RETRO REVIEW: Iron Man 2 (2010)

Theatrical Release Poster – Marvel Studios – Paramount Pictures

The following is a retro review of Iron Man 2, a Jon Favreau film. 

Jon Favreau returned to the Iron Man-franchise, with a sequel to the critically acclaimed original film from 2008. Marvel Studios was desperate to build the universe, and chose to start building their new empire within the sequel to Iron Man. But while easter eggs can be promising and exciting, studio-mandated easter eggs can ruin a film if they dictate too much of the plot. 

Iron Man 2 follows Tony Stark (played by Robert Downey, Jr.) after his announcement to the world that he, in fact, was the Iron Man. But the announcement doesn’t please everyone. Ivan Vanko (played by Mickey Rourke), son of scientist Anton Vanko, is upset that Tony profitted from work that his father, Anton Vanko, did not – so he goes on to seek vengeance.

Meanwhile, the government wants to seize the Iron Man-suit, but Stark isn’t really interested in being a team-player or selling his suit/weapon. And there’s also a big Avengers-initiative-subplot thrown in there.

The absolute worst superhere movie-sin is when you explicitly set up the future of the movie universe in a clunky way. It’s the same problem that both The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and Warner Bros.’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice ran into.

In Iron Man 2, the plot feels over-complex. Remember that post-credits scene in Iron Man, well the film goes to great and unnecessary lengths to really make you understand what it meant. Ultimately, all of this was unnecessary as Captain America: The First Avenger and Thor both tie into the overarching Avengers-plot in a much simpler way.

Honestly, I feel like Marvel Studios should have just made up their mind. If they wanted a sequel, then they should have just made an honest sequel. But if they wanted a prelude to the Avengers, then they should have just made that kind of film.

The amount of different storylines that go into this film is astounding. The film would have been a lot better if it had been more of a standalone film. But this is a fun action film, and I would be lying if I said that people won’t really enjoy a lot of the film – so keep that in mind.

The returning stars are really solid in this film, as you would expect. Gwyneth Paltrow and Robert Downey, Jr. really are the perfect on-screen shepherds of this franchise. Now, as I wrote in the Iron Man-retro review, Terrence Howard would ultimately be replaced by Don Cheadle here.

I really like Cheadle’s version of Rhodey a lot, but I still think that Howard would have been a star in this franchise. I really don’t like the supervillain that Rourke plays in the film. Sure, we get why he’s going after Stark, but his character isn’t used all that well. I will say, though, that I absolutely loved Sam Rockwell in this film.

Iron Man 2 isn’t a good film, and definitely feels like it was made by committee, with a ton of guidelines from Marvel Studios. Thankfully, Jon Favreau, one of the most promising directors out there, would rebound from both of his less-than-stellar blockbusters (Iron Man 2 and Cowboys & Aliens) with a wonderful little film that was very personal to him – Chef (2014). And the Iron Man-franchise would continue with a film that, though it was much better, ended up being very controversial – Iron Man 3 (2013).

6 out of 10

– I’m Jeffrey Rex

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