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Iron Man 2
War Machine by AC/DC
Jon Favreau Interview After Making Iron Man 2
One word from AC/DC to describe "Iron Man 2"....BIG GUN!
Indeed, "Iron Man 2" has all the bells and whistles of a big budget super hero follow up film, but it also carries the many faults and follies of a sequel too. Before I get into my review, I would like to point out a few things first about what I look for in sequels in general. Whether you condone this to be fair or not, but I hold all sequels (especially super hero and sci-fi ones) to a much higher standard than the original film, it was spawned from. Some of you maybe asking why that is so? Well, the answer is fairly simple to quite honest. In the first film that launches any franchise, the movie has the daunting task of not only introducing and establishing the main characters of this fictional universe, but they also have to establish the universe and world the story takes place. Even establishing motives and relationships that occur within this universe. Laying out not necessarily the most realistic world to be honest. I mean let's face it, do you honestly think a man in an iron mechanical suit is realistic? No, but a plausible and believable world based on how the world is laid out in the story. Once that gets established in the first film, then I believe it should not only allow for the writers to delve deeper into the problems and relationships of the main characters, but it should allow them ample freedom to expand on them as well. Allowing for the writers and director to take the story in any direction they see fit, and expanding the universe of the character on a broader scale.
Such films to look at are "Spider-Man 2" and "The Dark Knight", as perfect examples of what I mean. Both comic book characters were very well established in their prior films. Thus, when the sequels came out for their perspective franchises, the directors were not only able to expand on the world they created for these characters, but they were also able to delve deeper into the character's problems and psyche as well. Allowing the audience to be embraced into a much deeper story content, as the film would explore the relationships of the characters much more thoroughly and deeply than before. Thus, I hold "Iron Man 2" to a much higher standard than it's previous film, and expect no less. Having said that, how does this new film stand out you may ask? Well, let's go over that now shall we.
(Warning: Possible Spoiler Alert if you haven't seen the first movie)
For those of you who saw the first film should know, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) was last seen, before the end credits, admitting to the world that he was the armored hero, Iron Man. Naturally, this has never happened in any super hero movie before, but Jon Favreau thought it was a fun and unique story idea to help make "Iron Man" stand out from other super hero franchises. Which it does, as it allows for the movie to show a different kind of hero than the ones we've seen before. Rather than portraying the traditional self loathing and dark hero like Batman, or the troubled angst hero in Spider-Man. Or even the stoic and traditional hero like Superman. No, Iron Man has a style all his own. Displaying a self destructive narcissistic, horny, womanizing, charming, intelligent, hard drinking, and humorous person as only Robert Downey Jr. could pull off so nicely. In fact, the beginning starts off strongly because of that basic concept.
Six months after the events of the first movie, Tony is shown living the life of celebrity stardom due to his new secret identity being exposed to the world. Take in mind, the world Jon and Marvel established in the first movie was a mix of the real world with technology exaggerated, as Jon Favreau put it once. Therefore, one can expect things that would logically happen in the real world if Iron Man did exist. Such things like U.S. Senate hearings declaring Tony's armor as a possible weapon of mass destruction, and hold a hearing in which they demand he turn over his armor to the government. Along with various countries and rival competitors trying to duplicate the technology for military and financial purposes. Unfortunately for them, none of their attempts even come close to Tony's technical expertise, as he arrogantly puts it: "It'll be another twenty years before anyone is able to duplicate the technology." Sadly, he couldn't have been more wrong than that......
As it seems a new mysterious Russian villain by the name of Ivan Vanko (Mickey Rourke) has found a way to not only duplicate Tony Stark's technology, but he plans on using it against him as well. For you see, it turns out this new adversary has his own agenda against Stark's family. When Ivan makes his debut on the race track as Iron Man's new nemesis, Whip Lash, and humiliates him in front of millions on television, only becomes the tip of the iceberg for Stark's problems. As one of Tony's competitors, (Sam Rockwell) Justin Hammer CEO of Hammer Industries, decides to secretly enlists Ivan's services, so he can finally beat out Stark Industries' technological aspects and humiliate Tony, at the annual Stark Expo (An event where Stark Industries and his competitors display their latest tech for military technology and such). However, unknown to Justin Hammer, Ivan has other plans for the Stark Expo.
What some of you probably don't know....is that the story didn't end when Tony admitted he was Iron Man, in the first movie. Unless your one of those closet comic geeks like me that watched the last scene, at the end of the credits for the first movie, then you probably might have seen the last scene where it shows S.H.I.E.L.D agent, Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), initiating Tony Stark into the "The Avengers Initiative".....before going to end. The reason I bring this scene up is because it plays a very crucial part in the sequel.
As Jon Favreau once said, "The problem with most super hero sequels is that they tend to over load it with too many subplots and characters, that the story becomes too watered down and generic." I agree with him. The problem with super hero movies is that you can't create as many subplots and have too many characters in it, as there simply isn't enough screen time to explain it all. Sure, you can always have it set up for the rest of story to be explained in a sequel, but there's never any guarantee that there will be a sequel (i.e. Superman V or Daredevil 2; two sequels that never happened). Or that anyone will care enough to watch spin offs and previous films just to catch up. Where as in a comic book, you can get away with those things as their whole concept is to keep the reader constantly into an ever expanding (possibly never ending) storyline for them to follow. However, in any film franchise in general, each movie has to stand on it's own. Sadly, it looks like Jon didn't bother to listen to his own advice about super hero sequels, and it does effect the movie tremendously.
For you see, not only does the film tend to explore the synopsis I just described, but it also delves deeper into Tony and (Gwyneth Paltrow) Pepper Pott's unrequited and unconsummated romantic relationship, from the previous movie. Pepper and Tony are both two adults, who happen to be attracted to each other immensely, but they're often unsure of how to show their affections for one another. Mostly due to Tony's flashy and self destructive narcissistic lifestyle, and Pepper's frustrations of having to run Stark Industries while Tony is away secretly trying to devise a new arc reactor for his heart. As it seems, his current one is killing him slowly each time he uses the Iron Man suit. Which is fine, as there was tremendous tension between these two unlikely lovers, in the first movie, and "Iron Man 2" just expands on it a bit more. Plus, the new arc reactor heart sets up for an interesting dynamic in the story as well. All this alone would've been enough make up a great movie along with the Whip Lash story arc. However, it doesn't end there though.
If that wasn't already enough to introduce into one two hour film, then you'll be happy to hear the Tony's best friend, Lt. Colonel James "Rhodey" Rhodes (Don Cheadle) finally turns into War Machine, for the sequel. Add in S.H.I.E.L.D.'s new expanded role along with Nick Fury, as it tries to conveniently tie this film into Marvel Studios' grand super hero cross over team up film, "The Avengers"; while introducing the infamous Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson). Seriously, you'll have to be a comic book geek in order to pick up on all the references, in this movie. Oh and Jon's character, Happy Hogan, gets an expanded role as well. Some of you might wonder how it's even possible to explain and fit all this story content into one movie without feeling rushed or watered down, huh? Well, the short answer to that is that it doesn't.
Outside of all the bells and whistles of the overwhelming hype surrounding this film, "Iron Man 2" fails to live up to the original. As the story comes off rushed and often too watered down, as you could obviously tell Jon and Marvel were trying to put too much into this movie. On the one hand, it looks like Jon wanted to explore Tony and Pepper's unrequited and unconsummated love affair a bit more by adding in a new romantic rival, Natasha Romanoff aka The Black Widow, onto the scene. Even introducing two new adversaries, Justin Hammer and Whip Lash, who exploit Tony's arrogance and narcissism to the world. While exploring the concept of a super hero who confesses his identity to the world, and how it affects his life. Yet on the other hand, you could also tell that Marvel must have forced their way into putting all sorts of references that will eventually tie in this movie to Marvel's team up movie, "The Avengers." Don't get me wrong, I understand those references were necessary for upcoming "Avengers" movie to make any sense, but I have to wonder if there was possibly a more subtle way they could have done this without bogging down "Iron Man 2" with too many references, characters and subplots.
However, as bad as the story was for "Iron Man 2", it could have been a lot worse. Which by no means am I saying this was bad at all. No, it's just vastly over hyped, and fails to live up to the original. Sure, it has a lot more special effects and more action sequences, for those who yearned to see more action in the last movie. Well lets just say "Iron Man 2" satisfies that craving nicely if you really want to see Iron Man's full power cut loose on screen.
Plus, the moments whenever Robert Downey Jr. had to act outside of his armor, were when the movie was truly at it's best. Showcasing a man who is actually quite vulnerable as he hides behind his own pride and ego. For Robert's performance alone, it made up for many of the film's shortcomings. Something that very few actors are capable of when having to work with rushed mediocre scripts.
And lets not forget about Sam Rockwell and Mickey Rourke either. As the old saying goes, "a hero is only as great, as the villain he fights." If that reigns true, then Sam Rockwell and Mickey Rourke definitely prove to be more than worthy enough adversaries to the Invincible Iron Man. Proving to be great antagonists to Tony Stark, as they both reflect the dark side of different aspects in Stark's persona. Whip Lash proving be the side that wishes to use Tony's tech for his own selfish gains, while Justin Hammer merely wants to exploit and profit off of modern warfare with it. Indeed, you couldn't ask for better villains than them.
Overall, I seriously doubt most fans will even care about what I just said in this review, as the movie does deliver a lot on special effects and action sequences that will keep most fans happy. While still leaving in the various references for this movie to lead into "The Avengers" movie eventually. Like I said earlier, "Iron Man 2" isn't a bad film by any means. Just vastly over hyped. However, if your into the super hero genre and you liked the last movie, then "Iron Man 2" will prove to be a very entertaining movie for all to enjoy. Just don't expect too much out of it, in terms of story content.