'Iron Man 3': What the Critics are Saying

Iron Man 3 Downey Injured - H 2013
Marvel Entertainment

Iron Man 3 Downey Injured - H 2013

Experts weigh in on the franchise's latest installment, in theaters May 3.

After last appearing in The Avengers, Robert Downey Jr. throws on the superhero suit yet again in Walt Disney’s Iron Man 3. Joined by a cast of familiar faces including Gwyneth Paltrow and Don Cheadle, Tony Stark prepares to fight back against the real world danger plagued by Bin Laden-type villain the Mandarin (Ben Kingsley).

This is the first film in the series to be directed by Shane Black, while Iron Man and Iron Man 2 director Jon Favreau stays on as an executive producer and actor on the project. This third installment already has racked up more than $240 million overseas after opening in foreign markets last weekend and seems to have placed Stark back on many critics' good sides. After Iron Man 2, which most reviewed as a disappointing sequel, several reviewers exclaimed that the franchise returns with more excitement and funny dialogue than before -- while some, of course, have their criticisms.

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Read what some of the critics had to say below.

The Hollywood Reporter’s Todd McCarthy says that Downey makes a refreshing comeback from the crash and burn of Iron Man 2, giving his best performance yet.

“Looking, if anything, younger than he did in his last couple of spins for Marvel, Downey is at his superhero genius best here, rattling off dialogue both clever and boilerplate with non-repetitive aplomb.”

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Time critic Richard Corliss says that after the franchise previously seemed to be on life support, it has been brought back with “nifty thrills and ruthless sauciness.”

“Besides rehabbing a hero who overcomes anxiety to save the world and defeat the terror-industrial complex by the simple matter of cloning his body armor, the movie proves that there’s still intelligent life on Planet Marvel. As you’re propelled out of the theater on IM3′s hydraulic lift of pleasures, you’re likely to say, 'That is how it’s done.'”

In his Associated Press review, Jake Coyle says the film’s effort to hit the action blockbuster mark tends to become too much. “The heavy metal action could never sink the irrepressible Downey, but it weighs down the otherwise light joy of Iron Man 3."

Chicago Tribune’s Michael Phillips enjoyed the film's superhero blockbustering, but still felt that it did not compare with the climactic face off in The Avengers.

“A little too much and a little not enough, director and co-writer Shane Black's Iron Man 3 nonetheless has everything Disney and Marvel need to keep the Avengers superhero constellation shining and regenerating well into the 23rd century. It's what you call a pre-hit.”

Although some critics are entertained by his performance, Village Voice’s Stephanie Zacharek feels that after three movies in, it’s now time for Downey to give the suit a rest. While she applauds his acting skills, she states that the action and dialogue have been overly pumped up a notch and that “perhaps even he is exhausted by the too-muchness of Iron Man 3 and its ilk.”

Entertainment Weekly’s Owen Gleiberman, meanwhile, calls the film an “ominously exciting, shoot-the-works comic-book spectacular.” "The intense action continuously thrown at you at every moment combined with Downey’s signature satirical lines brings what he views as “that rarity, a superhero thrill ride with something at stake.”

“The mechanics of Iron Man 3 are complex and rambunctious, like Keystone Kops, bouncing off one another and ultimately canceling one another out.”

Forbes critic Scott Mendelson gives credit to Marvel Studios for impressive action scenes filled with hidden surprises. He also notes that the film succeeds in balancing character work with real-world politics.

"So it is perhaps by default that Iron Man 3 is the best comic book superhero 'threequel' yet, but it is still a surprisingly satisfying adventure that flirts with greatness."

Iron Man 3 opens Friday.