The prologue is admittedly very good. I love how it ties back to the first movie. It keeps a concurrent continuity and adds a rich backstory. It was something else seeing Yinsen again, definitely a great way to start out. Soon we head back to modern day where Tony has developed a way to 'summon' the armor to him. A fine invention, but can he handle the Mandarin's terror? Tony Stark spends most of his time out of armor, in fact, there's hardly any big action with him inside. Surprisingly Iron Man 2 had more satisfying action. But that's not the movie's main problem, it's the 'antagonist.' The big plot twist of movie is the realization that the man whom calls himself the Mandarin is actually not.
It's fair to say that the early scenes of the TV showing the ten rings symbol was pretty intense and well done. The Mandarin was portrayed perfectly as a terrorist threat. With lines such as "Some people call me a terrorist. I consider myself a teacher," he was turning out to be the greatest Iron Man film villain and one of the most memorable comic book movie antagonists. The scenes on the TV with his followers wiping out people felt real and gave you a bad feeling inside.
Then everything went out the window.
Let me ask you a question. Is it possible for a plot twist to be unexpected but not good? Or perhaps satisfying is the correct word. Nobody was expecting the Mandarin was actually just an actor named Trevor. This fake Mandarin is portrayed by Ben Kingsly, whom was doing a fantastic job as the antagonist in the beginning. But after the plot twist he becomes nothing but the biggest joke of the whole MCU. The acting is so over-the-top and not funny. Sure, one could argue this plot twist wouldn't matter to non-comic readers. But the fact remains that the screwed up Iron Man's greatest adversary. And I thought the worst enemy relationship between Red Skull and Cap in The First Avenger wasn't established that well. Here it's virtually nothing. We've waited three films for this, so that was a very disappointing factor.
Robert Downy Jr. once again plays the quirky Tony Stark. One might question him not knowing about the pistols Rhodey gave him, but other than that he steals the show once again. It was also nice to see a more 'human' side to him when it came to Pepper. Guy Pearce portrays Aldrich Killian, the true antagonist. He couldn't be more generic or dull. Sadly he is definitely the least memorable villain of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The Extremis part of the story worked for the most part. It was rather disappointing that the trailer made everyone think the armor would gain sentience, false advertising at his finest. We also have returning star Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper Potts. She has a pretty good role throughout, not to mention the awesome moment where she completely beat up Killian. Jon Favreau (director of the previous two films!) as Happy Hogan was definitely a highlight, despite only a few appearances. Don Cheadle returns as James Rhodes, aka War Machine. Definitely a fun character to have around, especially next to Stark. Then there's this kid called Harley. There really wasn't much point to him, not to mention the acting was pretty sub-par.
There were some pretty intense action-themed special effect sequences. The destruction of Tony's mansion was powerful. The finale isn't bad. I can't say it was as satisfying as any of the other MCU films. The soundtrack is pretty good, nothing special but alright. Something I do like is how the movie references The Avengers but doesn't go overboard like with the second entry. It has just a nice sprinkle of them with the best being when Happy called them the 'Super Friends.'
Overall, Iron Man 3 is what I call a true 'disappointment.' It's by no means a bad movie, it is enjoyable, but it's no where near the level of the first film. The true antagonist is unmemorable, and for longtime comic fans the Mandarin will be forever ruined. There's surprisingly little Iron Man action and the climax, while not bad, wasn't the greatest. I can only hope now that Marvel doesn't strike out with Thor and Cap.