I finally saw Iron Man 3 this weekend. My friends have been raving about it for a month and now I know why. It's fantastic! I'm still on the fence as to whether it's better than the first, but man, does it blow the second out of the water. I know I'm probably one of the last people in the US to see it but just in case...
The pacing of this movie was, for the most part, right on. The story moved quickly and things that needed to be foreshadowed were without bringing the narrative to a dead stop. The action sequences were top notch, both in regard to the storytelling and the special effects. It had just enough humor, Pepper got to kick ass, Tony had to pay for past sins, and it had a spectacular red herring (I love me a good red herring).
The best elements, in my opinion, were in regards to Tony's PTSD. With a conflict as FUBAR as New York was in The Avengers, someone on the team was bound to get it and there's no reason why it wouldn't be Tony. He has the least experience with weird, life threatening alien stuff. Watching him deal with those issues throughout the film grounded it in reality and made the regenerating/exploding people easier to accept. The kid was also a brilliant addition. His innocence, and uncomplicated view of the world was exactly what Tony, and coincidently the story, needed to help Tony see past the trauma and what he couldn't do so he could regroup and use the assets he did have. That never would have happened without the kid.
There were a couple things that I wish were explained a bit better. One of them being the mark 42. When Tony put the suit on Pepper I assumed that he'd already implanted the ID chips in her body under some sort of security protocol ruse. When he put the suit on the Mandarin, that theory was thoroughly defenestrated. I get why they did it. 42 was a handy solution for those perilous moments when Tony had to do something incredibly clever to save his (and Pepper's) ass. I just wish they had laid a clear foundation for what the suit's requirements were for transfer. I can only hope that a deleted scene will demystify the mark 42.
Another element that bothered me was the regeneration aspect of the DNA modification. If it can regenerate lost limbs, why then would it not repair permanently damaged and discolored skin -- A.K.A. tattoos? The Mandarin's tattoos were cool, but there was no reason for them to be there.
Of course both of these faults are nit-picky, "show me the science" stuff and no one goes to a Marvel movie for the science. We go for the "Hulk smash" moments and to see our favorite heroes and heroines on the big screen. In that regard, this movie is full of win. I applaud the scriptwriters on a job well done. They delivered what we ultimately wanted while answering the questions that needed to be answered to move the overarching story along.