I have to say, I’m a little mixed about this movie.
Sure, I was excited about seeing War Machine and Whiplash. Sure, Robert Downey Jr, Mickey Rourke, Don Cheadle and Sam Rockwell all put in delightfully strong performances here, and all looked like they were having loads of fun at it too. Even Jon Favreau was spot-on with his comedic timing as Happy Hogan, and Gwyneth Paltrow did well as Pepper Potts.
I’m not convinced about some other things though. While I was happy about the inclusion of Black Widow, it feels like the character was underutilised here, and something about Scarlett Johansson seemed a little off-focus throughout her scenes. Clark Gregg and Leslie Bibb were also weak in their reprisals of SHIELD Agent Coulson and Christine Everhart. This instalment seems to have lost a large chunk of the intelligence we enjoyed in its predecessor in favour of a messy technology show-and-tell.
I’ve also decided that I totally enjoyed the Ivan Vanko character (although I don’t feel it appropriate to continue calling him Whiplash), except for what happened in the introductory scenes and the final battle. I honestly wish the title sequence never happened; I feel it totally cheapened Mickey Rourke’s acting. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: villains don’t always need to have a backstory to be effective, and Heath Ledger’s Joker from The Dark Knight immediately comes to mind. The opening scene rushed the whole introduction to Vanko and actually seemed rather pointless. Whoever’s responsible for this has only Rourke to thank for sustaining the audience’s interest in the character. And then there’s the final battle. Um, why did he have to be in another suit? I dunno about you, but I’m getting really tired of seeing people in iron suits around here. Iron Man, War Machine and Iron Monger (in the first film) were fine, but was it really necessary for this burly, totally badass Russian dude to be in one too? Weak, man, weak. And then um, lemme get this straight; he takes the trouble to build the suit, improve his electric whips, fly all the way to find Iron Man and War Machine, and in a matter of seconds, get defeated with a move they discovered in a drunken brawl? And then self-destruct? Oh yeah, and he did all this after fleeing from a chick who infiltrated his lab? What a terrible way to end him! Jon Favreau, you screwed this one up.
Downey Jr and Rourke deserve at least some kind of awards for their work here, and the soundtrack by AC/DC, John Debney and Tom Morello was a perfect accompaniment. I’m not sure about Jon Favreau’s direction though. Should you watch Iron Man 2? Yes. Will you remember it? Yes. Will this be the best movie this year? No.
Director: Jon Favreau
Producers: Kevin Feige & Susan Downey
Screenwriter: Justin Theroux
Starring: Robert Downey Jr, Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Scarlett Johansson, Mickey Rourke