IRON MAN is now an iron giant.

One summer after Robert Downey Jr.’s quick-witted Iron Man help lead Marvel’s ”The Avengers” to the biggest domestic debut ever ($207.4-million), the third film in the “Iron Man” franchise proper bowed in with the second-biggest homeland opening ever.

“Iron Man 3” grossed $175.3-million in North America over the weekend, according to studio estimates Sunday, topping the former bridesmaid, 2011’s “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part 2” ($169.1-million). Final numbers are expected Monday.

The Shane Black-directed “IM3” has now grossed more than $680-million worldwide.

[‘IRON MAN 3’: One Fanboy’s Six Quick Questions & Answers (*Mostly Spoiler-Free)]

PEPPER STAKES: Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper Potts with Robert Downey Jr.’s suited-up Tony Stark in "Iron Man 3,” which had the second-biggest domestic debut ever. (DISNEY/MARVEL STUDIOS via AP)


* The “Iron Man” franchise has now grossed more than $805-million domestically — and nearly $1.9-billion worldwide.

* Add in “The Avengers,” and Tony Stark-starring films have now grossed $3.4-billion globally, according to

* “Iron Man 3” made about five times as much as the rest of the weekend’s top-10 combined. (“Pain and Gain” was second with $7.6-million.)

* Superhero films now account for five of the seven biggest domestic debuts ever. After Disney/Marvel’s “Avengers” and “IM3” and Warner Bros.’s “Deathly Hallows — Part 2,” the four next biggest openings are: ”The Dark Knight Rises” ($160.9-million), “The Dark Knight” ($158.4M), “The Hunger Games” ($152.5M) and “Spider-Man 3” ($151.1M).

* Fifteen of the top-25 domestic-grossing superhero films now feature Marvel characters.

* In its opening weekend, “Iron Man 3” grossed more than the lifetime domestic grosses of any one of Shane Black’s “Lethal Weapon” films (not adjusted for inflation).

* Every Marvel Studios film has been considered a hit. Its seven films — starting with 2008’s “Iron Man” — have grossed more than $4.4-billion combined.

* Disney has now crossed the billion-dollar global-gross mark for the 19th straight year — and 2013 represents the quickest it has done so, reports Variety. Disney has been powered by the year’s top-2 grossing films: “Iron Man 3” and top-dog-for-now “Oz the Great and Powerful” ($225.6-million).

* After “The Avengers,” Buena Vista/Disney’s second biggest domestic-grossing superhero film ever remains...”The Incredibles” (Pixar).

[REVIEW: Post film critic Ann Hornaday’s take on “Iron Man 3.”]

Next up on the superhero front this summer: Warner Bros./DC Entertainment’s “Man of Steel” (June 14), followed by Fox’s “The Wolverine” (July 26). And capping the year in superheroes will be Disney/Marvel’s “Thor: The Dark World” (Nov. 8.).

[QUICK HIT: Robert Downey Jr. Talks Iron Man character]

BILLIONAIRE GROSSING BILLIONS: Robert Downey Jr.’s fourth go-round as billionaire playboy Tony Stark/Iron Man (including “The Avengers”) adds to the franchise’s millions, as well as the actor’s leverage and clout at Marvel Studios. (./ZADE ROSENTHAL)