Tony Stark’s alter-ego Iron Man is back in a triumphant – or perhaps a not-so-triumphant – return, again seeking to do right by those who have stood by him.
Life has turned into one big party for Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.). Always a bit of a playboy, to those who know him best, it would seem he has now lost total control – he is actually becoming a danger to himself let alone the American people he is protecting. Most recently, his irrational activities include a showy, overblown entrance into his company’s annual expo and signing over his company to his loyal secretary Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow). His inventions win the attention of a senate panel who want his Iron Man suits and all his blue prints confiscated, concerned that someone else may someday get a hold of what could become a dangerous weapon. His friend Lt. Colonel Rhodes (Don Cheadle) testifies but Tony refuses to give it up and in fact shows up Justin Hammer (Sam Rockwell), the man who now supplies the U.S. military with weaponry. Turns out, Tony’s behavior isn’t without reason. The very device that is keeping him alive is also destroying his body; the lithium is slowly – and painfully killing him. Tony finds he has bigger things to worry about when yet another display of his rash behavior at a European speedway leads to his coming up against a new foe.
The man, a Russian native named Ivan (Mickey Rourke) is out for revenge. His father was also an inventor and shared credit with Tony’s father, Howard on a revolutionary design. It is this technology that allows him to build a weapon not unlike Tony’s suit. Outraged that a man has similar technology, government officials are not happy with this turn of events. Before long the director of the S.H.I.E.L.D initiative, Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) is involved and Tony’s new personal assistant, “Natalie” (Scarlett Johansson) turns out to be not all she seems.
After watching the first movie in this franchise, I was taken aback by its plot (naively, I wasn’t aware how focused it’d be on how Tony became Iron Man) and the fact that Tony was so much more likable than I’d have imagined. This sequel takes all of that – or the latter theme, and turns it inside out. Writers play up his crazy, unhinged behavior to the max this go-round but it isn’t without good reason. As a character, Tony’s attitude is one without limitations – he doesn’t like to be told what to do and in fact is the reason everyone has such a hard time keeping their loyalties close to Tony because, let’s face it, he can be a pill!
Perhaps, the biggest mistake this sequel made is using Tony’s rebellious manners to propel so much of the premise forward. It is a love/hate kind of thing for me – I like his tendency towards being a rebel because there are times when the person he leaves in the dust deserves it (and then some!) but then it is those same traits that can hurt the people who care the most for him, even when he doesn’t deserve it. Don’t mistake me; I loved this movie – possibly more than even the first. There is more than just that though making this an all-too-fun popcorn flick. The addition of new characters keeps things fresh and I like that Iron Man's enemy from the first wasn’t resurrected – that is one thing that can get old. Interaction between Natalie and Tony is fun and I was one who liked the addition of her character – she shook things up a bit creating new situations full of conflict and the banter amusing. Paltrow’s Pepper is still cute as ever and the rooftop scene is adorable. The fact that nearly all the cast returned though Rhodey is played by a different face, gave this the potential it needed to be another box office success, keeping up Marvel’s trend of by now consecutive crowd-pleasers.
Following in the footsteps of predecessors, the special effects are cool as are the heroic gestures from Tony and, in the climax, Rhodey. The cool showdown is just what audiences needed as that last boost to the ending – and that end is worth it! Given that the third and reportedly last film in the Iron Man franchise is currently being filmed for a 2013 release, I’ll admit that though I am excited, its production also has me skeptical. If it is to be the last, I am going to be crossing my fingers that writers don’t turn all noble sacrifice on us in which, a hero-must-die scenario unfolds – it is something I doubt because of the recent success of The Avengers. A second movie would probably require if nothing else, an appearance by Tony Stark but there is always that possibility. Highlighted with a fun script, great cast who do their characters justice and some way cool effects, Iron Man 2 is not to be missed, especially if you are a fan of Marvel or superheroes. Its concept may be purely fiction but is a reminder that there are heroes whose selfless sacrifice is why we are free today.
(Content: There is no sexual material but there are a couple of crudities and Tony does hit on various women – there is some flirting between him and Natalie [she wears numerous form-fitting outfits]. One scene depicts his house being torn apart after he gets drunk and is forced into a fight with his friend. There is plenty of social drinking. A man cuts in half two or three race cars causing them to fly through the air and/or crash into other cars. Two men are killed by being hung; we see a woman take down two dozen security guards. There are a few instances of profanity but it is rare. This is rated PG13.)