'Iron Man 2' Review By Jami Philbrick

While it is definitely a fun and exciting sequel, the film does loose a bit of the magic of its predecessor, however it more than makes up for it in the end with great characters and wonderful performances by Downey, Paltrow, Rourke and Rockwell.
  • Story
  • Acting
  • Directing
  • Visuals
In 2005, after years of watching other film studios make millions with their characters, Marvel Studios decided to do something about it by self-financing and producing their own films. They began in 2008 with the absolutely terrific and exciting film "Iron Man" directed by Jon Favreau. In a stroke of brilliance the director cast often-troubled actor Robert Downey Jr. as often-troubled billionaire Tony Stark. The result was a reinvention of Downey's career, the invigoration of Marvel Studios and possibly one of the best super-hero movies ever made. Two years later the studio returns, with a longer, bigger and louder version that unfortunately is not better than the first but is still a fun, thrill-packed, summer blockbuster that features great characters and terrific acting from the cast. Downey and Paltrow are excellent again in their roles as Stark and his "girl-Friday" Pepper Potts. But it is the film's villains, Ivan Vanko/Whiplash played by Oscar nominee Mickey Rourke in a raw and powerful performance, and the always excellent Sam Rockwell as the hilariously evil Justin Hammer, a contemporary and rival to Tony Stark, that makes the movie special.

One of the fantastic and revolutionary things that the first film did was to begin to set up the "Marvel Film World." In a scene that takes place at the end of the first movie after the credits, Tony Stark meets S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Nick Fury played by Samuel L. Jackson, who begins to talk to Stark about an organization called the Avengers. Later that summer, Downey reprised his role as Stark with a brief cameo in "The Incredible Hulk," beginning to create the "Marvel Film Universe" where all these heroes exist. As any fan of Marvel comics knows, the Avengers is the name of the super-hero team that homes the "Earth's mightiest heroes" and includes members like Iron Man, Thor, Ant-Man, Hawkeye, Black Widow, the Hulk and it's leader, Captain America. The addition of Fury in the first film was a stroke of genius, and Jackson returns as the cool super-spy once again, this time with fellow S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Natalia Romanova/Black Widow played by Scarlett Johansson. Johansson injects a degree of sexiness in to the film and she is a good fit with the dynamic between Downey and Paltrow. Fans looking for lots of Marvel Easter Eggs will not be disappointed and should keep a special eye peeled for the return of a certain heroes' weapon that also made a cameo in the first film.

The film picks up six months after the events of the first movie, which ended with Tony Stark telling the world that he is in fact, Iron Man. Stark is living his life to the fullest, both as Iron Man and as the CEO of Stark enterprises, which is about to launch the Stark Expo, a "World's Fair" type exhibition that was a pet-project of his father's. As always, Tony loves the spotlight and being Iron Man has given him an extra dose of celebrity that he is indulging in. Meanwhile, we are introduced to Ivan Vanko, brilliantly played by Mickey Rourke. Vanko is the son of Anton Vanko, a Russian sciencetist who helped Howard Stark invent some of the technology that Tony based the Iron Man suit on. Vanko believes that the elder Stark, who had him banished to Siberia where Ivan has grown up, betrayed him. The younger Vanko swears revenge on Tony and uses his father's old plans to build him a suit equipped with electric whips, making him Whip Lash.

The U.S. Government is upset that one man has as much power as Stark does and subpoenas the millionaire to a hearing to debate whether he should relinquish the Iron Man suit to the government or not. In a very funny scene, comedian Garry Shandling plays the Senator out to get Stark. After Stark refuses to agree to the government's demands, he soon realizes that he is sick. The piece of hardware that he invented, which powers the Iron Man suit and keeps the shrapnel from destroying his heart is corroding it and if he doesn't stop wearing the suit ... he could die. Also causing problems for Tony is Justin Hammer, portrayed with a wonderful and hilarious playfulness by Sam Rockwell. Hammer is a "poor man's" Tony Stark, not quite as rich and not quite as smart as Stark. Hammer also desperately wants the Iron Man technology so he can sell it to the government and finally get the best of Tony.

Tony's feelings for his assistant Pepper Potts are growing and while he is keeping his sickness a secret he does decide to step down as CEO of Stark Industries and puts her in charge. Pepper hires a new assistant, Natalia Romanova, beautifully played by Scarlett Johansson. With his sickness getting worse and all the pressure from the government, Tony's ego begins to get out of control. Tony decides to drive his own car in an auto race and is nearly killed when Whip Lash appears. In what is another very cool scene, Happy Hogan (Tony's chauffeur played by Favreau) and Pepper drive on to the racetrack in a limousine and throw Tony a red and gold metal case that turns into the Iron Man suit. After defeating Whip Lash he is imprisoned and Stark return's home. Now completely out of control and no longer listening to the pleas from him loved ones that being Iron Man is too dangerous, Tony begins to hit the bottle.

He throws a party and shows up as Iron Man. Fed up with his behavior; Tony's best friend Lt. Colonel James "Rhodey" Rhodes (Don Cheadle who replaces actor Terrence Howard from the first film) takes one of Tony's extra suits to stop a drunk and out of control Stark. Dubbed "War Machine" by Tony, the two have a great all-out fight that pretty much destroys Tony's home. Now all alone in the world and depressed about his future Tony is once again visited by S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Nick Fury. Fury reveals that Potts' assistant Natalia is actually an undercover agent named Black Widow who has been keeping an eye on Tony. Fury also reveals secrets about Stark's father that could lead to a cure for his disease. However, unbeknownst to anyone, Hammer has broken Vanko out of prison and the two are working together to make a line of iron soldiers to unveil to the government at the Stark Expo, except Vanko may have other plans for the drones. After Rhodey left Tony's he brought the War Machine armor to the government and they hired Hammer to add some heavier artillery to the suit, which will also be revealed at the Expo. Now Tony must delve into his father's secrets and cure himself if he has a chance of stopping Vanko and Hammer, saving his loved ones like Pepper, Happy and Rhodey, and saving the world.

While I don't want to give too much away about the end, fans that have been clamoring to see Iron Man and War Machine fight together, as well as each other, will not be disappointed. All of the acting in the film is superb and I especially liked the relationship between Pepper and Tony. Paltrow, who was very good in the first film had more room to grow in this one and it shows. Downey, who was practically born to play this role, also excels in this latest chapter. Don Cheadle who is new to the franchise fits right in and looks great in the silver armor. But it is the film's villains that really steal the show. Rourke is ridiculously good in this role and I loved the elements of his own personality that he injected into the role making it his own. Also fantastic is Sam Rockwell who balanced the right levels of humor, self-deprecation and dishonesty for the role. Johansson gives a strong performance and is a pleasant addition to the cast while Jackson is great again as Fury, even if I would have like to seen more use of the character. In a nice bit of perfect casting, actor John Slattery (TV's "Mad Men") appears as a "Mad Men" era Howard Stark in old film footage that Tony watches. I also found it unintentionally funny that the elder Stark was portrayed like Walt Disney, walking around his office and talking directly to the camera about the "world of tomorrow."

Actor turned writer Justin Theroux turns in a good script that may have just suffered a bit from trying to bite off more than they could chew by cramming so much story into one film. As a long time comics fan I love all the Easter Eggs and connective tissue to the other films but it can't be served at the risk of the initial story and I do feel like things got messy near the middle, however recovered nicely by the end. What made "Iron Man" so great was that it felt like a tight, fun and fast paced film, where the sequel doesn't feel quite as perfect. One of the most famous storylines that the character ever had in the comics was called "Demon in a Bottle." While this film is not a direct adaptation of that story you can certainly see how they tried to integrate it in to this story. As much as I'm glad to see the alcohol element injected into the film, it seems a bit too forced and doesn't quite fit with the rest of the movie.

As much as I liked everything that the filmmakers tried to do, I just feel like they may have tried to cram in too much and could have saved a few elements for future installments. If you lifted a plot line or two, I think the film would have been a tighter and more enjoyable film like it's predecessor. However, that being said, as far as summer super-hero films and certainly sequels go, this was pretty close to the mark and still makes for a satisfying two hours. The characters are undeniably interesting and all the actors are at the top of their game. I give credit to Favreau for even attempting to orchestrate such a complicated film and he succeeds pretty well. In the end, while it might not be quite as perfect a film pound for pound as the first one was, it is still definitely an action packed, fun and exciting thrill-ride that you will not want to miss this summer.

Do you like this review?

Comments (28)

  1. Tu Nguyen

    Hi Jami! Just a friendly reminder to submit your reviews for the Lunch Awards before the holidays! lunch.com/t/9 The deadline is Dec. 31st so get those reviews in! ^_^

    4 years agoby @tu-nguyenFlag

  2. Tu Nguyen

    The sequel was pretty entertaining and I enjoyed it for what it is: a popcorn movie. Great review! Have you heard about the new award that's honoring the best reviews online? This is perfect for the best movie review of 2010 category. It's the first award to recognize excellence in real reviews by real people. Check out the info to submit your review for the Golden Thumb trophy here: lunch.com/t/9

    4 years agoby @tu-nguyenFlag

  3. Lome

    Great review!! .. I have one question. What do you think about the scene on the end of the credits, and when appear the cap america shield? ..

    5 years agoby @lomeFlag

  4. CBF

    @XxdarkprodigyxX: No its all good, man. Sorry I was acting like a prick, I am usually not like that at all. I'm actually really easy-going. Truth is, this site has been flooded with random users who come and go now, not like how it used to be, who are totally mean to everybody and attack their posts. I guess I was just backing up The Fallen, there's a few of us main users who have been here for a while who are getting fed up with the new users acting this certain way. You seem cool bro, I wasn't trying to be mean at all, my bad. Again, it is me who should be the one to apologize for coming off rude, just didn't want anyone else to get upset either.

    5 years agoby @comicbookfanFlag

  5. XxdarkprodigyxX

    @CBF.....thank you for your polite words....I will remove my comment so I dont spoil any more....again I thank you....I will use this for an experience that I will not commit any more....and I apoligize.....

    5 years agoby @xxdarkprodigyxxFlag

  6. TheMime

    Nice Nice Nice... The real judgment will come out after I see it.

    5 years agoby @themimeFlag

  7. CBF

    @XxdarkprodigyxX: What vaxine said. Yes you do have to alert spoilers. This site is all about the reviews, and people don't spoil the movies neither in the reviews or the comments thereof. And if they do, they kindly let people know of it out of common courtesy, by alerting spoilers. And yes, I would know, I am an Official Reviewer of this site. All I was saying was its obvious if you give no warning and ruin plot points like main characters dying, I mean come on, use your common sense, people will hate you on this site. There are a lot of jerks on here, we don't need another one. If you took a look at more than one respectable review you would see that they don't spoil the movie. So if you used your common courtesy next time, it would be much appreciated.

    5 years agoby @comicbookfanFlag

  8. vaxine

    @darkprodigy reviews are for people to express what they thought about the movie not explain scenes in the movie, alot of people use reviews to determine if there gonna spend the money to go see it. so next time have the common sense and courtesy to put a spoiler alert.

    5 years agoby @vaxineFlag

  9. XxdarkprodigyxX

    I'm deeply sorry for that @CBF and @The Fallen ......... I dont usually write on this website but the Title of this argue is called IRON MAN 2 REVIEW!!.....if you guys used your logic this is for people that have already seen the movie!....so I dont really have to alert any spoiler...you guys read my last post on your own risk of screwing up your vision of the movie.....but again I apologyze

    5 years agoby @xxdarkprodigyxxFlag

  10. Movie_jedi

    @markey: i think the next time we see Iron Man is going to be in the Avengers movie, thats what Marvel are heading towards now...personally i dont think there will be an Iron Man 3....

    5 years agoby @movie-jediFlag

  11. markey

    the movie was good out of 10 out of 10 they could of a little bit more in the movie i still really like the movie, the first one was good and the seconds one rock can,t want for the thrid one ,they better have the Mandarin and the Happy Hogan,Whitney Stane and mavel comic book all the cast people in the comic book that would be good if they are going to make a thrid.

    5 years agoby @markeyFlag

  12. CBF

    Yeah no sh*t ! @Xxdarkprodigyxx next time write SPOILER unless you want to be known as an *sshole on here.

    5 years agoby @comicbookfanFlag

  13. the Narrator

    Jeezus! F*cking spoiler alert would be nice @Xxdarkprodigyxx!

    5 years agoby @narratorFlag

  14. Movie_jedi

    i watched it last night! i was so disappointed! villain was rubbish, not enough IronMan action, don cheadle looked laughable in the war machine outfit, the whole film just lacked something BIG! on a good note the end fight scene is pretty good, but didnt last long enough at all.
    id give it...2/5

    5 years agoby @movie-jediFlag

  15. pourya13

    its open 30 april in asia

    5 years agoby @pourya13Flag

  16. pourya13

    i saw it today!!! i wanted more serious action and fight...
    3 out 5

    5 years agoby @pourya13Flag

  17. CBF

    How are you guys already seeing this movie, it doesn't come out until May 7th!! wtf

    5 years agoby @comicbookfanFlag

  18. NoLongerUsedAccount

    saw it today it is so good but yes its lost something

    5 years agoby @thefilmfanaticFlag

  19. adit365

    You Know ? In Indonesia, Iron Man 2 Will Showing In Indonesia at 30 April 2010 !!

    5 years agoby @adit365Flag

  20. the Narrator

    Well well well. An honest reviewer. I'm glad to see theres more than a handful of us. good job man. I'm sure ti was easy to get caught up in the awesomeness in it, but thanks for giving an honest detailed review. This only actually brings my expectations for it higher, because they weren't so sky high when I saw the teasers. It was lacking something the first had.

    Again congrats, and I look forward to all the little easter eggs as well.

    5 years agoby @narratorFlag

  21. Mwheeler1324

    Great Review after ready this Can't wait to see this!!! Yeah.....

    5 years agoby @mwheeler1324Flag

  22. mcnasty

    you misspelled "Downey" in the opening excerpt. other than that, sounds good to me.

    5 years agoby @mcnastyFlag

  23. the MovieGhost

    Very nice Review.

    5 years agoby @the-movieghostFlag

  24. ed_wood

    Great review. I must see this movie.

    5 years agoby @ed-woodFlag

  25. ZaherJT


    5 years agoby @zaherjtFlag

  26. CBF

    So it is the Demon in a Bottle plot, albeit subtly, with the Armor Wars plot taking up most the film with the iron soldiers subplot. That is good to know, I was wondering how much of Demon in a Bottle they were going to use, since the first film showed Tony drinking a lot too, which I thought was setting up for that story.

    Another thing - sequels are never as good as their original, and the second film of a trilogy is usually the darkest. So I'm glad to hear that this film does follow that formula. I'm glad you didn't give the ending away, however I would have liked more on the directing and visuals, you barely touch these aspects. Yet I do understand this is the first review for this movie, therefore, I let it slide.

    Great review.

    5 years agoby @comicbookfanFlag