Iron Man 3 was absolutely fantastic. The change in directors does mean there's some difference in style. Shane Black loves a bit of narration and has different taste in music than Jon Favreau. (I missed the classic rock.) But there doesn't seem to be any animosity in the changeover. In fact, Favreau's role as bodyguard Happy Hogan was expanded.
But perhaps the biggest change in Iron Man 3 is that it's not all about Tony Stark. (Although, in the end, it is.)
Much like Favreau, Don Cheadle gets a bigger part to play. I'm am fully in favor of that, because Cheadle is terrific as Colonel Rhodes. He's a good guy, but not a boring one. And when given more screen time, Cheadle imbues Rhodey with enough of a sense of fun that you believe he and Tony Stark could be best friends.
And speaking of cast chemistry, Gwynth Paltrow continues to have tons with Robert Downey, Jr. Her Pepper Potts is competent, compassionate, forgiving, but not a pushover. She's firm and has zero time for b.s. from her boyfriend or monologuing villains. I don't care how you feel about Paltrow; I can't imagine anyone else in the role.
Same goes for RDJ, who really plays up Tony's vulnerability after sacrificing himself in The Avengers. He's faced tough situations before, but deliberately choosing to die really did a number on his psyche. It leads to some great scenes when Tony teams up with a kid who can't keep his mouth shut around a real live superhero.
Of course, summer blockbusters and superhero films are all about the big fight scenes. Iron Man 3 lives up to any expectations I had on that count. The final battle is kinetic and visually delightful and still allows for some nice character beats. I would've left the theater with a smile on my face even if the falling action wasn't just as terrific.
Iron Man fans, don't miss this one. And, like all Marvel films, be sure to stay till after the credits.