Iron Man 3: Stark is Back and Utterly Compelling

Iron Man 3 © Marvel
Iron Man 3 © Marvel

Unlike the rest of my GeekMom colleagues, my wait for Iron Man 3 is over. The film was released here in the UK yesterday. Tony Stark had a lot to live up to in headlining the first Avengers universe outing since last year’s phenomenally successful The Avengers but, really, was that ego ever going to let us down?

Here’s my look at Iron Man 3 with advice for parents. It is as non-spoilery as possible but plot points revealed in the trailers and in interviews with the cast and crew are mentioned.

Is the film any good?

Yes! Marvel have experienced a run of brilliant films in this shared universe and Iron Man 3 doesn’t drop the ball. Both my husband and myself agreed that it’s the best of the trilogy. He considered the final battle to be a little much but I loved every minute.

Does the story continue from The Avengers?

The events in The Avengers changed the world Tony Stark lives in profoundly. He personally had a life altering experience during that film’s final battle, one that nearly ended his life.  The events in Iron Man 3 are therefore naturally colored by this.

However, the plot is completely standalone with a brand new set of villains so if you haven’t seen The Avengers (who are you exactly?) then you won’t be left in the dark.

The trailers have suggested Iron Man 3 is a much “darker” film than its predecessors. Is that the case?

During the film, we see Tony coming to terms with his experiences in The Avengers and suffering through that process, sometimes in very damaging ways. However, this is still Tony Stark at heart and these moments of introspection are interspersed with his usual humor and excessive quantities of ego.

Tony is a different man in some ways but he’s still Tony, and the humor here more than balances out the film’s darker nature. So, yes, the themes of the film are much darker, but you’ll still spend a good portion of it laughing. Three words to prove this point: Fast. Flying. Codpiece.

Should I bother paying for 3D?

No.

Should I take my kids?

This is a difficult one to answer. The main battle scenes and the style of humor in Iron Man 3 haven’t changed much from previous films in the series. The battles are spectacular, ridiculous,  and yes, violent, but they are not gory and although the humor occasionally gets a little racy, it should sail right over the heads of youngsters.

Very little blood is shown except in well placed scars. There is a lot of death but this is shown in the usual comic book movie style. If your kids have seen previous Marvel films then this won’t be a problem. The film’s macguffin (the Extremis serum) is responsible for some fairly unpleasant scenes in which it works its magic on recipients but nothing especially gory occurs – it’s all CGI.

However, there are a number of scenes that gave me pause when thinking about the age I would consider it ok to see this film.

The film’s lead “villain” is The Mandarin who is portrayed as an Osama Bin-Laden style leader of a middle-Eastern terrorist group. Throughout the film, this group takes over US television broadcasts to show their own propaganda movies of the style we are now sadly used to seeing on the news. It is the content of these videos that are the difficult grey area regarding children’s viewing. A number of violent acts occur in these videos, some of which are shown visually, and others implied just out of shot. The two that would concern me most are (mild spoilers: a group of kneeling men shown being shot by machine guns on screen, a businessman shot through the head offscreen – the shot is heard and others react onscreen.) These videos are likely to prompt questions from younger viewers as yet unfamiliar with the style of real world videos which they are emulating,

I would therefore advise extreme caution when taking younger children to the film and to be prepared for any questions they may raise afterwards. Away from these scenes, there is also one execution style shooting and several instances of torture through extreme heat, none of which are graphic.

Does Stan Lee make his usual cameo?

Yes, despite his recent health issues Stan is back and this might be my favorite cameo appearance yet.

Should I stay once the credits roll?

Yes, there’s an extra scene after the credits and you’ll definitely want to stay for it!

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