Am I the only one who liked Iron Man 3 better than 2? Sure, they butchered the Mandarin, but at least the whole movie was memorable, and it was a good bookend to the 'who is Tony Stark' theme the trilogy ran with. Out of Iron Man 2, I remember the second bad guy had a pet bird, the first bad guy was lame as hell, and Tony was drinking spinach juice to stop the arc reactor from poisoning him. Or something.
Not the only one, but let me break down some of the real reasons why 3 sucked more than 2.
The villain's motivations were pure crap. At least in 2, the villain's reasons for wanting to destroy the Stark legacy were legit; Vanko blamed the Starks for his family's disgrace and squalid life. Whereas Aldrich Killian (totally wacked out adaptation of the character from the comics, should've been someone else entirely) was just a self-centered prick like Justin Hammer who, once again, steals the talents of someone else to suit himself. His use of Extremis was a potentially good idea but then they decided to let each and every one of his flunkies have the SAME GODDAMN POWERS as him making the entire thing a joke since nothing set him apart as special from his bottom-level nobodies. It was harder to kill him than most of the others, but that's never explained. Not to mention the exploding, that was never part of the Extremis story in the comics, and a lot of the rest of their powers were a total ass-pull. Following the Extremis storyline more closely would have improved things vastly. I know they want to avoid doing that to such a great degree but if it helps improve the quality of the film, I say do it.
Here's another thing many people will overlook: Misuse of other named characters from the Marvel universe. That one female Extremis user played by Stefanie Szo...something, was called Brandt. Now, from what I read on Wiki she's supposed to have been something of a good guy and connected to some other major characters owned by Marvel. So instead of being a bridge into the ever-expanding Marvel Cinematic Universe to some other potential movie characters, she's a bitchy throw-away character. The other was Chen Lu, or simply Dr. Lu in the movie was he was referred to once, but in the comics he's the Radioactive Man, another supervillain who could have proved a valuable underling/bodyguard for the Mandarin. Instead he's just another Extremis dork who didn't even get to have his own fight or even a memorable defeat/death. His taking on Tony before confronting the Mandarin (the REAL Mandarin, had they not gone with their ridiculous farce) could have been a great reason for letting the Mandarin get away to fight another day, something they haven't (intentionally) done in any of the other movies which nearly always end in the bad guy being killed or imprisoned or giving the impression that that's what happened. Once again, a total failure of the story to flow well because of this feeble attempt to cram in more Easter Eggs but with no substance.
The ending (I should save this for last, but fuck it, I'll probably need several posts for this) was appalling. The Iron Legion was the most orgasm-inducing feature of the trailer and what did it amount to? The Hulkbuster Mark I (leading up, thankfully, to the real one in A2AoU) just held up a falling crane which doesn't seem possibly anyway if you think about it, it would have just gotten crushed itself if we care about physics at all enough to ignore the Arc Reactors but not ignore everything else. The rest were not inventive nor imaginative and got no time to show anything really impressive. This would have shown how kick-ass Jarvis was at controlling all of them and made us more excited for the Vision. Instead we are left wondering just how effective he will be controlling an actual drone body of his own, as is my understanding. Then there's the whole "Pepper has to completely emasculate Tony yet again by killing the bad guy for him because he's too pathetic to do this on his own AGAIN just like in the first movie because for some reason, they couldn't just hook him up to something inside the Arc Reactor facility and recharge his chest reactor so he can actually pummel Iron Monger on his own." This should have been called "Tony Stark's mid-life crisis adventure where his friends save his butt over and over again." Did I mention yet the fact that he blew up all his suits? Why the FUCK would you do that when they've proven to be the most effective thing at combating large groups of superpowered bad guys (we just weren't lucky enough to witness it, apparently) that you probably wish you had during the Avengers? If Pepper really loved you she'd support your habit and put the good of the world first, just like Tony was trying to. How selfish of BOTH of them, losing major respect points. And then at the very end, Tony getting rid of his Arc Reactor, completely negating there ever having been a problem in Iron Man 2 if it was that easy, and giving up his whole Iron Man schtick, only to appear again in the Avengers sequel. Make up your fucking mind, Tony! Shane Black should never be allowed to touch another film again, ever.
The Mandarin is supposed to be Iron Man's greatest nemesis. He's supposed to have 10 rings fueled by alien technology that give him incredible powers. Can you imagine a better way to, if they insisted on keeping this, have all of the Iron Legion devastated for a good cause? How about having the Mandarin cut them all down with his various ring powers while Tony tries to figure out a way to attack without falling prey to one of them. Then, if overwhelmed or depowered somehow (I thought it would be fun to see one of his hands cut off by a blade/sword-themed Iron Legion suit, thus halving his rings and power) he could escape and live to fight another day instead of just dying or being imprisoned like both Killian and that appalling travesty Ben Kingsley shamed himself into playing were, respectively. Now they are trying to play it off like, "Oh, there's a real Mandarin" in that one-shot, but it's too fucking little, too fucking late. The substitute(s) for the real one were horrendously inadequate and that's not okay. Their powers weren't even a good match-up for Iron Man, and Tony didn't even undergo an Extremis treatment like he did in the comics to integrate with his armor. Which leads me to what for today will be my final point.
That trailer wrote a check its butt couldn't cash. Instead of seeing Tony mastering control over his machines with just his mind, he's controlling things with remote devices, and the actual time he does summon the pieces onto himself, he is basically made into a clown, so we're laughing AT him instead of with him. The only other time we ought to have been able to do that was when he first tried to use his rocket boots without the rest of the suit in the first movie. The Mandarin was so ever-present in the trailer, most of his dialogue seemed absent from the actual film. I actually got chills from some of it, and to not see him as the real deal was unforgivable. Plus if they did ever bring the "real" Mandarin on later, who's going to play him? They've officially fucked themselves because Ben Kingsley can't play the real deal now. It's too late. Who better than him, honestly? Wasted opportunity. Also it made his Iron Legion suits look totally effective and we barely got to see any of them in action, and the ones he himself used were pitifully ineffective.
Oh, almost forgot. Little kid sidekick, a true sign of authorial desperation. I think Avengers proved that you don't need to coddle children to get big numbers, so why with the tweenage dingus who added nothing to the story? They did that crap in Ghost Rider 2 and, while that wasn't the overall reason it sucked, it didn't make things any better. Same thing with Punisher War Zone. When are these Hollywood people going to learn? Let's hope we never see that brat again even though he signed a multi-picture contract.