A wealthy businessman, who is also a superhero, must deal with the consequences of revealing that he is a superhero to the world while also dealing with a shady government organization trying to recruit him, an angry Russian trying to kill him, a jealous businessman trying to one-up him, the military as it tries to steal his equipment, his own mortality as his suit is poisoning him, his alcoholism, his father’s legacy, his romantic feelings towards his secretary, and the discovery of a new element in one long and fucking confusing movie.
The (Super) Heroes:
Robert Downey Jr. is Tony Stark is Iron Man, again
Despite the first movie setting him up as a superhero by the end, Tony Stark spends practically no time as Iron Man in this movie. It’s more of a character-centric drama than anything, so the movie may as well be called Tony Stark 2: He’s Still Not Iron Man. He has apparently spent a lot of time being a superhero offscreen, as by this film, his superhero antics have made him into a bona-fide celebrity, along with attracting the attention of the military. But despite this, we still don’t see him doing any superheroics in this movie. None. Both of the action scenes in this movie (That’s right both. As in 2.) are started by an attack on him personally, so despite his superhero status, he really never does anything too heroic, unless of course you count getting crashing you own party or discovering a new element heroic.
Likewise, he never really does anything badass. His armor is still pretty badass, especially the suitcase armor, which is just plain epic, but Tony himself, lacks any true badassness. Character growth and change is not badass. Remember how in the first one, there’s the whole sequence of him walking through the caves, beating down terrorists and lighting them the hell on fire without even flinching? We get nothing like that here, and it’s pretty disappointing.
Is it me, or has Terrance Howard gotten way more… You know what, never mind.
Don Cheadle is Col. James Rhodes is War Machine
Now this guy is pretty badass. You may remember him as Terrance Howard from the first movie, or from my breakdown where I never mentioned him, but it’s not until this movie that he really gets badass. Effectively stealing an Iron Man suit from Tony after fighting him at his birthday party, Rhodey and the military load up the suit with enough guns and missiles to make Schwarzenegger flinch and plan to turn him into their own kind of superhero. Unfortunately, he only uses the suit in combat at the end, and the suit’s supposed best weapon, the “Ex-Wife” turns out to be a dud. So he isn’t that badass. Still, he does beat up Iron Man, something this movie makes you want to do several times throughout.
Scarlett Johansson is Natalie Rushman/Romanov/Who Gives a Fuck a.k.a Black Widow
Hired as Tony’s new secretary, she is revealed to be a SHIELD agent (And also Russian for some reason) midway through the movie. There isn’t really much purpose to her being in this movie, since the only part SHIELD really plays here anyway is solving Tony’s poisoning problem for him and helping him discover a new element that his dad left for him in the form of a 3D model of a weapons convention. God, this movie’s confusing.
Black Widow beats up some of Hammer’s guards at the end, which is pretty cool, but altogether pointless, and looks good in a catsuit, but doesn’t really do anything worth mentioning. It is cool to see Black Widow in a movie, but I wish they had kept the sexy Russian accent from the comics.
Samuel L. Motherfuckin’ Jackson is Nick Motherfuckin’ Fury
Though not really much more than a glorified cameo, S.J.M.F. Jackson has a fun role in the movie, and I thought he was worth mentioning just to cover all of the comic book characters. Though Jackson is really only playing himself in the movie (As Rant said in his review a while back, he’s even wearing the overcoat from Shaft), he’s always fun to watch, and manages to be a badass without even doing anything particularly memorable.
The (Super) Villains:
Mickey Rourke is Ivan Vanko is Whiplash
One thing this movie does have that is better than the first is a better main villain. Vanko is tough, smart and willing to betray anyone to get his way. After his father, a disgraced former employee of Stark Industries who helped design the Arc Reactor dies, Vanko sees Tony Stark becoming a celebrity on TV due to an invention he believes was made by his father. Furious, he decides to make his own low-tech super suit, complete with electro-whips, and show the world that Tony Stark is not all his cracked up to be. He doesn’t have much of a plan, or even a goal, he just wants to humiliate Tony Stark, and he’s willing to go to extraordinary lengths to do it.
This is becoming a thing now, isn’t it Marvel?
Basically a sociopath, Vanko kills anyone who gets in his way, and only forges an alliance with the stupid Justin Hammer to use his resources, fully planning to betray him all along. He is also obsessed with his parrot, and looks like a fucked-up pirate. I’m not sure where to go with that. Despite being not only a good villain, but an interesting and unique one, Whiplash only faces off with Tony twice, and is both times taken down really damn easily. But he goes out like a boss, accepting defeat calmly and blowing himself up to try and kill Iron Man. While that may be batshit insane, you’ve at least got to respect his devotion.
Sam Rockwell is Justin Hammer
A smarmy businessman tired of being constantly belittled by Tony Stark, Justin Hammer decides on the only logical response: killing some people and hiring a murderer to build a better Iron Man suit than Tony. Justin Hammer is an immature little guy, who spends half the movie going off on little tantrums for not getting his way. He’s smooth on the outside, but tends to speak fast and confusingly when confronted. He doesn’t want revenge on Tony at all in the movie, though I really don’t see why he doesn’t, he just wants to one-up him at his own convention. Unfortunately, he hires Ivan Vanko, Iron Man’s attempted assassin, to do it for him, and that of course ends up biting him in the ass.
Sam Rockwell gives a great performance as this guy, another atypical super-villain with motives not usually seen. He’s the kind of guy you hate as soon as you hear him talk, and Rockwell really plays it up, giving one of the most enjoyable performances in the movie. He’s no badass; in fact he’s pretty much a pussy, but he’s a fun character to watch.
Dudesweat and Machismo:
Surprisingly not followed by a rape scene
Well, the main villain of this movie is a long-haired, sweaty, shirtless guy who uses whips to attack Iron man. So there’s that. Not really anything else though. You could look at the relationship of Tony and Rhodey as a tad homoerotic, what with their wrestling and such, but there’s really not much to go on here.
Exploitation and Misogyny:
There are dancing girls in bikinis at the Stark Expo, and the SHIELD agent assigned to Stark has apparently done some modeling and spends most of the movie in a skin-tight jumpsuit. Tony doesn’t bed any women in this one, though he does get the girl in the end, who is of course trapped in danger and has to be rescued by Tony. Pepper Potts is written as a strong, independent woman though, who is promoted from being Tony’s secretary to running his company, so I’d say this movie’s attitude towards women is pretty positive. Oh, and that reporter from the first one is back this time too, which leads to this great exchange of dialogue:
Pepper: “Well, she did quite a spread on Tony last year.”
Tony: “And she wrote a story as well.”
Murder by Numbers: 13 or so
Most Satisfying Ass-Kicking And/Or Death:
Epic Moment and Best One-Liner:
“This time, Whiplash cause car crashes, and not vice versa!” – The one-liner that should have been used there.
The epic moment goes to Vanko and his introduction at the Circuit de Monaco. As Tony races, Vanko, dressed as a guard enters the track and activates his suit. It burns off his shirt in slow motion, and he begins casually walking along the track, chopping cars in half with his high powered laser whips. He crashes Tony’s car, and then uses the whips to blow up the cars behind him. While the ensuing fight is too chaotic and brief for its own good, Vanko gets one hell of an introduction.
As I said in the character sections, Whiplash goes out like a boss, and so naturally, his last words before blowing himself up are, “You lose.”
It’s not really a one-liner, but it’s a cool line. I still find it surprising that in a movie with such fast and often clever dialogue, they never find time to fit in a one-liner. Of course, they only found time to fit in one good action sequence, so I guess it makes sense.
After the tremendous success of Iron Man in theaters, Marvel Studios immediately put a sequel into production, hoping to get a sequel to at least one of their Avengers movies released before the Avengers movie. Right off the bat we are re-introduced to Tony Stark, living it up after revealing that he was Iron Man to the world. Within the first couple of minutes, we are shown that he has issues. The generator keeping him alive is also poisoning him, and he’s become an alcoholic.
But first the character of Ivan Vanko is introduced, the genius son of a disgraced Stark employee, who’s looking to get some revenge on Tony Stark, as well as get a better home for his parrot. Right off the bat, the movie makes mistakes. There is really nothing in this movie to establish that he’s a superhero, besides the fact that everyone says he is. He does no superhero stuff in this movie. Because of this, there is no big action sequence to start off the movie, and you really have no reason to root for Tony Stark other than the fact that you liked him so darn much in the first movie.
Instead of focusing on Iron Man, the movie chooses to focus on the changes in Tony Stark. We find out that he’s dying, that he’s an alcoholic, that he’s ignoring his duties at his company, that he’s got father issues, that SHIELD wants to recruit him, and that the government wants his Iron Man suit for military use. And we, as viewers, have to watch him deal with that, instead of watching him deal with, say, more terrorists. Or robots. Or anything. In fact, we’re told that he’s basically made the world a more peaceful place single-handedly. We’re never shown that, we’re just told. And that kind of sucks.
This fight lasts about 12 seconds longer than it did in the trailer.
The movie is confusing, over-crowded with plotlines and Avengers references* and consequently almost boring at times. I’m not saying it isn’t a decent movie, because it is. The dialogue is clever, the characters are fun, and the story is at least original and unique. But therein lies the problem. You really don’t get a superhero movie with all this. Despite the promises the advertisements made, with the introduction of War Machine, Black Widow and the expanded role of Nick Fury, you don’t get the awesome, balls-out action movie you were hoping for. Instead, you get a slow-paced character study of Tony Stark as he deals with his personal issues. And that’s just not as much fun.
*This, despite being a big factor in why the movie doesn’t really work, is pretty much one of the most fun parts of the movie. Nick Fury and Black Widow both play large roles in the movie, though it’s hard to say Black Widow’s made a lick of sense, and there are some great references to Captain America, The Incredible Hulk, and of course Thor after the credits. As a nerd, I was pleased with all of this, though the movie probably would have been better without all of it.
Even though your dad may seem like he hates you, he might just be waiting until he is long dead to have someone else reveal to you that he loves you and help you discover a new element that will conveniently save your life. So yeah. Tough it out.
Creating a new element or something. This movie doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.
I think the main moral of this story however, is if when making the choice between standard, clichéd, action-packed sequel and long, strange character piece with a complex storyline, it may just be best to make a fun but standard sequel. Because let’s face it, not every franchise can be Batman.
[THE AOBG ACTION CHECKLIST]
[X] Athlete(s) Turned “Actor” (Mickey Rourke was a boxer, wasn’t he?)
[X] Clinging To The Outside Of A Moving Vehicle
[X] Crotch Attack
[X] Dialogue Telling Us How Bad-Ass The Main Character(s) Is/Are
[ ] Ending Featuring An Ambulance, A Blanket or A Towel
[X] Giant Explosion(s)
[X] Heavy Artillery
[X] Improvised Weapon(s)
[X] Macho Mode(s) Of Transportation
[X] Main Character Sports Facial Accessory(s)
[ ] Manly Embrace(s)
[ ] Notorious Stunt-Man Sighting
[X] Passage(s) Of Time Via Montage
[X] Politically Fueled Plot Point(s)
[X] Senseless Destruction Of Property
[X] Shoot Out(s) and/or Sword Fight(s)
[ ] Slow-Motion Finishing Move(s)/Death(s)
[X] Stupid Authoritative Figure(s)
[X] Substance Usage and/or Abuse
[ ] Tis The Season
[ ] Torture Sequence(s)
[X] Unnecessary Sequel [Iron Man 3, Avengers being completely necessary]
[X] Vehicle Chase(s)
[X] Vigilante Justice
[TOTAL: 19 outta 25]
Also there’s a Bill O’Reilly cameo. You know, for the kids.