Iron Man 2 (2010)
September 27, 2020 7:00 PM - Subscribe

With the world now aware of his identity as Iron Man, Tony Stark must contend with both his declining health and a vengeful mad man with ties to his father's legacy.

Roger Ebert: You want a sequel, you got a sequel. "Iron Man 2," directed like the first one by Jon Favreau, gets the job done. Since both movies have essentially the same story arc, there aren't a lot of surprises, however, which started me to wondering how the guys survive inside those suits. Sure, the suits are armored, but their bodies aren't. How many dizzying falls and brutal blows and sneaky explosions can you survive without breaking every bone in your body? Just asking'.

New York Times (AO Scott): A bunch of guys in metal suits slugging it out in a park in Queens? I can probably find that on pay-per-view or even YouTube.

The New Yorker (Anthony Lane): After swarms of human mutations and alien life-forms, borne along on a tide of fireballs, what can cinema still surprise us with? Well, believe me, until you’ve heard Mickey Rourke speaking Russian, you really don’t know what special effects are.
posted by computech_apolloniajames (20 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
I'll give it this - it had one of my favorite lines ever spoken by Agent Coulson.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:34 PM on September 27 [3 favorites]


It's a curious decision to make the "tech" in the opener for the Russians be a Parrot and a stack of high-end VHS players (I might have owned one of those 8-head ones!).

Subtitle translations such as "Ivan" (Ivan) are shown, which is great!

Celebrating trillionaires, egotistic ones right off the bat - ought to set up a comeupance.

Pretty antipathic to Paltrow because of the Goop thing, but this wasn... so this was the definitive sell-out moment.
posted by porpoise at 8:39 PM on September 27


I liked this one better than a lot of people seem to have; the snark as quoted in those reviews seems pretty weak. (Although I think that you missed Ebert's best line: "So Tony stands aside at big events and uses a little blood monitor--helpfully named the 'Stark Blood Monitor,' in case anybody sees it".) The movie does have its flaws and weaknesses; giving Elon Musk a cameo probably helped contribute to his delusion that he is Tony Stark, rather than a rich guy who pays people to invent stuff and then takes credit for it, and the whole subplot with the blood poisoning and his dad and the hidden reference to the secret element and all that basically amounts to Stark having to switch to a different type of battery, since the "arc reactor" has always seemed like a fancy battery, basically.

But that doesn't keep the whole thing from being fun. Whiplash was never much of a much in the comics: a guy in a purple suit with a green ponytail, the sort of one-gimmick villain that Spider-Man would beat on his way to his real enemies. Mickey Rourke elevates the idea by doing the evil version of his character from The Wrestler, making Whiplash a burnt-out-sleazy guy who doesn't seem to give a shit about anything besides Making Tony Pay, preferably in the most publicly humiliating way possible, and it's a real treat to see him interact with Justin Hammer and quickly figure out how to use him to get what he wants. Hammer, again a not-very-interesting villain in the comics, gets reworked into a Stark wannabe by Sam Rockwell, who is even funnier here than he was in Galaxy Quest. Plus, we get the suitcase suit (again, a dubious concept in the comics, but it works here), and I have to say that whatever virtues Terence Howard has as an actor, Don Cheadle is so much better as Rhodey that it's hard to remember that Howard was in the first movie.
posted by Halloween Jack at 5:10 AM on September 28 [2 favorites]


I can never keep this one and the first one separate in my head. They just kind of blur together for me.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:25 AM on September 28


Oh, also, WRT Black Widow: that subplot was OK, although I'd read about her appearance somewhere before I'd seen the movie, so the whole thing where the new secretary/potential romantic rival turned out to be a super-spy didn't really work for me, although I wonder how much of a surprise it would have been, given how easily "Natalie" took down Happy in the ring. (Not to mention, you know, her being on the poster in the catsuit.) The whole thing about SHIELD infiltrating Stark Industries is a derivation of the comics plotline where they try taking over the company outright (I think that they technically do, but Tony destroys his armor technology to keep it out of their hands; at least at that point, he's more resistant to outfitting them than he was at their founding).
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:33 AM on September 28


This film gets panned frequently, but Vanko, I think, is the only IM villain who really challenges Tony on his own turf of being the anti establishment guy who is smarter than everyone else in the room, which makes him the most compelling villain Tony gets IMHO.

They tried to combine aspects of Vanko and Jeff Bridges's Obadiah Stane in IM3 and it didn't really pan out.

FWIW Rourke had a falling out with the MCU brass after the movie came out and claimed they gutted his character from his original concept.
posted by Query at 7:37 AM on September 28


I am also confused by the criticism of this installment. If it had been released six years earlier it would have been the best superhero film of all time. The main problem with this movie is that the first Iron Man had already shifted what a superhero movie could be. As far as critics are concerned, you aren’t judging this movie primarily on fun and entertainment, you’re kind of missing the point.
posted by snofoam at 10:25 AM on September 28


If you want to see what happened to Justin Hammer after this film, he appears again in "Hail To The King", the short film that cleans up a loose end from Iron Man 3 (spoilers for that film, of course).
posted by Servo5678 at 10:41 AM on September 28 [2 favorites]


MCU fans seem to consistently rank this as the worst (or second worst after Incredible Hulk) one so far, and I've never understood their problem with it. I think it's a solid sequel, it builds Tony's character further, changes his relationships a little, moves the overall MCU story along with the addition of Black Widow and SHIELD taking a more prominent role. Plus, I like Sam Rockwell's take on Justin Hammer, and I like Mickey Rourke as Whiplash. The end-battle is not great, but it gets the job done. Maybe it was seen as a let-down after the revelatory experience of the first Iron-Man.
posted by wabbittwax at 12:47 PM on September 28


moves the overall MCU story along

To me this is kinda the problem with it, The MCU needs Iron Man 2 for expository purposes but Iron Man 2 as a story in itself doesn't really need the MCU. So it slams on the brakes in the middle to introduce a bunch of elements which feel unimportant to the main story, which is then left to resolve with Tony and Rhodey being like 'hey what if we shoot him at the same time?' and then the bad guy dies. There's a certain lack of focus.

The race sequence is cool though.
posted by StarkRoads at 1:35 PM on September 28


This one and its sequel are both pretty weak films despite fine casts, and damn weak compared to the first. I think the problem is that the original movie presents you with a redemption arc that can't really be matched by installments that show Stark essentially struggling with being a hero when he's actually sort of an asshole. That may be a relatable conflict, I guess, but it's not an especially compelling or likeable one.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 1:54 PM on September 28


I liked this one, though admittedly there's a interchangeability to all these movies so that can always depend on my mood more than objective quality.

I totally interpreted the opening scene--where the asshole Tony Stark does the Steve Jobs expo with fanbois hanging on his every word--as a knock on the megalomania of the celebrity tech guys. In retrospect I might have misinterpreted that. Either I did or reality did, because those bastards are more like that than ever.

And Sam Rockwell's monologue about weapons on the new suit ("It can bust the bunker underneath the bunker you just busted") is probably my favorite single person verbal set piece in the MCU, at least if I ignore the ex-wife 'joke.' (I mean Rockwell is supposed to be sleazy, but it's a lazy ending.)
posted by mark k at 4:18 PM on September 28 [1 favorite]


it's a lazy ending.

That's not the real payoff for the gag, though. That comes in the third act.
posted by 1970s Antihero at 6:02 AM on September 29


True.
posted by mark k at 7:08 AM on September 29


For me the thing that most damaged this film was the Oracle product placement. The final fight takes place in an arena with a giant Oracle logo on it! It was NOT subtle, and it really hurt my suspension of disbelief that Tony Stark would outsource his computing to the "Oracle cloud".
posted by simonw at 7:12 AM on September 29


for all the criticisms ppl levelled at the movie at the time, which i thought was mostly undeserved, it's one of my favourite sequels of MCU because like GOTG2 it retained a lot of the movie creative team's energy and it's so distinct compared to some of the movies who's not managed to retain their own specific flavour of what they are, though of course very rough because it was their first try in jamming together a shared universe. I think ppl were reacting to a lot of that seams showing as well as a general sense of bemused cynicism of what it means for cinema. (not unearned, mind you)

But yes, i am *extremely* glad the Captain America movies existed to give Black Widow the space to be an actual human character than just Sexy Foil -- and honestly, if not for the CA team running a substantial portion of the reconfigured Avengers-verse, looking back her IM2 introduction was such a Boys Club rendition of the character (if I'm getting my sense of history right, this is of an era with XMFC with their handling of Emma Frost) and a clear weak point for me. As it is, the other movies helped to retroactively make her character choices as Natalie Rushman and later the first SHIELD agent outside of besuited Coulson (Fury doesn't count to me as he's not just an agent) more interesting in that it's easier for me to have the Holmesian reading that it was a deliberate choice to get Tony's attention.

All that said, this has to still be a favourite because Justin Hammer. Just Justin Hammer. I will never not laugh at the scene where he's trying to wine & dine Vanko and you can see he's so incompetent the self-tanner was on his palms.
posted by cendawanita at 3:34 AM on September 30 [1 favorite]


I like this movie for one reason and one reason alone, and that's the Mark V suitcase armor. The scene of Tony putting the armor on is the absolute limit of "Yeah maybe this is actually plausible" and after this point the MCU pretty quickly flies into nonsense cartoon technology until Avengers Infinity War where Iron Man has a magic nanomachine shapeshifting suit that can do seemingly anything. Iron Man started strong with a suit that felt far-fetched but believable. Once the movies got away from that I believe the MCU gave up an important piece of what helped them get off the ground. Apparently, that piece ended up not being very important.

"What happens when the hero's cool technology inevitably falls into the wrong hands" is a good concept (it was also a good concept in Iron Man 1, ahem) and does a good job to explain why this technology isn't adopted widely to make the world a better place. In this case, however, the execution is largely uninspiring, and the end battle is the quintessential "CGI robots punch each other" climax where I invariably check out because it's just not as interesting as seeing the characters as humans with human problems.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 2:05 PM on October 2


This was the film that was the seed for me to stop watching super hero films. That Avengers one with the floating city and big space guy was the one that finalized stopping.
posted by juiceCake at 8:15 PM on October 7 [1 favorite]


Same juiceCake. I fell asleep during the final 30 minutes of !!!BATTLEBOTS!!! because it's so damned boring to watch a foregone conclusion (the hero wins) that's not even particularly interesting in how they get there. Gave up on the rest of phase 1 and part of phase 2, except maybe the Avengers because I wanted to watch them destroy the city I lived in. It was GotG that got me back into the MCU and Ant Man that carried me into phase 3 because they were so much fun. I still think Doctor Strange has the only interesting individual victory because it wasn't about rock-em-sock-em.
posted by kokaku at 5:42 AM on October 8


I forgot about Antman. Couldn't get through 10 minutes of it.
posted by juiceCake at 2:34 PM on October 8


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