After immensely enjoying Robert Downey jr’s snark and saunter his way through The Avengers, I was greatly looking forward to a whole movie worth of him, but when Joss Whedon wasn’t involved, I actually felt like I could only expect so much. So while without him the zinger quotient was definitely lower, even so I was pleasantly surprised.
For one thing, the plot was much better than I’d gotten the impression it would be, with maybe a couple of developments one saw coming, but a number of twists and turns I at least didn’t, if only because I didn’t know anything about the original comic arc, and one which I don’t *think* anybody else did either. I’d especially been worried about potential stereotyping with the villain. Suffice to say it worked out. Suffice also to say it didn’t shy away either from the uglier parts of either the man or the country it nonetheless justifies our rooting for; Tony Stark continues to be a reflection of modern America, even if this wasn’t as strong a theme as it was in The Avengers. Unfortunately the ending doesn’t work quite as well as the rest of it, especially when you know it can’t stick, but such is very far from uncommon in this type of movie.
More surprising than the work put into the plot may be the work put into the characterization of Tony. It’s certainly not a common action sequel that acknowledges the character might have suffered psychological damage from the previous installment. In fact, the plot feeds the opportunities by making Tony lose his high-tech suit, allowing him the chance to accomplish things by his smarts instead, which feels much more impressive. He might not be as funny as he was, but he’s much more human. He’s not the only one who benefited either; this movie does a really good job with Pepper, both in terms of plot(especially during the climax!) and in her characterization. It even manages to more or less pass the Bechdel test.
There might still be a few things to complain about here and there, overly long action sequences and such(really, an obviously competent Colonel divulging classified information in the middle of a crowded public setting?!). But all in all? This is a good one.