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When last we left Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) two years ago he had defeated his former friend and business partner Obediah Stane (Jeff Bridges) and in a press conference declared himself to be Iron Man. Fast forward to today (about 6 months, Iron Man time), Tony Stark/Iron Man is back and he's bringing some major muscle with him back to the Box Office. The first film should always be viewed as the blueprint for success for any superhero story. It's a character driven story that is funny, smart and entertaining as hell. The second is truly no different in that respect. Where the first film dealt with the origin of Iron Man and the humanizing of Tony Stark. The second film is deceptively darker as Tony, after he outed himself as Iron Man, has bitten off way more than he can chew.
Tony Stark is enjoying life as the sole protector of the planet Earth. But he's got some problems heading his way. First the electromagnet protecting his heart is now poisoning his blood stream and slowly killing him. The Government wants him to hand over the Iron Man gear , and no does not seem to be a suitable answer. Which forces them to bring out the big guns in smart ass Senator Stern (Garry Shandling) and rival business Mogul and current weapons manufacturer for the U.S., Justin Hammer (Sam Rockwell). They even try to use Col. James "Rhodey" Rhodes (Don Cheadle), Stark's best friend, against him. He's also being hounded by S.H.I.E.L.D and Nick Fury (Samuel Jackson) to man up and join the Avengers. And to make matters worse he's got a brilliant but crazy Russian name Ivan Vanko (Mickey Rourke) gunning for him. What is a rich Billionaire Industrialist to do?I really enjoyed this sequel I can't say that it's better than the first one but it certainly progresses the character of Tony Stark and plops him into a new world from the one he inhabited in the first one. Tony tries to be a good guy superhero but he really struggles with it. He's so arrogant and self-righteous it's hard sometimes, at least in the beginning, to see who the audience should truly root for. It was also great to watch him verbally spar back in forth with his right hand lady Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow). They are like an old married couple, classic. Now to some this may be a spoiler so I just want to alert you now if you haven't seen the film to gloss over this part but-- SPOILER!!!!
One of my favorite scenes of the film is when Tony, drunk on his own power literally and figuratively decides to don his Iron Man armor and blow stuff up for laughs at one of his parties. On first glance it seems goofy as he stumbles around the room wearing his armor but the subtext is unavoidable, it's like a drunk behind the wheel of a tank. So of course his responsible friend Rhodey has to suit up in a spare Iron Man outfit and put him down before he hurts somebody. This is truly what makes Iron Man/Tony Stark different from any of the other Marvel heroes. No matter how many villains you throw at the guy he will always be his own worst enemy. This scene has shades of one of the more popular episodes of the Iron Man comic where Tony Stark battles alcoholism in Demon in a Bottle. They don't come right out and say it but it is clear that this kind of behavior is not behind him but looking him squarely in the eye. Perhaps in Iron Man 3.What a great group of actors and characters they threw into this flick. Sam Rockwell was hilarious and a little sad as the, not so smart used car salesman, version of Tony Stark. It was also nice to see Nick Fury get a little arc that proves to get even bigger as the series continues ramping up to an Avengers film. I know some people were annoyed with the references to the big Avengers flick that should take place in a few years, but I thought it fit in well. Speaking of which there are a ton of Easter Eggs in this one, so all I'll say is pay attention to the surroundings when Tony is talking with Nick Fury in the bunker. Also there is some stuff when he's getting a verbal smack down from Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg). So keep your eyes peeled. I also enjoyed watching Scarlett Johansson flip around in tight spandex as the Black Widow. I wasn't sure if she could handle a bad ass role like this but she proved she ain't no Jinx (Halle Berry). What can I say watching Don Cheadle suit up as War Machine kicking ass side by side with Iron Man was pretty frickin sweet. Also I was surprisingly satisfied with Mickey Rourke's Ivan Vanko. Personally he would not have been my first choice for the film, I'm not a Mickey hater but I'm not a fan either, what's the deal with the cockatoo Mick? Birds aside, he really brought some layers to his performance and brought some true menace and Khan like rage to amp up the action. Although I have to admit I had some mixed feelings about the over the top action sequence at the Monaco racetrack. It was cool to watch even though it went above and beyond any semblance of reality.
So, if you haven't seen it yet go out and see it now. It's a really fun, well written summer blockbuster. Yes I understand the haters cry that there still aren't enough scenes with Iron Man blowing shit up. If you want a stupid giant robot blowing things up go rent Transformers . But if you want some great characters with depth telling a non-traditional comic book story with some great action pieces, then Iron Man 2 is your cup of tea. Oh, and one more thing AC/DC rocks the house.
Grade 4 Buckets