The Comic-Con 2012 Marvel panel seemed really more like an 'Iron Man 3' panel from the start. It was previously announced that Marvel President Kevin Feige would be bringing some "special guests" to "provide an inside look at the ever-expanding Marvel Cinematic Universe."

The first act of Marvel's panel was red meat for the fans -- a victory lap reel of previous Hall H cons, announcements of upcoming projects and a glimpse at Edgar Wright's 'Ant-Man' footage. There were even references to Terrence Malick and John Byrne.

As Marvel producer Kevin Feige was mid-sentence, 70s R&B (Luther Vandross, to be precise) started pumpin'. I had noticed some strategically placed security folks and, wouldn't ya know it, down the hall, wearing an Iron Man glove, was Tony Stark. I mean, Robert Downey, Jr., I mean, Tony Stark. It's almost impossible to distinguish the two at this point.

Reaching the stage RDJ asked three questions: How much do I love you? How much do you love me? And how much do you want to see some footage?

With that, the lights dimmed. Here's what went down:

We're in the Stark Laboratories R & D labs. (We know this because it has a post-it note on the door.) All the Iron Man suits are there, and he's setting up one of his robot arms with a camera. It's time to try out his new "Extremis" tech, where he has some of his armor actually in his body, which gives him some remote access to other pieces of the armor.

He tells JARVIS to play some music -- "Christmas in Hollis'" by Run DMC (and, extra points, the LP cover of the MTV Christmas album is seen on Tony's worktable.) To these classic '80s beats, the shenanigans begin. Pieces of armor fly at Stark in a barrage of terrific physical comedy. He even gets nailed right in the Starks. Eventually, he's suited-up with the exception of his faceplate. It's there, across the room, hovering. Tony shows no fear and summons it (kinda like using the Force) and he does a crazy flip and lands in the classic Iron Man posture with a metallic thud.

Hall H goes bananas.

Then, the forehead of Happy Hogan. He and Stark are having a friendly fight over Skype and Hogan reminds him that, "I don't work for you, anymore." (This is, perhaps, a nod to the fact that Jon Favreau has handed the director's bullhorn to Shane Black.)

Hogan zings him some more about "being with the Superfriends" and "robot snakes coming out of buildings" when Stark reminds him that "we took care of that."

Then -- some flash images. Stark at home, wearing the suit on the couch. Pepper Potts kisses him with his faceplate down. Then, we see Guy Pearce, looking menacing in a business suit. Also: the red, white and blue War Machine.

Over the soundtrack we hear a voice saying, "Some people call me a terrorist, I consider myself a teacher." Then he says something to the tune of destroying all heroes.

With that, giant military helicopters appear outside of Stark's elaborate, mountain-hugging Malibu home and BLAM! Rockets are fired and it's destroyed. Stark's home is literally crumbling around him. Iron Man tumbles into the water and the music is blasting as this evil jerk (who IS that?) keeps talking about destruction.

After a title card (with the number 3 front and center) we cut to two folded hands festooned in rings. From the side we see a beard. Finally, Ben Kingsley as Osama Bin Laden. No -- not him. As The Mandarin.

The place went crazy, and with good reason. RDJ's comedy bits at the front were tremendous and the action looked sharp. I also really dug that I couldn't tell what the heck The Mandarin's accent was. He sounded like Sterling Hayden doing a Richard Nixon impression.

What followed was a typical Marvel Q&A love fest. Best was when Shane Black dissed 'Spider-Man 3' for being disorganized and when Favreau described acting in, but not directing, an 'Iron Man' film as like being a grandfather. "You don't have to change the diaper, but you get to play with the kids."

Don Cheadle said it took about 30 minutes to get into the suit, and Downey mentioned it only took him five. "Racism," he said, shaking his head. "Yeah, but your suit has bigger guns." Zing, zing, zing.

A fan asked if we'd be seeing Bruce Banner in this one and Feige dodged that. When asked if Downey would be appearing in any more 'Iron Man' films. He mentioned that he had only 'Iron Man 3' on his contract, then he'd see what Brinks Truck he could jump on.

'Iron Man 3' closed out an intense day in Hall H. When the lights came back I felt like I was drunk. Very much looking forward to this one.