'Iron Man 3' Isn't So Steely After All
May 6, 2013
'Iron Man 3' Isn't So Steely After All

Julie Samrick
Kid Focused 

It's hard to keep movie sequels fresh, and so is the case with Iron Man 3.

Robert Downey Jr. reprises his role as Tony Stark, defense contractor turned Iron Man in the third installment of the popular comic book series.  In the first "Iron Man," we see his bumpy transformation into a strong fighter of crime. The sequels gravitate toward his budding relationship with his assistant, Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow). At one point in Iron Man 3, Stark says of his suit of armor, "it's been my cocoon," because after a series of glitches and meltdowns, Stark is forced out of it, spending most of the time having to prove the kind of tenacity he has on his own - which isn't saying much.

Now a mad scientist, the motorized suits he's created are taking over Tony Stark's life, and his live-in girlfriend, Pepper, has grown exasperated.  Downey Jr. is typecast as the quirky, smart man with a dry sense of humor, and his casting as an imperfect Iron Man has been a large part of the film's success.  However, for kids' viewing eyes, Tony Stark comes across as a jerk - so narcissistic that he doesn't put anyone first. Not his girlfriend (whom he doesn't even ask to marry), not a little boy who is begging for a male role model, and not even the President of the United States. The less powerful superhero, Iron Patriot (played by Don Cheadle), wins as the best hero of this film any day.

The external battles this time around are against the ethics of science and a new procedure called Extremis, which regenerates sick or wounded people into soulless terminators.  Wreaking havoc on an even larger, televised scale is a bearded terrorist named the Mandarin (Ben Kingsley), playing the archetype of anti-American destruction and bearing an uncanny resemblance to Osama bin Laden.

Both science and terrorist conflicts point to a larger theme - the main takeaway young people will get from Iron Man 3 is to be even more cynical about our military and domestic safety. And, the next time we think a terrorist is an anti-American extremist, look to your own friends and neighbors instead. I'd prefer not to sink those messages into my kids' brains.

The film is generously given a PG-13 rating although it contains graphic violence, bombings, shootouts, drugs, and sexually explicit scenes (including one with two women in a bed and a man who is just about to join them). Iron Man is also a self-indulgent playboy who sleeps around (another point of conflict is between Pepper and one of Tony Stark's one-night stands).

Although this film is a huge blockbuster right now, I say skip it. 

Kid Focused Grades for Iron Man 3
Compelling story line - C
Strong message - D
Leading character is a role model - D
Sexual content - D
Violence - D 
Suited for the whole family - D 
Overall Kid Focused Grade: D
Iron Man 3, Rated PG-13
Running Time: 2 hours 10 minutes
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Julie Samrick is a stay-at-home mom of four young kids and the founder of Kid Focused, a site devoted to children and family issues.  Subscribe to the free Kid Focused newsletter delivered weekly to your inbox and connect with us on Facebook too.  Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com.

Posted by Staff at 7:00 AM