Posted by: Tony – May 07, 2010
So, first off, let’s talk a bit about the Iron Man property. Some comics are designed to tell grandiose stories. A good Superman or Spider-Man yarn is typically an epic story, but there are other titles that work on different levels. The X-Men are designed to tackle complex issues while the Fantastic Four offer a sitcom approach to superheroes, presenting stories wherein a squabble between The Thing and The Human Torch can be equally as enjoyable as a battle with a classic villain like Dr. Doom or Galactus. Iron Man is a similar property—he’s a billionaire playboy who dons a suit of armor, for crying out loud, and his stories typically reflect that. I’m not saying that the material is satirical or that it lampoons comics in some way, as that wouldn’t be accurate. Yet, whereas some comic adaptions have bordered on being tragedies, Iron Man is lighthearted by comparison, a superhero who can provide just as much in the way of a punchline as he can in the form of an action scene or a dramatic twist.
Therefore, I simply must applaud everyone responsible for the feature film that is Iron Man 2 for grasping that and delivering a thrill ride packed with humor and excitement. This is not as grand a picture as Watchmen, Spider-Man 2, or X2, and truthfully it shouldn’t be. It is perhaps more enjoyable than any of those films, however, and everyone involved does a spectacular job.
Here are 10 points I would like to make about 2010’s best film to date:
1) Robert Downey Jr. was born to play Tony Stark. I used to believe that Timothy Dalton would have excelled in the role, but after seeing this film I can’t imagine anyone else playing Iron Man. He offers everything the part requires and more, accurately depicting the sly wit, the devilish attitude, and the suave demeanor that make Tony so charismatic, as well as the intelligence and grit that make him a force to be reckoned with. Perfect casting and a wonderfully entertaining performance.
2) Mickey Rourke is awesome. I guess that’s why I decided to do my upcoming Top 5 on this gifted thespian who is so unlike anyone else in his profession. I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed seeing this truly magnificent performer invest all of his considerable talent in his portrayal of a Marvel villain. I should also point out that Mick’s physique is an integral part of his costume, and I can’t think any of anyone else who would have looked as menacing in the role. Iron Man 2 wisely made great use of Rourke’s vigor and ability, and thus Ivan Vanko became a legitimate threat to Tony Stark and his Iron Man armor.
3) Jon Favreau is a very good director. This picture required mind-boggling effects, thrilling action scenes, and a group effort from an ensemble cast packed with stars, and Favreau ensured that it delivered on all fronts. His performance as Stark’s chauffeur, Happy Hogan, was also spot-on, and this sequel definitely benefited from providing the character with additional screen time.
4) You can’t really make Gwenyth Paltrow look plain. She’s too damn hot, and Pepper Potts is a force to be reckoned with in her own right this time out. I liked her a lot in this role, and I think she gives the franchise some much-needed grace.
5) Scarlett Johansson would be drop-dead gorgeous no matter what color her hair was, but man, oh man, did I like seeing her as a redhead. She’s also quite the badass here, and her action scenes, though limited, serve as a highlight. One can only hope that she is given an important part in the upcoming Avengers film
6) Fanboys should go ahead and start salivating about that Avengers film lurking on the horizon. Samuel L. Jackson gets a lot of screentime as Nick Fury, and so do developments that point toward the birth of the greatest team comics have ever known. Stay tuned after the feature for a great post-credits sequence in that vein.
7) Special effects have come a long way, haven’t they? I grew up reading about good old Tinhead’s exploits, but not until now could a feature film have captured his adventures on-screen for audiences across the globe to enjoy in such detail. Some are going to quibble with the abundant cgi, but I thought the effects were immaculate. No complaints here, and that isn’t something I typically say of an effects vehicle.
8) I’m not exactly sure why Terence Howard was replaced (there are a lot of rumors, but we won’t go into that here) and I mean him no disrespect, but I thought Don Cheadle was a far better choice for Rhodey. He is a much more prominent character in this film, and he and RDJ have a great chemistry. I was happy to see him don his armor as War Machine, and I was even happier that Iron Man 2 provided him with so much to do.
9) The end is thrilling, and I liked the movie from start to finish, but the racetrack scene in Monaco is an action setpiece for the ages, easily topping the big finale.
10) Sam Rockwell is always loads of fun, and where the hell has Gary Shandling been? Both made fine contributions, and Shandling closes the piece out in style. Great casting across the board!
What do you need to know about the plot? Well, there’s a hero, a couple of them actually, and then there’s a villain—actually there are a few of those as well, and there’s a lot of history between all of these characters. Does Iron Man 2 offer anything new in the way of storytelling? No, not really, but it doesn’t aim to. This film is all about improving on the formula, and just as Tony Stark is able to use his brain to improvise and overcome, this movie is designed to improve upon the first and take the character of Iron Man to new heights. I think it succeeds in that regard, and while viewers are apt to see finer films in the coming months, they might not be this entertained until The Avengers assemble sometime in the near future.
I enjoyed Iron Man a lot, but Iron Man 2 brings far more to the table, and I had a blast watching it. Kudos to all involved for bringing this comic icon to the screen in truly spectacular fashion.
Oh, and what is it about Iron Man that makes him such a terrific companion for hard rock from the vaults? This film boasts a classic soundtrack, and rest assured, when Iron Man and War Machine square off to settle their differences while Queen’s Another One Bites the Dust drops, it will be hard for audiences to keep from applauding.
Go see Iron Man 2 as soon as you can, and have a great time while you’re at it. That’s what movies like this are made for, and as summer draws near, there isn’t a better time to for a trip to the multiplex. Go ahead, you’ve earned it, and even if you haven’t, I’m giving you a pass. You should take a break and kick back. We can’t all be billionaire playboys who save the world, but a small treasure like a ticket to the cinema and a bucket of buttered popcorn is probably within your grasp. If possible, take someone special out on a date, and I would recommend that you go ahead and have a few drinks before the show if you’re in the mood. Just make sure that you buy a ticket and celebrate the majesty of Hollywood and the creativity of Marvel’s House of Ideas.
If you play your cards right, you might even get laid before the night is through. Tony Stark would seal the deal, you can bank on that.
So how long do we have to wait for this Avengers movie?
by Jimmy Wayland