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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Iron Man 3 has some of the most obvious messages in the franchise to date: that with power and opportunity, even the purest of intentions can mutate into hubris, greed, and ruthlessness. It also deals with themes of identity, anxiety, curiosity, humility, and the necessity of a moral compass. There's a clear distinction between the heroes and villains, with the exception of one misguided character who's confused.
Positive Role Models
At this point, Tony is a much different man than he was in the first movie. He's committed and selfless, he acts as a heroic father figure to a young boy, and he saves strangers as often as he does friends -- though there are also scenes in which he casually (and almost glamorously) kills a villain's bodyguards. Rhodes is Tony's steadfast companion and best friend; Pepper is generous and patient with Tony's stubbornness and mood swings.
Violence & Scariness
Although the violent confrontations are most graphic toward the end of the movie, there are plenty of cringe-inducing images in the first half, too: The Mandarin stages executions and big bombings in several public places that cause a ton of collateral damage and critical injuries, a man is assassinated on camera (audiences hear the gunshot but don't see the dead body), and a house is blasted to smithereens by missiles. Guards/bad guys are killed casually. There's also a huge battle between mutated soldiers and Iron Man and his remote-controlled suits. Weapons include the high-tech Iron Man suits, guns, bombs and explosives, and fists, though there's less robot-on-robot fighting this time and more humans involved in the violent moments.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Pepper and Tony kiss a few times. Pepper wears a sports bra and low-slung trousers in the movie's final sequence. In a flashback, Tony has a one-night stand with a woman who's briefly shown in her bra and panties. Also in a flashback, Tony makes jokes about "going to town on" a woman he's with for New Year's Eve. A villain views Pepper as his "trophy," and a bunch of bikini-clad/lingerie-wearing women laze about in a Miami mansion (two of them await a man in bed at once in one scene). A few short scenes take place at a beauty pageant, with women wearing skimpy swimsuits.
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Language includes one "s--t" and one teasing "p---y," plus "damn," "d--k," "what the hell," "ass," "crap," "idiot," "jerk," "bloody hell," "freak," "spaz," "goddamn," and "oh my God."
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Products & Purchases
Slightly fewer product placements than in Iron Man 2, but there are still several prominent close-ups of Audi cars, a Dora the Explorer watch, the companies Oracle and Sun, and PBS' Downton Abbey. Skype is also seen/used.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Characters drink at a New Year's Eve party and at a bar. A character admits he had a problem with substances and is often seen chugging a beer. But this is Tony's soberest movie.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Iron Man 3 is another big-budget entry in the Marvel universe, and after the immense popularity of 2012's The Avengers, it will have huge appeal for tweens, teens, and adults alike. The violence is as explosive, large-scale, and pulse-quickening as you'd expect from this franchise. While the body count and mass devastation aren't as high as in The Avengers, scenes of both extremely destructive public bombings and casual shootings could be disturbing; overall, there's a bigger "human" factor to the violence here than in Robert Downey Jr.'s previous Iron Man movies, which involved more robot/machine action. On the other hand, there's less sexuality here (aside from a mention of a one-night stand and shots of women in bikinis or bra and panties) than in the other two, and language is on the milder side (one "s--t" and "p---y," plus "goddamn," "jerk," "hell," "ass," etc.). Expect some drinking and product placement. Iron Man 3 is as much about Tony figuring out who he is without the suit as he is with it, and there are some mature themes about identity, anxiety, the dangers of unchecked power, and the necessity of a moral compass. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Although this sequel is fun to watch, when compared to The Avengers, it comes up short. On the positive side, Downey Jr. is always entertaining as Tony Stark/Iron Man, particularly in the flashbacks to 1999, when he's at his most self-aggrandizing, selfish playboy genius. Director Shane Black (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang), who takes over directing responsibilities from Jon Favreau (now a producer with a recurring supporting role), delights in Downey's gift for fast-talking banter and whip-smart one liners, but he also concentrates on Stark's newfound vulnerability and possible sense of unworthiness when compared to his fellow Avengers. For the first time, Stark is anxious. He knows how devastating it would be to lose the one thing he loves -- Pepper -- and he wonders whether Capt. America is right, and he's just a guy with a souped-up suit.
The Mandarin is an evilly delicious villain (you'll see), and Pearce's Killian is a formidably sleazy foil (and cautionary tale) about remembering who you've blown off in the past, but after a big reveal, the story folds up a little too neatly (save for one surprise), and Tony's anxiety attacks start to feel a wee bit over the top. Ultimately, if you watch all the way past the credits, you'll be rewarded with a cameo sequence that will excite Marvel fans and remind viewers that no matter how fun these individual superhero stories are, it's the promise of more Avengers that's the best.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.