Director: Jon Favreau
Writer: Justin Theroux
Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Mickey Rourke, Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Scarlett Johansson, Sam Rockwell
The first Iron Man (2008) film was an incredible box office success. It was a hit for Marvel Comics Productions, a company that has been producing some of the best (and worst) superhero movies ever. Iron Man was one of their really good ones. Jon Favreau brought together an excellent cast and production team, the end result was pure superhero magic. Not to mention the film single handedly brought Robert Downey Jr. back into the spotlight, making one of the best comebacks in recent history. And of course, after such an incredible success, a sequel just had to be churned out. I mean the name of the game with commercial films such as this one is making money. Was Favreau able to catch lightning in a bottle again?
This time around, Iron Man has become something of a celebrity, everyone knows who he is, he has brought world peace to the planet and has essentially become something of a god on planet earth. Righteous and invincible. But what happens when ever one individual gets to powerful and too successful on his own? The Government wants a piece of him now! That’s right, government is salivating at getting their hands on Tony Starks Iron Man armor. They want to use it for military applications, while Tony Stark is interested in using it to keep world peace, and since no one can challenge the awesome power of the Iron Man suit, well then, Iron Man remains the protector of the planet. Or at least of the United States. But the question that comes into play with this movie is: Is Tony Stark the right man to wear this powerful armor?
Expectations for this movie are high for various reasons. It’s a sequel to a very successful film that many loved. The original made so many millions at the box office, that it is expected that for a sequel, Hollywood would treat its new cash cow with some respect and made sure they delivered a decent superhero film. So a huge budget and big stars is something to be expected with this sequel. In my opinion Hollywood delivered. This film has lush production values and a impeccable cast! Mickey Rourke and Sam Rockwell as villains? That’s a winning combination right there! Scarlett Johansson and Gwyneth Paltrow as the hot super hero babes? Double knock out! Don Cheadle as the sidekick who is awesome on his own? The Icing on the cake! So at least casting wise this movie headed in the right direction. In thing that I found kind of funny is how Jon Favreau gave himself a bigger role this time around. On the first film he was just Tony Starks limo driver. On this sequel he still plays Starks limo driver/body guard, only thing is this time around he actually ends up kicking some ass and serving as comedy relief in an action scene. I guess being the director has its privileges.
Script wise, the film develops at just the right pace in my opinion. Many people complained that theres not enough action, but I don’t think I agree with these comments. Sometimes people complaint that there isn’t enough character development in a film, that the film is hollow and has no heart, but then when they give them a movie that fills those gaps, they complain that there isn’t enough action. If you ask me, this movie had the perfect balance between awesome action sequences and good character development. The film was written by Justin Theroux who wrote the super funny comedy Tropic Thunder a couple of years ago and has also acted himself on a couple of films like David Lynch's Inland Empire and Mullholand Drive. I think he wrote a good superhero film. It explores its characters and doesnt only concentrate on action and special effects. We get to know Tony Stark a little better this time around. We get to know about his past, his father, how he grew up, why he is who he is.
In my book the flaws on Iron Man 2 were not many. The only thing that I can complaint about is that I wished the ending had been just a tad more elaborate and spectacular. Destruction had to be on gargantuan levels, yet they never peeked with the climactic action sequence. It is a good and extended action sequence, but it needed a little extra oomph to take it into epic and spectacular levels. It needed to be a bit closer, more in your face. More visceral. We needed to see Iron Man getting into bigger trouble, be in more peril. As it is, during the last action sequence you never feel the hero is in peril. Whenever he has his suit on, the guy is invincible. This guy’s body armor is indestructible, nothing harms it. Iron Man's invincibility takes away the tension, the peril. The final fight with Whiplash (Rourke) needed to be something that would wow us, instead, it ends with a whimper. This is really the one and only problem I had with the movie.
The rest of the film is fantastic in my opinion. It explores Iron Mans darker side when we see Tony Stark getting drunk in a party while wearing the Iron Man suit. This is an element that I loved in the movie because it comes straight out of the comics. I mean, Iron Man has always been a hero that’s had to battle with his drinking problem. There was a story arc called "Demon in a Bottle" which showed us a Tony Stark going into drunk rages, going all sorts of evil and crazy, kind of like that time that Superman turns into "evil Superman" in Superman III. They translated that struggle in the film really well. It offers us one of the movies funniest moments. Robert Downey Jr. is a pleasure to watch in the role of Tony Stark, he is lively, funny, and spontaneous so it never gets boring whenever he is on the screen. Mickey Rourke pulled off a pretty convincing Russian accent in the film, which can be a problem when not done well. Speaking of his character, he looks bad ass with those electrical whiplashes; the scene in the middle of the car race is awesome. If only they had more of that awesomeness during the films last frames and the movie might have been perfect.
Iron Man going on one of his drunken rages, it gets pretty ugly in the comics
The biggest draw about this movie is the introduction of the War Machine character, played by Don Cheadle. I have to say that it was pulled off very well. The character looks exactly the way he does in the comics. I loved how he serves as Tony Starks conscience, telling him things like “you are not worthy of wearing that armor!” The teaming up of the two in the ending is awesome, if only it had been more complex than getting chased around by a couple of flying drones!
The thing about reading Marvel Comics (or any comic series for that matter) is that they usually leave you with a cliffhanger; they always have some sort of continuity to them to get you involved so you can come back next week for the next issue. This element of reading comic books has been effectively translated to the silver screen with films based on Marvel characters. Samuel L. Jackson returns as Nick Fury agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. I love how he has been a constant through out all these movies…lets just hope that that Avengers movie thats coming in a few years (supposedly Josh Whedon will be directing) lets him truly shine in the role. Samuel Jackson has a more elaborate participation on this film, but his performance in Iron Man 2 remains an extended cameo of sorts. So was Iron Man 2 better then the first? Well, I had fun with it. It has excellent production values, the effects and action sequences were great. I really dont have anything bad to say about this movie save for the short fight between hero and villain in the climax. A fun summer blockbuster, made better because its excellent cast. As with most Marvel Comics movies, theres a little something extra after the credits. Hint: it has something to do with Mjollnir!
Rating: 3 out of 5