Iron Man (the film) certainly portrays a different type of superhero. Sure, he has many similarities to Batman: rich, son of a notable man, his superpowers are whatever he can build with his endless supply of money. Bruce Wayne and Tony Stark are both billionaire playboys, although Bruce's persona is merely to distract others from realizing he's Batman and Tony Stark really seems to have never grown up. However, they differ greatly in how they go about saving the world.
While Batman loves fear, mystery, and darkness, Iron Man relishes in the flashy, the known, and the open. He's one of the very few superheroes who's willing to forgo a secret identity. While at first I thought this was just due to his egotistical mannerisms, when taken in context, I think it portrays the change he has come to embody in himself and his company. When he's captured in Afghanistan, he's forced to realize that he's not as great a guy as he thinks he is. He thought that by making the greatest weapons in the world, he would be keeping America safe. Little did he know that the terrorists have been almost exclusively using his weaponry, and that in fact, his weapons are causing the death of Americans, not saving them. He realizes that by making weapons, he's not necessarily protecting people, and that his company has no moral accountability for what they are doing. This is what he wants to change. It's not that he is against making weapons, or using them for that matter. His problem lies in manufacturing and selling weapons to anyone, with no one to answer to for the death they may cause. His father made weapons (it seems) to protect others, not make a profit. And when that line is crossed, Iron Man must step in.
It makes sense then that, so far, Iron Man's targets have been those who have wrongfully obtained his weapons and are using them to harm others. He's making himself and his company accountable by ensuring that the weapons aren't ending up in the wrong hands. If someone hands out weapons with his name on them, he's going to ensure that they are going where they were intended to be.
And it is for this reason that it makes sense for Tony Stark to publicly admit that he is Iron Man. He is making sure he is being held to the same standards he is holding his company to. He is making himself accountable to the people. He cannot hide behind a mask, he cannot run and hide and lay low for awhile. While a nameless superhero could not show up to work one day and no one could tell him otherwise, Iron Man will now forever be accountable to the people. His actions must be right, and he's asking people to make sure of it. Safety for himself and others (why most superheroes have secret identities) is something he will have to work out. But he definitely earns my respect for being willing to make sure that his actions truly are for the good of others. He carries the responsibility of his job 24/7.
The question I have at the end of the movie though is, does Tony Stark still exist? Or at least the Tony Stark we met at the beginning of the movie. It seems that when the movie ends, for Stark there is nothing but Iron Man. Iron Man is his new identity, the one that cleans up all the messes he's made as Tony Stark. I don't think there are two identities for Iron Man, which, again, explains why he can go public as a superhero when most cannot. He is Iron Man, and Iron Man is Tony Stark. He is a man who has no one in his life, and therefore has no one to keep "Tony Stark" for. Will he be able to only have Iron Man as his identity though... By becoming consumed by the superhero, will there be a man left? Will there be anyone left for Pepper to love? Or will she be left with a metal suit?