Story

Tony Stark is Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr). He’s on the verge of a psychological breakdown, suffering from depression and anxiety attacks because of his adventures. He throws himself into his work at the expense of sleep and his relationship with Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow).

Unfortunately things get much worse for Stark when ‘The Mandarin’ (Ben Kingsley) begins a campaign of global terror and destruction. When Stark publicly threatens him, the Mandarin responds by sending a squad of attack helicopters to Stark’s seafront estate. They destroy the estate and nearly kill Stark and Pepper. When the Mandarin’s attack ends, Stark is stranded in Tennessee in a powerless Iron Man suit.

With the help of a young local boy Harley (Ty Simpkins) and using his own ingenuity and self-reliance, Stark starts a comeback. He discovers the source of the Mandarin’s power and joins with his old ally, James Rhodes (Don Cheadle), to work towards defeating his enemy.

Themes

Superheroes; global annihilation; revenge

Violence

Iron Man 3 contains frequent scenes of intense action violence including acts of terrorism, execution-style murders, mass destruction of buildings and property, and some blood and gore. For example:

  • News footage shows terrorists executing several men by firing squad.
  • A man lies on the floor in front of the Mandarin, crying in terror. The Mandarin threatens to shoot the man in 30 seconds. After 30 seconds the Mandarin points a handgun at the man’s head and a shot is heard.
  • A man sits on a bench in front of a building with dozens of people walking by. Without warning, the man’s face begins to glow white hot. Fire comes out of the man’s mouth and eyes. He calls out for help before his body erupts in a massive explosion, and a gigantic fireball engulfs the front of the building and its surroundings. After the explosion, the building is ruined and bodies are scattered across the ground. One man is still alive. He lies on the ground with his clothes burned and his face blackened and bloody.
  • Stark, Pepper and another woman are standing in the front room of Stark’s seafront mansion when helicopters fire missiles into the building. The room explodes and Stark and the two women are hurled (in slow motion) through the air. There are scenes of chaos and destruction, and much of the building is destroyed. Stark and the other woman have bloody cuts on their faces.
  • In a later scene Stark gets punched several times. His face looks very beaten up, and he has swollen eyes and more bloody cuts and bruises.
  • One scene shows a brutal fight between Stark and a genetically modified woman. The woman shoots two men point blank with a handgun and then fires the handgun and a shotgun at Stark. The woman punches Stark in the face and body and then tries to strangle him. A short time later Stark fires a gun. His shot causes a massive gas explosion that engulfs the woman in a fireball.
  • Pepper is strapped to an upright table and forcibly injected with drugs to change her body. Her skin takes on a fiery appearance as she screams in agony. A man says that she might not survive the procedure.
  • A genetically modified superhuman brutally murders a waitress by twisting her head and snapping her neck.
  • Stark attacks some guards using weapons that he has made from things he has bought at a hardware store.
  • A genetically modified superhuman disguised in an Iron Man suit attacks some people on a plane. The impersonator throws a dagger into a man’s chest, uses superhuman strength to hurl men into walls and shoots men dead at close range. He blows a hole in the side of the plane and 13 people are sucked out. They’re rescued by the real Iron Man before they hit the ground.

Content that may disturb children

Under 8

In addition to the violent scenes mentioned above, this movie has some scenes that could scare or disturb children under eight years. For example:

  • There are several disturbing scenes that show genetically modified superhumans. Their skin glows and catches fire from the inside, and fire bursts from their eyes and mouths. One of these superhumans can project streams of fire from his mouth like a flamethrower. Even after they get badly hurt, these beings can regrow burned and blackened skin and severed limbs.
  • One scene shows a young girl in a wheelchair with an amputated leg. Her stump is shown.
  • In one intense scene Pepper hangs on to Iron Man’s hand while dangling above a fiery inferno. Iron Man loses hold of Pepper and she plummets into the fire pit below. She comes out of the fire later, but she is changed into a glowing superhuman. 

From 8-13

Children in this age group are also likely to be disturbed by some of the scenes mentioned above. 

Over 13

Younger children in this age group might also be disturbed by some of the scenes mentioned above. 

Sexual references

This move has occasional low-level sexual references and innuendo. For example:

  • Pepper tells Stark, ‘I’m going to take a shower and you’re going to join me’.
  • Pepper orders Iron Man to lift his mask and give her a kiss.
  • Asked what his latest Iron Man suit is like, Stark says that it is a ‘little pinchy in the gooey bag’.
  • Pepper Pots describes a woman as Iron Man’s ‘juicy girlfriend’.
  • While struggling with a genetically modified woman who begins to glow white hot, Stark says, ‘I’ve dated hotter chicks than you’. 

Alcohol, drugs and other substances

This movie shows some use of substances. For example:

  • Stark injects himself with microscopic implants.
  • Characters drink socially at bars and parties.
  • A woman seems to be under the influence of recreational drugs of some type.
  • A man tells Stark that he had a problem with substances (drugs) and that he did undesirable things to get them.
  • Pepper is forcibly given an injection through an IV tube. 

Nudity and sexual activity

This movie shows some nudity and sexual activity. For example:

  • Tony Stark holds a woman’s hand and leads her towards a hotel bedroom. He lies on the bed with the woman and kisses her on lips. The scene cuts to the morning after, and there is a back view of the woman sitting on a chair in her underwear.
  • A man kisses Pepper on the lips.
  • A beauty pageant features several women wearing brief swimwear. A man holds up a sign with the number 11 written on it.
  • Tony Stark walks into a scene where he finds two women in bed together and a man standing next to the bed. The man asks Stark if he ‘fancies either of the two birds’. 

Product placement

None of concern 

Coarse language

Iron Man 3 has some low-level coarse language and name-calling throughout. 

Ideas to discuss with your children

Iron Man 3 is a science fiction action thriller targeting teenagers and adults who are Marvel comic book fans or superhero movie fans. These fans are likely to enjoy some of the funny one-liners and Ben Kingsley’s performance.

This movie is darker and has more action violence, death and destruction than previous Iron Man movies. The M rating is certainly justified. The violence and disturbing scenes make the movie unsuitable for children under 13 years and many aged 13-14 years also. At 130 minutes, it is also a long movie to sit through.

The main message from this movie is that appearances and clothes aren’t important. What’s on the inside of a person is what counts the most.

Values in this movie that you could reinforce with your children include the following:

  • Ingenuity and self-reliance: Stark shows these qualities when he must face his enemies without the aid of his Iron Man suit.
  • Selflessness: regardless of his selfish, playboy image, Stark risks his life for both friends and strangers many times.

You could also talk with older children about the mixed messages the movie sends about women. Although some of the movie’s female characters are presented as strong and powerful, others have little or no control over events. They’re little more than sex objects controlled by dominant male characters.