Marvel Movie Madness! Part 31: Iron Man 2

by | July 19, 2011 | Comments

Enter Marvel Movie Madness, wherein Rotten Tomatoes watches all of the significant Marvel movies ever made. Full Marvel Movie Madness list here. Tune in! We give you our thoughts, and you give us yours.

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Part 31:Iron Man 2(2010, 74% @ 263 reviews)

Directed by Jon Faverau, starring Robert Downey Jr., Don Cheadle, Gwyneth Paltrow, Scarlett Johansson

Luke: Has everyone forgotten about this movie already? It seems like it. Despite good reviews and strong box office, it feels like Iron Man 2 is generally dismissed as a weak sequel. It’s definitely inferior to its predecessor, but I do remember enjoying it enough at the time — even though I could scarcely remember a single thing about it a few days later. For me, the first Iron Man was an average superhero film elevated by a charismatic performance, but this time around that element of pleasant surprise is gone; Robert Downey, Jr.’s off-the-chain appeal is still there, but it’s a given, so the weakness of the narrative feels more apparent.

You could say Iron Man 2 suffers from the classic syndrome of sequel excess, but even with the extra villains and characters, somehow this movie felt like less than the sum of its parts. I mean, when you’ve got Mickey Rourke with a oddball accent and a pet cockatoo, shouldn’t that character somehow be more memorable? The movie suffers from a lack of purpose for its main character — although there’s no shortage of purpose in the way it flagrantly goes about setting up the Avengers universe, which sometimes appears of more concern for the filmmakers. And once again, like the first film, the action sequences are pretty crappy — seriously, what was with the final showdown between Iron Man and Whiplash at the end? It looked like it was filmed in a kids park. The best thing about Iron Man 2 — as it so often is in many movies — is Sam Rockwell, who picks up all the villain slack in Mickey Rourke’s absence.

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Tim: I probably liked this a little more than you, Luke, but I essentially agree: Iron Man 2 is certainly a case in which bigger isn’t better. I enjoyed it just fine, and I dug Mickey Rourke’s Whiplash a lot more than you did (that first scene in his workshop has a palpable sense of place — you can practically smell the grease and dankness — and his accent is spot-on). But overall, this one felt overstuffed and a little underdeveloped. It can’t be easy to both follow up a big hit and preface a future blockbuster (The Avengers), so Iron Man 2 deserves props for not completely overdosing on spectacle. Once in a while, it even rivals the visceral impact of the first film — the Monaco scenes have both an immediacy and a sense of dread — but it just doesn’t feel as fresh this time out. I liked it, but I didn’t love it.

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Alex: Huge disappointment for me. The movie seems to punish anybody who has any fun (a key word to describe the original), ultimately reducing Tony Stark to a predictable surly cad and Pepper Potts a shrill nag, whose main duty as CEO of Stark Industries is apparently to apparently repeat “I have a company to run” to anyone in earshot.

Plus, the movie is boring. Super talky in the middle, bookended by a mere two action scenes. I can’t wait for the Avengers movie to come out so we can stop seeing all this S.H.I.E.L.D. stuff shoehorned into these movies. Marvel needs to let them focus on telling their own story first and foremost.


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