THE ROAD TO ‘INFINITY WAR’ – ‘Iron Man 2’ (2010)

Tony Stark's second outing is a bit bloated, but still a fun ride!

Review by J.T. Johnson

ORIGINAL RELEASE DATE: April 26, 2010
DIRECTOR: Jon Favreau
CINEMATOGRAPHY: Matthew Libatique
WRITER: Justin Theroux
MUSIC: John Debney

After the monumental success of “Iron Man” in 2008, it was a no-brainer that there would be a sequel. It would also be the next step in firmly establishing a film universe that would eventually contain other superheroes. In this film, there are many references to other aspects of what has become known as the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

When I first watched this film back in 2010, I thought it was pretty fantastic. I even gave it a perfect score at the time of its release. Upon further viewings, my opinion of the film had dulled a bit. I felt that there were too many references and that the film definitely acts as a trailer for what was to come in addition to trying to tell its own story.

But that was then and it is now time to take one more look at Tony Stark’s second adventure as we continue The Road to “Infinity War”! So, that leaves the question, “What did I think of the movie this time?”

Well, to be honest, the problem is that this film does indeed suffer from trying to be two things. On one hand, it is a sequel to “Iron Man” as we see Tony trying to deal with the success of being Iron Man. Then, he has to deal with the new threats presented by Sam Rockwell’s Justin Hammer and Mickey Rourke’s Ivan Vanko, which is a character that shares elements of both the Crimson Dynamo and Whiplash from the comic book.

On top of that, he is also dealing with the fact an element in his arc reactor is poisoning him and he is dying. Basically, Tony has a lot to deal with on top of having to include all the other elements that further establishes the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Still, being overcrowded is not the worst problem to have necessarily. The movie still contains plenty of fantastic fireworks, though they do take their time getting to them. In between the action scenes, Tony is dealing with the government investigating his use of the Iron Man suit, handing over his company to Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow), his long downward spiral due to the fact that he’s dying and a confrontation with his own best friend, James “Rhodey” Rhodes (Don Cheadle).

Beyond the stellar action sequences, which includes a climactic battle where Iron Man and War Machine confront an army of robot drones, the performances are great for the most part. Rourke is good despite not having much to work with but Rockwell is fantastic as the narcissistic Stark wannabe. He is loud and obnoxious which is what can be said about Tony, but Hammer doesn’t have any of the charm and Rockwell plays this beautifully.

The best new addition in this film was Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow. She is perfectly mysterious in the role, but yet she also knows how to kick a lot of ass along the way. I really hope that Marvel Studios manages to give Black Widow her own movie before Johansson decides she is done with the role.

Finally, there is the always dependable Downey, Jr. as Iron Man and Paltrow as Pepper Potts. There is an undeniable chemistry between these two characters and I’m glad they played with that chemistry even more. They were great in the first movie, but I was glad to see that they seemed more comfortable this time out now that they know these roles.

Yes, “Iron Man 2” is flawed and it does fall into the lower half of the rankings for all the MCU films. Since the film contains a decent amount of action, some great story moments and memorable performances, “Iron Man 2” is still a fun ride for any fans of the MCU!

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