Not much to add today. I hope you all go check out my latest Top Ten: The Best Comic Book Movies. It’s obviously relevant to this movie. Let’s not beat around the bush.
Iron Man 2 (2010)
Starring: Robert Downey Jr, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Don Cheadle
Directed By: Jon Favreau
2008’s Iron Man hit the big screen and became the surprise action hit of the year. Robert Downey Jr, despite his talent, was not a proven commodity. The Iron Man character is considered second tier (behind the likes of Spider-Man and the X-Men). So much so that he led the West Coast Avengers while Captain America led the original incarnation. What happened was more or less a perfect storm of awesome. Downey Jr was born to play Tony Stark and the movie itself was so different from anything that came out before it, left audiences wanting more.
We start out with audio of how the first one ended: with Tony Stark announcing he is Iron Man. This doesn’t sit well with certain people, including: arms competitor Justin Hammer (the always great Sam Rockwell), jealous Russian scientist Ivan Vanko (the superb Mickey Rourke), and Senator Stern (the hilarious Garry Shandling) who wants Stark to turn over the technology to the government. Stark is fine with his alter-ego being known. In fact it boosts his already enormous ego. What he isn’t okay with is the fact people are trying to take his creation away from him.
What follows is an amalgam of the Iron Man stories “Armor Wars” and “The Demon in the Bottle.” The first part is Hammer’s part of the story, who will do anything to get his hands on Stark’s technology (including allying himself with Vanko). The second part is seeing Tony go to the bottle for self-medication rather than discussing things with others. This is something that is much more further explored on the comic, but we do see alcoholic tendencies in Tony here and we see that perhaps his father had the same issues.
Along the way, we reunite with Tony’s best friend Jim Rhodes (Cheadle taking over the role from Terrence Howard), the new CEO of Stark Industries Pepper Potts (Paltrow), and her new assistant Natalie Rushman (Scarlett Johansson) who is definitely more than she appears to be. The idea, of course, is to find out whether or not Tony is man enough to wear the suit even when things are down for him. Can he harness his intellect, come to grips with some daddy-issues in time before the very thing that’s keeping him alive ultimately kills him?
While the plot is a wanders around at break neck speed, it is the performances that keeps it all together. Downey Jr is outstanding again as Tony Stark, a character who’s past clearly mirrors his own. Cheadle does a fine job as Rhoadey (and as War Machine). Rockwell and Rourke make a great duo of foils for Stark. They play off each other extremely well; opposites attract for evil means sort of deal. Not to mention are much better defined than Obadiah Stane. Johansson looks absolutely stunning as the never named Black Widow, beats up a good chunk of bad guys, and holds her own with everyone involved. Paltrow is back and the chemistry with Downey Jr is still there. If anything, there wasn’t enough banter between the two, but there is a great payoff toward the end.
A good amount of time is dedicated to the upcoming Marvel Studio movies. It’s such a cool thing that they’re able to develop a continuity with each other. Samuel Jackson returns as the mysterious Nick Fury, who’s still trying to bring the pieces together for the Avengers Initiative. We don’t really see what it’s about yet, but we’re given clues along the way. An example is Captain America’s shield seen in the first Iron Man makes another appearance here. The hardest part to understand is where the movies fit. I know The Incredible Hulk comes after both Iron Man movies, but where does Thor fit? Is it safe to assume that Captain America will be both the first and last parts before The Avengers?
It’s not really for this movie to say, though. It’s just another stepping stone in that direction. While a lot of the general public may not fully understand everything going on, they will get that the shield has significance. Or better yet, that THE SCENE FOLLOWING THE CREDITS is a big deal. If that isn’t a hint to stick around and watch, I don’t know what is.
Bottom Line: Iron Man is back in a big way. Robert Downey Jr carries the movie, which does have its faults, through sheer will of personality. He seems to have great chemistry with everyone he encounters on screen, most notably with Gwyneth Paltrow. This is a sequel that may not be outright better than the original, but it’s every bit as entertaining and good. The Marvel Universe is shaping up quite nicely on the silver screen and Iron Man is right in the middle of it all.
I’ll be back again on Monday with a review. I can’t quite remember what I have from Netflix, but it’ll be one of those DVDs for sure.
Have a great weekend everyone!