In commemoration of the upcoming CAPTAIN MARVEL (2019) as well as AVENGERS: ENDGAME (2019), I’ve decided to take a trip down memory lane and revisit ALL of the films relating to the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). In addition, for my reviews of the other films from the MCU, click the following links:
- IRON MAN (2008)
- THE INCREDIBLE HULK (2008)
- THOR (2011)
- CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER (2011)
- THE AVENGERS (2012)
Click the following links for:
Cast: Robert Downey Jr. (SHERLOCK HOLMES  and 2 , and upcoming films SHERLOCK HOLMES 3  and THE VOYAGE OF DOCTOR DOLITTLE ), Don Cheadle (MILES AHEAD ), Scarlett Johansson (ISLE OF DOGS , GHOST/SHELL , JUNGLE BOOK , and the upcoming JOJO RABBIT ), Sam Rockwell (VICE , THREE BILLBOARDS , CHARLIE’S ANGELS , and upcoming films THE BEST OF ENEMIES  and JOJO RABBIT ), and Mickey Rourke (THE EXPENDABLES , SIN CITY , and the upcoming BERLIN, I LOVE YOU )
Director: Jon Favreau (THE JUNGLE BOOK , and the upcoming THE LION KING )
Writer: Justin Theroux (2OOLANDER )
Composer: John Debney (BEIRUT , SHOWMAN , YOUNG MESSIAH , STONEHEARST , PREDATORS , HOCUS POCUS , and upcoming films ISN’T IT ROMANTIC  and THE BEACH BUM )
Cinematographer: Matthew Libatique (VENOM , THE CIRCLE , MONEY MONSTER , STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON , and the upcoming THE NATIVE SON )
Editors: Dan Lebental (CHIPS ) and Richard Pearson (JUSTICE LEAGUE , ACCOUNTANT , MALEFICENT , QUANTUM OF SOLACE , MEN IN BLACK II , and upcoming films GODZILLA: KING OF THE MONSTERS  and WONDER WOMAN 1984 )
This is my honest opinion of: IRON MAN 2
6 months ago, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) came out to the world and admitted that he was Iron Man. This extended to Russia, where Ivan Vanko (Mickey Rourke) has long blamed the Stark family for his banishment and hard-living. With his father’s dying breath, he gives Ivan the means to recreate the mini arc reactor and exact his revenge against Tony.
In the present day, Tony has discovered that he’s dying from poisoning from the Palladium core that powers his chest piece and hasn’t found a viable replacement. In his desperation to make the most of what time he has left, he inadvertently causes rifts in his relationships, both with Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) and James Rhodes (Don Cheadle).
Well, this was… an experience. I think as time went on, I like this movie more than I used to, but at the same time, I really don’t like it. It’s weird.
Let’s start with the easiest problem. There’s no Iron Man. Okay, there’s two scenes worth of Iron Man. The first at the Monaco Grand Prix fighting Vanko, and then the climax at the Stark Expo. Seriously, between those scenes, how many scenes do we really get with Iron Man fighting crime or fighting bad guys? We don’t. We legit don’t. Say what you want about INCREDIBLE HULK, we technically got more of Hulk in that movie than we did of Iron Man in this. And I get it, it’s supposed to be a more personal story, and I’ll talk about that in my positives section, but even if we didn’t see a whole lot of crime-fighting in the previous movie, we at least saw Tony doing something productive with his time and being something of a mad scientist on the right side of the law (sort of). It was a lot of fun to watch there, but he’s not as much fun here.
Let’s talk about that lack of fun. Don’t get me wrong, there’s some great moments that had me laughing. Once again, I’ll talk about that later. But there is a point where even this movie loses me in Tony’s character, and that’s during his birthday party. I get it, he’s dying and if it’s the last birthday you’re going to have, you should be able to do whatever you want without judgment. But there was something not fun about seeing Tony in his Iron Man suit, pissing in it, tripping around for being drunk, destroying champagne bottles with borderline tribal party-goers cheering him on, being kind of an ass to Pepper, and definitely being an ass to Rhodes. It’s out of character to the point where you don’t even feel sorry for him. There has to be a better way to write Tony’s character where it equalizes being afraid of dying, but still having fun with the final days of your life without being… you know, an ass.
What’s worse is that the movie tries to hammer in daddy issues as well. This has never been addressed before. In the first movie, we just see that Tony takes up the reins of his father’s company, no word on his relationship with the man other than he never got to say goodbye to him. When does this movie decide to drop this information about Tony’s relationship with his dad? One hour and eight-ish minutes in. Past the halfway mark of this two hour and five minute flick. I don’t mind characters having parental problems, but when it’s not the theme of the story, it just feels messy. And don’t give me that crap about “No, it’s about legacy!” and try to spin some bullshit about how children are their parents’ legacies, and now it’s our turn to honor their memories, or to leave something behind, I’m not buying that. Had this movie focused on his relationship with his father instead of the chest piece killing him, maybe this would be a stronger movie. Tony and his father, as well as Tony’s slow death, are tied together in such a contrived way that I personally can’t help but wonder if this movie needed one or the other.
And that’s probably the biggest problem of the movie. There’s WAY too much going on. DC wants Tony to turn in his Iron Man suit because they think it’s a weapon, and he doesn’t. Tony is slowly being killed by his chest piece. Justin Hammer (Sam Rockwell) wants Ivan Vanko to build him Iron Man suits of his own. Ivan Vanko wants revenge against Tony for the sins of his father. Tony has unresolved daddy issues. You see the freakin’ problem here?! The original film was simple. Tony no longer wants to make weapons and wants to destroy them. Here, it’s a blended mess of ingredients that would be fine on their own, but have no place being together. And to make matters even worse, most of it, if not all of it, goes nowhere. Justin Hammer says that he’ll be back, implying an appearance in a future movie. He’s not even been referenced since. Vanko completely ignores Hammer about their deal to make a suit of his own resulting in a fight scene that lasts… how long again? Oh yeah, a whooping LESS THAN TWO MINUTES!!! ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?! Yes, I actually sat down and timed that final fight. How utterly pathetic of a runtime is that?! It’s just another fight against an asshole in an Iron suit and is a copy-and-paste theme of “an evil version of Tony.” That’s fine for the first movie, but when it’s done more than once (and boy-howdy do they cram this down our throats even in movies that aren’t Iron Man solo films), it’s repetitive and boring. That’s not a series of adjectives I ever want to use to describe an Iron Man movie!
But, I can’t keep crapping on the movie. I said that there were things that I liked about this movie, and I’m holding myself to that.
Despite his limited use in the story, Vanko does have a really awesome look to him in the Grand Prix. For a suit that’s damn near skeletal by comparison to an Iron suit, Vanko’s whips are way too cool and seem like they put up a decent fight against Iron Man. I mean, those things turned race cars into something that would fit in a Lunchables box. You’ll never convince me that the man didn’t look good swinging those around.
Despite how the movie loses me about halfway through it, the first half is ripe with fun humor. Of course, Downey delivers some fun quips, especially during the DC scenes where all he does is give Garry Shandling’s Senator Stern constant shit and roasting the crap out of Hammer. Happy (Jon Favreau) trying to give Natalie Rushman (Scarlett Johannson) a boxing lesson, resulting in a wonderful takedown and Pepper freaking out in hilarious fashion. I especially enjoyed seeing Vanko and Hammer interacting for the first time in that plane hanger where Vanko is clearly not really giving a shit about Hammer’s enthusiasm about being better than Stark or trying to fluff both of their egos. He’s almost a masterful comic foil and I love that scene. And really, who didn’t laugh their asses off when it came to the Ex-Wife’s usefulness? Hammer built it up so insanely well and once it’s used… man, I had to pause the movie to finish laughing. Using Captain America’s shield to hold up some of Tony’s machinery, Hammer having none of Tony’s showmanship, Black Widow arguably at her best in the entire MCU because I don’t like the character nearly as much as everyone else seems to, the chemistry between Downey and Paltrow remains a staple of their screen time together, and of course, War Machine is a complete and total bad-ass. There’s plenty of fun to have.
As with INCREDIBLE HULK, I have to ask how much this movie is really worth in the overall MCU experience leading up to THE AVENGERS. I would have to say… ugh, yeah, but only because of War Machine. Really, the next time you see him is in ULTRON. I’m not counting IRON MAN 3 because I’m already saying that movie is useless. If you really wanted to stretch out the reasoning for how worthwhile this movie is in Phase One, you could say that it also introduces Black Widow and you learn that Howard Stark was a founding member of SHIELD. So there’s that. But really, it’s for War Machine. If you watched ULTRON and saw War Machine, you’d be pretty damn confused as to who this character was.
Overall, while I may have forgotten how much I enjoyed the good stuff, the bad stuff is way too glaring to ignore. Way too many subplots, none of them having anything to do with each other, and turning one of the most charismatic, bankable, and beloved characters in the MCU into the douche bag that isn’t fun to watch. It’s not without its merits, but I don’t know how much of this movie I’d really want to watch again. The first half was fine, but then skip ahead to when Tony discovers the new element. From that point on, the movie’s fine as well… sort of.
My honest rating for IRON MAN 2: 3/5