Since meeting his new chums in Avengers Assemble, Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr) has changed. In fact, everything has changed. All of a sudden, he lives in a universe in which people have real superpowers (unlike his, which derive from mechanical armour). His ego has taken a battering.
This is no bad thing. Iron Man 2 was a placeholder of a film, and the character's incessant quipping was losing its charm. But here, he expends more brainpower staying a step ahead of his foes than on snarky rejoinders. Even his sarcasm has a purpose: a defence mechanism, to deflect the sentimentality that weighs down so much mainstream Hollywood product.
Apart from a couple of minor editing glitches, the action is spectacular and as thrilling as anything Marvel has shown us to date. More importantly, it has weight and consequence. With sequels of this standard, the studio's ongoing project to translate the comics into film suddenly seems possible.