thing was not a good idea. I thought it was funny da only plus. The wannabe “xmen” villans i hated. The real hero is not stark or stark as iron man, the hero is Jarvis. The whole trying to show Starks evolve into a ‘different man’ idk. Acting obviously great but the movie sadly fell off. I like IM2 better.

    • I agree 200%!

  2. I actually thought this movie was very well done. It was fun, but my only issue was the mandarin which I know that is everyones issue. I like ben kingsley and I was really looking forward to seeing his take on the character, and for the most part I did like his character, both personas. I just he really was the terroist mandarin and not a goofy side character. Thats the only issue I had witb the movie. I really feel like this movie could have been more of an epic if it were mandarin and even fin fang foom, and if aldrich was more of a justin hammer character.

  3. As much as I wanted to like this movie I just could not convince myself. For a movie that was 2 hours & 10 minutes it felt like it was 4 hours & 50 minutes. By the time the final battle came I was eager for the movie to just end.

    Too many plot holes, complete twist with Mandarin that didn’t work (not because I feel the villain didn’t get his just due either), too much time given to Potts & Rhodes that didn’t deliver, too many implied conclusions you’d be a fool to believe and not enough explanation around Extremis.
    I’m fine with the Extremis angle being the plot for the movie ‘villian’but at least reveal its history a bit more. It was like these Extremis soldiers have unbelievable powers but no real explanation why other than Aldrich Killian being a madman that is tampering with evolution. It would have been nice to have 10-15 minutes building up what Extremis actually is & would have answered how these beings are so powerful let alone their heat power.

    I religiously go to the theater for every superhero movie (90% of the time more than once) & buy the DVD as well. I will not be seeing IM3 again or buying the DVD.

    I’m not saying it was the worst superhero movie but it definitely needed a lot more.

    2 out of 5 stars

  4. I honestly think all these critics raving about this movie don’t have a clue about superhero movies and simply jump on the bandwagon saying they like it because they know it will be a box office success. Same for the new breed of superhero fans giving great reviews – simply trying to fit in with a property (MARVEL) they know is currently popular.

    • Well, I trust Mark Kermode because he isn’t a comic book fan, nor is he afraid to speak his mind when he likes or hates a movie and gives honest reviews. The guy said this movie was “choppy in places” but overall the best he’s seen from Marvel so far even when the last act got a little “silly and more of a Transformers style robot vs robot thing”. He also said it was the perfect actor/director relationship because Black and RDJ work so well together and play to each other’s strengths.

      Me personally, I’ve stated that I like this the best out of all the Marvel movies so far because despite the changes and plot twists, I still enjoyed it and thought it was a well rounded movie even if it was a little distracting when some plot points were never explained or seemed to dwindle into nothing as if it never happened.

      I honestly think some people are being way too negative about this movie and others are being way too positive with both sides seeming to do so to appear “right” as far as opinion. There is no wrong or right opinion but I do wonder about those who complain about Mandarin’s eventual reveal.

      It was done well and thankfully didn’t lead to us having to see Kingsley in an iron suit to be able to go toe to toe with Stark.

    • I have a clue and I am raving! IT was a really good movie.

    • Yes! ^

  5. Ha, this review hit it on the nail for me. I agree 100%

    Well written.

  6. Good review! I am convinced I will like it better than the dissapointing sequel. More drama and personal evolution was painfully needed, so I like the sound of this movie.

    Question for the experts: what was the Mandarin’s connection to the first film story/origin of Iron Man? We’re they allies, or did Tony sell him weapons?

    • I can assure you that it was still better than the second movie, despite my misgivings about it. As for the question, wait until you’ve seen the movie.

    • @Josh Calkins

      Mandarin’s rings were referenced by the name of the terrorist group that kidnapped Tony in the first movie. Otherwise? No other connections. It was more of an easter egg for fans than an actual connection between characters.

      • there is a spoiler section ya know….

  7. An absolute shocker !! What a let down, I had praise when they announced a new director, this movie was boring, too much Tony Stark and not enough Shell head. Stark has 42 armors and Rhodey can’t even wear one of em, what a joke, the Extremis soldiers, not very clear on what they are and how they get their powers, they’re like a bunch of bad mutants. The noble and ruthless Mandarin, who on Earth came up with that idea on the big screen?
    What’s the point of having a useless kid when you got a cool guy like Rhodey. I did like the ending where Stark is in hospital and throws away his heart. I look forward to a reboot of this franchise !!

  8. Funny part of all this is, if they had made Mandarin the real one and used the Extremis plot as many here wanted to see and used War Machine more and explored Maya’s character a bit more and brought in SHIELD etc I can guarantee you guys that four hours wouldn’t have been enough to do the story justice. And if Shane Black had done all this and squeezed it into a 2hr 30 mins movie, we would have screamed blue murder and accused him giving us another X3. The story wouldn’t have been complicated- it would have been convoluted.

    • very well put

  9. Buddy cop team of Mel Gibson and Danny Glover … Umm, I mean, RDJ and Don Chedle save Rene Russo … err… Gweneth Paltrow! and rescue the President of the US from the evil terrorist. Ummmmm. Holy [expletive]!!! If Shane Black wanted to make another Lethal Weapon, then why didn’t he?! Did I seriously just see that [expletive]? Am I living in the Twilight Zone? This was a gag, right? When does the real movie come out? …

  10. Considering who the director is and I’m saying this in a positive way. We all should’ve expected how this movie came out. I never thought it would be way better than the original or anything like that. But even though I did like the second movie, I felt like this movie had a better story and had a better payoff overall in the end. As different as this movie is than the other two, I think if Iron Man 3 was somewhere along the lines of the second it would have felt like a drag in a sense. The only things that made me a little bummed was the Mandarin turnout and the fact that Scarlett(Black Widow) wasn’t in it ;) lol Could it have been better? maybe yeah, but a solid 4 stars for this movie is suitable.

  11. Who even cares about Iron Man anymore? Instead of one brave guy, in a high tech suit, and maybe one or two upgrades only he is privy too, now we have DOZENS. Apparently, they can be worn by anyone with some minor skills, so thanks a lot. You writers pretty much just killed the reason for keeping a Tony Stark Iron Man.

    While you’re at it, why not make a bottle of magic elixor, so ANYONE can become the Hulk? Ruin that one too. I stopped looking for plot holes in Marvel movies after seeing the Screenrant rated, 4-star Avengers movie. There are literally more plot holes in that, than there are believeable plot points. I guess we are all supposed to dumb down, not ask questions, and appreciate all the expensive, pretty CGI explosions. Works for Bay, why not the rest of the sci-fi universe?

    • I agree about Avengers but c’mon now, if you wanna complain about all and sundry getting into the Iron Man suits and using them then complain to the comic book writers since the 80s who put people other than Tony into the suits.

  12. Not to happy about this movie. I went to watch this movie because I wanted to see IRON MAN. Most of the time the Iron Man suit was not working. Kept on waiting for that big apperance but ’til the end it was all Tony stark. No offense to Stark but like I said I wanted to see the super hero in action. Imagine going to see Spiderman and watchin Peter Parker 75% of the show. Even in a comic book. Why would I want to do that? Well, this is just my opinion. They should have called it “Tony Stark.”

  13. I was severely disappointed. For me it ceases to be “Iron Man” when there’s no man in the suit and everyone else gets a suit. Who thought any of this was a good idea?

    WTF happened here? Ugh. But will it matter? Absolutely not. People don’t vote with their wallets anymore. This will make a billion and we’ll get IM4 which will feel more like a Michael Bay movie, robot suits flying around, fire, explosions, loud noises, etc.

    The first movie by and far the best, but a MILE.

    • Tony Stark
      James Rhodes
      Arno Stark
      Andros Stark
      Steve Rogers
      Natasha Stark
      Victor von Doom
      Happy Hogan
      Pepper Potts

      All have worn the suits in one of many comic books (alternate universes/timelines, future versions, modern continuity, etc). I may be missing more, not sure, I was never a fan of the Iron Man comics.

  14. The Extremis story could have been this entire movie. The Mandarin could have had his own Iron Man film (assuming they DON’T turn him into a joke). Advanced Idea Mechanics could have been their own film as well, (Aldrich and Maya didn’t work for AIM in the books, they worked at a place called Futurepharm, where Extremis was developed.)

    It’s a good movie but it’s definitely my third favorite out of the three Iron Man movies.

  15. The article states the movie doesn’t explain why the Avengers are not in the movie. It actually does if you pay attention. It is subtle but it is there. Watch again Screenrant :)

    • PS This movie was GREAT! I am not sure what some fans on this site are looking for in a comic book movie. There was one small failure imo but other than that the movie is very solid. I just saw it and could easily go watch again. It is really good if you are a fan of the Marvel Movie Universe thus far.

  16. Ive just got back from seeing this and im dissapointed, im by no means a comicbook fan, but i do like to watch Superhero movies on the big screen. This movie went bad the moment tony walked into that Mansion !! The way the trailers looked i was expecting to see the mandarin wreak havok but sadly he was used in a different way. Im not supprised the fans of the mandarin are a little pissed because it was a slap in the face to the fans. Man of Steel in June, lets hope that dosnt flop like this one.

    • I just saw it too and could not disagree with you more. I guess, like most movies, it is a matter of taste. And people have different tastes. But saying the movie is a flop is an opinion indeed. MacGruber was a flop. IM3 is hardly that.

    • Yeah, but hey, the REAl Mandarin in the movie was pretty badass right?

  17. I told you this movie would kick ass. It was as awesome as The Avengers.

  18. IRON MAN 3 WAS THE BEST SUPER HERO MOVIE TO COME OUT THIS YEAR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!111

    • That’s only because it’s the only one to come out this year,so far.

  19. Just got back form watching it on a X-treme screen. aka: not quite IMAX. I thought it was great and would give it 4 stars. I agree with Rebecca Hall’s character being wasted, but that was about it.

  20. i think i would give it 5 stars! It was the most AMAZING super hero movie to come out this year so far!!!!

    • considering it’s the only Comic Book Movie out this year so far you would be correct…..

  21. Lots of disappointed IM3 viewers all over the internet. I was really pumped for this movie too!

    All that I can say to make my point is Spiderman 3, X-Men: The Last Stand & Green Lantern are all better than IM3. If you told me I’d be typing this about IM3 about 24 hours ago I’d say you are crazy. However, it is true. I’d rather watch Spiderman 3, X-Men: The Last Stand or Green Lantern before watching IM3 again.

  22. OK, just came from seeing it and all I have to say is….DISAPPOINTED! The movie wasn’t bad, per se, but there were just too many WTH moments for me to put this above IM 1. And the twist and button were lame. 3/5 for me.

  23. Movie was good. But could have been better. Disappointed in Iron Man 3. Bring on MAN OF STEEL.

  24. Just saw Iron Man 3 today a pretty good movie but i was bummed at some points, this article sums up my negative feelings about it in a nut shell. I always loved Downey as Iron Man and i liked how they dug into the human element of the character in this one i really liked James Badge Dale too i thought he was a cool villain and i also liked Guy Pearce i thought he acted really well and so did Jon Favreau Don Cheadle and even Gwen Paltrow i thought was great, i also really liked Willaim Sadler as the President i thought he played a respectful President as opposed to a lot of other leaders in movies who are just corrupt the whole time. So now for the negatives, i was so pissed when i found out that Mandarin was just a flat out joke i hated that so much it made we want to leave the theater, some of the humor was a little too much and i thought there could have been more build up to the house getting blown up and also i felt that Rebecca Hall’s character was completely pointless in the movie. I was entertained by Pearce’s performance and thought he was a really cool bad guy, yeah thats another thing i think the Extremis was really well done for the movie and looked really cool and the action was fantastic and i even thought Don Cheadle was great i didnt care for him in the first one he did also i wanted to see more Iron Man instead of Tony Stark, don’t get me wrong i found it necessary to show more Tony in the movie but it felt like a little bit too much Tony. Overall great movie with some dissapointing flaws like waste of a villain too much humor and unecessary characters. Still liked it though

  25. It sucked. The storyline was pretty predictable.