Continuing with my Marvel Cinematic Universe series, I’ve arrived at a film that most people deem a low point of the MCU, Iron Man 2. People bash this film a lot more than it honestly deserves. Is this film as great as the original? No. Is this film terrible? No. Is this film a disappointment? Yes. I enjoy this film but after the spectacular opening chapter in the Iron Man trilogy and the Marvel Cinematic Universe in general, this film on the bottom of my rankings when it comes to this franchise. That being said, this is still an immensely enjoyable and fun film if you’re a fan of the original.
Six months have passed since Tony Stark announced to the world that he is Iron Man and his health has been rapidly deteriorating. The energy core in his chest that is keeping the shrapnel from reaching his heart has since become unstable and has been slowly poisoning him. He needs to find a fix for this problem or else he will eventually die, meanwhile having to deal with a new kind of enemy in Ivan Vanko (Mickey Rourke), a man who seems to have figured out Tony’s energy formula for his chest and uses it to power electric whips. Also joining the fray is Natasha Rushmore (Scarlet Johannson), a mysterious new Stark employee who if you are the rare person who doesn’t know who Scarjo is playing in the MCU, first: where have you been? and second: I won’t spoil it for you. Tony is also faced with the government trying to pry the Iron Man armor off of him since they feel it is a weapon.
Okay so if you noticed, this film is jam-packed with plots and I didn’t even mention the character of Justin Hammer (Sam Rockwell) and his sub plot because well it intertwines but still this film is loaded with plots. That’s it’s biggest issue but also it helps that none of these are actually boring and while they don’t all work as well as they should, the film is still interesting. This film is a lot more filler than actual substance and the substance more often than not is to help further along the grand scheme towards the Avengers rather than this film’s actual plot.
Robert Downey Jr of course kills it in his second performance as Tony Stark. This time around Tony is struggling with this impeding doom of slowly being poisoned and it is breaking him. In the comics, Tony deals with alcoholism and that is kind of brushed here but Downey Jr still portrays Stark as a man who is dealing with the weight of the world on his shoulders, both figuratively and literally. Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper is also really good in this film as the chemistry is still going strong between the two and there’s a lot more tension present in this film than the original. Mickey Rourke is good in the few scenes he shows up in because his villain is absolutely wasted in this film. His storyline was easily the least interesting one in the film as I enjoyed it more when Sam Rockwell showed up who is also underused in this film. Scarlet Johannson is good in the film, although she serves as a teaser for a more compelling character, something I’ll get to in one of next MCU series reviews. Don Cheadle is another underused actor as the new James Rhodes and while I do love his Rhodey more so than Terrence Howard’s take on the character, I still wish he was in the film more. Everyone in the film is fantastic, it’s just that they’re mostly underused because there is too many story threads going on to give each character that isn’t Tony Stark, development.
This film looks great and has less action than the first film but the ending action scene is a whole lot of fun and the Monaco Grand Prix scene is a delight to watch. I especially like Vanko’s first scene as Whiplash because it hints at such a menacing and badass villain, sadly only being a hint. This film is a lot funnier than both the original Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk and that’s probably the best thing about this film. The humor is really well timed and quick. I think this is when Marvel started to realize that their style of quippy one liners and humor was what they could perfect as this film mostly achieves that.
Iron Man 2 is not as good as the first one or The Incredible Hulk but it is still an enjoyable superhero sequel that while really overstuffed with plot and having an extremely lackluster villain, is able to further the character of Tony Stark and have a good time doing it. This film is like that filler episode of television that in the long run, doesn’t mean anything in the grand scheme of things but you’re still invested enough to at least enjoy it. This is probably my least favorite MCU film but I don’t hate it. It is still a good time because Robert Downey Jr absolutely brings it.
I’m going away on vacation for the next week and having the next two MCU films being shipped in the mail to me as I do not own them, so the next review in the series won’t be released until after next Friday from now. Can’t wait to continue it!