The Iron Man Is Back!

In Iron Man 2, Tony Stark’s ego swells to enormous levels. Written as some kind of Steve Jobs meets Richard Branson amalgam in a superhero costume, Robert Downey’s wise-ass treatment of the character (still at tangents to what he represents in the original comics) seems self absorbed and cheeky. How could anyone find him likable as a hero? But beyond all of this is a simple fact, this sequel fails to do what every sequel must i.e. expand on the original and take the premise into uncharted territory.

Stripped down in this second outing to its bare essentials – one liners and scant cartoonish action – the films defects (glaringly obvious even in the first) conspicuously swell and rise to the surface. The story puts Stark in mortal danger; the miniature arc reactor that keeps him alive is now poisoning his body, discharging lethal toxins that weaken him and leave limited time to find a cure.

Amidst this he finds himself embroiled in a wrangle with the US government over the ownership of the Iron Man Armour and what it represents (weapon or instrument of peace). If all of this weren’t enough, he is threatened by the random appearance of Mickey Rourke’s Ivan Vanko, who as Whiplash thumps Start and his Iron Man Armour in the movies best scene, set in an over-crowded Monaco racetrack.

Once the initial dust has settled though, the film turns into a self absorbed, faux character study. This superhero Bucket List setup, where our hero may be dying and therefore disregards all concerns about his image and worldly perception, does not make for good entertainment.

Even with all its flaws, the original film never sank to a level where it didn’t amuse us, whether it was in exploring (but also exploiting) the socio-political landscape of the war on terror or Stark’s guilt-stricken conscience, bruised by the extent of his organizations exploits. Because director Jon Favreau is no Sam Raimi, even his attempts at parodying the character (ala Spiderman 3) in self deprecation mode – with Tony Start dancing around in full armour on his birthday – feels embarrassingly unfunny. For action junkies, the cluttered night time scenes with Stark and Jim Rhodes (underwhelming Don Cheadle in armour as War Machine) lack the aerial panache of Iron Man fighting it out with Jet Fighters from the original.

The film makes one fact glaringly obvious; comic book movies are not comic books themselves, they are movies and are expected to function in ways that films do. That Iron Man 2 doesn’t is a failure that stems out of its short-sightedness to connect itself to something bigger and greater. Intended as a tie in to the upcoming, proposed (and so far non- existent) Avengers movie, it instead becomes filler for it.

The movies tone implies it is a setup for the teams ultimate formation, and the blink and miss appearance of Captain America’s shield and Thor’s hammer, intended to provide drug like highs in audiences viewing pleasure, only confirms this observation. This is not a film but bait for a much bigger commercial franchise on the horizon and depending on how you see it, you will either enjoy it or feel duped by it.

Follow Iron Man 2 on Twitter to find out more. Watch the official Iron Man 2 movie trailer to find out more about Iron Man 2 – The Movie.

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