Tony Stark experiences much needed character development, some stemming from what seem to be PTSD-induced anxiety attacks (stemming from the events of The Avengers-- I liked that coming-full-circle feeling), which made him more genuine and (surprisingly) more loveable, and some stemming from his devotion to Pepper, which is sweet without being syrupy or heavy.
And Ben Kingsley is fantastic as The Mandarin. The movie is worth seeing just for him. Happy is back, as is Brody, both of whom have some good screen time and witty repartee with Tony, and Pepper Potts enjoys some character development of her own. Paltrow is spot-on as always, and Robert Downey, Jr. just grows more adorable and human with each movie. He really is perfectly cast.
I don't want to say much because I don't want to give anything away, but I'm a bigger Iron Man fan than I was before. This movie has heart and a great story and amid the mayhem and destruction, a different kind of hope and courage surfaces. Some of what I expected happened, but overall this film was much more than I expected.
So go see it. And stay through the credits. Ya gotta love a Marvel end scene.
For my friends who want to know about naughtiness content, there are some verbal references to adult themes, but nothing graphic. It's cleaner than Iron Man 1, certainly.