Iron Man

Movie review by
James Rocchi, Common Sense Media
Iron Man Movie Poster Image
Parents recommendPopular with kids
Great action, lots of style, some iffy stuff.
  • PG-13
  • 2008
  • 125 minutes

Parents say

age 12+
Based on 119 reviews

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 302 reviews

Did this review miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive, diverse representations in books, TV shows, and movies. Want to help us help them? Suggest a diversity update

We think this movie stands out for:

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

"Good guys" and "bad guys" are pretty clearly delineated, but there's some ethical iffiness on both sides. Extensive discussion of the morality of weapons sales, as well as the nature and character of maintaining peace through possession of the biggest guns. That said, there are strong messages about courage, curiosity, and self-control.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Tony is a carefree playboy who eventually discovers a conscience and tries to do good. He's initially captured by terrorists, but another character offers him aid, assistance, and moral guidance. The movie's villain is clearly a bad guy.


Extensive, constant sci-fi action and war violence. Characters (including kids) are held at gunpoint; adult villagers are rounded up by bad guys and separated from their kids; wounded characters bleed; people perish in explosions or at the hands of weapons; Iron Man's armor shoots energy rays, micro-missiles, and, in an early version, flames -- all of which are used as weapons (the flame throwers result in some massive fireballs). Characters in high-tech power armor have impressive, super-powered fistfights.


Some making out and tumbling about in bed (partially clothed woman); a young woman wakes up in a bed covered only by a sheet, presumably after sex, and then walks around wearing just a man's shirt; stewardesses dance suggestively (a stripper pole is present but not used); much is made of Tony Stark's reputation as a playboy. Some flirting.


Mild sexually suggestive language. Fairly infrequent use of words like "damn" and "hell." Generally, tame langage for PG-13.


Tie-in to vast quantities of related merchandise. Contextual references to Burger King, and characters drive Audi cars (both companies have promotional agreements with the film). Verizon cell phones. A montage includes several mock magazine covers with visible logos: Time, Newsweek, Wired, Rolling Stone, and others.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Alcohol is consumed frequently; one character enjoys a cigar, albeit mostly as a prop.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Iron Man is a fast-paced, action-packed comic book-based adventure that kids may be clamoring to see. But it's definitely more age-appropriate for teens than younger children. Although much of the violence is clearly meant to be based in the realm of sci-fi and fantasy -- and/or is shown at a distance -- there's plenty of it, from massive explosions to children held at gunpoint to super-powered fistfights. Some of the violence is war themed, and some characters get hurt and/or die. While much is made of lead character Tony Stark's devil-may-care lifestyle of fun and frolic, viewers also see him turn away from the more irresponsible aspects of playboyhood. Language is minimal, and sexual content is more suggested than shown overall -- though there are a few eyebrow-raising moments.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent Written byChristian O. September 10, 2009

Parents should be more careful reguarding the media they select for their children

Us parents, tend to be too liberal when it comes to making decisions reguarding movies our children should watch. I have noticed a reviewer ( even though he/she... Continue reading
Parent of a 6 and 8-year-old Written byjsmartinson July 23, 2009
It took me two hours to calm down after watching this intensely violent and disturbing film and I usually like action films. I certainly would not allow my 6 or... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written byAmigo May 6, 2020

Graphic violence and unsettling party/playboy “antics"

After watching the entire rest of the MCU, I have found this movie in particular to be especially troublesome/inappropriate as it shows in great detail many “ma... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byrebma97 April 24, 2011


This movie was great! It's different (and personally, better) than the series. But there is a lot of violence (though not as much as some other PG-13 films... Continue reading

What's the story?

Bringing another Marvel Comics hero to the big screen, IRON MAN begins as brilliant billionaire industrialist/inventor Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) is abducted during a weapons demonstration tour in Afghanistan. Grievously wounded by the very weapons his company manufactures, Stark is forced by his terrorist captors to build a missile; instead, he designs a high-tech suit of armor to make his escape. Returning to America, he wonders how the bad guys got hold of his company's products and vows to set things right with the help of a rebuilt, stylish new iteration of the powered exoskeleton that made his escape possible.

Is it any good?

Director Jon Favreau keeps the film light and bright; the special effects are impressively crafted, and the setup for another film is handled gently and well. Iron Man knows that it's a comic book movie; not only does it have all the plot points and moral messages that we're used to from Spider-Man, Batman Begins, and others in the genre, but it also subtly mocks and twists them. The plot touches all the bases of the traditional "origin story" (how our hero becomes a superhero, his first outing with his new powers, etc.), and it shows plenty of hustle and style as it does so.

But if there's any one thing that makes Iron Man more than just a run-of-the-mill superhero film, it's Downey Jr. His work here is funny, human, heroic, and completely engaging, capturing the brisk breezy laugh lines, the adrenaline-fueled action, and the moments of bold purpose that every superhero has to have as they start out. He gives both Stark and Iron Man a little swagger and coolness -- in a field normally filled with nerds (Spider-Man's Peter Parker) or stiffs (Superman's Clark Kent), it's a refreshing change.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the popularity of comic book movies like Iron Man. Do they speak to escapism or darker fantasies about power?

  • How does the fact that much of the movie's violence is based in fantasy affect its impact? How is it different watching human characters get hurt than robots and other beings?

  • Iron Man may be a do-gooder, but he's no Boy Scout. Can heroic characters still be flawed? Does that make them more heroic or less?

  • How does Tony Stark demonstrate curiosity, self-control, and courage in Iron Man? Why are these important character strengths?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love action

Character Strengths

Find more movies that help kids build character.

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

Streaming options powered by JustWatch

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality.

Learn how we rate