After the mammoth and unexpected success of the first “Iron Man”, Marvel was more than ready to produce a follow up for Robert Downey Jr. and continue to build and craft their universe. Trying to get this feature out as fast as possible after a quick 2 year turnaround for Jon Favreau and the studio. It would be a tough follow up. Sometimes we expect too much out of our sequels. After an amazing first film and a sequel gets its announcement, we expect that sequel to be as good as if not better than the original. We all do it, I do it as well. Sometimes we try to lower those expectations to just want a good movie and let it go from there. Unfortunately for “Iron Man 2” we got none of those things. This follow up is not as good as or better than the original nor is it a solid good movie. It has its moments and a solid performance by Downey, but this gets bogged down by too many plotlines and characters all fighting for screen time and attention.
It’s hard to give a brief little synopsis of “Iron Man 2”. Why? because there are so many different plotlines and story aces that could all be considered the main plot . Is Stark dealing with his blood toxicity level that is threatening his life the main crux? His demons? The villain Whiplash? The government trying to seize the Iron Man suit? Or, is Nick Fury trying to recruit him for the Avengers? It’s all jumbled together, like a bunch of writers got together and threw together a bunch of ideas for the studio and the meeting between them went something like this.
Writer, “Here is a bunch of different ideas and story threads we could follow with this sequel”. Studio Exec, “Wow what a great idea”. Writer, “Awesome, which idea do you like?” Studio Exec, “All of them!” Writer, ‘All of them?” Studio Exec, “Yes we want all of them in one movie!”
I’m sure it didn’t happen like that (studio execs are smarter than some give them credit for), but I could imagine a scenario like that. I’m not sure what they are going for here. None of it flows together well, it bounces from one unrelated to the next (like a bad “greatest hits” album for some band). A few times I felt like I was watching a completely different movie. It’s jarring, but that’s not to say it doesn’t have its moments. There is some fun to be had in several of these different plot lines, and that’s mostly because of Robert Downey Jr.
As jarring and discounted the plotlines are, Downey continues to kill it and own the role of Tony Stark/Iron Man. There were several things that I wasn’t a fan of. What they did with the character (like turning him into the “super douche” ), but there is some other great emotional weight given to the character dealing with his own mortality and his past. There are some great moments and Downey almost makes many of the unwatchable moments of this movie watchable.
Still as great Downey is it can save the horrible plot devices. (Some Spoilers Ahead) Downey needs to make an element and he can make it because…..he can? I suppose it’s no different than Stark coming up his Arc reactor in a cave. Yet, I think the reason why this doesn’t work is because of everything leading up to it with Tony’s father. How he hid the element in plain sight and knew he’d have the technology to break down the element in a holographic imagines, and he would need it in order to survive? You tell me if that logic holds water.
There are more than a few newcomers to cast of characters and actors. Don Cheadle takes over from Terrence Howard as Lt. Col. James ‘Rhodey’ Rhodes. He is fine, serviceable, likeable and well suited for the role, but I have to say I did like Howard a bit more than Cheadle. Scarlett Johansson makes her first appearance in the Marvel Universe as Black Widow. I don’t love how her character was handled and her characters gets far better uses in future Marvel movies. Sam Rockwell plays Justin Hammer, a rival of Tony Stark. Upon my first viewing I found him quite annoying, but his performance has grown on me a lot and now I think it’s suitably fun and full of life. It reminds me of Bob Odenkirk as Saul Goodman (and I am planning a “Better Call Saul” review soon too). Mickey Rourke plays the villain Whiplash who has his moments but majority of the time is sidelined and wasted and Rourke looks increasingly bored as each time he appears on screen we go, “oh wait he is in this movie!”
“Iron Man 2” does have a few good moments in all of its chaos, and Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark does help alleviate some of the material to almost watchable good times. Still, Downey’s smile and jokes aren’t enough to fix a confused and chaotic script that defies all definition of logic. Certainly Marvel’s worst film that hopefully they won’t repeat again.