Iron Man 2 (2010)

Directed by: Jon Favreau

Premise: A sequel to 2008’s Iron Man. Taking place six months after the previous film, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) is confronted by Whiplash (Mickey Rourke), a Russian villain who has allied with Stark’s rival weapons manufacturer who wants the secrets of Iron Man’s technology.

What Works: Iron Man 2 continues the fun of the first film. Robert Downey Jr. is back as Tony Stark and like the first film he carries much of the sequel on his charisma. Gwyneth Paltrow also returns as Stark’s assistant Pepper Potts and she has one of the best written roles of the film. Iron Man 2 avoids a common trap of comic book films, in which female characters are often reduced to damsels in distress or sex kittens, by giving Potts a dilemma as she struggles between her attraction to Tony Stark and the demands of her newfound job responsibilities. The action scenes of Iron Man 2 hold up with anything in the original and for those who like kick-ass, shoot-em-up finales this film delivers.

What Doesn’t: Although it is bigger and louder than the previous film, Iron Man 2 comes up short in its storytelling. Where the previous film credibly transitioned Tony Stark from an ignorant egomaniac to a self aware egomaniac, the character’s growth in this film lacks the same kind of dynamism and sense of purpose. Instead, the middle of the story wanders because it lacks a focus. There is no specific goal or desire for Stark to quest for in this film and he does not come into enough direct conflict with Whiplash to give the second act of the film a narrative shape. As Whiplash, Mickey Rourke does not get nearly enough screen time to present himself as a credible threat and he spends most of his time in a workshop hunched over computers terminals.

Bottom Line: Iron Man 2 is a worthy successor to the first film as it continues the fun of the original. But with the excellence of the first film and all of the talent in front and behind the camera on the sequel, the film doesn’t quite meet expectations.

Episode: #288 (May 16, 2010)