(Posted May 13, 2010)
It has been a while since I watched the first "Iron Man," but I still remember walking out of the theater thinking "that movie was so flippin’ awesome."
It had everything: action, betrayal, romance, comedy and, best of all, Robert Downey Jr. playing Tony Stark, the billionaire playboy and genius inventor who inherits Stark Industries after the death of his father.
Based on its success at the box office (it grossed $585 million worldwide), it’s no surprise there would be more installments in the "Iron Man" franchise, which was more than fine with me. Then I saw the sequel. Sigh. I should have remembered most sequels are inferior to the originals.
"Iron Man 2" didn’t start off on the right foot. A big movie peeve of mine is when the opening act features someone dying and then their relative or friend tossing their head back and howling in despair. I hate it. Hate it, hate it, hate it. It always looks awkward and terribly acted (even with a good actor) and throws me off the movie for a stretch because it annoys me that much.
The person incurring my wrath was Mickey Rourke, who plays Russian mastermind Ivan Vanko. (I thanked my lucky stars it was not my beloved Tony Stark doing so, or I would have been bothered throughout the rest of the movie.) Ivan is 50-ish, living at home with his father in some decrepit lair, and has obviously spent some time living in a jail cell and shunning trips to the barbershop. In the first of many subplots that went nowhere, Ivan’s father was seemingly betrayed by Tony’s father, so now he’s all revenge seeking against Stark Industries and the Iron Man himself.
Using stolen blueprints of the Iron Man suit technology, Ivan creates these electric whip thingies that attach to his body and tries to attack Tony while he’s showing off his racing skills at the Monaco Grand Prix. Tony’s all “what is this amateur doing,” and then proceeds to show Ivan (or Whiplash) who’s the boss in tech wizardry.
Of course, this isn’t the end of their altercations because, despite being thrown in a federal prison, Ivan manages to bust out with the help of Tony’s inept but wealthy weapons manufacturing rival Justin Hammer (Sam Rockwell). Justin wants Ivan to help him recreate Tony’s Iron Man suit for the U.S. military so he can advance in ranks, while Ivan has his own agenda.
As if those two aren’t enough headaches on Tony’s plate, he’s got a plethora of other things to contend with; there’s the mysterious new assistant (Scarlett Johansson), the angry love interest (Gwyneth Paltrow), a U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee all over his back, and the rare metal battery in his mechanical heart that is slowly killing him and the director (Jon Favreau) pimping an Avengers movie throughout “Iron Man 2.” This movie was all over the place.
Oftentimes, directors introduce more villains and subplots in sequels to pick up the slack for the leading actor(s), but with Downey Jr. at the helm, it’s really unnecessary. He did more than fine at the helm of the first, and rushing through and cutting back his presence didn’t help “Iron Man 2” gain footing in the franchise or garner much enjoyment while watching it.
I give this a C.
Dedra Cordle is a Messenger staff writer.