Finally caught this over the weekend. As a massive Iron Man fan for 30+ years, I have some mixed feelings about it, but overall would give the movie a 7 out of 10.
RDJ is fantastic as always. His wit and sarcasm make the movie come to life. I loved the side story with the kid who helps him out and I liked that he showed some weakness with panic attacks. Not so sure about the Tony/Pepper relationship - I like Tony as a playboy who never really lets anyone in, but nice to see Paltrow get some action scenes in I suppose. The Extremis storyline from the comics was pretty much the template for this movie, but in the comics the real Mandarin was behind it (not AIM) and Tony ends up getting Extremis, leading to a host of new abilities with and without his armor. I'm glad they went this route with Pepper instead and cleaned that up by the end.
I was okay with the Mandarin twist. Disappointing that we won't see the power rings in action, but I love that they found a way to bring AIM into the Movie Universe for potential future supporting roles. They covered Mandarin, AIM, Extremis, Pepper in the suit, Happy nearly killed by a foe, and Iron Patriot, so lots of current and old storylines mixed into one. That's hard to do while still making a convincing/complete story, so I think they pulled it off well.
My disappointment in the movie stemmed from several missed opportunities. They went to the effort of bringing Yinsen and mentioned the alien invasion from Avengers a few times, so A+ there. But they stopped short on other easy tie-ins that could have made the movie so much better:
- The story centers around a threat to the president, but we don't see any sign of a SHEILD response? Given their presence through all the other Marvel movies that's a real head scratcher.
- I thought the panic attacks were a nice touch given that you have a relatively newb-hero coming out of an alien invasion. But they could/should have tied that into Tony's drinking to make him a truly flawed hero. You see signs of his drinking in earlier movies and he could have easily been drunk instead during all those panic attack scenes. Alchoholism is such a major theme in the comics that its hard for me to believe we've gone three movies without touching on this.
- The War Machine/Iron Patriot was totally under utilized IMO. Great gag with the name and cool enough armor, but Rhodes in armor was pretty much useless. Yes, he saved the president, but basically just by flying away. How about having him come back to the fight at the end somewhere to help out!? They could have even made some reference to him with ties to SHIELD - maybe set him up to replace Iron Man on the Avengers if they want to go that route.
- I was really surprised to not see any ties back to other Marvel movies. A visit from Banner, a phone call to Cap, a date with the Widow...it was really strange not to see a cameo from one of the Avengers when they've done this in pretty much every Avengers related movie. Just another missed opportunity that made it feel less than what it could have been.
Still a fun movie and great addition to the Iron Man series. This movie had a sense of finality to it, but I hope we see lots more of RDJ's Stark down the road.