Iron Man 2 Review

Iron Man 2 follows the classic “rise, fall, redemption” arc of storytelling that’s often associated with heroes, and sets up several key characters for the future of the MCU. Sadly where it falls is its main villain and finale, but how much does that impact the film overall? Let’s take a look!


Tony Stark is under pressure from various sources, including the government, to share his technology with the world. He must find a way to fight them while also tackling a ghost from his family’s past…

*spoilers appear from here on out!*

The Good:

War Machine and Iron Man, in live action! … Well, sort of, anyway…

It’s safe to say that Robert Downey Jr. didn’t somehow lose his touch with the character in the two years between films and is once again the star everyone else is orbiting around. As mentioned in the opening paragraph Tony Stark starts off on top of the world, getting the better of the government and its new greedy weapons manufacturer Hammer Inc. as they tried to get their hands on the Iron Man suit technology. Sadly that same tech is now killing him as the material that powers his core is also poisonous, and he soon slips into depression as he can’t find a way to cure it, eventually boozing it up at his birthday party and using the Iron Man suit as a party trick. This leads to his old pal Rhodey (now and going forward played by Don Cheadle) and his would-be girlfriend / choice to be new CEO of Stark Industries Pepper Potts (still Gwyneth Paltrow) to try and save him the public embarrassment, but that only results in Rhodes taking one of Tony’s spare suits and fighting him before he leaves with it. It’s all very “rock bottom” for the character, which is good because thankfully you like him enough to want to see him come through it…

What I didn’t mention was the villainous duo that appear during this time. While I’ll take a closer look at Ivan “Whiplash” Vanko (played by the very not Russian Mickey Rourke) in the “Bad” section (sorry fans!) he appears and does battle with Iron Man at Monaco, which is a good scene, and is soon arrested. Due to his appearance with a very Stark-like Arc Reactor that his father had built with Tony’s dad it ruins Stark’s “only I can make this so there isn’t any worry” plan and Justin Hammer, leader of the previously mentioned Hammer weapons manufacturer steals the villain away from jail and gets him to work on his own suits, which he then turns into AI controlled drones.

I quite like the designs of the drone suits, though they do look like generic map enemies from an unimaginative computer game…

Another character I didn’t mention was Tony’s new assistant “Natalie Rushman”, who ends up revealed as Black Widow (played by Scarlett Johansson), and together with Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) they tell Tony of Howard Stark’s alternate plans and give him some old footage which eventually gives him the blueprints to create an entirely new element which can replace the poisonous one and save his life immediately… which it does! There’s a nice moment where Tony’s Dad (played by John Slattery), who at this point had been painted quite poorly by Tony, talks to him via a pre-recorded message about his son being his “proudest creation”. With his newly powered suit Iron Man arrives at a Hammer showcase event just in time for Vanko to take control of all the drones and Rhodey’s War Machine armour and therefore have a good fight with everyone. The actual “fighting the drones” part is exciting still, and Black Widow gets her first “impressively beating up a bunch of people by herself” scene while Tony’s bodyguard Happy Hogan (played by director Jon Favreau) struggles with just one guy. After the final battle Tony and Pepper finally admit their love to each other on a rooftop, and then we get a second “Nick Fury talks to Tony Stark about the Avengers” scene before the credits. The post credits scene links to Thor as Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg), who had appeared briefly in this film before saying he’d been called away to New Mexico, arrives on the scene to find Thor’s hammer…

The Bad:

This fight was fun, the rest of the scenes with Vanko? Not so much.

The only bad is the previously mentioned Ivan Vanko. Not only is Mickey Rourke’s Russian accent awful, but I just don’t even remotely buy him as someone who is a tech genius, the two combined just make him feel like a gag character. Then we get the ending, where Whiplash appears to fight Iron Man and War Machine and you look forward to a big showdown but all you get is maybe two minutes before Vanko is taken out by a combined repulser beam from the armoured duo. It feels like the film was running too long but instead of cutting out some dialogue or tracking shots the director decided to cut out a chunk of the final battle, it’s very odd. Vanko is the first of several poor lead villains in the MCU, but at least the other ones normally got a good final battle as a plus point…

Overall Thoughts:

“If you’re a spy who goes undercover, why are you wearing such a revealing, eye-catching suit?” “… Shut up.”

Iron Man 2 doesn’t quite stand up to the original, but comes close. Robert Downey Jr. is still great as Tony Stark, and the debut of Black Widow alongside Rhodey becoming War Machine shows the MCU starting to expand in a fun and still logical-to-the-plot way, it’s just the lead villain and the final showdown that leaves this film feeling a little empty. Still more than worth a watch though!

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