When you've spent months waiting for it, and Twitter is awash with people wondering why the Press screenings came with iron-clad embargoes, part of you fears that maybe you've built things up too much. Maybe you should learn the lessons of The Phantom Menace and The Hobbit.
Or maybe you should learn to trust some studios.
Because if Marvel (and now Disney) have proved one thing in the past few years, it's that they are taking great care with their babies. And they are delivering on every level. (Shush. Hulk made his debut in Avengers. No other film of him exists anywhere. AT ALL. Got that? Good.)
Which brings us to Iron Man 3, a film I had to see in 3D because I couldn't be bothered waiting for the third screening of the day. But I'll come to this later. First, let's enjoy the film.
As Robert Downey Jnr explained in the run up to Iron Man's release, they've set the story in a post-Avengers world - meaning they don't have to spend time explaining who Tony Stark is and how he comes to jet about the place in a metal suit. A possibly risky strategy you might think, but given that the world and his cat saw Avengers at least twice it's a minimal one. If this film manages to be seen by someone who hasn't seen Avengers, the world will probably stop spinning.
The story this time around focuses on The Mandarin (Ben Kingsley in one of his finest roles), a Bin Laden-esque character who is waging war on America, with bombs going off left, right and centre and TV networks being hacked so he can spread his message of fear and tyranny.
Also knocking about are a botanist with a grudge (Rebecca Hall) and a scientist no one took seriously when they had the chance (played by a wonderfully sinister and slick Guy Pearce). He also carries a torch or two for Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow), and who can blame him? Most male Iron Man fans (and, I suspect, a portion of the female contingent) can't see what she sees in the billionaire playboy philanthropist Stark when we're all available.
And back for a second fly-past is Don Cheadle, now badged the Iron Patriot - War Machine being judged too antagonistic by focus groups. Fortunately, we're far enough down the line to stop making comparisons with Trevor Howard (who played James Rhodes in the first Iron Man before having a hissy fit) and he's now clearly made the part his own.
The story stands up to scrutiny too. Where Iron Man 2 was muddled, 3 allows the characters to drive the story rather than filling in the gaps between set pieces. Which is great, because we get a decent plot with twists, turns, double-crosses - all the stuff you want in an intelligent blockbuster. By allowing us to get to know the people, director/co-writer Shane Black allows us to actually invest emotionally in the characters, so when stuff happens (and it does - a lot) we actually care and feel something. No one was saying that about Iron Man 2, sadly.
It helps as well that the story is rooted in reality, as it were. In a world where billionaires can build their own flying suits, it's easy to go a bit mad with the bad guys (again, see Avengers) - but a global terror threat is something everyone can get on board with, not just comic book devotees.
But it's the emotional punch this film packs that is perhaps the biggest surprise - and its biggest asset. There were several occasions where I suddenly realised I was holding my breath, or had leant further forward in my seat, and these moments creep up on you. They are handled with a wonderful subtlety that adds to the whole. And the music is well placed (this is becoming something of a bug bear for me, but then after Lincoln...) even if there is no AC/DC this time around.
Part of that punch comes from showing Stark's fragility. He stared into the abyss in Avengers and damn-near died, so it's to the Black's credit that this is recognised. Stark's human after all. And we love him all the more for it.
Sure, it's a darker film than any of its predecessors (and that's not just because of the 3D glasses), but that's not to say this is serious. It's still an Iron Man film, and so comes with an expectation for sarcastic quips and humour to deflect tension - and we get both. On several occasions the whole cinema erupted in laughter, including the after-credits sequence.
There's lots I want to say about the characters and story, but so well written is this instalment of the franchise I can't without giving stuff away. Go see it, then we can go down the pub and discuss it over a pint or three. Deal? Good.
It's not a short film, a shade over two hours I think, but you really don't notice (as proven by the fact I can't remember). This is a film that straps you in and hits the gas.
Of course, there are quibbles. I'm like that, it's what I do. For a start, no AC/DC this time round. Two things wrong with this - one, Back In Black kind of became Stark's theme tune, and b) they have a song called War Machine. What more could a sidekick ask for?
Then there's the 3D. Now, the light-loss issue is not a problem here, so that's one pitfall avoided. But it serves no purpose whatsoever. It adds nothing to the story or the filming (which looks fantastic by the way - should probably have mentioned that earlier...). There's no 'wow' factor with it as there was with Avengers. A fact driven home by the trailers for Monsters University, Epic and Star Trek Into Darkness - all trailed in 3D and look amazing. It's the one point Iron Man 3 falls down on.
Still, if that's all you've got to moan about, then I think we can say the film is a hit. The emotions are played with, the eyes are dazzled, the funny bone is tickled, and you come out on a high. Call that a win, no?