Re-watched this one over the weekend, and it holds up better than I remember. Rourke’s villain is still over-the-top, and Rockwell’s industrialist is so sleazy and incompetent it’s hard to believe he’s in charge of anything, let alone a large company.
But overall this is a fun movie, despite dealing with heavier subjects, like Stark’s relationships with Pepper, Rhodey, and his mortality.
A few things could have been done to make this movie even better, though.
What Went Wrong
Because of the noise generated by the villains, the emotional beats can get lost.
At the end of the movie, we think that Pepper Potts is giving on being CEO, and Tony’s going to take over. This undermines the sense of Pepper as being the more competent of the two, and is misleading: Tony doesn’t return as CEO.
We also think his best friend stole one of the Iron Man suits just to punish Tony for getting drunk at his birthday party, which makes him seem petty and mean.
How to Fix It
During the fight between Rhodey and Tony at the birthday party, we need to hear Rhodey lecture Tony about his other lapses. We need a sense that this is the last straw for Rhodey, that Tony — because he’s dying — has been neglecting his duties as Iron Man. Getting drunk while in the suit at his party is just his latest shirking of responsibility to Rhodey, and it’s gotten bad enough that he finally just takes one of the suits, instead of waiting for Tony to step up.
For the Potts plotline, all we need is for Tony to talk about how good she is at the job. He can drop a compliment into his failed apology when he brings her the strawberries. The comment bounces off her anger, of course, and rightly so, but it’ll reinforce the idea that she’s the right CEO.
Then, on the roof scene, instead of offering to resign, Pepper should ask how *he* dealt with all the stress. She can talk about how it’s worse for her, since she has to worry about him, too, but she doesn’t even come close to quitting. Instead, this is a moment for Tony to support her emotionally, telling her she’s doing great, she’s better at it than he was, and she’ll make it through.
Small changes, but they’ll underline the emotional parts of the story, and strengthen what is already a good movie.