The squeakquel to Iron Man is out in the UK right now. Suck it America! I suppose I could give you a review, if you really want it....
Credits & Solicit Info:
Iron Man 2
Directed by Jon Favreau
Starring Robert Downey Jnr, Don Cheadle, Mickey Rourke, Gwyneth Paltrow, Scarlett Johansson, Sam Rockwell and Samuel L Jackson
Iron Man was kind of a surprise hit. Those of us in the know were looking forward to it, but let's face it, we were looking forward to Superman Returns. The adventures of Tony Stark were very popular, and it's come as no surprise that Marvel used it as the bedrock to build their Avengers Movie franchise on. And now we have Iron Man 2, the sequel, it's bigger, but is it better?
Despite doing film studies at Uni, I'm not going to be jamming this review up with mise-en-scene and auteur theory. Much like my Kick-Ass movie review, I'll be looking at this from the perspective of what I am, what this site is for, the perspective of a superhero fan, who wants to know how this film works in comparison with the comics. And from this view, Iron Man 2 is a big success. It takes what worked about the first movie, adds some more familiar Marvel Universe faces, and adds depth to the characters.
Let's start with what's stayed the same from the first movie. Robert Downey Jnr is of course fantastic as Tony Stark, it's probably the most spot-on piece of casting I've seen in years. Just watching him is a joy to watch, he distils everything awesome about Iron Man. You've got the cockiness, the playboy attitude, and it certainly is a lot of fun to see Tony's antics. But this movie also adds in some darker sides to Tony, you've got his alcoholism, his fears about Iron Man killing him, and his issues with his father (Roger Sterling from Mad Men plays his dad in flashback, how perfect is that?). This is probably the best Iron Man we will ever see. Plus, we get to see a Suitcase armour! And it's a Silver Centurion!
Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper Potts also gets more to do, as Tony makes her CEO of Stark. No longer is she just a Secretary, and we get to see the real strength of her character, she's what keeps Tony human. It's a nice comparison with her increased role in the Iron Man comics recently, Thankfully she doesn't get her own armour.
In Iron Man 1, Terence Howard looked at a Silver Iron Man suit, and said 'next time baby'. Sadly for Howard, contract troubles meant he's been replaced by Don Cheadle as Rhodey, and Cheadle does a good job. It's not really better or worse than Howard, but he does get more to do, crucially, he becomes War Machine this time, and helps Tony take down the villains. And man, War Machine looks bad-ass.
Talking of the villains, this movie has 2. First of all is Mickey Rourke as Ivan Vanko, aka Whiplash. He's a villain of few words, and is really quite effective, and much more interesting than the Whiplash of the comics. The scene where he attacks Tony during the Monaco Grand Prix is probably one of the best superhero action set-pieces I've seen in a film, and even when he's just playing with his cockatoo, Rourke has menace. Sam Rockwell plays Justin Hammer, no longer an old man like in the comics, but a contemporary of Stark, and Rockwell is as usual awesome. He's humourous more than all-out evil, but provides a great comparison to Tony Stark, and how heroic Tony is. Often having 2 villains in a superhero movie is it's undoing, but it works here.
The increased Marvel Universe presence in this movie mainly comes from SHIELD. Nick Fury, who appeared in Ultimate, Sam Jackson form at the end of the first movie, has several scenes here, and is great, the way he works with Tony is great, and it's brilliant seeing Ultimates comic to life. I can't wait to see him in the future Marvel Universe.
Scarlett Johansson plays the SHIELD agent Black Widow, and is all you'd expect, very sexy, and very cool in a fight. I was kind of disappointed we didn't get a Russian accent, but she was still great.
There are other hints and nudges for Marvel fans too, Captain America's shield makes a great appearance, and footage from the Incredible Hulk movie appears towards the end. And of course, if you're patient enough to wait through the credits, there's an extra scene, featuring a certain Hammer (and no, it's not Justin). These hints work very well in building up this cinematic Marvel Universe, and Thor, Captain America, Iron Man 3 and The Avengers cannot get here soon enough.
Overall, Iron Man 2 is a worthy sequel to the original, it may not be as fresh, and towards the end, the fight scenes may devolve into Power Rangers, but it's the best looking Power Rangers you've ever seen, and hey, it's Iron Man, he has to wear his helmet sometimes. If you're a fan of the first one, and Marvel Comics at all, this is a no-brainer, you have to go see it. But then you were going to anyway weren't you? Have I just wasted my time with this? Oh well.