Anyone that knows me personally also knows that I haven’t shut up about this truly massive cinematic event. The first one was incredible, changing the way I thought about how superhero movies should be, because Iron Man was simply that: a man. Granted, it was a man who had billions of dollars and the knowledge of Hawkins and Einstein combined, but there was nothing “extraordinary” about him: he wasn’t bitten by a radioactive spider or the result of failed experiments. In a way then, he is Marvel’s Batman. But this is starting to get a little too nerdy for casual readers, so I will just get on with the review.
Starting almost instantly where IM1 finished, Iron Man 2 introduces the villain instantly, in the form of Mickey Rourke (or ‘That scruffy guy from The Wrestler‘, according to one particular person) as Ivan “Whiplash” Vanko. He has beef with Tony Stark, obviously, because he claims that his father was the one who was the brains behind the Arc Reactor that powers the suit and is keeping Tony alive. He has a point though; the original blueprints do include his name, so it’s kinda hard to argue with his anger. But Ivan is a calculated criminal; instead of totally insane and building a huge suit that isn’t really that effective (looking at you, bald Jeff Bridges!), he painstakingly recreates the Reactor according to the prints that his father made; which is perfectly timed, as Stark has to defend the uses of the suit, and argue that it’s not a weapon but a form of defense. He assures America that no one will recreate what he has done for at least 10 years. Lo and behold, Whiplash completes his in time for the Monaco Grand Prix, setting up the first action set piece. Admittedly, this is overdue, but definitely worth the wait. The carnage is incredible, and you really get the impression that Iron Man may have actually met his match. Although a lot of this scene is shown in the trailer, you really need to see it in its full glory to get the idea. Vanko ultimately gets thrown into jail, but “escapes” after weapons manufacturer Justin Hammer (Sam Rockwell) sees potential in Vanko’s expertise. He hires him to create a line of robotic soldiers that will use the arc reactor to power them. The two combine to become a powerful enemy to Stark, who is battling other… internal problems. As for the main narrative, that pretty much covers it. But there are a few subplots that I don’t want to spoil here.
All the original cast from the first are here; Downey Jnr, Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper Potts and Terrence Howa… oh he got replaced? By Don ‘Cardboard’ Cheadle? Good job he spends most of his screen time in a metal suit.
The same can’t be said for Robert Downey Jnr (or RDJ as he likes to be called. By me. Personally.) who is once again excellent as Stark. It is no secret that I love RDJ, as an actor of course. His diversity for roles is almost unparalleled: only Ben Kingsley is a notable comparison for white actor who plays a black character so well. The timing of his one liners is excellent, but what did annoy me was the bickering between Potts and Stark. It was just about bearable in Iron Man, but here they rarely talk in turn; they’re usually talking at the same time in every. Single. Scene. I know, it’s “how their characters are with each other”, but still doesn’t stop it from irritating me. Also, the friendship between Stark and Rhodey seems to have been lost, making it seem a little spontaneous when he finally gets in the suit to become War Machine. This isn’t the only occasion of spontaneity: most of the action scenes just come from nowhere, at breakneck bursts only to slow down again. That is, until the final scenes which are the best I’ve seen this year. The showdown between the ‘robots’ and Iron Man/War Machine combo was everything I was hoping for, and the reason I’d been hyping the movie up to my friends for months. Part of me felt like the build up was weak, but who cares? The payoff is incredible.
Iron Man 2 was high on my list of movies I was looking forward to this year; possibly even at the top. It didn’t fail to deliver, but at the same time it wasn’t the instant classic I had conjured up in my mind. Even I don’t know what I was expecting, so don’t look too far into this negative. If you only go to see one movie this month, I’d highly recommend it to be this.
Subject to change every week.