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Sure, Robert Downey Jr.'s "Iron Man three" is a Christmas film

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Should we consider Robert Downey Jr.'s Iron Man 3 a Christmas movie? Absolutely.

It's the best time of the year indeed, and another excuse to marathon some of your favorite Christmas movies and specials. There are films that are widely recognized to be Christmas movies, including A Christmas Story, Home Alone, and every version of A Christmas Carol ever made. But what about films that take place during the holidays and are otherwise related to different genres? Well, Robert Downey Jr.'s Iron Man 3 is primarily a superhero action film, but certain themes that the film explores fit the Christmas spirit perfectly.

Iron Man 3 was released in 2013 and directed by Shane Black (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang). It is the third film in Robert Downey Jr.'s Iron Man trilogy and the first film in Phase 2 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) stars in The Avengers months after the Battle of New York battles PTSD and tackles a new threat from a national campaign of terror against the United States led by the mysterious Mandarin (Ben Kingsley).

Iron Man 3 is set for Christmas, much like some of Shane Black's other films, including Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, which also stars Robert Downey Jr. There's an entire scene in which we see Robert Downey Jr. being so charismatically tested, his Mark 42 armor in the background playing a Bombay Dub Orchestra remix of Joe Williams' "Jingle Bells". The Christmas backdrop is a staple of Shane Black's filmography, but does Iron Man 3 allow Iron Man 3 to deserve the label?

Well, Christmas movies often evoke the spirit of the season as well as some of the emotions associated with that particular time of year. In the case of Iron Man 3, we see Tony struggle with feeling isolated from loved ones, in large part due to the fact that he is still suffering from the trauma of the Battle of New York even when he tries to Enjoy Christmas with Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow), James "Rhodey" Rhodes (Don Cheadle) and Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau), among others. After his home in Malibu, California is destroyed, Tony survives the attack and one of his suits transports him to a town in Tennessee, with his suit completely broken. In Tennessee, Tony meets Harley Keener (Ty Simpkins).

The emotional core of Iron Man 3 lies in the relationship between Tony and Harley. The duo share a unique bond that teases Tony's future as the father figure of Peter Parker (Tom Holland) and as the real father of his daughter Morgan Stark. It also helps that both Robert Downey Jr. and Ty Simpkins have great chemistry.

What seemingly holds Tony and Harley together in Iron Man 3 is their own feelings of loneliness, enhanced by the presence of Christmas. In many ways, not only did Tony help Harley during this time of loneliness, but Harley helped Tony when he needed it most and even helped him with his mission. Tony was so touched by Harley's company that some time later he gave him new gadgets, ranging from computers to robotics – the spirit of giving.

On a grand scale, Iron Man 3 is primarily an action film with Shane Black's signature comedy style, expertly delivered by Robert Downey Jr. and the rest of the cast. The holidays are used as backgrounds like Shane Black's other films, but Iron Man 3 passes the "Christmas Movie Test" which goes beyond the typical void it has to take place during the holidays and which succeeds thanks to exploration of common themes is the vacation: loneliness, isolation and the spirit of giving. If that's your thing, between Iron Man 3 and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, you can even have a special Christmas double feature that is themed Robert Downey Jr. & Shane Black.

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Steven Gregory