Genius industrialist, Tony Stark is taken prisoner in Afghanistan and after suffering a life-threatening wound he creates an ‘arc reactor’; a device buried into his chest that stops the shrapnel in his body from entering his heart. In order to escape, he builds a hi-tech suit of armour and when he returns home, he decides to perfect his design and become ‘Iron Man’ to wage a war against injustice.

Iron Man (2008) – Director: Jon Favreau

Is Iron Man appropriate for kids

Rating: 12

Running Length: 121 mins

Starring: Robert Downey Jnr, Jeff Bridges, Gwyneth Paltrow

Genre: Comic Book, Action/Adventure



The first instalment of Marvel’s Avenger movies introduces Iron Man as a tough superhero unlike any we have seen from the Marvel franchise before. We have previously seen the likes of Spiderman and The Fantastic Four who, while being strong, have been very inoffensive and easy-going. Iron Man punches in as a believably flawed character who learns that being rich and popular doesn’t always mean that you’ll win. Downey Jnr plays up the part of the likeable but arrogant womaniser who thinks he’s invincible until the harsh realities of his creations come crashing down around him.

Downey Jnr’s co-stars keep the fantasy and comedy elements of ‘Iron Man’ properly grounded. Gwyneth Paltrow is the sweet-natured and put-upon Virginia ‘Pepper’ Potts who makes a good contrast to Stark’s arrogant and narcissistic attitude. Jeff Bridges is Stark’s friend and mentor, Obadiah Stane and Terrence Howard plays the ever reliable friend James ‘Rhodey’ Rhodes. While this is an origins story and is therefore somewhat restricted in how far it can push the scope of the plot, ‘Iron Man’ never gets boring and the intense opening gives a clear indication of how the rest of the movie will play out. ‘Iron Man’ still has the feel of a comic book movie and has enough to keep stead-fast Marvel fans happy but it is also a strong film that can be enjoyed by any first timer to the franchise.


Although based on comic book characters, ‘Iron Man’ seems mostly aimed towards a more mature audience of teenagers and adults. That isn’t to say that younger viewers will not enjoy it and we mention the following content for you to decide how suitable it is for your child if they are under the age of 12.

The opening scenes show Stark in a vehicle with a few soldiers. Their dialogue is relaxed and one asks if Stark has gone ’12 for 12’ from the Maxim calendar. Stark then replies that he missed March but the Christmas cover was twins. While this is not exactly explicit and is unlikely to be understood by younger children, Stark is clearly boasting about sleeping with 12 models (and that the twins were likely to have slept with him at the same time). The vehicle is then attacked and the soldiers (who the audience have become to like) are all killed. Stark is badly wounded and wakes up in an underground cave where a fellow captive has helped to save his life. The men who have captured Stark are members of a terrorist group in Afghanistan and they are extremely threatening. They torture Stark by forcing his head under water and then threaten another man by holding a hot coal next to his face. There is also a moment where men with their faces covered are surrounding Stark and they are giving a list of demands to a camera. These moments are not sustained or graphic but it is very realistic and children may have seen similar images on news programmes so these scenes could be quite distressing for them. The rest of the action sequences should be fine for most children and, if they can handle the first few scenes, they should be fine with the rest of the movie.

The main antagonist has a weapon which paralyses his victims for approx 15 mins at a time. This looks painful and the veins of the victim stand out on the side of their heads. The use of this type of outlandish weapon puts the movie firmly in the ‘comic book’ category but children may be a little scared to see characters unable to move, especially when it is used on Stark and the device in his chest, which is repeatedly described as being the only thing keeping him alive, is removed.

The climax of the film has Iron Man being attacked by a bigger and more powerful version of the suit. This character looks like a huge robot and has a loud and frightening voice. This is a sustained scene as it represents the big action finale. It begins with suspense as Pepper and some S.H.I.E.L.D agents try to find the antagonist but are then attacked in a dark room. The man in this suit is very aggressive and Stark finds himself having to use his intelligence to outwit him rather than use brute strength.



Jon Favreau has created an entertaining and interesting re-boot to the Marvel universe and ‘Iron Man’ is a strong start to the whole Avengers Initiative story thread. Downey Jnr is clearly relishing the chance to play such a fun and egotistical character but also manages to keep the drama of the role realistic. There is plenty of comedy to offset the action and therefore we feel that this movie should be suitable for kids aged 10 and over. We feel you may not be happy with children under 10 watching ‘Iron Man’ mainly due to the realistic intensity of the opening war zone scenes which take up the first 15 minutes of the movie. We would also advise that you watch the movie with your children for the first time to ensure that you are happy with the content that they are viewing.

  • Violence:  3/5 (When Stark is injured at the start blood pours through his shirt. Later, he is particularly unforgiving of the terrorists. Although there is no blood several terrorists are engulfed by large fireball explosions. The ending scenes are also quite violent)
  • Emotional Distress: 2/5 (the soldiers who are killed at the beginning of the movie may affect younger viewers as they have become proper characters. Another man who is killed and Stark is seen to be fighting back tears)
  • Fear Factor: 3/5
  • Sexual Content: 3/5 (Stark is portrayed as a womaniser and one scene shows him falling into bed with a woman whilst they kiss. He is gone the following morning and she walks around his house just wearing one of his shirts. Another scene shows Stark and Rhodey being drunk on a private jet while the air stewardesses, who have clearly only been hired due to their attractiveness, dance around them in sexy clothes like nightclub girls)
  • Bad Language: 2/5 (some mild and one moderate use of profanity)
  • Dialogue: 2/5 (Although he is good-hearted, Stark is generally very arrogant and everyone loves him for it. This may not be every parent’s idea of a role model for their children)
  • Other notes: Deals with themes of bettering oneself, doing what is right rather than what is easy and caring for those who depend on you.

Words by Laura Record

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