'Iron Man 3': The Reviews Are In!

Critics applaud the return of Tony Stark, but they disagree about how much gas is left in the franchise's tank.

If you've been stuck on Asgard or somehow stranded in the 1940s, then you might not know that "Iron Man 3," the highly anticipated third installment of Tony Stark's solo superhero story, has arrived in theaters.

Almost more of a follow-up to 2012's mega-blockbuster team-up film "The Avengers" than 2010's anemic "Iron Man 2," the film examines the aftermath of the worldwide alien invasion that Stark survived a near-death experience in order to defeat.

Robert Downey Jr. reprises the character that made him an international star, and his onscreen lady love Gwyneth Paltrow and best pal Don Cheadle return in the roles of Pepper Potts and Colonel James Rhodes, respectively. Although "Iron Man" and "Iron Man 2" helmer Jon Favreau returns, this time it's only in an acting and producing capacity, turning directing duties over to Shane Black, whose last effort behind the camera was "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang," which also starred Downey.

Reviews thus far have been mostly positive, owing as much to the disappointment many had with part 2 as the fertile creativity of Black as writer and director. But others found the film as crass and money-grubbing as any of its record-shattering predecessors. Check out a cross section of reviews for "Iron Man 3":

Marvel Manufactures Another Hit

" 'Iron Man 3' benefits immeasurably from the irreverent quicksilver humor of co-writer and director Shane Black, whose obvious rapport with Robert Downey Jr. in his only other directorial outing, 'Kiss Kiss Bang Bang,' is further manifest here. Brandishing at least a couple of killer twists, this Disney release (having taken over from co-presenter Paramount) will be the (early) summer's first massive hit." — Todd McCarthy, The Hollywood Reporter

... But Not All Of Its Parts Work

"I'm also not entirely sure, after one viewing, whether Killian and the Mandarin's plans make any sense whatsoever — and even if they do, they're still generic comic book baddies of the kind who plot world domination in the broadest and least interesting terms while trading cliched patter like 'You're a maniac!' 'No! I'm a visionary!' Still, 'Iron Man 3' is a vast improvement over 'Iron Man 2' and a worthy, quirky, entertaining follow-up to 'The Avengers.' " — Matt Singer, Screencrush

Still, It Works Better Than The Last One

" 'Iron Man 3' is clearly an improvement. How much of an improvement it actually represents will depend on how much tolerance you have for product placement being more important than plotting, or on spectacle being more important than storytelling. ... The final action piece is just a blur of pixels and effects, though, taking place in a shipyard where you have no clue of who's on what side or how many they number." — James Rocchi, GeekNation

It's Good Enough To Make You Want Another One

"Crackerjack popcorn entertainment done overwhelmingly right, 'Iron Man 3' is a robust example of what Hollywood can do right when it puts its mind to it. ... The rakish 'Iron Man 3' accomplishes the rare three-quel feat of actually leaving you wanting even more from a franchise." — Brent Simon, SharedDarkness.com

... But It Might Have Exhausted Its Future Options

"Topping the sustained Manhattan battle at the end of 'The Avengers' is too difficult a task, but 'Iron Man 3' will marvel fans with both an aerial rescue outside of Air Force One and the concluding confrontation between Extremis soldiers and Stark's iron army. ... Though the more I thought about the treatment of Iron Man's iconic adversary, the more I'm bothered by Marvel's decision to neuter what could have been a lasting, pronounced threat to Iron Man and his universe." — Sean O'Connell, FilmRacket.com

Check out everything we've got on "Iron Man 3."