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Iron Man 2 (2010) starring Robert Downey Jr., Mickey Rourke, Don Cheadle, Gwyneth Paltrow, Sam Rockwell, Scarlett Johansson

Iron Man 2

Iron Man 2 (2010) starring Robert Downey Jr., Mickey Rourke, Don Cheadle, Gwyneth Paltrow, Sam Rockwell, Scarlett Johansson

In Iron Man 2, Robert Downey Jr. returns as billionaire Tony Stark. Now that his secret identity has been revealed, Tony’s life is more intense than ever. Everyone wants in on the Iron Man technology, whether for power or profit… but for Ivan Vanko (“Whiplash”), it’s revenge!

Review

Iron Man 2 (2010) starring Robert Downey Jr., Mickey Rourke, Don Cheadle, Gwyneth Paltrow, Sam Rockwell, Scarlett Johansson

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Iron Man 2 is the weakest of the Iron Man films. It’s arguably the least of all of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) films for one reason. A great hero needs a great villain. And Iron Man 2 gives us two weak villains. Having read the Iron Man comics, that’s a crying shame. Especially in the case of Justin Hammer.

Justin Hammer

Sam Rockwell as Justin Hammer in Iron Man 2
Sam Rockwell as Justin Hammer in Iron Man 2

In the comic book, Justin Hammer is an elderly, brilliant, ruthless, businessman. He’s clearly patterned after the brilliant, but amoral Dr. Frankenstein as portrayed by Peter Cushing in the Hammer Films. In the comic, he manipulated Tony Stark and Stark Industries for nearly two years … Before Tony even realized he existed. Here, he’s a complete buffoon. This is no insult to Sam Rockwell. He can only play the role he’s given.

Whiplash / Crimson Dynamo

Mickey Rourke as Ivan Vanko in iron Man 2

“Bord”. Ivan Vanko is a composite of two comic book villains — and here’s he’s less interesting than either of them. I frankly don’t blame Mickey Rourke for this. Apparently, a lot of his scenes ended up on the cutting room floor. Allegedly, a lot of his character’s motivation and background were cut out.

Positive things about Iron Man 2

  • Natasha Romanoff (Black Widow) is introduced, and she does a wonderful job. Especially when she single-handedly defeats a squad of goons. Although Happy tries to help 😉
  • Tony’s struggle with the arc reactor in his chest slowly poising him. It’s a conflict that’s frankly more interesting that the one with the villains.
  • Tony realizing his dead father’s love and concern for him is truly touching.
  • It was nice to see the Iron Man suitcase armor make an appearance.

Negative things about Iron Man 2

  • Tony Stark’s drinking is borderline alcoholic in the film. I frankly don’t have a problem with that. Alcoholism’s a real-world issue. But it’s hand-waved away and ignored. In the comic, one of the best stories ever published was Demon in a Bottle. In it, Tony actually addresses his alcoholism. It’s a massive wasted opportunity.
  • Rhodey is replaced by a totally different actor, and it’s totally ignored.
  • In the next film, Tony Stark has his damaged heart repaired. An so, he no longer needs the arc reactor in his chest to keep him alive. Other than the need for drama … Why didn’t he simply do that here?

Conclusion

Iron Man 2 could have been a much better film. There was apparently so much executive meddling with its’ production that Jon Favrau refused to make Iron Man 3. Given how excellent a job he did with the original Iron Man, that’s a crying shame.

Editorial review of Iron Man 2 courtesy of Amazon.com

After the high-flying adventures of the first Iron Man picture, the billionaire arms manufacturer and irrepressible bon vivant Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) finds himself nursing a hangover. But not like any hangover he’s had before: this one is toxic, a potentially deadly condition resulting from heavy metals (or something) bleeding out of the hardware he’s installed in the middle of his chest. This is the problem Stark needs to solve in Iron Man 2, not to mention the threat from resentful Russian science whiz Ivan Vanko (Mickey Rourke), whose father helped create the Iron Man technology.

Don Cheadle as Rhodey in the War Machine armor in Iron Man 2
Don Cheadle as Rhodey in the War Machine armor in Iron Man 2

There’s an even bigger problem for the film: the need to set up a future Marvel Comics movie universe in which a variety of veteran characters will join forces, a requirement that slows down whatever through-line the movie can generate (although fanboys will have a good time digging the clues laid out here). Actually, the main plot is no great shakes: another Iron Man suit is deployed (Don Cheadle, replacing Terrence Howard from the first film, gets to climb inside), Stark continues to bicker with assistant Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow), and a weaselly business rival (Sam Rockwell) tries to out-do the Iron Man suit with an army of Vanko-designed drones.

Scarlett Johansson as the Black Widow, introduced in Iron Man 2
Scarlett Johansson as the Black Widow, introduced in Iron Man 2

Mickey Rourke is a letdown, burdened by a wobbly Russian accent and looking skeptical about the genre foolishness around him, and Scarlett Johansson has to wait until the final couple of reels to unleash some butt-kickin’ skills as the future Black Widow. That climax is sufficiently lively, and the initial half-hour, including Stark’s smirky appearance before a Senate committee and a wacky showdown at the Monaco Grand Prix, provides a strong, swift opening. But the lull between these high points is crying for more action and more Downey improv. –Robert Horton

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