Chainsaw Cheerleader Reviews: Iron Man 2 (2010)

Directed by: Jon Favreau

Screenplay: Justin Theroux

Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Mickey Rourke, Don Cheadle, Gwyneth Paltrow, Scarlett Johansson

Genre: action adventure, comic book adaption

 

Senator Stern: My priority is to get the Iron Man weapon turned over to the people of the United States of America.
Tony Stark: Well, you can forget it. I am Iron Man. The suit and I are one. To turn over the Iron Man suit would be to turn over myself, which is tantamount to indentured servitude or prostitution, depending on what state you’re in. You can’t have it.
Senator Stern: Look, I’m no expert…
Tony Stark: In prostitution? You’re a senator. Come on.

 

Sequels are often created due to the fact that the original film was well received and the studio which made the film now sees an opportunity to make more money. When a sequel is conceived for this reason, the film is not a vehicle to continue the story of the first movie. When a sequel is made for the purpose of money, it is more than likely going to be  a failure. If planned, instead of forced, the sequel has the potential to out shine the movie that came before it. Iron Man 2 has failed its predecessor and its audience.

Iron Man 2 takes place six months after Iron Man 1. As a result of revealing Iron Man’s true identity, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) is hounded by the American government to reveal the secrets of his technology. His refusal allows Justin Hammer (Sam Rockwell), Stark’s competitor, to gain contracts with the government to build their own Iron Man model. While Stark battles the government, he realizes that the palladium in the arc reactor keeping shrapnel from penetrating his heart has begun to poison his body, which could ultimately kill him. His attempts to find a replacement have failed and the closer he comes to death the more he acts out. Stark’s true and few friends, Lt.Col. James Rhodes (Don Cheadle) and Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) try to keep Stark under control as the villain Ivan Vanko, known as Whiplash (Mickey Rourke), tries to seek revenge against Stark. With the help of Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and the Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Stark finds the strength to fight Whiplash.

Almost every movie in existence suffers from plot holes. The trick to the plot hole is often how the director structures the scene around it. If the scene is fast paced, often the audience will not notice it and  if what is occurring at the time that the plot hole is revealed is remarkable in some manner, then the audience can be very forgiving toward it. The issue with the numerous plot holes within Iron Man 2 is that they are so up front and in the viewers face, that it makes everything that takes place in the movie seem ridicules. Movies such as Iron Man 2 are more than entertainment, they are a form of escape. They are not meant to be thought provoking. They are meant for the viewer to sit peacefully in his/her theater seat, munching on popcorn, and forgot that after the next two hours they must return to their lives. When a summer block buster movie such as Iron Man 2 pulls the viewer back and out of the element of the movie to question the legitimacy of a scene, the movies has failed miserably.

Iron Man 2 is riddled with plot holes. One example of a plot hole is that the organization S.H.I.E.L.D. is left looking weak and pointless (other than promoting a future movie). The movie gives the impression that S.H.I.E.L.D.  agents are, regardless of time or place, everywhere. The issue lies in the fact that whenever a problem arises the agency never steps out from the shadows to help resolve the crisis. This is most prevalent during the Stark Expo. When an army of Iron Man drones attack the audience the only agent that is seen is the Black Widow. While the drones are shooting at the crowd, she runs off to try to capture Vanko, who is not where she assumes he is. This weakness leaves  one to wonder why is S.H.I.E.L.D. apart of this film and what exactly are they even doing when they are needed most. Yes, S.H.I.E.L.D. is being rebuilt and recruiting new members but Iron Man 2 displays the fact that S.H.I.E.L.D. is not only made up of superheroes but of humans as well, which they seem to have plenty of. A second example of  a plot hole takes place when Lt. Col. James Rhodes steals an Iron Man suit. In the first Iron Man and now the second, a major feature of the plot is the reactor that is in Stark’s chest. The reactor is the power supply for the Iron Man suits and is according to both films, the only way to use the suit. The director seemed to disregard this and toss aside two major factors of both Iron Man films by allowing Rhodes to put on the suit and use it in order to steal it. This also raises the question as to how does Rhodes know how to use it? In the first Iron Man, a great deal of time was set aside to show the audience how Stark learns to use the suit. In a matter of minutes Rhodes steals the suit, fights Stark, and then flies away. Even if the director missed the opportunity to tell the audience that the suit had a reactor built into it that still does not explain how Rhodes can use the suit so perfectly and why the suit was not shut down with the computers in Stark’s lab when the Black Widow knew what Rhodes had done. A continuation of the pervious fact is that Whiplash is able to create his own reactor, that powers and is built into his own suit. Yes, Whiplash has done what might explain how Rhodes could have stolen the suit but he stole Stark’s suit, not Whiplash’s. The flaw with this is that in the first few minutes of the film, Stark sits before the American government and tells them that they cannot have the Iron Man suit/technology because the suit is powered by the reactor in his chest, therefore he and the Iron Man are one.

Aside from plot holes, Iron Man 2 is filled with instances that come off as more irritating then entertaining. One example of this is that the film is 124 minutes long and the majority of the action occurring at the end. That action goes on for roughly 15 minutes. The rest of the movie is used for character and plot development but sadly this information is given either too fast, too slow, or is irrelevant. A second example is the lack of depth to the dialog. While using the Iron Man suit and in pursuit of the attacking drones, Stark is given the worst one liner in comic book movie history. Stark tells Rhodes, “Drop your socks and grab your crocs, we’re about to get wet on this ride.” If Starks does indeed wear crocs, the character has just lost the respect of the majority of its audience.  A third example is what finally pushes Stark toward the end of the film to fight Vanko.  After telling Nick Fury that his father did not love him or show him affection, Fury gives Stark a trunk containing several items that used to belong to his father, one of these items is a home movie. While watching the film, Stark’s father talks to camera and tells his son that everything he has done he did it for him. Somehow after a life time of neglect it is these few words that begin to heal old wounds and give Stark the incentive to fight Vanko.

Iron Man 2 could have done what The Dark Knight did for Batman Begins, it could have been a well-thought out continuation of the story and an improvement of the movie that came before it. Instead, Iron Man 2 has more in common with Spiderman 3, then it does The Dark Knight. Iron Man 2’s dancing emo Spiderman moment takes place during his birthday party. While intoxicated, Stark begins dancing in his Iron Man suit. Not only does he dance, he shows the crowd how he urinates in the suit, and then shooting random things that his guest begin throwing into the air. Regardless of the film, every superhero must show a moment of weakness and at some point not use his/her powers for good but if this is Stark’s moment then the background music might as well have been “Staying Alive.” While this scene seemed as pointless as a dancing Spiderman, it helped allow Rhodes the opportunity to steal a Iron Man suit and give the film the chance to briefly discuss Stark’s issues about his father. All of which was incredibly pointless.

The climax of any comic book film is always the final battle between the superhero and the villain. Often it is this fight scene that can leave the audience begging for more or make them feel like they just wasted two hours of their time. Unfortunately for Iron Man 2, the final battle is short,  rushed, lackluster, and disappointing. The final battle may seem hurried because there is virtually no build up between Stark and Vanko. The villain, Vanko literally appears one day as Stark is racing a car, disappears, and then shows up for the final battle. With such little interaction between the hero and villain, Vanko seems to be more of an annoyance then an actual threat. At no point in the film is there a scene that helps establish Vanko as a true villain. The audience is given no reason to want the hero to defeat the villain. For many comic book villains their reasoning behind why they want to destroy the hero is often understandable. For Vanko, his motives are more juvenile then justified. Vanko’s reason is that his father and Stark’s father worked together on a project that would help create massive amounts of energy. Stark’s father wanted to use the creation for good, while Vanko’s father wanted to sell it and make money. For this decision, Vanko’s father was deported back to Russia. For this Vanko sets out to destroy Starks. Despite the fact that many crimes have been committed for less reasons, villainy requires more.

Iron Man 2 has a cast of well-established actors. While each actor has given noteworthy performances in other films, in Iron Man 2 many of the main supporting cast was either given very little do to or not needed at all. The best example of this is Scarlet Johansson as the Black Widow. For her role, Johansson is often seen more then heard. She spends more time catering to Starks, than actually fighting. While given only one fight scene, Johansson does the best she can with what is given to her. While taking place in a hallway, Johansson must fight through several guards in order to make her way toward the room in which Vanko is housed. It is during this time that the most over-choreographed fight scene in the entire film takes place. While using mediocre weapons that serve little purpose and performing acrobatic stunts on mere henchmen, the Black Widow character over does a situation that could have been solved with several punches. Sadly, Iron Man’s fight scenes were never given the amount of thought it took for this scene. If the director had paid as much attention to the final fight scene of Iron Man taking on Whiplash as he did with the Black Widow’s only fight scene in the entire film, then maybe the ending of the film could have been saved. The absence of judgment toward this lack of detail may be the result of Jon Favreau, the film’s director, playing Harold “Happy” Hogan. During the Black Widow’s fight scene, Hogan accompanies her and fights off one guard. While this adds humor, it also adds to the doubt of who’s best interest does the director have? His or the movies? Aside from this, the major problem with the cast of Iron Man 2 is that it tries to insert to many characters that will appear in Iron Man 3 and the Avengers movie. With so many characters it leaves the movie and the storyline a mess. As character after character is piled on, it makes Iron Man 2 feel more like an advertisement for other Marvel Comic movies then a true sequel.

At its heart, Iron Man 2 is a movie weighed down by a combination of plots and sub plots. The mixture of these plots clutters the film and proves to be another movie that tried to achieve too much while not being done very well. Had the director focused solely on Stark’s failing health and the introduction of Whiplash, the mess that is Iron Man 2 could have been avoided. In the end, Iron Man 2 is reduced to a typical Hollywood summer blockbuster. It is flashy, loud, packed with explosions, and beautiful women. While these elements are fun, the film has  lost everything that made the first Iron Man movie shine.

Iron Man receives a 5 out of 10

Side Note: After watching the trailer for Iron Man 2 I decided not to see it in the theater, which I believe was the best decision. From the moment you see the Ironettes dancing on stage you know exactly what you are in for, something pretty to look at but with zero substance.

Robert Downey Jr. is charismatic as always. Gwyneth Paltrow is whiny and adds little to the film other than screams. Sam Rockwell is one dimensional. Don Cheadle is flat and meekish. Mickey Rourke is given little to do other than smile a lot. Scarlett Johansson does little for this movie other than look good in a tight black dress. Samuel L. Jackson plays the same bad ass that has become his staple, only a toned down version. Obviously, the acting potential that the director had at his fingertips clearly escaped him.

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2 Responses to “Chainsaw Cheerleader Reviews: Iron Man 2 (2010)”

  1. guillaume de sade Says:

    Excellent review, as always. I actually liked the movie, but it was because of the things that you pointed out. Sometimes I want to see a movie where I don’t have to think and can be spoon fed the plot points. This was def one of those movies.

  2. I liked Iron Man 2, but I’m an Avengers fanboy. I can’t defend it and neither can Favreau. In his defense, there were things in this film that were dictated to him by Marvel, notably the entire Shield subplot. Their interference is most likely the main reason Favreau ejected from the third film.

    I don’t recall if it was explained in Iron Man 1 or not, but I thought that Stark said that the black and silver suit was built for Rhodes. Reading the comics, I know how and why Rhodey is able to steal it and fly it so easily. I just can’t recall if the films explained it and if they didn’t, that’s not fair. Not everyone has read the comics.

    Good review Lyn.

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