Robert Downey Jr., left, as Tony Stark/Iron Man and Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper Potts star in "Iron Man 3."

Let’s just get right to it, no messin’ around. "Iron Man 3" is fabulous. Four stars. There, why make you wait? Right?

Everybody’s back for this movie — Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark/Iron Man, Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper Potts, Don Cheadle as Col. Rhodes, Jon Favreau as Happy Hogan and Paul Bettany providing voice for Jarvis, the computer. Add to all of that great talent a bevy of new characters that emerge from Tony’s wild and crazy past to haunt him and threaten the world.

“Iron Man 3” takes us back to 1999 and introduces us to Guy Pierce starring as Aldrich Killian, a brilliant young man who wants Tony to help him develop a “think tank” but is embarrassingly blown off. Then there’s Rebecca Hall as Maya, a genius in human genetics who finds herself simply a Tony Stark one-night-stand.

Now, back in modern time, Stark is struggling with insomnia, a manic desire to tinker all the time and even anxiety attacks. Even his beloved Pepper is having a hard time dealing with his demons. But everything is about to get worse as mysterious explosions begin to occur and a bizarre terrorist known as the Mandarin, played brilliantly by Ben Kingsley, is claiming credit and indicates it will all lead to a climactic attack that will include the president of the United States.

Tony makes a rash move and challenges the terrorist to come right to his doorstep. He even serves up his address. Remember the old adage, “Be careful what you wish for"?

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This film isn’t just loaded with great action; it’s loaded with heart and includes a real story, so I don’t want to give away too much. But I have to mention Tony’s relationship with a wonderful kid named Harley, played by Ty Simkins. Harley and Tony meet when Stark is at his most vulnerable and is struggling to figure out who the Mandarin is and his own role in creating this horror. Harley not only helps set the stage for Iron Man’s comeback but gives Tony fodder for some of his best, snarky one-liners. It’s golden.

You know my rules for a great sequel: familiar characters with new development, introduction of new compelling characters and the film has to be able to stand on its own. “Iron Man 3” delivers on all counts.

Oh, I almost forgot, be sure to stay through the credits. There’s a great moment right at the very end.

As I said at the very beginning of this review, “Iron Man 3” is fabulous, and I’m giving it four stars.