Posted by: greercn | May 9, 2010

Iron Man 2

When I was a child, DC comics were about impossibly perfect super-heroes and Marvel comics were about real people who acquired great power, usually due to accident or ingenuity. I liked Marvel best, because it had an unabashed appeal to the outsider and I identified with that.

“Iron Man” was a glorious film with the bright colours and anarchic style of the comic. “Iron Man 2” ups the ante while smoothing the story into a universally populist format. We left Tony Stark with his secret identity unmasked, at the end of “Iron Man”. The sequel starts with world peace but – wait for it – danger is lurking.

Robert Downey Jr is excellent as Tony Stark but his stellar supporting cast steal scene after scene. Mickey Rourke continues his film comeback with a fabulous bad guy role and Garry Shandling is a villainous comic book senator. Gwyneth Paltrow and Scarlett Johansson shine – boy, can Scarlett kick – and Don Cheadle, Sam Rockwell, Clark Gregg and Samuel L Jackson all put in fine performances.

The soundtrack is mostly by AC/DC and roars along with the special effects. At least 20 companies are credited with “additional visual effects” so the many action sequences are slick and stylish. I like things that go bang and technological wizardry and any robot geek will love this movie.

Jon Favreau directs and puts in a fun performance and the writing credits go to Justin Theroux and Stan Lee, who also appears. Stan Lee, in case you don’t know (of course you do) is the father and mother of Marvel comics and a hero to my generation.

It’s worth staying after the endless credits for an extra scene that sets up “Iron Man 3” beautifully.

I adored it. But – and it’s a very little but –  something of the quirkiness and individuality of Marvel comics has been lost here. Yes, the computers, robots, chases and battles are all fantastic and the side plot about the dangerous chemical element is very cool, but this is a movie that loses a little of its soul to be many things to many people.

There is nothing wrong with being unabashedly commercial. Yet I am left feeling that this is too light a version of Iron Man’s story. I guess that should read “lite”, shouldn’t it?

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Responses

  1. hmm, you obviously liked Iron Man 2 more than I did. I’d even go as far as saying it lost its center by going too mainstream, with a lost of the first half feeling pretty shaky. I’m glad you enjoyed it though, its great to see favorite comics get turned into good movies.
    Also, the “carrot” at the end was definitely a setup for The Avengers film, which will probably preclude Iron Man 3.
    You can check out my review if you want.

  2. We tend to agree with your top premise. Back in the day, DC seemed more about paragon heroes, where as Marve’s lot were more flawed. DC had fictional cities like Metropolis and Gotham City where as Marvel stayed with real ones.

    Cast: While we disagree and still find Paltrow lackluster, and Shandling annoying but unimpressive, we agree with you that the rest were good. Rourke surprised us. We expected little and he delivered a good performance. Johansson did kick butt, maybe a little too staged and posed, but it was fun. Still, what was her part in this movie supposed to be?

    We wonder if that ending was setting up the Thor movie more than Iron Man 3.

    You are onto something with commercialization feel. It is a less personal story that the first movie. It tries hard to be broadband and perhaps did sacrifice some originality to do so. Still, a good sequel. They did not do an injustice to the original.

  3. Thanks for the thoughtful comments, Isaac and Fortress Guy. We all agree that another Marvel movie is being introduced in the teaser – which is a good thing.

  4. I’ve been very impressed with Marvel’s movies since 2008 (except for Punisher: War Zone, and Origins:Wolverine, but maybe that wasn’t exactly their fault. I don’t know how much control they really had there).

    • I quite liked “Wolverine” although I admit he is one of my favourite characters. So I guess I was going to like whatever they did.

      • I read his Origin story (one of my favorites), and the movie decided to skip over most of the really interesting stuff. But if you can get past the fact that they cover 150 years in about 15 minutes, yeah, its pretty enjoyable.

      • That’s true. I love that story, too and I would have liked more of the detail. But I thought Hugh Jackman was very good at getting the essence right. And it was (mostly) filmed in Canada which is a good thing (I am a dual British/Canadian citizen).


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