Like the rest of America this weekend, I ventured to my local cineplex to catch a showing of that quaint indie flick everyone’s talking about, Iron Man 2. As you probably know, I don’t really like reviewing things, but I have been trying to figure out why the first Iron Man film was so much better than this sequel – or at least why I enjoyed the original more – and in the process, started making lists in my head of the things I liked and didn’t. Now you get to share in that process:
Pj’s Four Favorite Things About Iron Man 2
- Suitcase armor – Well, duh. Even if you haven’t seen the movie, you’ve probably seen the scene where Tony Stark’s armor forms around him from a red-and-silver suitcase – a very comic book moment. How can you not love that?
- Captain America’s shield – Clever moment tying together Stark’s father to the iconic patriotic superhero, amusingly punctuated by S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Phil Coulson asking Tony if he knows what the shield is even as Tony’s using it to prop up a steel conduit.
- Black Widow in action – Really, it’s not just because Scarlett Johansson is in a skin-tight suit. While her take-down of Happy Hogan in the boxing ring earlier in the film was amusing, Natasha finally getting to cut loose by taking out an entire building’s worth of armed security forces single-handedly was brilliantly choreographed and just plain awesome.
- Final battle – I guess if you’re still reading, you know this post has been a little spoiler-ish, but I’ll still try to not give away too much. But I think I’m safe by saying Rhodey and Tony teaming up to kick the metal arses of dozens of robot drones and a vodka-fueled Mickey Rourke in giant armor was a goddamn delight.
Pj’s Four Least-Favorite Things About Iron Man 2
- Drunk party scene – While not nearly as bad as the “evil Peter Parker singing-and-dancing” scene from Spider-Man 3, Tony Stark stumbling around and pissing himself in the Iron Man suit was just … ingratiating. I get that it’s there to establish his frame of mind and Rhodes’ obtaining of the armor, but it was just ludicrous and over the top, DJ AM’s (R.I.P.) appearance notwithstanding.
- Justin Hammer – I love Sam Rockwell. I love every character he’s every played. He was brilliant carrying Moon as a one-man tour-de-force. But combined with scenes such as the aforementioned drunk Iron Man debacle, Rockwell’s over-the-top performance as a moustache-twirling “evil” CEO detracted from the realism that anchored the first film and enabled it to be pure awesome. Robert Downey, Jr.’s Tony Stark is already glib and showy – having a buffoon attempt to one-up that so obviously just didn’t work for me. Especially the scene where Hammer awaits Ivan Vanko’s deplaning with a gourmet meal inside an airplane bunker. It was camp, plain and simple.
- Randy’s Donuts meeting with Nick Fury – You’ve seen the snippet from this, right? Where Tony’s armored up, sitting inside the iconic giant donut, eating donuts when S.H.I.E.L.D. director Nick Fury shows up to chastise him? That was clever. But taking the scene inside the donut shop for Natalie/Natasha’s reveal as a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent was amateur hour. I mean, here’s this top-secret espionage organization having a meeting in a public place with everyone in their silly costumes.
- Length – The Randy’s Donuts and Stark birthday party scenes – along with many other iffy moments – give Iron Man 2 the feeling of a film that crammed in a lot of scenes that sounded cool on paper but should have been left on the cutting room floor, making the film leaner and meaner. And less damn silly.
Overall, I enjoyed it. It was enjoyable. But it felt very full of itself, like director Jon Favreau got a little cocky following the success of Iron Man and just went balls out with everything he could. And really, you can’t blame the guy for trying, but if there’s to be a third film – and after Iron Man 2 hauled in $133 million in three days, does anyone think there won’t be? – Favreau (and writer Justin Theroux) would do well to trim the fat and avoid the mistakes of other superhero film franchises such as X-Men and Spider-Man (both of which were bloated and nonsensical by their third installments).