I’ve long been a fan of Iron Man, back in the days when he was a drunken fool that nobody really cared about. Then the powers to be at Marvel felt that he would be the perfect character to kick off their newly conceived Phase 1 of the Marvel cinematic universe. Marvel had a plan, one that would ultimately lead to the wildly successful Avengers, and it was a plan that worked extremely well. Though you’d have to wonder how well it would have worked had Iron Man been a dud at the box office.

Yet from day one it was clear that Marvel was confident that they could pull off a good story entailing Iron Man, so good that they signed Robert Downey Jr. to a three movie contract to play the millionaire playboy Tony Stark. Marvel had a lot at stake with the Iron Man movie, so they needed to ensure that they could get the best out of old shellhead.

Thankfully for Marvel, and the fans, the first Iron Man movie was a huge success. Iron Man finally received the credit he deserved. Now we’ve come full circle with the character, with three movies released and his participation in the Avengers movie, Tony Stark has been through the ringer as Iron Man… and it shows. The cracks in the armor have been made for all to see, and it’s a good thing. If someone’s been through as much as Stark has and doesn’t develop some issues then you need to be worried.

And that’s what Iron Man 3 focuses on, Tony Starks issues with being Iron Man. Right from the opening monologue, with Starks exposition into how he’s grown as a man and his penchant for developing enemies along the way. Stark has started to feel the weight of wearing the Iron Man armor. The events in the Avengers movie have taken their toll on Stark.  He can’t sleep, he gets anxiety attacks, he’s a mess. It’s nice to see the superhero that can’t hold his life together, despite having everything anyone could want.

For this go round, Stark faces off against two villains that fans of the comics will recognize, the somewhat lesser known Aldrich Killian, played by Guy Pearce, and a larger-than-life terrorist known as The Mandarin, played by the wonderful Ben Kingsley. Fans of the comics will be in for a bit of a surprise when it comes to the portrayal of  both characters in the movie. Killian receive a lot of screen time and takes on a role much larger than his appearance in the comics. For the Mandarin, he’s best described as a cross between Osama bin Laden and Fu Manchu, with the vocal styling of a Southern Baptist evangelist. The Mandarin is a worthy nemesis, an extravagant showman who can hack into broadcast feeds at will, and claims credit for a string of bombings across the United States. Kingsley’s performance is superb and will surely be remembered.

The backdrop for the story, while trying to remain spoiler free, is the creation of Extremis, a biological transformation that allows people to regenerate limbs immediately, making them extremely difficult to kill. But there’s a hitch, some individuals bodies cannot regulate Extremis and this in turn causes them to turn into a walking bomb. This creates the perfect device for terrorists, a bomb that leave no reside making it virtually untraceable. An incident at the TCL Chinese Theater, formerly known as Mann’s Chinese Theater, in LA leaves Starks friend and newly hired head of security at Stark Industries Happy Hogan, played by Jon Favereu, in a coma with sever burns. The Mandarin claims responsibility for the bombing, and this forces Stark to declare war on him.  This sets off a chain of events that brings Stark across country, all while having him search for the peace that’s been eluding him. To top things off, his now steady girlfriend Pepper Potts, played by Gwyneth Paltrow, has been kidnapped.

Director, and co-writer, Shane Black manages to create a fun and engaging story, but at the end you’re left with so many plots holes that you wonder if the Avengers ever took place. We know that S.H.I.E.L.D. is out there, tasked with protecting the United States, but when there’s a series of bombings going across the country and the President is being threatened yet they’re nowhere to be found. Stark embarks on an adventure where he’s out-manned and to an extent out-smarted yet he never bothers to call Captain America, or one of the other members of the Avengers that could surely help him. Yes the Iron Patriot, the re-branded Warmachine, has a role but you never get the sense that Colonel Rhodes, played by Don Cheadle, is as powerful as Iron Man. He plays more of the Robin to Batman role that he does an equal partner, which is a shame.

Yet despite the plot holes, it’s still a fun movie. Black and co-writer Drew Pearce know how to write snappy dialogue. And the big reveal during the third act really throws you for a loop, and brings in some humorous moments. To say more would be to spoil the fun. Iron Man 3 has plenty to offer, and to be honest you’re not really thinking about the plot holes during the movie. Instead you’re so focused on the superb action scenes and the story that everything else seems trivial. At the end of the movie you feel like it’s a fitting end to the Iron Man trilogy, but you get the notion that Marvel still has stories to tell when it comes to the old shellhead.

Oh and be sure to stay until the end of the credits for a fun scene.