The Old Mixer wrote:
I'm going to blaspheme here...I liked IM2 better. The story was a more relevant follow-up on the first film, dealing with the consequences of Tony's actions in that film. Here, the only hook to what had gone on before was the Mandarin, and they didn't even bother to drop a line of dialogue to make the connection with the terrorists in the first film. To the average viewer, this was for all appearances a new villain who came out of nowhere.
No blaspheme. Some of us actually prefer IM2. We understand the alchololism metaphore, we understand the bottoming out, we understand the need for a relationship with his father, we understand the role of S.H.I.E.L.D. in the Iron Man mythos. We understand the appeal of Scarlett Johansen in tight Kevlar.
IM 1, Jeff Bridges/Stane was probably the strongest villian, with a charismatic, believable villain who had a strong connection to Tony that was well integrated into the plot.
IM 2, Rourke was under utilized, but the story made logical sense. Rockwell/Hammer was a great secondary antagonist and is underappreciated.
IM 3, Killian is just a poor mashup of Rourke and Rockwell, he doesn't add anything, he just replaces villians that were already defeated.
In the first two films, Tony is is his own villain. In the third, we lose this motif. Fine. We don't, however, replace it with anything. There is no compelling reason for Tony to wander alone with nothing but some building store home made IED's, but he does it because, well, all of us geeks would love to believe we could do that.
What the movie loses from the first two is that Tony isn't facing down himself. It tries. The PTSD anxiety attacks try to be the inner demon he must face down. The problem is, unlike the first two films, the story doesn't rely on Tony's inner demon to move forward. Take away PTSD and you still have the same movie. It isn't integral to Tony's character development. He doesn't have to defeat this, in the way he had to defeat his own issues to grow into a hero in the first two films.