Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Gwyneth Paltrow, Mickey Rourke, Don Cheadle, Sam Rockwell
Directed by: Jon Favreau
Film length: 2hr 4min
Theatrical Release: May, 2010
Blu-ray release: 2010
Iron Man 2 might be the most important film in the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe. With Thor and Captain America coming next, Marvel needed to show how Iron Man‘s success wasn’t a fluke. It speaks to how difficult it is to get the funding for these major motion pictures. You’d think it wouldn’t be after Iron Man made bank, but it can be. This is how we have the third film in the MCU be a direct sequel to the first with still two more main characters to introduce with their own solo films. It was very likely if Iron Man 2 didn’t deliver, the MCU might have died along with it. Fortunately Iron Man 2 kicked major bum at the box office, raking in $623.9 million Worldwide according to IMDB. But if Michael Bay’s career tells us anything, box office cash doesn’t equate to a quality film.
I remember liking Iron Man 2 a lot back when I first saw it while it was still a fresh rental at Blockbuster. Since then I have heard a few negative reviews by some. I kept my mouth shut about how I liked it since my Swiss cheese memory couldn’t recall why. Well, this fresh viewing has refilled my brain and now I can say why I like Iron Man 2.
The film (4/5)
“I don’t wanna join your Super Secret Boy Band.”
When the news of Tony Stark’s (Robert Downey Jr.) reveal that he is Iron Man reaches Russia, it catches the attention of Russian physicist Ivan Vanko (Mickey Rourke). Ivan recalls how his father worked with Tony’s father, Howard Stark (John Slattery), and begins building his very own arc reactor with the aid of some old blueprints.
Six months later, Tony is now in full control of Stark Industries, but he is much too distracted to run the company. Not only is his alter ego taking up his time, but the arc reactor implanted in his chest is beginning to slowly poison his blood. Convinced he will not find a cure before it is too late, he doesn’t tell anyone about his condition. He becomes reckless which is not helping his case against the United States Government who is attempting to take control of the Iron Man suit. They believe the suit is a powerful weapon that shouldn’t be in the hands of only one man.
As a distraction, he enlists himself to drive the car he sponsors at the Monaco Grand Prix, but it is here where he is confronted by Ivan on the racetrack. Ivan is using an arc reactor he built to power two electric whips. With this he becomes Whiplash, one of the rogues in Iron Man’s gallery. Iron Man is able to stop Whiplash, but not before his point has been made in front of the public. Tony’s technology can be copied to use against him and Iron Man is not invincible.
Ok, so Iron Man 2 does have some minor problems but it is far from poo. Let’s get the bad out of the way first. The one scene that left me puzzled both times I watched this is when Happy (Jon Favreau) drives a 2009 Rolls-Royce Phantom onto the racetrack, with Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) in the back seat, into Ivan’s legs. Not only is it a hokey premise, but the impact into Ivan should have crippled the man. I looked it up and Whiplash’s suit not only powers the whips but an exoskeleton as well. The movie doesn’t make any attempt to explain this.
The other scene that bothers me is when Tony and Rhodey fight. Rhodey (Don Cheadle) works for the US military and is under a lot of pressure to get one of Iron Man’s suits for them. He becomes annoyed instead of concerned with Tony, when Tony is obviously in some sort of funk. Rhodey decides to take off with the Mark II (AKA War Machine) suit right after slapping Tony around for a bit. This doesn’t sit right with me. It felt like it was something that wasn’t true to Rhodey’s character but it was convenient for the plot.
Other than that, this is a fun, well-paced action flick. Rourke, who was fresh off of the success of The Wrestler, brings the gold teeth, arm tatts, and greasy hair. His version of Whiplash looks like a bondage scene gone bad. Teaming him up with the greasy d-bag, Justin Hammer(Sam Rockwell) (who is in way over his head when competing with Tony for sweet government contracts) makes Ivan a growing threat as he gains the same amount of unlimited resources asTony has.
A large portion of the film is spent on setting up for The Avengers. Scarlett Johansson makes her debut as Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow. Her scenes were probably designed for her to steal the show and she pulls it off. We get even more Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) than we ever had before too. It is cool to see the building blocks of what will become The Avengers coming together.
Memorable Moments / What Stood Out to Me
Did you know that Senator Stern, played by the late great Gary Shandling, is named after radio icon Howard Stern? Screen writer Justin Theroux, Favreau, and RDJ are all huge Stern fans. If you a constant listener of the Stern Show like I am, Howard will remind you of this on a regular basis.
Tony’s 2010 Audi R8 Spyder
Look at it… so pretty… Tony uses it to drive to the coast and pick up strawberries. I need to buy a lottery ticket…
Bonus: Stan Lee cameo review! (4/5)
So far these Iron Man cameos have been home runs! This time Stan-the-Man plays Larry King! Suspenders and all! You only see him for a second or two but it is worth a verbal chuckle. Good times!
Special Features (5/5)
Jam-packed full of features. This is what you want from a Blu-ray. I’m just going to focus on some highlights or we will be here all day otherwise.
- Solid audio commentary by Jon Favreau. Time didn’t allow me to make it all the way through but I will go back and finish it.
- 30 minute doc on the making of the Iron Man 2 suit
- 20 minute doc on post production. Editing, film score, touch ups, etc. I found this most interesting since not many extras focus on this part of film making.
- Alternate opening with commentary
- A ton more featurettes, trailers, and even a music video for AC/DC’s Shoot to Thrill.
Perhaps Iron Man 2 hits the same notes as its predecessor one too many times, considering Tony’s character arc is almost a carbon copy from the first film. Maybe this had some fans… steaming… but I was entertained and had a good time. The effects are good and the action does payoff in the end. It did have a lot to live up to with Iron Man being a great film, so I guess I can’t fault the team too harshly for staying safe. Well, time to put the… irons in the fire and get working on Thor for next week!