Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

The Summer of 2010 is upon us so lets get it started correctly with the sequel to one of the biggest movies of 2008, that being Tony Stark doing his thing in ‘Iron Man 2: The Revenge of Whiplash’. I threw that whole ‘Revenge of Whiplash’ thing in there because ‘Iron Man 2’ just sounds far too plain to me.

So when we last saw Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) he had just announced to the world that he is indeed his armored bodyguard Iron Man. This news didn’t sit too well with some cat who was watching this coming out party over in the former USSR. This cat sitting around feeling the hate for Tony Stark would be physicist Ivan Vanko (Mickey Rourke) who is tending over his father Anton as he leaves this earth informing Ivan how HE should basking in the glory of instead of Tony Stark. According to Anton, Tony’s old man Howard stole his invention, that being the energy source that powers Iron Man, and destroyed the Vanko family in the process but Ivan still has the original blueprints and has promised his old man he will get revenge. Right after he finishes that bottle of Vodka. That’s not a stereotype at all.

Back stateside Tony Stark is busy being Tony Stark. Aside from dealing with the incredibly negative effects of having that thing embedded in his chest Tony is thumbing his nose at a congressional hearing led by jerk off Senator Stern (Gary Shandling) who wants him to turn over his Iron Man armor, he’s causing Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) all kinds of grief by not running his company properly and he’s stressing his best friend Col. Jim Rhodes (Don Cheadle) by not allowing Rhodey to assist in Starks efforts to keep the world at peace. We also have a new player in Stark Industries main competitor Justin Hammer (Sam Rockwell) who would do anything to have his own set of Iron Man armor. Anything.

Next thing you know Anton Vanko shows up in his Whiplash gear causing all kinds of trouble, not just by nearly killing Tony Stark but also letting the world know that the Iron Man plans can easily fall in the wrong hands. More problematic is that the dim-witted Justin Hammer has found a way to secretly employ Anton Vanko so that he can get to work building Hammer Industries their own set of armor. The problem is that while Justin Hammer is just a greedy bastard, Ivan Vanko isn’t greedy at all, he’s just a bad dude. In fact in the history of nuclear physicist you would be hard pressed to find one more badass than Ivan Vanko. One has to wonder how this cat found time to attend Nuclear Physicist class and learn his supreme ass kicking skills not to mention his phenomenal computer hacking abilities. And how many Nuclear Physicists do you know that sport Grillz? Only Ivan Vanko baby. Also Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and his mole Natasha Romanoff, better known in the circles of the know as The Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), are on tap to keep a close eye on Tony and his activities.

Things happen, Tony gets depressed, Tony learns his dad really did like him a little bit, Rhodey steals himself a set of armor and Vanko double crosses Hammer with it all coming to head at the Stark Expo where a hero and his newly anointed side kick called War Machine must do battle against Whiplash and his lethal legion of heavily armed drones. I don’t want it spoil it for you but…

‘Iron Man 2’ is a finely entertaining, high octane slickly produced, pop corn munching summer time action flick. But I do have a gripe. My boy, who saw this movie the day before me, tells me to ‘wait until the credits roll’. Damn I hate sitting through movie credits, but I do this so I can see the little closing Easter Egg. For THAT I waded through a half an hours worth of credits. I wish he had just told me. I did learn, by watching these endless credits, that Scarlet Johansson had like three personal assistants in this movie. What in the world did the girl need all those assistants for? I wish I had some personal assistants.

Anyway director John Favraeu builds upon the groundwork laid in ‘Iron Man 2’ very well as we get to see Tony Stark become even more full of himself, as if that was possible, Jim Rhodes, who has become a little darker and a little shorter, makes his logical progression to becoming War Machine and Nick Fury ascends from being the previous movies end credits Easter Egg to becoming a bonafide character laying the groundwork for the eventual Avengers movie. We can’t wait. The action sequences as provided by Industrial Light and Magic are spectacular as expected, the acting pedigree was such that if you didn’t have at the very least an Academy Award Nomination in your resume the producers weren’t interested in casting you in an important part… Unless of course you happen to look like Scarlett Johansson… and for a movie that ran over two hours it still left you wanting more.

If I was to criticize this movie in relation to the first film I would say this story was less focused and more scattershot than the original since it was servicing far more characters and more story elements, but Favreau paces this movie quick enough that the relative disarray of the narrative doesn’t become problematic, at least while your watching the movie. Also the final battle between Whiplash vs. Iron Man and War Machine was just a little bit anti-climactic for my taste considering all the build up that went into it, only to have it end far too quickly. Then there was the wasted opportunity that was The Black Widow. I thought since The Black Widow is Russian (at least in the comics) and Vanko is Russian there would be some tie in or something making her presence relevant in some way, but no, this Black Widow doesn’t even have an accent. I think she’s from Van Nuys. Her fight scenes were sweet and all but was nothing all that Black Widow-esque about this version of Natasha Romanoff.

But that’s the purist comic book snob in me coming out. As far as sequels go to big-time movies ‘Iron Man 2’, in my book, is a big-time sequel that more than holds its own against the original and more importantly gets you impatient for even more Iron Man action. And I’m talking about the eventual sequel ‘Iron Man 3: The Mandarin Ascends’. I made that up too.

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