Movie Review: Iron Man 2
Length: 124 minutes
Release Date: May 7, 2010
Directed by: Jon Favreau
Stars: 4 out of 5
"Iron Man 2" is a superhero film featuring Iron Man, a character from the Marvel Comics universe. It stars Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark and is the sequel to "Iron Man." A third film in this series is expected to follow. The director of "Iron Man 2" is Jon Favreau, who also directed the first film. Favreau also plays the role of Happy Hogan in both "Iron Man" films. Hogan is Stark's chauffer and bodyguard. Stan Lee, creator of the Marvel Comics universe, has a cameo. Lee typically has a cameo in films based on Marvel Comics. Real-life news anchor Christiane Amanpour plays herself in "Iron Man 2" as does commentator Bill O'Reilly. Additional cameos include Larry Ellison, CEO of Oracle, and Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Motors.
"Iron Man 2" has a specific chronological position with other films in the Marvel Comics universe. It begins six months after the end of "Iron Man" and just before "Thor," another film in this cinematic canon. It also takes place after the primary part of "The Incredible Hulk" but before its epilogue. This chronological order is specifically designed to bring the main characters together in the film "The Avengers," which was released in 2012.
Tony Stark revealed his identity as Iron Man at the end of the first film in this series and has been using his technology to keep world peace. "Iron Man 2" begins with Stark being pressured by Senator Stern (Garry Shandling) to provide his technology to the United States government. Ivan Vanko (Mickey Rourke) is a Russian industrialist who is developing similar technology to build his own weapons, which he will use to oppose Stark.
Meanwhile, Stark is slowly being poisoned by the palladium in the reactor that keeps him alive. He has failed to solve this problem, and his impending death is causing him to become increasingly reckless. Stark appoints Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) as the CEO of Stark Industries and hires Natalie Rushman (Scarlett Johansson) as his new personal assistant.
The first action scene in the film is a race at the Circuit de Monaco, which includes Vanko and Stark as competitors. Stark is attacked by Vanko, who is using his own energy weapons. Stark uses his portable armor to defeat Vanko and learns that Vanko's father is Anton Vanko, the former business partner of Stark's father. Justin Hammer (Sam Rockwell) is a rival defense contractor who recruits Vanko and fakes his death, allowing Vanko to develop his own combat suits, which may be able to defeat Iron Man.
Later, Stark uses his Iron Man suit while drunk at his birthday party. This forces Lieutenant Colonel James Rhodes (Don Cheadle) to fight Stark by wearing the Mark II armor. This battle ends in a huge explosion, and Rhodes brings the Mark II armor to the military. S.H.I.E.L.D. director Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) provides Stark with information from his father that allows Stark to synthesize a new element. This element serves as a replacement for palladium, eliminating Stark's slow poisoning from it.
Vanko attacks Stark with an army of drones, and Stark must use his Iron Man armor to defeat them. Vanko escapes in an improved suit of armor, forcing Stark and Rhodes to work together. Vanko is eventually defeated, but he activates a self-destruct mechanism on his suit. This causes his suit and the remaining drones to explode. Stark is able to rescue Potts from these explosions, and the pair finally kiss.
A debriefing shows the destruction caused by the Incredible Hulk. Fury accepts the Iron Man suit for the Avengers Initiative, although Stark will only be able to serve this initiative in a consulting capacity. A S.H.I.E.L.D. agent (Clark Gregg) reports that a large hammer has been discovered in a crater in New Mexico, which sets up the film "Thor."
Film critics have generally given "Iron Man 2" positive reviews. The general consensus among critics is that it delivers a solid performance with a plot that has plenty of action. Stark is distinct from other comic book superheroes in that he doesn't agonize over his superpowers. Many critics are refreshed by his willingness and even enjoyment over his use of those powers. Robert Downey Jr. builds nicely on his quirky performance as Tony Stark from the first film. Stark does not change in this sequel as other superheroes do; instead, he remains an imperfect human.