Iron Man 2 (2010)
Plot: After revealing himself to the world as Iron Man, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) is a hero to the American people. Unfortunately he must deal with a rival weapons manufacturer (Sam Rockwell), a Senator (Garry Shandling) who wants the Iron Man weapon handed over to the military, and most dangerous of all, a Russian weapons designer (Mickey Rourke) who wants revenge on the Stark name.
Iron Man 2 is a frustrating movie. All the elements are here for an awesome superhero film, but it’s plagued with so many little problems that could have easily been fixed, ultimately hindering it from what it’s capable of achieving. What’s really annoying is they actually fix the problems that were wrong in the original, but the stuff I liked in the first movie is made worse. First off, Iron Man 2 actually has villains…and really good ones. Mickey Rourke is thrown into the franchise as Ivan Vanko/Whiplash, a character completely driven by revenge, an element we’ve seen a hundred times before, but Rourke really makes this work with his performance. We also get Justin Hammer, a douchey rival weapons manufacturer played brilliantly by the one and only Sam Rockwell. He’s so slimy and dickish, and Rockwell is not only funny as the character, but still presents himself as a big threat. The scene where Hammer pitches his weapons to Rhodey is priceless, especially when he explains his ultimate device, ‘the ex-wife.’ The first meeting between Hammer and Ivan is also really well done. The villains are easily the best part of the movie. Another new non-villain character is Scarlett Johansson who goes by 20 names during the film, but I’m just going to call her Black Widow. She’s bad ass, and has great chemistry with Robert Downey Jr. Director Jon Favreau also does a good job of making the science heavy scenes look cool, like in the opening montage where Ivan is building his Whiplash suit, or when Tony is working on his new power device towards the end.
Now let’s get to the not so good stuff. I didn’t like Robert Downey Jr’s performance. Yea, I said it. This is not his fault though, but rather the script and directing. He’s just way too much of an asshole for me to like him. In the first movie, he’s a likable dick, but in this, I just hated him. He didn’t seem as funny, and he kind of comes off as pathetic, especially in that horrendous drunken brawl scene with Rhodey…don’t worry, we’ll get into that later. I disliked him so much that I almost found myself rooting for the villains: that’s kind of a problem in a superhero movie. The scenes with him and Gwyneth Paltrow though are an even bigger issue. They are way too flirty, and way past the point of just annoying. It’s excruciating. I also wasn’t crazy about Jon Favreau’s character Happy having a bigger role. His character is just a goofball. And that leads me to my biggest complaint of the whole movie. IT’S WAY TOO JOKEY! Tony Stark sits in a giant donut hung-over in his Iron Man costume…COME ON! Cut me a break. If superhero movies want to be taken seriously, that shit needs to stop. And aside from all the jokes, Tony Stark is only Iron Man in two scenes…two! Now granted those scenes are really good, but still. Tony has this awesome fight with Whiplash on the Monaco race track, and the climactic battle at the end is also pretty insane. But even in these battle scenes, we still get flirty Tony Stark and shitty jokes. And this goes on during the actual fights! In the big emotional final battle with Whiplash, we get a dud missile that farts on impact…A FART JOKE! It’s so infuriating! I really hated Rhodey in this movie too. He has some truly horrific lines, and it’s always during serious moments. I also wish the music was a lot better. Superhero movies need good scores, and this is not one of them. It’s just grungy rock music that takes away the seriousness even more. Ultimately, the good stuff in Iron Man 2 is really good, but the bad stuff is really bad. It’s worth seeing, but I think a better director could have taken this to much better places.
Rating: 6 out of 10 (‘meh’)
Category Rankings (Spoilers Throughout):
Best Performance: Mickey Rourke as Ivan Vanko/Whiplash
-What I like about his performance is that Rourke plays such a cliché villain, yet I found his character the most intriguing. That’s truly a case where the performance elevates the material that is written.
Worst Performance: Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper Potts
-I think it’s more so that I just don’t like this character and find her rather irritating. She’s always angry and pissed off about something. I also don’t think her and Robert Downey Jr. have any chemistry, making the flirty scenes that much worse.
Best Line: “If you could make God bleed, then people will cease to believe in him.” –Ivan Vanko to Tony Stark
-That’s a pretty solid villain line right there.
Worst Line: “Sir. I’m going to have to ask you to exit the donut.” –Nick Fury
-Even though it’s fairly short, the fight between Iron Man and Whiplash on the Monaco race track was really intense. My favorite moment in the whole film is when Ivan just walks out during the race, revealing his suit to the world. And then he charges his whips and just goes nuts. Rourke looks so damn intimidating. But just like everything else in this movie, they have to ruin the fight with jokes. You see Happy drive onto the course with Pepper as he bumbles around, and there’s even an argument between Tony and Pepper during the fight…so frustrating.
-So at the end of the Senate hearing, Garry Shandling’s character Senator Stern just goes ‘F**K you Mr. Stark…f**k you buddy.’ Really…at a televised Senate hearing?
-The interrogation scene between Tony and Ivan is really well written; just some great back and forth dialogue. It’s the one scene in the movie that doesn’t have a lame joke to ruin it.
-The drunken fight between Tony and Rhodey is truly an abomination. We are shoved right into a world of shit as Tony asks the DJ for a fresh beat before engaging Rhodey. Oh, I also forgot to mention, Tony spins discs in his Iron Man costume. Yea, that’s cute. Also, Rhodey knows how to work the suit perfectly fine his first time in. Yea, okay. This scene could maybe work if the jokes were taken out, and it was a more brutal fight, and not just some cartoonish brawl. But nevertheless, this is one of the worst scenes ever in a superhero movie.
-This one’s pretty obvious. Leslie Bibb returns as the reporter from the beginning of the last movie.
Pepper: Well she did quite a spread on Tony last year.
Tony: And she wrote a story as well.
Bad Ass Moment:
-Black Widow storming Hammer’s facility and taking out the guards was just ridiculous. Of course it’s ruined by goofy Jon Favreau as they take what could have been just a pure bad ass action scene, but add Looney Tunes elements towards the end.