Iron Man 2: The Marvel Sequel
– A Hero Corner Catch-up Review by David 2

Following the success of “Iron Man” and the redemption of “The Incredible Hulk” in 2008, Marvel Studios went forward with part 3 of their grand gamble with the release of “Iron Man 2” in 2010.

Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, and director/co-star Jon Favreau return as Tony Stark, Pepper Potts, and Happy Hogan, with Clark Gregg coming back as Agent Coulson and our after-credit surprise Samuel L. Jackson returning as super-spy SHIELD director Nick Fury.  Scarlett Johansson makes her debut as Black Widow, and Sam Rockwell and Mickey Rourke share the villain roles in this film as corporate weasel Justin Hammer and Ivan “Whiplash” Vanko. It also includes Garry Shandling as slimy Senator Stern and Stan Lee as… well, Stan Lee.  Terrance Howard was not able to be in this movie, so instead Oscar-nominated actor Don Cheadle takes over as Colonel Jim Rhodes for this and all other future appearances for the character.

The movie takes place about two years after the first one, with the world knowing that Tony Stark is Iron Man.  Slimy Senator Stern has declared Iron Man to be United States Government property, which, as Tony points out, would directly violate the 13th Amendment.  Justin Hammer wants to replace Tony Stark in the game of making Iron Man suits and was working with terrorist nations to try to make it happen… did he not follow what happened in the first movie?  Ivan Vanko wants revenge for what happened to his father when he first worked with Tony’s father.

Oh, and Tony is dying. The same Arc reactor that keeps him alive and powers the Iron Man armor is also slowly poisoning him.

So Tony is making preparations.  Or… he’s doing somewhat reckless and stupid things like making his girlfriend Pepper the company’s CEO, driving race cars in Monaco, and throwing wild parties with hot women, which forces his buddy Rhodes to step in with an earlier Iron Man armor, which he could somehow operate without an Arc reactor surgically implanted in his chest.  And that meltdown brings Nick Fury and SHIELD to the scene to piece everything together and get Tony back “in the game”.

There’s a lot more going on, but I’ll just stop here.

In terms of stories, this one is pretty good.  Again, it was well-cast.  There are enough twists and turns to keep people interested, and you really don’t know how it all turns out until the end, but it still leaves us with a good feel.  It also keeps the whole “Avengers” vibe going both during the story and also in the after-credit scene.  It’s no big surprise either. We know where the Marvel Cinematic Universe will be going next.

Unfortunately this movie also begins to expose some stupid flaws, such as having a super-genius suddenly be super-neurotic.  Tony Stark no longer “takes” things from people?  He’s become people-phobic?  Since when?  Obviously he had no problems bedding blond reporters in the first movie.  And he was pretty close with those hot party babes.  And being “people-phobic” apparently didn’t stop him from getting a little too touchy-feely with a certain character at the very end of the movie (and I’m not talking about Pepper).

Plus, the supposed key part of the Iron Man armor is the Arc reactor.  That’s why Obediah Stane couldn’t duplicate it in the first movie.  That’s why Tony Stark is Iron Man and why they can’t separate the two.  And yet, by the end of the movie, we have just that with Iron Man and War Machine.  That’s a serious abandonment of a key sticking point for the character, which they treat pretty nonchalantly.

I didn’t mention it in the Iron Man review, but Clark Gregg really begins to stand out a little more as Agent Coulson in this movie, even though his overall role is minimal and serves as basically a hint towards the next movie.  But, speaking of, whatever happened to “If you try to escape, or play any sort of games with me, I will taze you and watch ‘Supernanny’ while you drool into the carpet”?  I would have loved to have seen that!  How did that get forgotten?

And I know some people complained about Scarlett Johansson’s role as the Black Widow, but, honestly, she played her part as can be expected.  This movie was not about Black Widow.  It was about Tony Stark.  Black Widow was an agent of SHIELD, she had a job to do, and she did it.

And now on to the next movie…

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