Iron Man 2 (Contains Spoilers)

The second outing of the metallic hero sees the (nearly) entire cast of the original returning for the next installment in Marvel Studios various projects currently being undergone. I’ll admit that, along with Kick-Ass, Iron Man 2 is my big geeky pleasure of the year (well, until Scott Pilgrim VS The World, that is!) and I’ve been looking forward to this since the last one came out. But, I’ve been wary about films that I’ve gotten overly excited about before (for reference, go find my views on Alice In Wonderland *heaves*), but I’m happy to say that Iron Man 2 didn’t disappoint me!

Without reciting the entire film and everything that happened in each scene, Iron Man 2 had everything that it needed in there. There was a point when fans and critics worried about it suffering from the Spider-Man 3 disease of having too many bad guys come into the mix, but the way it was executed meant that it didn’t suffer at all. Mickey Rourke was basically a slightly Russian Mickey Rourke throughout this, but he is in the bad guy spotlight in this film. Everything that occurs is because of him, and Sam Rockwell playing Justin Hammer is merely a means to how Mickey Rourke’s Ivan Vanko/Whiplash is able to conduct all these things that happen throughout the film (even though the character of Ivan Vanko was actually Crimson Dynamo in the original story, as Whiplash was only ever Whiplash). Which is why it works so well that he first appears and has a face off with Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark/Iron Man so early in the film. It means that they can break up the storyline of the film that much more with fight scenes earlier on, which means there isn’t any lengthy scenes of expositional nothingness… like with Spider-Man 3…

Then, of course, there is the constant undercurrent of Stark slowly (and pretty ironically) being poisoned by the Arc Reactor in his chest that he invented to keep himself alive, which then leads to his midlife depression and alcoholism which was famously tackled in the comics for some time. The ONLY bad thing I have to say about Iron Man 2 is that when he discovers a way to create a new kind of reactor to replace his that won’t kill him anymore, and will be even more efficient than his other one, he has to create a new element in order to do it and this happens a little to easily. BUT, having said that, this is entirely justified in the simple fact that he is Tony Stark, and if he can create a suit of armour that flies at over Mach 5 speeds and fires lasers, then why wouldn’t this be possible too? The only qualm over this is the fact that he had to go through the process of finding a hidden design for this in a model city his Father made in order to invent such a thing.

It does have to be said, however, that arguably one of the most impressive bits of the movie is the Suitcase Armour he uses during the first fight with Whiplash. It’s a little thing from the comics that some of the more die-hard fans might recognise and appreciate, and Jon Favreau and the writers did well to work it into the film. However, what I wasn’t much of a fan of was how Mickey Rourke made Whiplash look a bit more like someone who got lost on their way to an S&M gathering at the start. Luckily, this is rectified at the end when he turns up in an admittedly too-close-to-Iron Man-looking armour himself at the end, but is very much closer to how he should look – like more of a badass!

Whilst it’s a bit of a shame that Terrence Howard decided not to return for the second film, Don Cheadle does a very good job of stepping into his shoes as James Rhodes, who steps up to the plate as War Machine in this film. And he does a great job too – there’s I personally thought that Terrence Howard might have done differently apart from maybe bringing a bit more “cool” to the role. But considering that Rhodey is a captain in the Air Force, it’s tough to be too laid back in that position! Other new characters include the previously mentioned Sam Rockwell as Justin Hammer (who, admittedly, does become a little annoying after a while…) and the amazingly sexy-looking Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanov/Black Widow, who obviously did a lot of training for her role and will most likely appear in more Iron Man/Marvel films in the future because of this.

As the film moves on, it becomes more and more obvious over the links to future Marvel/Avengers-related films as Samuel L. Jackson has lengthy appearances as Nick Fury in Iron Man 2 and mentions more and more the notion of grouping together The Avengers. Almost as a joke, Stark gets handed a partially dismantled shield of Captain America to prop up some machinery he is working on in his workplace. The biggest of these, however, is rewarded to those patient enough to stay until after the credits when we are treated to a S.H.I.E.L.D. operative travelling to a dig site in the middle of the desert – a dig site where they have found Mjolnir, the hammer of Thor. So, at least now we know which film to look forward to for next year, don’t we?

Overall, apart from some slightly slow areas and perhaps not being as consistently impressive as the first one, Iron Man 2 definitely ticked all the boxes that I expected it to – it had some very entertaining action sequences, new characters, a storyline with enough taken from the comics to please fans and enough things left to tie up that they’ll make another one (which is rumoured to be a crossover with a second/third Hulk movie), and some huge geek-out moments that will keep me interested until next year’s ones!

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