RELEASED: May 7th 2010
DISTRIBUTED BY: Paramount Pictures
DIRECTED BY: Jon Favreau
WRITTEN BY: Justin Theroux
PRODUCED BY: Kevin Feige
MUSIC BY: John Debney
STARRING: Robert Downey Jr., Gwenyth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Jon Favreau, Scarlett Johansson, Sam Rockwell, Mickey Rourke & Samuel L. Jackson
In the same way that Captain America: The First Avenger is somewhat similar to Wonder Woman, Iron Man 2 also shares similarities to a DC film. Unfortunately, this time it’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
After Tony Stark reveals his costumed identity to the world at the end of Iron Man, his fame and popularity has increased exponentially, as he effectively ends war in the middle east and continues to prove he’s a different type of superhero than anything you’ve ever seen by taking his showboating to new extremes. However, his very presence invites challenge, as rival engineer Ivan Vanko sets out to destroy the Stark legacy for a long-forgotten family feud, and fellow weapons designer Justin Hammer vies for Stark’s weapons contracts and fame. Meanwhile, Rhodey and the government make a move on Stark’s cache of ‘weapons’, while Nick Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D. try to mould Stark into something that more resembles Avengers material, as Stark comes to terms with the fact that his arc reactor is killing him.
There’s just too much going on in this film. And while it can sometimes it can be fun, for the majority of the film, it just seems flat. It’s overly concerned with getting all the pieces in place for the (then) upcoming Avengers movie – introducing Black Widow, tying Tony’s backstory into S.H.I.E.L.D., that it takes away from the more important elements that should have been a focus of the film, such as Tony’s alcoholism or his feud with the United States government. With all these moving parts, none of them gets enough time to really reach their true potential. Unfortunately, Justin Theroux’s script has been written in such a way that you can’t easily just cut something out, and so it’s stuck on this pointless meandering path the film has wandered down.
For instance, the whole issue of Stark slowly dying leads into him becoming more reckless with his drinking and usage of the Iron Man suit. And as such (in this film), the first is needed to explore the second, but, if written differently, they could have just focused on the fact Tony likes to drink, and such a reckless habit in turn could lead to him being an irresponsible pilot. And thus, the same end result is achieved. Unfortunately, the aim of this film was apparently to make things as convoluted as possible, and it suffers for it.
That’s not to say it’s a terrible film. And there are indeed highlights. Anything with Rhodey is generally pretty fun, and Sam Rockwell’s portrayal of Justin Hammer is absolutely delightful. The same can be said for Robert Downey Jr., who makes the most of this weak script and delivers and fun an earnest performance.
The music is also a highlight, as the film doubles down on the rock theme from the first film, going all-in with the AC DC. Likewise, the content of the film does lend itself to some cool visuals, such as Whiplash’s first appearance or Iron Man and War Machine’s team-up.
Unfortunately, these brief moments of (I’m hesitant to say…) quality, just highlight how uneven the rest of the film is. Not in a bad way, so much as it’s just a thing that you’re watching happen, but it’s eliciting next to no response. Making it, not bad, per se, just a bit boring, which is impressive considering how much bombastic stuff is happening on screen in front of you.
It’s probably not the worst Marvel film, but it is, for the most part, largely forgettable, something made more unfortunate by the unique feel and charm of the first film, two things which Iron Man 2 have completely abandoned.
All-in-all, I give it: