Iron Man 2
I chose to skip Iron Man in theaters many years ago to find myself enjoying it thoroughly one weekend with my family. It was an excellent choice as I am sure the film would have not be as much fun in theaters.
This time around I joined a few friends to see it in theaters, when I should have stuck to my guns and waited for a home video release. Or rather, break out the moldy back issues from your cardboard comic book box.
Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) fights to keep his Iron Man suit and weapon as an asset of Stark Industries, a private defense contractor. Both the American Senate led by Senator Stern (Garry Shandling) and Justin Hammer (Sam Rockwell) all want his Iron Man suit. Tony's health wanes as the palladium takes a toll on his healthy, slowly poisoning him. He is fully aware of his failing health and appoints his assistant Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) as the new CEO of Stark Industries.
Ivan Vanko (Mickey Rourke) inherits the plans for the arc reactor from his father who was an archenemy of Howard Stark, Tony's father. Vanko replicates the arc reactor and terrorizes Stark at the Monoco Grand Prix. His attempt is foiled at the end. Hammer helps Vanko escape prison to improve Hammer's failing line of military drones.
Iron Man 2 continues champion the Capitalist ideal of the military industrial complex. Tony Stark refuses to release the Iron Man weapon to the United States military. Stark's confidence and flamboyance—much like any high-up executive—is placed throughout the film, often in places where Stark himself is the most vulnerable. Stark certainly has many interior and external struggles, yet none of these struggles increase the sympathy we may have toward the poor sucker. This film failed to provide us with the necessary plot that make us sympathize with Stark.
The inclusion of Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) (other than eye candy) and Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) as members of S.H.I.E.L.D. is completely unnecessary, and may have worked better in the comic book, since comic books pose the soap opera storylines far better. This inclusion just does not adapt well to the screen and feels too coincidental. A typical complaint on adapting comic books to the film.
The performances of Downey Jr. and Rourke are perfect for their characters, to the point where Downey Jr. may have not been acting the cocky, overly self-confidence at all. Jon Favreau returns as director and shows no signs of being an action-based storyteller. The cinematic elements of Iron Man 2are turn-key, and Favreau only has time to lightly sprinkle his typical humor and dialogue. Favreau should still to the independent comedies where his style reigns.
Iron Man 2 sheds the extraordinary entertainment value of the first, and instead is littered with the seeds of meager subplots meant to increase the momentum of future Marvel franchises. This typically works well in comic books where the the interweaving and cross-overs fuels the stories across many publications, yet in cinema, it feels forced and untrue.