Tony Stark has always been a problematic superhero. Like Bruce Wayne, he is a playboy. One can also say, like Bruce Wayne, it is a mask which he uses. But unlike Bruce Wayne, it is a mask he uses to hide from himself his own weaknesses, his own pain. When his life for pleasure does not solve his inner demons, he takes on the booze, and the demons come out and make their way into his everyday life. This, for the most part, is what Iron Man II is about.
Yes, there is a Russian villain (“Whiplash”) who is angry at Tony Stark because he felt Tony’s father betrayed his father, causing him and his own family to suffer in Russia; but he is only a secondary character, used to help Tony have to come to terms with himself and to find a way out of the hell he has made for himself.
There is a good story in here somewhere. Sadly, it needed a bit more polishing up, especially with more humor mixed throughout the first two acts. Also, the resolution to his “demon in a bottle” sequence was far too easy in this, and it would have been better if it did not seem completely resolved by the end.
Outside of that one weakness, the end of the film felt exactly as it should. It got the right marks. The end fight, if it had been in the first, would have perfected it. Even though Iron Man wins, as one expects, one could also make an argument that Whiplash also got what he wanted out of Tony before he was beaten. He put a big dent in the Iron Man persona. Nick Fury is no longer sure Iron Man should be involved with “The Avengers.” Tony Stark has bled. It was needed for him, and yet it leaves him in a new position, one where only his long-term friends know it will take him (they suffered with him in this film, often finding themselves having to confront him because of his self-destructive ways).