Iron Man 2 Review: Where Does He Get Those Wonderful Toys?

Iron Man was cool. I like to think it was the world's first rock n' roll superhero movie, one so confident in its performances and style that it could afford a little swagger. Iron Man 2 does not swagger.

No, from the outset, it's an entirely different beast. There are flashes of bravado, but gone is the sense of boundless bravado and cocksure manner that defined the first film. This is a different movie, one burdened by a larger cast, bigger expectations and its role as the driving force behind Marvel's ultimate destination, a movie based on its superhero team The Avengers.

Before you start with the heavy sighs, though, I never said this was a bad thing...

Loved

Everybody Was Kung-Fu Fighting - The fight sequences in the first Iron Man were either brief or obscured by breaking glass and the darkness of night. Iron Man 2 puts its bigger budget to good use, showing several instances of proper, metal-on-metal combat, including an amazing finale that in the course of 15 minutes makes you forget most of the things you didn't quite like about the sequel.

Don Cheadle - Don Cheadle is a great actor. But as a replacement for the smart-mouthed Terrence Howard in the role of James Rhodes? I had my doubts. The guy is just too dry. But he turns this to his advantage, changing the role of Rhodes from Tony's smart-mouth foil to his wryly funny sidekick. The laughs are fewer, but by the end of the film Cheadle has done a much better job than most would have predicted.

Design Work - One of the things I loved about Iron Man was its strong sense of design, from Tony's beachfront mansion to his believable computer tech to the look of the Adi Granov's take on the suit itself. The second film outdoes this, calmly upping the ante with better software, amazing robot designs (the suitcase suit being a highlight) and a keen sense of how to make everything look fancy and futuristic but still make it look real. I especially loved the design of the Hammer Drones.

Black Widow - The actual screentime devoted to Black Widow is minimal. Which is a shame, because Scarlett Johansson looks amazing in that suit.

Still Got It - There aren't any single moments like the "no gang signs" exchange or Iron Man's attack on an Afghan village that really stand out as explosive, memorable scenes in Iron Man 2. It's just not as punchy as the first film. That's not to say it's a flat or boring film however, as it still comes across as a flashy flick, one that's able to leverage its cast to present a superhero movie that's second only to the original in its confidence.

Hated

Scarlett Johansson - She was amazing in the suit. But out of it? She was annoying as hell, spending the entire movie pouting and looking very uncomfortable stumbling around in dresses that were three sizes too small for her and shoes that were 2-4 inches too high.

Too Much - I'm not going to really spoil anything here, but SHIELD plays an expanded role in this film. With Tony's decline, Pepper's new role, the introduction of Natasha, Rhodes' War Machine, the arrival of Hammer, more screen-time for director Jon Favreau and the presence of a villain, it's just too much going on, and many of the characters' development suffers as a result. Rhodes especially.

Lullaby - Despite there being too much going on, there are 2-3 lengthy, key scenes in Iron Man 2, most revolving around Tony's personal crisis, that stop the movie dead in its tracks. It's like a slap in the face; you're strapped in on a thrill ride of robots punching and sexy women and loud music and then BAM, Tony is sad and the music stops and everything just grinds to a halt. I'm sure this kind of development had to be done at some stage in Marvel's films, but it just jars when compared to the rest of the film.

You'll notice above that nearly every point references the second movie's performance compared to that of the first. It's cruel, I know, but that's what happens when you're not just a sequel, but the sequel to one of the biggest and best superhero movies ever made.

Iron Man 2 isn't as good a film as its predecessor. It's performances aren't as memorable, it's plot a little too plodding. But that doesn't make it a bad film! When you're in a class as crowded as the superhero genre is these days, coming in a close second to the first Iron man in terms of punch and style is a great achievement, especially when you consider the track record of most other Hollywood sequels these days.

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Comments

    I absolutely loved this film. I'm not a comic book fan or a movie buff, but it was the epitome of everything Hollywood entertainment is about. Huge, brash, loud, flashy and basically excessive in every way.

    And yet, I found the original to be a major letdown. Despite all the hype I found it to be rather weak and not tremendously entertaining at all. Perhaps I will see it again to compare notes, but the praise it receives continues to mystify me.

    Also, if the whole "You have created a new element!" hilarity isn't a meme before the week is out, I'll be filing a complaint with 4chan.

    I rather liked this movie. Granted I actually had to go to the loo during the (supposedly boring) Dad's video scene but the rest of the movie rather holds up to the first movie. In fact I think this movie is funnier than the first one! I lost track of how much I laughed at Pepper & Tony's banter or just Tony being Tony. Just wished that it had more Whiplash action scene in it.

    I haven't read the specific Iron Man comics but I did read and enjoyed The Avengers a lot so with all the cameos they're throwing in it was like a nerdgasm for me :D

    Also this movie had quite a few plotholes/artistic license taken!

    I liked this movie, not as much as the first though.

    The fact that i had seen Kick-Ass the week before might have also influenced my opinion though...

    Thought the film was excellent, Rourke and Rockwell absolutely made it. Johansson never bothered me, Paltrow still did at all times, wish they had cast a better actress, or at least wrote her as something better than some whiny little interjection.

    Thought the original film was incredibly dull to be honest, this destroyed it in every way, if not simply because it actually had ORIGINAL things happening - the first movie in every comic franchise always seems to leave a bitter taste with me, as its just typical origiiiiiiin story fare, ie. snoozefest. Its the same every time. Something happens, becomes hero, does things, kills villain. The second film leads to the hero encountering interesting hardships and progresses the old characters while introducing, usually, new characters.

    The only exceptions that I can think of here are The Dark Knight, which I thought was bland compared to the excellent original. Iron Man 2, Spidey 2 however, completely trashed their predecessors in every way.

    Initially I was fine with Plunkett's review, he's entitled to his own opinion, however when you're given a megaphone to parade your opinion to the world, it needs to be pretty damn secure - then I hit this; "It’s like a slap in the face; you’re strapped in on a thrill ride of robots punching and sexy women and loud music and then BAM, Tony is sad and the music stops and everything just grinds to a halt"

    Oh no, it got emotional, not allowed to do that! Its gotta be nonstop balls to the floor action!

    Seriously, after this, just no. You're a game site, stick to games, you clearly have no film qualifications if this is something that bothers you. I know I'm coming off as whiny and brash, but I'm quite concerned by this stereotypical view of a 'boys' own' film.

    Other than that final hiccup though, pretty well-written.

    Can't wait to see what Branagh does next May with Thor, followed by... ugh... Johnston's Cap next July.

    Whedon's Avengers should, theoretically, kick ass, especially with him re-writing. We'll see though, we'll see. Less origins, more originality please!

    Cap's shield appearance was totally useless though, and the post-credits scene was a bit of a let-down, but overall the references to Marvel's in-house films were generally fine, Nick Fury all up in dis place was great. HATED the fact that Favreau was in so many scenes though, just wanted him to get lost and stay BEHIND the camera where he's actually good.

    LOVED the scenes with Howard Stark, Mad Men's John Slattery, his whole 'Tomorrowland' esque stuff was brilliantly done, really loved the set up and his performance in those limited constraints.

      Personally I agree with Luke about the emotional scenes. It's not so much that they shouldn't have been there, its that they really do kill the movie. I don't want to go into spoilers but the scene of the conversation between Tony and Fury in the diner was very slow and really started to drag. Same thing for the conversation at his house and the video of his father. I think it was just too heavy with a lot of dialogue and little of real substance, it didn't feel like it moved the movie along at all and it didn't seem like Tony was really any different before or after this scenes. This may just be a difference in taste though as I personally generally prefer the first movie in the superhero style movies and couldn't stand Spiderman 2.

      As for you comments about the article, I think they could have had a little more reservation. He never said there could be no emotion in the film, I mean if you know Ironman you know his character flaws are going to be an issue during the movies. You don't have to call into question Luke's right to offer his thoughts on the movie, nothing personal, but it makes you sound like a jerk and really any review is just an opinion regardless of how well versed in the medium someone is.

      On a different note, am I the only one that thought Nick Fury was a little too nice? I recently read through some of the Ultimate Spiderman comics where he comes off a lot more as a no nonsense strict leader who always has a lot on his plate. Doesn't seem right for him to be playing Doctor Phil with Tony.

        It doesn't matter if I come off as a jerk - I'm not paid for my comments, he is. When you're paid to do something, y'know, you're judged on how well you do the job. When reviewing a film, you should go in with as neutral a view as you can muster, and then do at least a substantial amount of research on the piece to make sure you're accounting for all important issues and not misrepresenting anything as fact. Luke ticked off most of those boxes, but not quite all of them.

        Regarding Nick Fury, his character is constantly at ends with different writers; no one ever seems to represent that guy consistently! Regular Nick Fury is even more grizzly, Nick Fury is the MAX universe is intense, the list goes on. Even within each universe the character seems to be altered slightly at the drop of a hat.

        Iron Man 2 did however confirm to me that Sam Jackson might not be the best choice for the character, simply for his age. Sam Jack's 61, Downey's about 45 for memory, yet in terms of their looks, when Fury starts talking about knowing Howard Stark it just seems kinda off, Jackson just doesn't look much older than Downey.

    I haven't seen the film yet, but I am looking forward to doing so as soon as possible.

    From the comments so far and the review, it seems like a comparison between Tim Burton's Batman and Chris Nolan's Batman, although to a lesser extent. They both deal with the same popular, iconic character but, due to different approaches, will appeal to a slightly different audience.

    What the first film did, although it didn't fully explore, was to portray Tony Stark as a brilliant man who gambled, drank and slept with lots of women.

    If that very Marvel element of the flawed man behind the mask continues, then I'm sure I will appreciate this film, too.

    And I'm looking forward to having crossover films feeding off each other when the Avengers film comes out (go Joss go) close to the same time the thor film arrives, although the main Marvel movie I'm looking for is the Deadpool movie.

    Saw this on sunday. I agree that it doesn't have the sheer awesome "F**K YEAH I CAN FLY!" style of the first but i think it has a more developed story line. The first film was a thrill ride and while this one still has that in parts I think it is defined more by the struggle that the characters undergo.
    To degenerate a bit I just have to say that Justin Hammer is a total C*#K, but i guess thats the point. And I thought the scene with Stark staggering around drunk in the armor was a bit odd and made me wonder if something was wrong with the animation.
    Otherwise I loved the movie and am more than willing to ignore the little inconsistensies with plot and realism of some things like Stark creatying a new element in his loungeroom. I you think thats unrealistic just think of spiderman. I mean just look at the wall climbing spikes on his fingers. In the real world all that would happen is he would tear off some of the paint and fall off the building.
    Overall I think this was a good setup for the final film and has done well with introducing the little hints and characters that are going to become more prominent in the lead up to the Avengers movies in a few years.

    Final fight was waaaaaaaay to quick. Less flying robot chasy, chasy and more Whiplash punchy punchy.

    I do agree with most of the review, but I have to say that my only real problem with the film was Rhodes. He was the only really underdeveloped aspect of the film, but overall it was still brilliant to see War Machine in action.

    Couldn't agree more with this review. Not as good as the first, but still an absolute blast. And the comments about Scarlett Johansson are completely spot on. The only part I really liked was her intricate choreographed fight scene. But I guess I can say I only liked her stuntwoman, because at the end of each kickass grapple, Johansson pulled some ridiculous pose with a ridiculous facial expression. She’s no action hero, pretty please replace her for all other future marvel releases. Pretty please.

    Why didnt you mention Whiplash? His Iron Man 2 version is amazing and so fun to watch, almost holding his own against iron man. I loved him as a villan, he just didnt have that much time on screen... like everything else that was cool in the movie.

    Not as great as the first, but then a lot of the time, what is?
    But it still a terrific film. It handles the Iron Man character perfectly. Tony Stark could not fit anyone better than Mr. Downey Jr.

    I do agree with the more screentime for director Jon Favreau was annoying. I couldn't stop thinking, "he is only in it this much cause the first was so successful" blah blah.

    I wanted more Black Widow aswell and little bit more SHIELD in a way - i wanted to know more. But they're just gonna tease us with the Thor and Captain America films until The Avengers flick.

    The action was more pleasing with this one and i'm glad they actually gave Peppers more time compared to the first. I really liked it i guess. And i do prefer Cheadle to Terrance now actually - i too, like most, we're worried. But i realised, Terrance was just a selfish coward and he wasn't that funny or great in the first. I only laughed at the whole, "Training gone wrong" remark he made - other than that, he was too complaining.

    I love the fact that THIS is a comic book movie. Just like Spiderman is. All 3 are great and yes the 3 is the weakest and too much action, something i dreaded for Iron Man 2 - but i believe Favreau will learn from the minor mistakes in Iron Man 2 for number 3. The new Batman revamp are great - but it takes a lot away from the Comic Books and what its like to watch a Comic-book film. I would classify them as Crime-films than Comic-book films these days. Still great though...

      Oh can someone link me to wherever this poster came from? I checked the Iron Man 2 wesbite...
      I want a wallpaper of it, if possible!

    Gonna completely agree with this review. Loved Iron Man, but the sequel, while still being good, just seemed to lack the spark that made the original so great.

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