CATEGORIES Movie NewsOh, Tony Stark (and Robert Downey Jr.), how we love you. Your cocky sarcasm and witty one-liners make you one of our favorite superheroes of all time. And, of course, your face graces everything from action figures to birthday party supplies to sleeping bags. But that doesn't mean "Iron Man 3" is appropriate for the five-year-olds I saw at the recent screening of the movie.
Sure, there's no sex or offensive language, but "Iron Man," like all of the other "Avengers" heroes, includes a lot of mature material (panic attacks, terrorism, televised execution, sexual innuendo, and loads of violence) that's best suited for double-digit-aged kids.
Here are five issues to keep in mind before heading off to see the third installment in the "Iron Man" series.
1. The Revolution Will Be Televised As a nation still reeling from the horrific events at the Boston Marathon, it may be difficult for some kids to deal with the idea of the terrorist mastermind, The Mandarin (Ben Kingsley). The Mandarin specializes in very public acts of terrorism that kill and injure innocent civilians. He issues televised ultimatums and even shoots a man on camera (even if not everything is as it seems). The bad guys string up the President of the United States, mutate people into human weapons, blow up a lot of places and cause collateral damage.
2. Violence and More Violence All superhero movies contain elements of danger and violence; otherwise there'd be no reason for the superheroes to exist in the first place. But the violence in "Iron Man 3," as mentioned above, verges on the cringe-inducing, even if it's not necessarily grisly. People get shot at close range (one shooting is live on TV and the other kills an important character), there are mass explosions that kill or injure everyone in the vicinity, a young boy is threatened, and one major character is presumed dead.
3. Anxiety Man The Tony Stark of "Iron Man 3" is NOT the devil may care jerk of previous films. He's consumed with anxiety about his time with "the super friends," as Happy (Jon Favreau) calls them. He isn't actively running Stark Enterprises (Pepper is at the helm) or trying to create anything but more and more Iron Man suits. The vulnerability and the panic attacks aren't what we're used to in Tony, and his emotional issues might be tough for younger viewers to understand, particularly if they haven't seen all the other movies (see No. 5).
4. Tony the Womanizer The movie starts off as a flashback to 1999, when Tony was an unrepentant billionaire playboy who had no problem lying to one eager young scientist and bedding a beautiful geneticist for a one night stand that comes back to haunt him 13 years later. Although only a few kisses and a woman in a bra and panties are shown in that scene, there are several innuendo-laden comments about "going to town on each other," and Stark's libido (before being monogamous to Pepper) throughout the film. There's also a creepy chemistry between Guy Pearce's Aldrich Killian and Gwyneth Paltrow's Pepper.
5. Marvel IQ Has your kid seen the other Marvel Comics movies, like "Thor," "Captain America," and the two previous "Iron Man" thrillers? Do they know how Tony Stark became Iron Man and why "New York" and the climactic events in "The Avengers" trigger him with anxiety? If not, this movie isn't going to make as much sense to younger audiences. Don't spend that 3D surcharge on a threequel if your family hasn't seen the origin films first.