Tony Stark is back on the big screen again in Iron Man 2. And this time he’s brought more friends as well as enemies.
General thoughts about it after watching it last Thursday: Another awesome movie which Robert Downey Jr. starred as Tony Stark, but also allowed every character to shine. No one was wasted.
The story is much more complex, which I guess made it more difficult for the filmmakers to make a tighter movie like the first one. But excellent performances around and a much more epic final battle (that made the first movie’s a little two-round bout) made up for it. As per the first movie, unlike most modern superhero movies no one dresses in black and broods like a 16-year-old. Maybe, they find themselves in deep thought for a bit, but after the apparently-therapeutical “engineering montage” everyone’s happy and eager to fly and blow crap up.
And now we move on to spoiler territory with a point-by-point review.
SPOILER ALERT, YES?
- Let’s start with the villains. Mickey Rourke and Sam Rockwell both impressed. As Ivan Vanko (son of comic character Anton Danko, the original Crimson Dynamo) Rourke looked as if he can break your femur by just squinting his eyes at you. There’s never been a movie physicist quite like him. But he also lets through some genuine gentler emotions at surprising moments.
- Sam Rockwell as Justin Hammer was also excellent. Hammer was also an extremely good tech genius and a business savvy person. But being he was not remotely the best tech genius in the movie. Rockwell was awesome in Galaxy Quest and Moon, and he’s awesome in this movie. However his exit in the end was a bit of a disappointment.
- Scarlett Johansson played an awesome 80-year-old lady. The SHIELD involvement is increased, leading up to the brief-but-cheer-inducing post-credits scene. I can’t wait to see more of SHIELD (as well as the Howling Commandos) in World War 2 in the upcoming The First Avenger: Captain America movie.
- Jon Favreau got more scenes to shine as Happy Hogan. Sure he’s the director and all, but it’s Happy Hogan! He should have had more scenes like these in the first movie.
- Don Cheadle stepped into Terrence Howard’s shoes almost perfectly as James Rhodes. He conveyed the feeling that Tony and him were great buddies even in his first scenes during the Senate hearing scenes where he could not speak to him and was forced to testify against his friend. It felt like a more balanced friendship rather than the first movie where Tony was flying circles around him. The filmmakers also worked in a conflict of interest that was logical. How could an Air Force Colonel be friends with a weapons designer who had practically a superweapon that he was withholding from the US government? When Rhodey and Tony fought side-by-side at the end, I just had to cheer.
- John Slattery’s brief appearance as Howard Stark made me chuckle. It’s basically a version of his character from Mad Men; similarly sardonic but a far richer and eccentric version, I would say. I’d say that this was the kind of person whose son would grow up to be Tony Stark.
- As I mentioned the movie began with more story threads than the first. Palladium used in Tony’s chest reactor was poisonous to him. The element palladium (Pd, atomic number 46) not Kevin Siembeda’s company, you nuts! Keeping the secret that he was dying caused him to go on a mini-Ghost In A Bottle storyline where he acted recklessly and self-destructive causing him to be at odds with Rhodes, and also be an easier target for Mickey Rourke’s character Whiplash. Not only refusing to turn over the Iron Man suit to the US government, he publicly humiliates US Senator Stern (Garry Shandling) during a Senate hearing – which causes him to be under more scrutiny by the government.
- Thankfully the Earth-1610-based Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) also has him under scrutiny, and despite his so-called busy schedule with far more important things in the world (or the Marvel Studios Movie Universe), he claims, he arrives – without KITT – in time to push Tony in the right direction, leading up to…
- The final battle was much more epic than the first movie, where Tony and Lebowski punched each other in the streets, in the sky a bit, then back at the Stark Industries factory. This time around, we see Iron Man and War Machine go up against a host of military mecha drones in a stand-off at a Japanese garden, complete with falling cherry blossom flowers. Also, a whole lot more ammunition and explosives were spent and they wreck acres of buildings and parked vehicles on and around the Stark Expo 2010 grounds.
- The Hammer Industries “Ex-Wife” missile that “busts bunkers underneath bunkers it just busted” was a crowdpleaser.
- Oh, and the coda for the movie felt quite a let down compared to the bomb-droppingly awesome closing for the previous movie.
On the whole, I enjoyed it. As a comic book fan, I relished it. Bring on Iron Man 3, hopefully with Titanium Man, the current Crimson Dynamo and maybe Fin Fang Foom, complete with purple underpants.