Iron Man

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Not recommended for children under 13 years of age, parental guidance recommended 13-15 (Violence, disturbing scenes and themes).

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Iron Man
  • a review of Iron Man completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 12 May 2008.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 13 Not recommended due to violence, disturbing scenes and themes
Children 13-14 Parental guidance recommended due to violence, disturbing scenes and themes
Children 15 and over OK for this age group

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines. Other classification advice (OC) is provided where the Australian film classification is not available.

Name of movie: Iron Man
Classification: M
Consumer advice lines: Moderate action violence
Length: 126 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Tony Stark (Robert Downer, Jr.) is a billionaire industrialist, whose company Stark Enterprises manufactures military weapons. After demonstrating a new and devastating weapon in the Middle East, Tony is ambushed and attacked by terrorists armed with weapons made by his company. He receives a bad chest injury and wakes up in a cave with an electro-magnet wired into his chest. Tony has a chest full of shrapnel, and to stop the shrapnel from reaching his heart, he must remain wired up to a car battery and magnet. The terrorists holding Tony demand that he build a missile for them.

Rather than building the missile Tony, helped by a fellow prisoner Yinsen (Shaun Toub), builds a small chest implant which has enough power to keep the shrapnel away from Tony’s heart for fifty life times. In the next step in his transition into Iron Man, Tony builds an iron suit complete with flamethrowers and rocket-propelled boots. He dons the suit and breaks out of his prison, but at the cost of Yinsen’s life.

Tony returns to the USA where he re-evaluates his beliefs and life, and announces that Stark Enterprises will cease making weapons. Obadiah Stane (Jeff Bridges), long time family friend and member of the Stake Enterprise’s board of directors is less than impressed with the announcement and takes covert steps to “lock” Tony out of the company. Tony makes a new and improved Iron Man suit and flies off to the Middle East to seek revenge against those who abducted and imprisoned him. He finds them attacking innocent civilians, defeats them and destroys all of their weapons.

Back at home, Tony/Iron man suspects Obadiah of selling weapons to terrorists, and asks his close friend and assistant Pepper Pots (Gwyneth Paltrow) to help him. Pepper finds proof that Obadiah was responsible for the terrorist attack on Tony. Together, Tony/Iron Man and Pepper work to defeat Obadiah.


Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Superheroes; terrorism

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

Iron Man contains frequent intense action violence, some of which is brutal. Examples include:

  • While in the Middle East, an army convoy is attacked by terrorists. The firefight includes machinegun fire, bombs exploding, cars being blown up and flames erupting in all directions. Bodies are thrown through the air like rag dolls and riddled with bullets (we see blood splattering across car windows and hear screaming). When the fight is over all are dead except for Tony, who after taking the full force of an exploding bomb is left lying on his back with blood pooling through the front of his shirt.
  • We see images of Tony being stood in front of a group of gun wielding Middle Eastern terrorists, who are wearing dark hoods and recording their demands on video.
  • A couple of scenes contain images of men being tortured. Tony’s head is held under water until Tony starts to suffer. And a man has a gun pointed at his head and is forced to his knees with his head held down on an anvil while he is threatened with having a burning coal placed in his mouth. 
  • When two men try opening a booby-trapped door, the door explodes with the force of the explosion throwing the men back throw the air. When we next see the two men they are lying (presumably dead) on the ground (no visual blood and gore).
  • To give Tony enough time to put on his Iron Man suit, a fellow prisoner, Yinsen picks up a machinegun firing it into the air while charging towards a group of gun wielding terrorists. Later we se Yinsen lying on the ground dying from bullet wounds (low level blood and gore). Before he dies, Yinsen tells Tony “Don’t waste your life.”
  • Iron Man punches and kicks terrorists, sending them flying through the air like rag dolls. Iron Man punches his fist through iron doors and uses a flamethrower attached to his arm to incinerate terrorists and a number of tents and buildings. A bullet ricochets off Iron Man’s head hitting the attacker in the head and killing him. Iron Man also fires a rocket that explodes and knocks a man unconscious.
  • Obadiah Stane discusses justifying the manufacturing of weapons of war by saying that they are helping the world from turning to chaos.
  • Terrorists shoot at women and children, and blow up houses containing innocent civilians. A man is separated from his wife and child and placed against a wall to be shot while his young child looks on. The father is then thrown to the ground with a terrorist stomping several times on his chest. The man is then forced to his knees and has a gun placed to his head, but before the trigger is pulled Iron Man enters the picture and stops the terrorists from killing the man. Later, the terrorists hold a group of woman and children hostage by pointing guns at their heads but Iron Man rescues them by shooting each of the terrorists in the head.
  • Obadiah uses a small electronic device to paralyse a terrorist and later Tony. The device causes blue veins to stand out in the victim’s face and appears to cause pain.
  • A group of mercenary soldiers hold guns to the heads of a large group of terrorists kneeling on the ground. We then hear machinegun fire.
  • Iron Monger, in a huge iron suit, chases Pepper in a threatening manner.
  • In a battle between Iron Man and Iron Monger, Iron Monger picks up a car containing a mother and her children and hurls the vehicle at Iron Man (we hear the mother and children screaming). A motorcyclist and bus passengers are also victims of the battle.
  • Iron Monger is finally destroyed when he falls into an exploding reactor with an entire building exploding in flames.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes and scary visual images, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under five, including the following:

  • Tony is seen lying on an operating table in a terrorist camp. His bloody chest is operated on with bloodied tissue taken out and a circular metal device implanted with the wires leading from the device to a car battery (we see Tony thrashing and hear him screaming). Later Tony wakes up from the surgery and in a panic rips bandages from his chest to reveal a circular electronic device implanted in his chest (some mild blood and gore is shown). Tony is told that he had a number of pieces of shrapnel in his chest and that the device implanted in his chest is an electromagnet that will keep the shrapnel from entering his heart. We see Tony pull a long oxygen tube out of his nose with accompanying squelching noises as he pulls the tube out. 
  • Later, Tony needs to replace the Ark Reactor implanted in his chest with a more powerful version. Tony gets his assistant Pepper to reach into his chest and pull out the old device complete with attached wires. We hear squelching sounds and see some clear goo as Pepper pull out the device, and when some wires accidentally touch the wrong spot Tony appears to receive an electrical shock. Pepper has a disturbed look on her face and talks about seeing pus and it having a bad smell. After the device is removed we see a large circular/cylinder like hole in Tony's chest (no visible blood and gore).
  • Young children may find the appearance (faces covered by masks and hoods) and actions of the terrorists depicted in the film threatening and frightening.
  • A couple of scenes contain images of a man’s burnt and disfigured face.
  • The appearance of Iron Monger may scare some younger children, Iron Monger is a large monster-like robot that is very powerful, threatening and intimidating.  

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

Children in this age group are also likely to be disturbed by the above mentioned violence and scary scenes

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

Children in this age group are also likely to be disturbed by the above mentioned violence and scary scenes

Thirteen and overinfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Some children in this age group may also be disturbed by some of the above mentioned violence and scary scenes

Product placement

The following products are displayed or used in this movie:

  • Burger King
  • Audi
  • Bulgari watches
  • LG mobile phones
  • Dell computers
  • Vanity Fair and Rolling Stone magazines

Sexual references

Iron Man contains infrequent mild sexual references including:

  • While driving in an army convoy, Tony is asked if it is true that he has gone 12 for 12 with the Maxim cover models (a calender pin up). Tony responds that he missed one month, but that one of the other months has twins so that he did therefore have twelve girls.  
  • Tony teases a man about the “lovely lady he woke up with and then asks him “What was his name?”
  • In one scene Pepper walks in on Tony while a number of machines are attempting to take off Tony’s iron suit, Tony tells Pepper “This is not the worst thing you’ve caught me doing. Tony also tells the machine removing the iron suit to “be gentle, this is my first time.”

Nudity and sexual activity

Iron Man contains occasional low level sexual activity and sensuality including:

  • Two women wearing low-cut dresses stand on each side of Tony at a gambling table and rubbing themselves up against him.
  • Tony is seen lying in bed with a female reporter. The woman is wearing shirt and panties with bare legs and hip revealed. The woman straddles Tony and kisses him passionately on the mouth. The pair roll off the bed and onto the floor with accompanying giggles. In the next scene we see the woman wake up nude lying face down on the bed with the bed covers covering her bottom. We then see the woman walking around Tony’s house dressed only in a shirt that reveals cleavage and legs.
  • Three female flight attendants dance on a plane in a seductive manner resembling pole dancing.    
  • Dancing with Tony, Pepper wears a low cut backless dress that reveals cleavage. They almost kiss, but after the dance Pepper tells Tony that she is uncomfortable about the thought of any type of relationship between them.

Use of substances

There is some use of substances in this movie, including:

  • The film contains several scenes depicting people smoking cigarettes and cigars.
  • Tony is depicted on several occasions holding a glass of spirits and sipping from the glass.
  • In a later scene Tony talks about warming up saki.
  • Tony talks about irresponsible drinking, but then consumes alcohol himself.
  • Three female flight attendants drink champagne.
  • Obadiah enters an office and pours whisky from a bottle on the desk. He them makes a comment that Tony “always gets the good stuff”. 
  • At a party, Pepper asks Tony to get her a dry martini with lots of olives, at the bar Tony asks the attendant to make his martini dirty. 

Coarse language

Iron Man contains infrequent mild coarse language. Examples include:

  • hell
  • damn
  • son of a bitch
  • you little prick  

In a nutshell

Iron Man is a well-acted superhero film, with excellent special effects, in which the characters face moral dilemmas of some substance. It is likely to appeal to older adolescents and adults.

The main messages from this movie are that:

  • both nations and individuals should use power in a responsible and accountable manner
  • it is never too late to change your life to a more meaningful one.

Values that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include altruism and the importance of friendship.

Parents may also wish to discuss with older children attitudes and behaviours, and their real-life consequences, such as:

  • Tony’s reckless driving which endangers the lives of those around him
  • The influence of wealth on Tony’s lifestyle
  • Tony’s attitude (at the start of the film) towards women, and his promiscuous behaviour.