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Film Review: 'Iron Man 3' (2013)

I have an intense passion for movies, and I believe that film critics help people think better about the media they consume.

Intro & Plot Summary


Tony Stark starts the movie a bit shaken from the events in The Avengers (I'm guessing Downey Jr. was not, however; he made like $50 million in that movie).

At a party in 1999, Tony snubbed a scientist named Killian.

Killian was disabled and created the Extremis virus to cure his disability and give himself super powers. A new terrorist threat pops up called The Mandarin, who is not Chinese in this movie, like he was in the comic books. Instead, Mandarin in this movie is a representation of many different terrorists, with a more "homegrown" feel to his broadcasts. The main reason for this creative decision was that they wanted to update the old character for the era of the war on terror, and they also did not want to make him a racist stereotype. But, well, that leaves you wondering why he's called The Mandarin then.

Stark discovers that The Mandarin is in fact a puppet, and an intended trap for Tony. He's in fact a British actor being used by Killian to distract from his real plot to attack the president on Air Force One, using the Iron Patriot power armor suit, to destroy Tony Stark's credibility. Because, that is how far you go with a grudge against someone who shot down your business proposal at a party decades ago.

Obviously, he saves the girl, and the world. He gets help from a boy he meets named Harley, who helps him repair his Iron Man suit when he gets stranded in flyover country. Tony Stark destroys his Iron Man suits, and removes the shrapnel in his chest. However, he ends it by saying he will always be Iron Man. (But probably just in Avengers movies from now on.)


TitleIron Man 3


Marvel Studios, Distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures




Kevin Feige


Shane Black


Screenplay by Drew Pearce & Shane Black; Based on Iron Man by Stan Lee, Don Heck, Larry Lieber & Jack Kirby

Main Actors/Actresses

Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Guy Pearce, Rebecca Hall, Stéphanie Szostak, James Badge Dale, Jon Favreau, & Ben Kingsley


John Toll

Music by

Brian Tyler

Box Office

$1.215 billion

Run Time

2 hours, 10 minutes

MPAA Rating



Golden Traler Awards for Best in Show and Summer 2013 Blockbuster Trailer; BMI Film & TV Award for Film Music - Brian Tyler; Teen Choice Awards for Choice Movie: Action and Choice Movie Actor: Action - Robert Downey Jr.; People's Choice Awards for Favorite Movie, Favorite Action Movie, and Favorite Action Movie Star - Robert Downey Jr.; Golden Tomato Award for Best Comic Book Film; Kid's Choice Award for Favorite Male Buttkicker - Robert Downey Jr.; Location Managers Guild of America award for Outstanding Achievement by a Location Professional – Feature Film - Ilt Jones; Saturn Awards for Best Comic-to-Film Motion Picture, Best Actor - Robert Downey, Jr., and Best Supporting Actor - Ben Kingsley

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But realizing that they cant keep paying him ludicrous amounts of money, Marvel started underplaying Iron Man. This was a genius tactic on their part. They made him less interesting. They knew that even if he was not very interesting people would go watch Iron man 3. The movie was a disaster and it still ended up collecting $1.2 billion.

— Quora user Hari Nair, Quora discussion of the movie

Iron Man 3 mainly suffers from having a weak villain, which is a weakness of the Iron Man franchise as a whole, and part of why the character shines better as part of a group in the Avengers movies, because those movies have much cooler villains.

The Mandarin is all over the place. It's hard to tell what he's supposed to be, other than a caricature of a terrorist. He uses a Chinese code name, and uses his time on hijacked American television air waves to bitch about fortune cookies being inauthentic. But he is inauthentic himself, not only is he not Chinese, not hanging out in China, and not fighting for China, but he turns out to be an actor whose goofy terrorist thing was all a hoax designed to distract and draw out Tony Stark.

Unlike the villain of the previous two movies, Mandarin lacks a personal connection to Tony. They solve this by having the man behind the man be Killian, a scientist who is jealous of Tony much like Justin Hammer was in Iron Man 2. But Killian has very little real personal connection to Tony - his rivalry was sparked by simply being ignored by Tony at a New Year's party in 1999. That's it. It does not feel like the villains have sufficient motivation to not only hate Tony, but to want to destroy America, or whatever they're planning?

It's a well-made movie, and if you like Tony as a character, his witty comebacks, it can be worth watching it for that. This film is also a positive continuation of the romance growing between Pepper Potts and Tony Stark. It was genuinely sweet to see certain scenes that illustrate their concern for each other.

The other great thing about the movie is seeing Tony Stark act as a father figure to a kid named Harley, whom he meets in Tennessee while fleeing some bad guys when his suit runs out of power. Harley is able to help him, and shares Tony's passion for building things.

But, the movie drags a little, and is probably the worst movie in the Iron Man trilogy. But, that still makes it an Iron Man movie, and all three of them are worth watching.

© 2019 Naomi Starlight

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