Iron Man 3

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Not suitable under 13, PG to 15 (Violence; Disturbing scenes)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Iron Man 3
  • a review of Iron Man 3 completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 29 April 2013.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 13 Not suitable due to violence and disturbing scenes
Children 13-15 Parental guidance recommended due to violence and disturbing scenes
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 3
Classification: M
Consumer advice lines: Action violence
Length: 130 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) is on the verge of a psychological breakdown, suffering from depression and having anxiety attacks as a result of his adventures. In a bid to cope, he throws himself into his work at the expense of sleep and his relationship with Pepper Pots (Gwyneth Paltrow).

Unfortunately things go decidedly worse for Stark when “The Mandarin” (Ben Kingsley) begins a quest of global terror and destruction. When Stark publically threatens him, the Mandarin responds by sending a squad of attack helicopters to Stark’s seafront estate, reducing it to a pile of rubble and nearly killing Stark and Pepper Potts in the process. When the Mandarin’s attack ends, Stark/Iron Man is left stranded in Tennessee in a powerless Iron Man suit.

With the help of a young local boy Harley (Ty Simpkins), and relying on his own ingenuity and self reliance, Stark begins to make a comeback, discovers the source of the Mandarin’s power, and joins with his old ally, James Rhodes (Don Cheadle) to works towards defeating him.


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; global annihilation; revenge

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 3 contains frequent scenes of intense action violence including acts of terrorism, execution styled murders, mass destruction of buildings and property and the depiction of some blood and gore. Examples include:

  • News footage of terrorists executing several men by firing squad. 
  • A man lies on the floor in front of the Mandarin, crying in terror and the Mandarin threatens to shoot the man in thirty seconds. After thirty seconds the Mandarin points a handgun at the distraught man’s head and a shot is fired off screen.    
  • A man sits on a bench in front of a building with dozens of people walking by. Without warning, the man’s face begins to glow white hot as if on fire from the inside and fire erupts from the man’s mouth and eyes. He calls out for help before his body erupts in a massive explosion, with a gigantic fire ball engulfing the front of the building and the immediate vicinity. After the explosion we see the building in ruins and a number of bodies scattered across the ground. One man, who is still alive, lies on the ground with his clothes burnt and his face blackened and bloody.
  • Stark, Pepper Pots and a second woman are standing in the front room of Stark’s seafront mansion when attack helicopters fire missiles into the building. The room explodes and Stark and the two women hurled (in slow motion) through the air. There are scenes of chaos and destruction with much of the building reduced to rubble, and we see bloody cuts on Stark’s nose and face and that of the woman.
  • In a later scene, after being punched several times, Stark’s face appearing more beaten up with swollen eyes and more bloody cuts and bruises.
  • One scene depicts a brutal fight between Stark and a genetically modified woman. The woman shoots two men point blank with a handgun and then fires the handgun and a shotgun at Stark. The woman punches Stark in the face and body and then attempts to strangle him. A short time later Stark fires a gun resulting in a massive gas explosion that engulfs the woman in a fire ball.  
  • Pepper Pots is strapped to an upright table and forcibly injected with drugs to modify her body. Her skin takes on a fiery appearance as she screams in agony; we hear a man say that she may not survive the procedure.     
  • A genetically modified superhuman brutally murders a waitress by twisting her head and snapping her neck.
  • Tony Stark attacks a number of guards using a variety of homemade weapons made from items acquired from a hardware store. 
  • A genetically modified superhuman disguised in an Iron Man suit attacks a group of people on a plane. The impersonator throws a dagger into a man’s chest, uses superhuman strength to hurl men into walls and shoots a number of men dead at close range. He blows a hole in the side of the plane and thirteen people are sucked out, luckily being rescued by the real Iron Man before they hit the ground.

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, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including the following:

  • The film has a number of disturbing scenes depicting genetically modified super-humans whose skin glows and catches fire from the inside with fire bursting from their eyes and mouths. One of these super humans is able to project streams of fire from his mouth like a flame thrower. After receiving horrible injuries, these beings are able to regenerate burnt and blackened skin and severed limbs.
  • One scene depicts a young girl in a wheel chair with an amputated leg; we see the stub of the amputation. 
  • In one intense scene we see Pepper Pots hanging on to Iron Man’s hand while dangling above a fiery inferno, Iron Man loses hold of Pepper and she plummets into the fire pit below, later emerging from the fire transformed into a glowing superhuman.     

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 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 some of the above mentioned 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.

Younger children in this age group may also be disturbed by some of the above-mentioned scenes.

Product placement

None of concern

Sexual references

The film contains occasional low-level sexual references and innuendo. Examples include:

  • Pepper Pots tells Stark “I’m going to take a shower and you’re gonna join me”. 
  • Pepper Pots orders Iron Man to lift his mask and give her a kiss.
  • Asked what his latest Iron Man suit was like, Stark says that it was a “little pinchy in the gooey bag”. 
  • Pepper Pots refers to a woman as Iron Man’s “juicy girlfriend”.
  • While struggling with a genetically modified woman who begins to glow white hot, Stark says, “I’ve dated hotter chicks than you”.

Nudity and sexual activity

There is some partial nudity and sexual activity in this movie, including:

  • In one scene we see Tony Stark holding a woman’s hand and leading her towards a hotel bedroom. We see Stark lying on the bed with the woman and kissing her on lips. The scene cuts to the morning after and we see a back view of the woman sitting on a chair in her underwear.
  • A man kisses Pepper Pots on the lips.  
  • A scene depicting a beauty pageant features a number of woman wearing brief swimwear. A man holds up a sign with the number eleven written on it.
  • Tony Stark walks into a scene where he finds two women in bed together and a man standing next to the bed. The man asks Stark if he “fancies either of the two birds”.

Use of substances

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

  • Stark injects himself with microscopic implants. 
  • Social drinking at bars and parties
  • In one scene a woman appears to be under the influence of recreational drugs of some type.
  • A man tells Stark that he had a problem with substances (drugs) and that he did undesirable things to acquire then.
  • Pepper Pots is forcibly given an injection through an IV tube.

Coarse language

Iron Man 3 contains some low-level coarse language and name calling scattered throughout. Examples include:

  • dick, oh my god, no need to be a pussy, cover every one’s arse, freak me out, goddamn, bloody hell, pissed off, shit, crap, son of a bitch, jerk, screw it.    

In a nutshell

Iron Man 3 is a science-fiction action thriller targeting adolescents and adults who are Marvel comic book fans or superhero film fans. These fans are likely to enjoy some of the funny one-liners and Ben Kingsley’s performance.  The film is darker, and contains more action violence, death and destruction, than previous Iron Man films and the M rating is very much justified. The violence and disturbing scenes definitely make the film unsuitable for under 13s and many 13 -15 year olds. At 130 minutes, it is also rather a long film to sit through.

The main message from this movie is that it is not outside appearances or what a person wears but what is on the inside that is important.

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • Ingenuity and self reliance: Stark demonstrates his ingenuity and self reliance when he must face his enemies without the aid of his Iron Man suit.
  • Selflessness: Regardless of the selfish, playboy-like image that Stark presents to the public, he risks his life for both friends and strangers alike on numerous occasions.    

Parents may wish to discuss with older children the mixed messages that the film sends about the role of women. Although some of the film’s female characters are presented as strong and powerful, others have little or no control over events and are little more than sex objects at the call of dominant male characters.