Sequelitis. Blessing? Curse? Made-up word? Whatever the case may be, sequels almost always tend to be bigger, but almost never better. For every Dark Knight there are about fifty Revenges of the Fallen. But occasionally you get a sequel that is definitely bigger, not necessarily better, but certainly not bad. And this, I am glad to tell you, is absolutely the case with Iron Man 2.
Is it a little bloated? Sure. Does it have the same whiz-bang effect of the first one? Not really. Is it as fun? No. But that’s deliberate. We’re dealing with one of Tony Stark’s darker periods. He’s feeling pressure from the government to turn over his suit. He’s dealing with other companies trying to replicate his suit. He’s in a narcissistic nose-dive that is threatening to destroy his personal and professional life. Oh, and he’s dying; turns out the arc reactor in his chest is poisoning his blood. No, it’s not as fun, but that’s also precisely the point.
The layout of the story is certainly different from its predecessor’s as well. Whereas the first Iron Man spent roughly the first half of its runtime as an origin story with the villain plot shoehorned into the finale, its sequel jumps right in with a brief recap of the press conference from the end of the last film, followed by an extended introduction to a menacing Mickey Rourke as a Russian with more than his share of knowledge of Stark Industry designs (specifically that reactor; i.e. the source of Iron Man’s power).
From there we get a lot of Robert Downey Jr. at his egotistical best. He’s cocky, he’s self-assured, he’s full of himself, he’s… actually those all mean the same thing. It’s the type of characterization that could easily become grating in the wrong hands, but it falls well within Downey Jr.’s wheelhouse. Couple that with the fact that he is clearly having a ball doing it, and you’re left with a character that you could watch eat a donut and you’d be entertained (literally… it’s in the movie).
Elsewhere you’ve got Don Cheadle proving to be an able replacement for Terrence Howard as James “Rhodey” Rhodes. If the character had been given more to do in the first movie my opinion might be different, but as it stands the change proved to be relatively unjarring. Another new addition to the cast is Scarlett Johansson who for the most part is there to look good in low-cut dresses until the end when she is finally given something to do, and boy does she do it well (“it” being beat the ever-loving crap out of twenty henchmen).
It’s all irrelevant, though. This could have been a terrible movie and I still would have enjoyed it, because a) it already features Robert Downey Jr. being, basically, Robert Downey Jr. and 2) it invokes a theory that I personally hold very dear, the more Sam Rockwell the better. That’s right, Sam Rockwell shows up as a rival weapons manufacturer who is clearly more smarmy, yet not nearly as intelligent as Tony Stark. And that right there insured that I was absolutely going to enjoy the heck out of this movie.
And I did. And so will you (probably). It might not be as good as the first Iron Man, but that movie didn’t have Sam Rockwell, so there!
P.S. Stick around after the credits.
Posted under Kyle's Adventures in Pop Culture
This post was written by Kyle on May 10, 2010