Film Review: 'Iron Man 3'

Updated on February 28, 2019
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Written by: Jason Wheeler, Film Frenzy Senior Writer & Editor.


In 2013, Shane Black released Iron Man 3, based on the comic book character of the same name created by Stan Lee, Don Heck, Larry Lieber, and Jack Kirby, as the third film in the Iron Man trilogy and the seventh film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Starring Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Guy Pearce, Rebecca Hall, Stephanie Szostak, James Badge Dale, Jon Favreau, Ben Kingsley, and Paul Bettany, the film grossed $1.215 billion at the box office.


While dealing with the psychological aftermath of the Chitauri attack on New York City, Tony Stark is targeted by an enemy from his past. Now, he must decide whether he defines the Iron Man suit or of the suit defines him.


Though enjoyable to watch, Iron Man 3 ultimately fails to live up to the first installment of the series and other entries in the Marvel Cinematic Universe preceding it. Set immediately following the battle in New York, Tony Stark is dealing with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, brought on by the battle itself along with his actions to stop the invading army. Giving Stark PTSD makes sense within the context of what happened and many times it presents itself well. This is seen in his constant inability to sleep, causing him to spend nights in his lab, and the sudden onset when eating with Colonel Rhodes. However, there are a number of spots within the film when an attack would make sense, yet it never comes up. He’s never affected during battle and he seems to overcome it halfway through the film, making it seem to be a minor plot device Stark must overcome.

Still, the final battle does show the fruits of Stark’s labor during his sleepless nights, throwing dozens of Iron Man suits on autopilot against the antagonist. It’s an enjoyable battle, presenting countless ideas Stark had for different suits and they all have their moment to shine in one way or another. One even saves Pepper Potts, fulfilling one reason over which Stark was having anxiety. The visuals in this scene are fantastic, too. All of the suits zooming around the shipyard where the battle is taking place look as if they all belong and not one sticks out negatively. The destruction they take looks believable as well.

The villain is also a mixed bag. Having The Mandarin become a cinematic villain is interesting and so is the bait and switch regarding the villain’s true identity. Nevertheless, the bait and switch turned the more interesting character into a simple actor thinking he’s just playing a role. Further Aldrich Killian as the man behind the man presents audiences with the same thing they’ve seen in the series’ other films: a visionary or scientist with a vendetta against Stark based on something that happened in the past. Here, Killian idolized Stark who brushed him off decades ago, causing him to seek revenge. The motivations for wanting to get back at Stark may be different than Iron Man’s past cinematic villains, but the way it plays out is essentially the same.

Nevertheless, something the film does do well is close out Stark’s personal journey. The first film saw him as an egotistical businessman only caring about himself before becoming Iron Man and the second film dealt with what happened after outing himself as the titular hero. This film gives Stark a conundrum of having to figure out if it’s the suit defining him or him defining the suit. It’s a point bookending Stark’s character arc, one compounded by a question asked of him in a previous film of what he is when his suit of armor is taken away. Stark’s closing monologue provides both an end to the arc and an answer to the question. When it all comes down to it, Stark is Iron Man even if he doesn’t have any gadgets or armor with which to face the enemy.

3 stars for Iron Man 3


bold indicates reception of award/recognition

Academy Awards

  • Best Achievement in Visual Effects

Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films, USA – Saturn Awards

  • Best Comic-to-Film Motion Picture
  • Best Actor (Robert Downey Jr.)
  • Best Supporting Actor (Ben Kingsley)
  • Best Performance by a Younger Actor (Ty Simpkins)
  • Best Music

BAFTA Awards

  • Best Special Visual Effects
  • BAFA Children’s Award – BAFTA Kids Vote – Feature Film

BMI Film & TV Awards

  • BMI Film Music Award – Film music

Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards

  • Best Visual Effects
  • Best Action Movie
  • Best Actor in an Action Movie (Robert Downey Jr.)
  • Best Actress in an Action Movie (Gwyneth Paltrow)

Cinema Audio Society, USA Awards

  • Outstanding Achievement in Sound Mixing for Motion Pictures – Live Action

Gold Derby Awards

  • Visual Effects

Golden Camera, Germany

  • Best International Actress (Gwyneth Paltrow)

Golden Schmoes Awards

  • Most Overrated Movie of the Year
  • Best Special Effects of the Year
  • Biggest Disappointment of the Year
  • Favorite Movie Poster of the Year
  • Best Trailer of the Year
  • Best DVD of the Year

Golden Trailer Awards

  • Summer 2013 Blockbuster Trailer (For “Not Afraid”)
  • Best in Show (For “Not Afraid”)
  • Best Action (For “Not Afraid”)
  • Best Sound Editing (For “Not Afraid)
  • Best Summer Blockbuster 2013 TV Spot (For “Escape)
  • Best Summer 2013 Blockbuster Poster

Hollywood Film Awards

  • Hollywood Movie Award (Shane Black)

Hollywood Post Alliance, US

  • Outstanding Sound – Feature Film
  • Outstanding Visual Effects – Feature Film
  • Outstanding Color Grading – Feature Film

Hugo Awards

  • Best Dramatic Presentation – Long Form

IGN Summer Movie Awards

  • Best Comic Book Adaptation Movie
  • Best movie Trailer (For the first teaser trailer)

International Film Music Critics Award

  • Best Original Score for an Action/Adventure/Thriller Film

International Online Cinema Awards

  • Best Visual Effects

International Online Cinema Awards

  • Best Sound Editing
  • Best Visual Effects

Italian Online Movie Awards

  • Best Special Effects

Jupiter Awards

  • Best International Film

Key Art Awards

  • Best Trailer – Audio/Visual (For the “Teaser Trailer)
  • Best Trailer – Audio/Visual (For the “Theatrical Trailer”)
  • Best Audio/Visual Technique (For its motion graphics in the teaser trailer)
  • Best Audio/Visual Technique (For its music in the second trailer “Not Afraid”)

Kids’ Choice Awards, USA Blimp Awards

  • Favorite Male Butt Kicker (Robert Downey Jr.)
  • Favorite Movie
  • Favorite Movie Actor (Robert Downey Jr.)

Motion Picture Sound Editors, USA Golden Reel Awards

  • Best Sound Editing – Sound Effects and Foley in a Feature Film

MTV Movie + TV Awards

  • Best Cameo (Joan Rivers)
  • Best Hero (Robert Downey Jr. As Iron Man)

North Carolina Film Critics Association

  • Tar Heel Award

Oklahoma Film Critics Circle Awards

  • Best Guilty Pleasure

Online Film & Television Association Awards

  • Best Visual Effects

People’s Choice Awards, USA

  • Favorite Movie
  • Favorite Action Movie
  • Favorite Movie Duo (Robert Downey Jr. & Gwyneth Paltrow)

Rondo Hatton Classic Horror Awards

  • Best Film

Russian National Movie Awards

  • Best Foreign Action of the Year
  • Best Foreign Hero of the Year (Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark)

St. Louis Film Critics Association, US Awards

  • Best Visual Effects

Teen Choice Awards

  • Choice Movie: Action
  • Choice Movie Actor: Action (Robert Downey Jr.)
  • Choice Movie Actress: Action (Gwyneth Paltrow)
  • Choice Movie: Sci-Fi/Fantasy
  • Choice Movie Actor: Sci-Fi/Fantasy (Robert Downey Jr.)
  • Choice Movie Actress: Sci-Fi/Fantasy (Gwyneth Paltrow)
  • Choice movie Villain (Ben Kingsley)
  • Choice Movie: Chemistry (Don Cheadle & Robert Downey Jr.)

Visual Effects Society Awards

  • Outstanding Visual Effects in a Visual Effects-Driven Feature Motion Picture
  • Outstanding Virtual Cinematography in a Live Action Feature Motion Picture
  • Outstanding Compositing in a Feature Motion Picture (“Barrel of Monkeys”)
  • Outstanding Compositing in a Feature Motion Picture (“House Attack”)
  • Outstanding Created Environment in a Live Action Feature Motion Picture (“Shipyard”)

World Stunt Awards

  • Best Stunt Rigging
  • Best Specialty Stunt
  • Best High Work
  • Best Overall Stunt by a Stunt Woman
  • Best Stunt Coordination and/or 2nd Unit Direction

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