I preface this by saying that I was expecting something...greater...when I heard that the villain in this movie would be the Mandarin - Iron Man's traditional arch-nemesis. It usually requires more story dexterity and depth than the ordinary superhero film when the arch-nemesis appears. As of 2013, Christopher Nolan's Batman series with its Heath Ledger-iteration of the Joker sets the bar pretty high. Iron Man 3 did not meet these standards and, even more sadly, fell far below them insofar as it did not deal at all with the psychology of Iron Man or the Mandarin in any memorable detail. Rather, what we got was a funnier and more internally-consistent version of The Expendables. Lots of fire, overly dramatic wisecracks (my favorite over-the-top moment was an analogy between fortune cookies and America by the villain), explosions, glowing innards, and fighting robots - not a whole lot of story.
I give this by way of preface because, despite all this, Iron Man 3 was an enjoyable movie. This iteration tells the story of Tony Stark, the playboy millionaire who is Iron Man, now experiencing something of a mid-life crisis, replete with anxiety after his escapades in space from the other Marvel movie, the Avengers. In the process of trying to overcome this crisis, a super-villian calling himself "the Mandarin" appears with the intent of terrorizing the world populace. With some affinity for the dramatic ("I am a teacher" he says, showing scenes of his suicide bombers and so forth), the Mandarin eventually hits too close to home for Tony Stark and leads to Tony belligerently lashing out against him. As expected, Tony's crises get writ large and the story becomes how Mr. Stark eventually overcomes his anxiety.
So, all things together, Iron Man 3 was creative, funny, and entertaining. It had action scenes that were interesting and a story line that, while not phenomenal, kept your attention. Robert Downey Jr. continues to grow in his comfort as Tony Stark, as do the other stable characters of the series. His wisecracks are getting more fluid, for one. Further, the twists of the story themselves were original and creative in their own fashion. It just wasn't as good as it could have been. And therein lies the rub.
My Rating: 6.0 out of 10.