Movie Review — Iron Man 2 (2010)

Iron Man 2 is the sequel to the first Iron Man film, and is directed by Jon Favreau. Cast members from the first, such as Robert Downey Jr. and Gwyneth Paltrow, are joined by Samuel L. Jackson, Mickey Rourke and Scarlett Johannson, and Terrence Howard is replaced by Don Cheadle. The story takes place some time after the events of Iron Man, and it revolves around Tony Stark having to deal with the consequences of the world knowing that he is Iron Man, in addition to the problem he has with his arc reactor poisoning him.

I was very excited going into this film at the time because, as I mentioned in my review of the first film, I really enjoyed Iron Man. I was excited as hell to see the follow up to it. I came out of the theatre that day happy, but a little disappointed, seeing as it didn’t really live up to the heights that the first set.

I know it’s common for sequels to not be quite as good as the firsts, but if I’m being perfectly honest, I don’t think Iron Man 2 is a bad movie at all. I’ve seen people online make lists of the Marvel movies ranked in order of preference, and many many lists have the second and third (I’ll talk more about this movie when I review it) Iron Man movies at the very bottom, which I feel is absurd. I’m a fan of the Iron Man trilogy; I acknowledge that it has flaws, but I honestly don’t think it’s that bad.

That said, Iron Man 2 is definitely the weakest movie in the trilogy. It suffers from a few subplots that are never really delved into, and it’s obvious that the movie sacrifices a lot of storytelling opportunities for the opportunity to expand its cinematic universe.

One thing that threw me off was the recasting of Terrence Howard. Going into the movie, I didn’t know that Don Cheadle would be taking the mantle of Colonel James Rhodes. Seeing him there threw me off a bit, as I was really getting into Marvel’s whole continuity thing. Granted, I really enjoy his interpretation of War Machine, but throughout the movie, I was a little bothered that Terrence Howard wasn’t in it anymore, so much so that it kept sucking me out of the movie.

Another thing that bothered me about the movie was that there was a lot of pandering to SHIELD in the aforementioned attempt to expand the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I feel like the whole subplot with Tony’s poisoning had the potential for a really good story. Alas, in this film, it was mostly used to allow a way for SHIELD to be introduced to the MCU. Of course, in building a shared universe, stuff like this is necessary. But a lot of this is done at the expense of telling a good quality story. I don’t know how true this is, but I’ve heard that Jon Favreau was forced to put a lot of scenes in the movie purely for the purpose of tying into the Avengers and the shared universe, and thus wasn’t able to make the movie he really wanted to. I wouldn’t be surprised if this were true though. Iron Man 2 does have a similar feel to the first one, but at the same time, there are plenty of telltale signs that contrast  director’s vision.

Going into positives now. Robert Downey Jr. is once again very good in this movie. I feel I don’t need to give him more praise, he’s just as good in the second movie as he is in the first. In fact, the entire cast was very good. I have very few complaints about the cast in this movie.

The opening sequence of this movie was just perfect. Whenever I hear Shoot to Thrill, all I remember is Tony jumping out of that airplane and making the most grand of entrances at the Stark Expo.

The Mark V suitcase scene at the race was also a highlight. During times that I’m bored, I often search that scene up on YouTube just to watch the suit form around Tony. There’s something therapeutic about it.

The action in the movie is good as well. Just watching Iron Man and War Machine destroy a bunch of Hammer drones is a pretty grand experience.

In terms of connecting Iron Man to the rest of the MCU, I’d say Iron Man 2 did its job. The first and foremost goal of making a movie is to focus on making a good one, and I feel like in its attempt to expand the universe, Iron Man 2 almost forgot that. It did, however, just manage to provide enough for me to enjoy. I’m going to give Iron Man 2 a 78/100.

Up next, is Thor (2011)!

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