Adding to Tony’s fears and the nagging sense of doom and gloom he’s carrying around with him is the increasingly unsettled state of the world at large. With a mysterious terrorist known as the Mandarin (a bearded Ben Kingsley, Hugo) on the loose, random acts of violence are on the rise. The Mandarin is determined to "teach the United States a lesson" in the most alarming ways possible. As such, Tony is feeling the weight of being a superhero more than ever, hence all those sleepless nights.

Lest you think that Tony has lost his edge or that Iron Man 3 is more of a bummer than fun, the writers made sure to inject plenty of lightness into these heavier proceedings. Never one to shy away from a snarky one-liner, Stark is given plenty to work with here. Whether it’s his random interactions with the fanboys who can’t get over the fact they’re meeting Iron Man himself (!) or the witty interchange between him and a young boy who helps him during a mission in middle-of-nowhere Tennessee (Iron Man’s list of demands is entertaining all by itself), it’s these small moments that stick with you.

For lovers of big explosions and tightly choreographed, over-the-top action sequences, Iron Man 3 won’t let you down there either. Actually making the most of 3-D technology, there’s an inspired sense of mission in all the fighting, and the set pieces themselves are nothing short of spectacular, too.

And for anyone who feels that big-budget comic book movies have become too lazy, tired and predictable, genuine surprises and meaningful character development keep Iron Man 3 from growing stale, a tall order when you’ve been sitting for more than two hours. 

Speaking of patience, a worthwhile surprise awaits if you don’t leave immediately after the credits start rolling…

CAUTIONS:

  • Drugs/Alcohol: Social drinking in several scenes. A prostitute is clearly drunk as she lies on a couch.
  • Language/Profanity: Two exclamations of God’s name, plus a single use of god-a--. As-, bit-- and he—(which a pre-teen also says) are used from time to time.
  • Sex/Nudity: A large stuffed rabbit that Tony buys for Pepper has very large breasts. Tony and Pepper live together, and we see them in bed together (although not in a sexual sense). Some flirtatious innuendo between Pepper and the Iron Man she assumes is Tony (it’s one of his doubles). Pepper suggests that Tony should join her in the shower. References to Iron Man’s past reputation as a major playboy (in a flashback scene, we see him take a woman he met at a party back to his hotel room). Kissing. A couple of double entendres of a sexual nature. Two women are shown in bed together at the Mandarin’s hideout. Later we see them playing ping pong in very skimpy bikinis. Pepper is shown in a sports bra and undies, and Tony says she should dress more like that at home.
  • Violence: Although the violence is largely bloodless, there is plenty of it, in varying degrees of intensity, throughout. There’s some footage of terrorists acts the Mandarin is responsible for, including people being lined up and shot. Several characters die of gun-related injuries, including one who’s shot in the head (we see blood flowing from around the wound) and another who’s shot in the chest. Many people are killed on a plane, and several passengers are thrown off the plane but eventually rescued. Explosions are often used, and the final battle is particularly fierce (to say more would venture into potential spoiler territory). The mutants in the story wreck havoc on practically everyone they come into contact with—characters are burned, choked and one ends up in a coma as a result. The President of the U.S. is threatened and finds himself in perilous circumstances in several scenes.

Christa Banister is an author and full-time freelancer writer, specializing in music, movies and books-related reviews and interviews and is the author of two novels, Around the World in 80 Dates and Blessed Are the MeddlersBased in Dallas, Texas, she also weighs in on various aspects of pop culture on her personal blog.

Publication date: May 2, 2013