In anticipation for the release of ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’ we will be reviewing all of the Phase One films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
In Iron Man 2, the world is now aware of Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) and his dual life as the superhero Iron Man. This makes him a target for Ivan Vanko (Mickey Rourke), who is seeking revenge for the injustice done to his family by the Stark family. Meanwhile, Tony Stark is facing declining health and pressure from the government to hand over his technology.
Iron Man 2 is the highly anticipated sequel to Iron Man, and marks the first time audiences truly got a glimpse of the larger universe coming together. Director Jon Favreau returns to helm the sequel. He makes good use of the returning cast members. Robert Downey Jr. reprises his role as Tony Stark, and once again is absolutely great in the role. No matter the quality of the film, Downey is one of those actors who will definitely deliver some entertaining moments. His energy and charisma is fantastic. Gwyneth Paltrow continues to make for a great Pepper Potts. In the sequel Pepper takes on more responsibilities, so audiences get to see the character grow in that way. Once again, the banter between Stark and Pepper make for some entertaining moments.
Don Cheadle takes over for Terrence Howard in the role of James Rhodes. While it’s a shame Marvel couldn’t reach a deal with Howard, Cheadle makes for a good replacement. He is able to add his charismatic nature to the character. We also get to see the character suit up as War Machine, so he gets more involved in the action. Scarlett Johansson is great in her first appearance as Natasha Romanoff aka Black Widow, although the character does feel underused. After a quick tease with the tag at the end of Iron Man, we get our first full performance of Samuel L. Jackson as the Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. Nick Fury. Jackson’s captivating screen presence helps make Nick Fury believable as an authoritative figure. He is a perfect fit for the role. The cast is rounded out by entertaining performances from Clark Gregg, Jon Favreau, John Slattery, and Paul Bettany. Finally, the film consists of some spectacular use of visual effects.
Unfortunately, Iron Man 2 is a weak spot in the MCU. The sequel was simply trying to do too much, resulting in a convoluted plot that viewers will find difficult to be interested in. You have the subplot with Mickey Rourke’s character Ivan Vanko seeking vengeance for his family, then there is the subplot involving Tony Stark’s declining health, and then you have the heavy involvement of S.H.I.E.L.D. within the story. The film falls short of balancing these numerous plot threads into one cohesive plotline.
Many characters become underused, particularly the villains played by Mickey Rourke and Sam Rockwell. The characters are not fleshed out at all, making the villains rather dull and forgettable. It’s a shame that the film could not make better use of talented actors like Rourke and Rockwell.
The action sequences are underwhelming. The big action sequence at the end feels jumbled and bloated. The messy look makes it difficult for audiences to get invested in the sequence. As a result, it feels less thrilling. Ultimately, the action sequences simply feel like a lot of noise, and does not add to the fun factor of the film.
Overall, Iron Man 2 has some entertaining moments, but falls short of capturing the magic of the original. The film simply tries to do too much and ends up being a disappointing sequel. However, the solid performances by the cast and the great visual effects avert this from becoming a total disaster for Marvel. While it may not be a terrible film, Iron Man 2 remains to be the weakest offering from Marvel Studios thus far.