Movie Reviews

'Iron Man 3' Is More Serious Than Its Predecessors

  • Playlist
  • Download
  • Embed
    <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Iron Man 3 once again features Robert Downey Jr. as the tech-savvy superhero in red. Billionaire Tony Stark, who is uncharacteristically anxious since the events of 2012's The Avengers, must face down a domestic terrorist without backup from his friends.


"Iron Man 3" opened in theaters this morning - there were midnight showings for you crazy fans. The film once again stars Robert Downey Jr. as the tech-savvy superhero in red. But L.A. Times and MORNING EDITION film critic Kenneth Turan says this time around there's something different about Downey's role.

KENNETH TURAN, BYLINE: If you remember the cocky, ultra-confident Tony Stark from the first two "Iron Man" films, you'll be surprised at the state he's in in "Iron Man 3."


ROBERT DOWNEY JR.: (as Tony Stark) I can't sleep, and when I do I have nightmares. Honestly, there's 100 people who want to kill me. I hope I can protect one thing I can't live without.

TURAN: That's right. This is a darker "Iron Man" movie than we're used to - more serious than its predecessors. And it's got the cast to prove it, including top actors like Guy Pearce, Ben Kingsley and Rebecca Hall. Those changes to the franchise come courtesy of director/co-writer Shane Black. He worked with Downey on 2005's cult favorite private eye film "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang." The actor clearly enjoyed himself back then and Black's unmistakable style of oddball hyper-verbal dialogue has returned. Girlfriend Pepper Pots, played by Gwyneth Paltrow, lives in Stark's Malibu residence but nothing else is the same. The man is skittish, uneasy and given to compulsively building one high-maintenance Iron Man suit after another. It turns out Stark is dealing with anxiety attacks, after-effects of fighting off all those aliens in last summer's "The Avengers." Who knew? Stark's manic state is intensified by the televised manifestos of the Mandarin, a ruthless international terrorist, convincingly played by Kingsley. Outraged by the Mandarin's evil doings, Stark issues a personal challenge with catastrophic results.


DOWNEY: (as Tony Stark) I know you're a coward so I've decided that you just die, pal. I'm going to come get the body.

TURAN: All of this leads to the question: Is Iron Man still Iron Man if he has to fight evil without the help of his suits? In posing this problem, "Iron Man 3" creates the kind of jeopardy we can believe in. For a superhero movie, that is an accomplishment in and of itself.


GREENE: That's Kenneth Turan. He reviews movies for MORNING EDITION and also for the L.A. Times.

Copyright © 2013 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio.



Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the Community rules and Terms of Use. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

NPR thanks our sponsors

Become an NPR sponsor

Support comes from