Friday, October 1, 2021

Iron Man 2 (a movie review post)


MCU #3

It's interesting looking back at the earlier Marvel movies now that we've reached the stage of "saving the world." The early movies were much "smaller" and personal. Iron Man is, ultimately, about the envy of a man and the repercussions caused from trying to kill the man he is envious of. Sure, there is a battle between the two men in mech armor, but, ultimately, it is a personal movie.

Incredible Hulk is the same. Basically, a dude doesn't like the guy her daughter is dating. His daughter is dating the Hulk, so there's a lot of smashing, but, at its heart, it's a personal rivalry. Maybe two, because there's also Tim Roth's character and his, again, envy.

Iron Man 2 is also "small" in that same way. It's a battle between the sons of two men, one who rose to greatness, the other who didn't even go on to live in infamy, just obscurity. I mean, Tony had never even heard of the other man. All of that with a side of man vs man as Tony battles with "addiction." Of course, it's not really addiction in the movie; it's his looming death from palladium poisoning, but that's a stand-in for the arc in the comics when Tony was battling his alcoholism, a groundbreaking story in its day. I think they did a decent job of reflecting that in the movie as he gets more and more out of control.

I think Iron Man 2 is a quite good sequel. Narratively, I don't find it quite as strong as Iron Man. It actually has a little too much going on in it. But, as a movie about characters, which Marvel movies ultimately are, it really shines. It introduces Black Widow, which is so much fun. We really get to encounter Nick Fury, and that's awesome. Pepper gets promoted and freaks out. Rhodey steps into his own, at least a bit. We start to get to know Coulson... Oh, and Justin Hammer!

Okay, let me just say that I love Sam Rockwell. He is completely underrated as an actor. At least, he must be due to his lack of big profile roles. I don't know; maybe he stays away from them, but he's an incredible actor, and he was so much fun in this role. His little dance across the stage at the expo is gold. Also, I just found out, he was considered for the role of Tony Stark, and that would not have been a bad choice. A different choice, because I think Rockwell would have, well, rocked in the role, though I do think Downey was the correct decision. Not that Downey is the better actor; they are different actors, and Downey is able to have a particular smugness about him that I have never seen Rockwell do, and I think that particular quality is what really sells Stark.

Anyway... It's tough to pick between two actors you think are awesome.

And, I think, that's all I have to say about this one. Oh, wait, no it's not.
I have always been ambivalent about Mickey Rourke as the villain in this movie. Or, maybe, I'm ambivalent about the villain. I don't know. I don't know if it's the character or the actor. I hoped re-watching it would help me come to some sort of decision, but it didn't. Maybe it's both. This is part of the narrative weakness of the plot. Whiplash feels retconned in because he kind of comes from nowhere and nothing. Clearly, this guy is a genius but was fine with, what, living in squalor? And we're supposed to just accept Fury's word that the guy's father was a bad guy.

And we are supposed to accept that because Fury, in the MCU, is the ultimate reliable narrator, which makes everything a bit too easy for me to be comfortable with, I guess. It's the thing that pulls this movie down a bit for me.
Still a great and fun movie.

Oh, here's an idea! My ranking of the MCU movies as I re-watch them.
Current rank:

1. Iron Man
2. Iron Man 2
3. (and it's a very, very distant third, watch for this one to just keep dropping until it hits 25) The Incredible Hulk


  1. Plenty of good Iron Man villains to choose from and they come up with Whiplash. Not that what they did with it was bad, but I never understood what the point of Whiplash was. But we finally got War Machine, so I can't complain too much. Also this is probably the first time The Incredible Hulk has ever made it to number three on any list.

    1. LOL on the Hulk comment!
      I think the movie could have been better if they had left Whiplash out entirely and focused on the issue of the government wanting to take the armor from him. It was a great opportunity to do Armor Wars rather than just allude to it.

  2. Ooo, I'm going to have to pay attention to these rankings. I can't resist rankings!

    Now that I know the comics so much better, I feel I should rewatch all the movies at some point.

    1. TAS: You probably should. There's so much unexpected nuance at this point.