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May 3, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

As superhero movies move from one sequel to another, they appear to grow “darker,” to use a description that pops up a lot in the current reviews of Iron Man 3, with Robert Downey Jr. again in the title role. Critics generally appear to applaud the darkness. Says Kenneth Turan in the Los Angeles Times: “[Director] Shane Black has managed to change this billion-dollar-plus franchise’s tone for the better while keeping the same actor as Tony Stark. Call it a spiritual reboot.” Joe Neumaier writes similarly in the New York Daily News that the movie “sharply fuses the humor and heart of the earlier films with a satisfyingly heavy-metal strength — and a darkness that’s more than earned.” Claudia Puig in USA Today awards the movie three out of four stars, commenting, “The rambunctious Iron Man 3 is a briskly paced thrill ride until about 90 minutes in, when the excitement wanes. A few late-breaking surprises reinvigorate the tale, however.” And Richard Roeper in the Chicago Sun-Times sums up that the movie is “one of the best entries in this modern golden age of superhero movies.” But there are plenty of naysayers, too. Ty Burr in the Boston Globe complains: “Iron Man 3 suffers from confused plotting, flat-footed exposition, and more pure, noisy nonsense than even a comic book movie should have to put up with.” (He has many positive things to say about Downey’s performance, however.) And consider this opening paragraph by Kyle Smith in the New York Post: “There’s so much dumb stuff in Iron Man that I expected the credits to say, “Written and directed by Thor.” The villains are all wrong, the motivations are muddy, even the gadgetry is off. And the swaggering genius at the center of it all has become a preening fool. It’s like watching a great company switch CEOs from Steve Jobs to Donald Trump.” And Manohla Dargis in the New York Times even finds Downey’s performance wanting. She writes: “The “Iron Man films turned Mr. Downey into a huge star, but the role has gradually, maybe inexorably, swallowed him.”