Galley Friend B.W. sends along this WaPost piece on Iron Man. It's as much about the property as it is the movie. A couple thoughts:
The reporter makes the case that Iron Man is a second-tier hero, closer to Thor than Spider-Man. I'm not sure I buy that. In recent years, Iron Man has assumed a larger and larger role in the Marvel universe; being one of the two main protagonists in Civil War, being the center (we think) of Secret Invasion; being the center of the very popular Ultimates and having his own very well regarded Ultimate Iron Man. If anything, I'd argue that Iron Man has become Marvel's ubiquitous hero, sort of their Batman and Superman rolled into one.
I'm not quite sure why this is. In part, I think it's because the internet and nanotechnology have, as plot devices, radically transformed the character's powers in the comics. Iron Man can now have whatever powers or abilities a writer needs him to have in any given situation. This makes him easier to write and quite useful as a plot center. But I'd also argue that it makes him a little boring. Heroes need well-defined limits of their abilities in order to maintain dramatic tension.
(Of course, maybe this was all long-range planning on Marvel's part to puff the character up leading to the debut of their first solo movie effort as a studio?)
12 hours ago