Released: May 7, 2010
Running Time: 2 hours 4 minutes
“With the world now aware that he is Iron Man, billionaire inventor Tony Stark faces pressure from all sides to share his technology with the military. He is reluctant to divulge the secrets of his armored suit, fearing the information will fall into the wrong hands. With Pepper Potts and “Rhodey” Rhodes by his side, Tony must forge new alliances and confront a powerful new enemy.”
In honour of the latest movie from the Marvel Cinematic Universe being released on November 3, 2017, I decided that I wanted to review all of the previous MCU films, and it was also a wonderful excuse to rewatch all the movies again. My girlfriend and I wanted to watch it with a group of friends, however there was no time that we could all agree on, and to space it all out didn’t work, so we watched the MCU movies during the month of September and October so that we would be ‘all caught up’ for Thor Ragnarok.
You can find all of the reviews for the Marvel Cinematic Universe at the link here. At that link, you can also find the dates that the other reviews for the Marvel Cinematic Universe will be posted. My plan is to release one every single day, and because I’ve already reviewed Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 here, and Spider – Man: Homecoming here, they will not be included in the two weeks leading up to Thor Ragnarok.
As such, I will now move onto the actual review of the film, and I hope you enjoy!
Iron Man 2 Trailer – Source: Paramount Pictures & Marvel Entertainment
Cast and Crew
This film was helmed by returning director Jon Favreau, who has since directed feature films such as 2011’s ‘Cowboys & Aliens’, 2014’s ‘Chef’, and 2016’s ‘The Jungle Book’. He turned down the job to direct Iron Man 3 after having too many requests and ‘chefs in the kitchen’ during the making of this film. Iron Man 2 was written by Justin Theroux, mostly known for his acting roles, had previously written ‘Tropic Thunder’ in 2008, and has since written ‘Rock of Ages’ in 2012, and ‘Zoolander 2’ in 2016.
The cast featured Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Scarlett Johansson, Sam Rockwell, Mickey Rourke, Samuel L. Jackson, Clark Gregg, John Slattery, Garry Shandling, Paul Bettany, Leslie Bibb, Jon Favreau and Stan Lee.
Robert Downey Jr. continues to get into the skin of Tony Stark and displays the various emotions that is required for the character in this film. I found that the character puts on this mask of being invulnerable, while slowly dying due to palladium that is powering the arc reactor in his chest, and was able to play both sides of that coin very well. There’s not much more to say about his performance and the nuances that he brings to the character, other than to say that I believe that it was Robert Downey Jr. and not Tony Stark that was proclaiming to the world that he is Iron Man at the end of the first film.
Making Pepper Potts the new CEO of Stark Industries is something that definitely fits within the MCU Tony Stark character, however, I feel that it added unnecessary drama to the film, and it was only done because Stark felt that he would have nothing to leave behind other than the suit after he died due to the poisoning. Paltrow did a good job at being constantly annoyed with Stark, and having a few humorous parts, but for the most part she was the ‘straight man’ in a comedy duo. Favreau’s role seemed to have diminished slightly during this film, however I feel like he continued to bring levity to all the scenes that he was in, and I appreciated the banter between Stark and Hogan.
The introduction of Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanoff was something that I’m conflicted with because while I enjoyed the performance and enjoyed seeing her being a plant in Stark’s company and then kicking ass later on in the film. While on the other hand, I wish that the movie didn’t try to insert different storylines into the movie and overcrowding it as much as they did. Seeing Samuel L. Jackson return after a brief cameo during the end credit scene of the first Iron man was nice, and I feel as if it would have been enough to just include him in setting up the Avengers.
There are problems with this movie, and the casting of Mickey Rourke as Ivan Vanko was one of the few casting mistakes that the MCU has done. There was no problems with the actor, but doesn’t fit the character that Marvel themselves had created for this movie in the comics. (Anton in the comics) Vanko is young (ish), athletic, and not obsessed with his stupid bird. I understand that this movie was extremely rushed, and had ‘a lot of hands in the pot’ for this movie, and it shows in it’s quality of its script and overall product.
Bringing in Don Cheadle to replace Terrence Howard after he left the franchise after reportedly being offered a lot less money to appear in the second film was disappointing at first, but Cheadle did a good job at making the character his own, and not trying to mimic Howard’s performance. At the end of the day, because we’ve now seen Cheadle’s version of Howard in more films, it’s safe to say that a lot of people might slightly forget that he wasn’t in the first one to begin with. Sam Rockwell as the poor man’s Tony Stark when it comes to weapon manufacturing and charisma, Justin Hammer was well performed. I feel like he did as good of a job as he could with what he was given. I feel like if given the time and the right script, he could do a great job at portraying the Justin Hammer from the comic books at being an evil mastermind, supplying the villains of the world with weaponry.
Two short but fun ‘long cameos’ came from Clark Gregg reprising his role as Agent Phil Coulson, and John Slattery being introduced as Howard Stark, with a video from the last time there was a Stark Expo. I enjoy every minute I watch whenever Coulson is interacting with the ‘Superheroes’ in this world because he’s either fawning over them (Avengers with Captain America), or putting them in their place (every interaction with Tony Stark). Slattery is something of a mixed bag for me, one because I enjoyed his comedic yet serious portrayal of Howard Stark, I feel like because the only time we actually see him was during video playbacks, they could have waited a bit longer to get the guy that they cast as Howard Stark for Captain America: The First Avenger – Dominic Cooper, which went into production around the time this movie was set to be released.
In January 2010, Marvel Comics decided to reinvent the Whiplash character, and name him Anton Vanko (no relation to the original Crimson Dynamo), as a lead up to the release of this movie. The original Whiplash, Mark Scarlotti, was employed by Hammer Industries, and released from prison. The new Whiplash’s story would have been a much better story for Iron Man 2, where Tony is framed for the death of Vanko’s father and the destruction of his village, and then reverse engineers a suit with the lashes out of the amour that the guilty party utilized. Once again, these are my personal opinions regarding the movies, and what I think would have suited the movie better if they were adamant about using the Whiplash character as the villain for Iron Man 2. As seen in the pictures below, you can see the original Whiplash from 1968, and the reinvented Whiplash in 2010.
As you may have noticed in the one of the previous paragraphs, one of the glaring problems with this movie was Vanko’s obsession with his bird that actually had 7 scenes throughout the film where that stupid bird was one of the topics discussed or featured. Now, I don’t have any problems with birds in general, but when it becomes a distraction in a superhero movie, that’s something that I have a problem with.
The overabundance of storylines in this film, the misuse of Whiplash, and the obsession of a stupid bird is what hurt this movie the most. Now, you might say “Alex, it seems to me that you’re the one obsessed with this bird”, and my reply would be “See, it’s annoying, right?”. If I could go back and re-edit this film, I would make the following changes. Use the story from the comic book Iron Man vs Whiplash, for him to get motivation to hunt down Stark. Remove the Romanoff scenes (while entertaining, could have been left out (introduce her at the end of Captain America instead of the girl from the Mentalist)). Keep the Stark killing himself with palladium and finding a cure, but focus on him trying to figure out how to stop himself from dying, keep the deleted scenes involving that. Cast a younger actor for Whiplash to make him more athletic.
I enjoyed the themes of Stark trying to find out what kind of legacy that he wants to be remembered for, and the self doubt, because that makes him relatable, even as a billionaire genius. I’m not trying to say that the I would do a better job, because I wouldn’t, I would think my idea is better, just as every fanboy does, but that’s a great thing about movies, is that people can talk about them, disagree on things, and speculate about what could have been.
When you have a soundtrack that was done mostly by AC/DC, you know that it’s going to be a rock filled soundtrack. As I mentioned in the past two reviews, with Iron Man having music that was rock centric, which fit extremely well with Tony Stark’s character, and then following that up with erratic music in the Incredible Hulk, which fit Banner’s personality and inner war with himself, I feel like keeping the rock music for Stark is a brilliant move, and I continued to enjoy the thematic music that fits the personalities of the titular hero of the films in the MCU.
The score for Iron Man 2 was orchestrated by John Debney, picked up right where Ramin Djawadi had left off, and just made the score more than Iron Man. I feel like the score was more of everything to showcase the increase in the Armours, the increase in the speed of Stark’s life, and the instability of his character health issues.
While I enjoyed the fact that this movie once again displays Tony’s intelligence when he works with clues that was left behind by his father, in rediscovering a new element ‘Vibranium’ (the Vibranium steel alloy is what Captain America’s Shield is made of), that he could use as a new power source for the arc reactor in his chest, and wouldn’t poison him. This movie should have focused more on the deleted scenes (you can find on Youtube), about Tony trying to find a replacement rather than the bird scenes or the overabundance of Avenger hints, in my opinion.
As already mentioned in the ‘Spider Man: Homecoming’ review linked here, Marvel has retconned that Peter Parker was actually the young child who was at Stark Expo pictured below that Tony saves from one of the Hammer Drones.
Rhodes finally fulfills the promise to himself from the first film and gets in one of the suits, and takes it for his own. Armoured by Hammer Industries, which is the new weapons manufacturer for the United States military after Stark shut that part of Stark Industries down during the first Iron Man.
The buddy team up scene with War Machine was fun to watch, and great to see Stark interacting with another ‘Superhero’ for the first time, and watching them easily take on a ton of drones, as well as having a bit more difficulty in handling Whiplash, but still defeating him rather soundly at the end.
The action scenes involving Romanoff and Hogan was brilliantly executed and displayed two different fighting styles. When Stark told Happy to teach her a few things in the boxing ring, Happy was trying to play it cool and try and show off, however got his ass handed to him in style. The other action scene involving them, we get to see Black Widow come to play and kick 11 henchmen’s butts, while Happy is dealing with the one guard that was at the front door. I wish there wasn’t as many takes as they had during the fights, as it was just too erratic and showing too many angles that it was confusing as whether I’ve just seen the same hit twice or not.
In every Marvel Studios property that has had the problem of ‘too many cooks in the kitchen’, has been a lower quality film, such as Iron Man 2, Thor: The Dark World, and Avengers: Age of Ultron. Those three films, are arguably the worst of the MCU. Granted, they are not bad movies, just the bar that was set high by the rest of the MCU was too high for that trio. Marvel has let the directors make their own film, while having a guiding hand for the overall story arc of the current phase they are in, and they’ve had to relearn it a couple of times, however, they seem to be on the right track with what we’ve heard about Thor: Ragnarok and Black Panther
Another problem I had with this movie was that it was basically shoving in our faces the fact that they would be doing a team-up movie soon, called the Avengers. It’s something that they did for the general audience to get excited for, as not everyone knew about the end credit scene with Nick Fury at the end of Iron Man. Personally, I think it was unnecessary to pour it on so thick, as this just added too much to the movie, and had too many stories going at the same time.
The Post credit scene which was set up earlier in the film, when Coulson tells Stark that he was being reassigned to New Mexico, finds him at a crash site for Mjolnir, the hammer of Thor Odinson, and setting up the next film in the MCU, Thor.
Clark Gregg as Phil Coulson – End Credit Scene- Source: Paramount Pictures
Overall, this movie was entertaining while still having more flaws than what I would have wanted from it. The story wasn’t great, and its use of the villains that they had wasn’t handled properly. The music, acting, characters, and general tone of the film was great, but the quality of the film suffered too much for me to give this film even a 7/10. At the end of the day, this film is the third worse of the entire MCU, and I give this film a score of 6.75/10.
What did you think of the film? Are you excited for Thor Ragnarok? Let me know in the comments below!
Thanks for reading,