Iron Man 3′s Bombings: Too Soon?

Joal Ryan
Movie Talk

Already a worldwide blockbuster, "Iron Man 3" is anything but a bomb.

But about it's bombs...

The Robert Downey Jr. superhero sequel, which formally opened in theaters here Friday, hinges on explosive terror attacks, and depicts amputees. Combined, the plot points, being viewed in the wake of the April 15 Boston Marathon bombing, have caused some critics to charge, "Too soon."

"Call me overly sensitive if you wish...," reviewer Al Alexander wrote of "Iron Man 3." "[B]ut their film scores a zero on timeliness."

Alexander's critique is about the most specifically focused on the bombing, and about the harshest in its assessment. Not coincidentally, his newspaper, the Patriot Ledger, is located in Quincy, Mass.

But it's not just Boston-area critics -- and, for what it's worth, the Boston Globe's own Ty Burr, in a lukewarm recommendation does not make the marathon connection.

NPR's Bob Mondello, while generally approving, notes that the "similarities to Boston presumably not intended [are nonethless] hard to ignore."

And the New York Times' Manohla Dargis takes "Iron Man 3" to task for being the "latest, most conspicuous example of how profoundly disconnected big studio movies" are from the fears of our post-9/11 world.

Proving to be something of a Rorschach test, "Iron Man 3" is linked to the Aurora, Colo., theater massacre by Denver Post critic Lisa Kennedy, who sees the film's bombing of Hollywood's historic Chinese Theatre as "combin[ing] the worst of actual recent events with the sorrow of last year's shootings."

On the whole, "Iron Man 3" is faring better with critics than its 2010 predecessor. (Neither sequel generated the consensus raves of the 2008 franchise-starter.)

In a defense of the film -- and its bombs -- People critic Alynda Wheat wrote that filmmakers can't be blamed "when something they've created accidentally brushes up against a real-world act of violence."

Moviegoers -- a lot of them -- will decide for themselves this weekend. The film, with $345 million in the bank from the overseas market through Thursday, is projected to gross some $150 million domestically by the end of Sunday.