The build up to the climax includes Stark’s capture, the dawning realization that Dr. Killian is really the Mandarin, the killing of Maya by Killian, Killian showing that Pepper has been made a part of the human bomb squad and Stark’s flight to freedom using his remote controlled Mark-42 (ah 42)! Even his breakout from the dungeon in a semi Iron Man suit looks awesome and in some ways funny. Especially when the last of the henchmen says something like I don’t like the guys who employed me. They’re weird and runs away!
The climax happens with the President tied up in the Iron Patriot suit hanging high up. It is here that the director excels by giving us the pleasure of watching the backup team performing. There is no dearth to large scale destruction and objects going boom. Every single evil honcho is taken down in style by the army of Iron Men remotely assembled by Jarvis.
When Stark eventually locates Pepper he appears to be a bit too late and this fuels his anger. He then has a showdown with the real Mandarin where he is more or less defeated. He manages to gain the upper hand momentarily when Mark-42 is summoned (again remotely) only to be broken to pieces by taking one wrong step (which ironically appears funny, given the situation)!
But Stark has the last laugh when he manages to get the armor around Killian and gets it to blow. But even this does not stop Killian. We are eventually shown that Pepper is alive (as she now carries the same sci-fi tech as Mandarin’s men). She now becomes targeted by Jarvis (based on her heat pattern) much to the chagrin of Stark. But she doesn’t lose her bearings and manages to grab a piece of Iron Man suit to finally destroy Killian for good.
Stark and Pepper reunite and he promises her to start everything from scratch. With this we’re shown all the Iron Man suits are destroyed (quite a firework show). Stark is as good as his word and gets Pepper and himself fixed (medically that is), cleans up his lab and begins a new life.
This climax leaves us wondering if this is the last Iron Man movie we will get to watch. But as the very last dialogue goes They may take away my armor. They cannot take away who I am. I am IRON MAN!
Here’s my rating for Iron Man 3 (2013):