It's that time again, that is to say, time for another excuse. I apologise for the lateness of this review, but reality decided to come and kick my ass for the past month. Anyway, onto Iron Man 2, a movie I believe deserves more props than people normally give it credit for, with what I often hear said about it being the worst of the Marvel Cinematic sequels, if not just the worst Marvel movie full stop.
(Insert Puntastic Title Here)
We open with Tony's dramatic press release about his identity as Iron Man being viewed on a tiny television set in the middle of Moscow. An elderly man lies in a bed watching this before calling for his son, Ivan (Played by Mickey Roarke) Sharing his parting words with Ivan, the old man passes away, and in a fit of very Russian rage, Ivan of course gets stuck into a bottle of vodka and goes to build a weapon using a blueprint of an Arc Reactor that he has for some reason.
Six months later, Tony drops into a convention hall in full Iron Man regalia and opens a tech convention called the Stark Expo, something his father had done in the past. While a video of Howard plays, Tony checks a monitor which measures his blood toxicity at 19%.
On his way out the door we get perhaps the earliest Stan Lee cameo in any movie with the man himself playing Larry King. Heading to the car, a beautiful woman hands Tony a subpoena to appear in court about his armour.
In court, a rather annoying Senator named Stern demands Tony hand over his armour to the people. Calling in a government weapons contractor, we're introduced to Justin Hammer (Played by Sam Rockwell) who appears much younger than any version of the character before this film's release.
After our new Rhodey arrives (Played by Don Cheadle) and reveals that other countries are attempting to replicate Tony's armour to little success, Tony pretty much proves that all of them as well as Hammer's own attempts are no immediate threat before leaving.
A quick update from Ivan reveals his weapon, a pair of arc reactor powered whips, are operational.
In Tony's garage, we see his blood toxicity is rising and it is revealed that the Palladium that is in his chest reactor is poisoning him, but that no known element is a suitable replacement. When Pepper appears, he hands off Stark Industries to her, making her CEO.
Later, when it comes time to write it up, we are introduced to the notary, Natalie Rushman (Played by the smokin' hot Scarlett Johansson) and Tony wants to make her his new PA.
Heading over to Monaco for a Formula 1 rally in which Stark Industries has a car racing, Tony has a brief run in with Hammer before deciding he'd much rather drive the car himself and enters the race.
Ivan appears on the track and stops Tony's car with his whips. After a brief struggle, Pepper and Happy arrive, tossing Tony his suitcase armour and the battle is quickly won, but not before Hammer, having gotten a good look at Ivan's tech, decides to break the Russian out of a Monaco prison and bring him back to America with him.
Bringing Ivan to his factory, Ivan's skills with computers and tech pretty much show Hammer for the incompetent loser he is, but their mutual wish to see Tony humiliated puts them on the same side for now.
Back at the Stark abode, Tony has a party for his birthday in which, getting drunk off his ass in his armour, Rhodey dawns the Mark.2 armour to teach Tony a lesson, leaving with the earlier model. Returning the armour to the Air Force, they call in Hammer to modify the Mark.2 as military hardware.
Meanwhile, Tony sits inside a giant doughnut stuffing his face when he is approached by Nick Fury (Played by Samuel 'English Mother F*cker' Jackson) whom is not impressed by Tony's antics of late. Revealing that his new PA, Natalie Rushman, is in fact Shield Agent Natasha Romanoff who had been sent to keep an eye on Tony once they knew he was sick, Nick gives Tony a box of his dad's old stuff to help him figure out the answer to the Palladium problem. He also reveals that Ivan's father, Anton, had worked on the arc reactor, but due to his attempts to profiteer off it during the Cold War, Howard got him deported, thus explaining Ivan's hatred of Stark and wish to bring him down.
Finding an old film reel, Tony sees a message left to him by his father in which he subtly reveals the blueprint to synthesizing a new element. After a contentious meeting with Pepper, Tony sets about tearing his house apart to synthesize the new element to replace the Palladium in his chest.
The agreement between Hammer and Ivan begins to break down as Ivan is seemingly diverting from his work on the drones as he is shown building improved versions of his original whips. Hammer locks Ivan up in the factory with men guarding him as he takes the Mark.2 and several of the drones for the demonstration at the Stark Expo.
After Hammer leaves, Tony gets a call from Ivan, who is shown sitting with both men left to guard him hanging from the ceiling. Now aware that Ivan is still in the picture, Tony hastily prepares to go to Hammer's demonstration.
After unveiling his drones and the now refurbishing Mark.2 (Hello War Machine) Tony arrives only for Ivan to take remote control of both the drones and War Machine, both distinctly more capable than Hammer technology would lead one to believe. As Tony takes off, Ivan's puppets giving chase, Pepper and Natasha confront Hammer.
Heading to Hammer's factory, Natasha breaks in only to find Ivan is no longer there. Using Ivan's computer, she manages to free War Machine from Ivan's control.
The remaining drones arrive and the two together make short work of them until Ivan appears, clad in seemingly the only fully functional suit made of Hammer Tech. Nearly killing them both, the two fire their repulsors at each other, causing a reaction that can only be described as comic book physics to take out Ivan. Unfortunately for the Dynamic Duo, Ivan had a failsafe, making all the downed drones explode. Rushing out with seconds to spare, Tony saves Pepper from one of the drones explosions just in time.
Landing on a nearby rooftop, Pepper gives Tony back his job as CEO and the two kiss. (Finally!) Thusly, with Ivan dead, Hammer in prison and Shield watching Tony's ass, the movie ends.
Alrighty, let's get stuck in.
Alright, what can I say about the story. I'm sure a lot of people complain about it, but honestly, I never realised there was anything wrong with it until I had to write about it. At which point, I still don't have much of an issue with it, except to say that it's very cluttered. While it's okay to watch and follow, there's a lot of things going on at once. Between Ivan, Hammer, War Machine, Tony dying, Shield's involvement, there's just a lot all happening at once which can make it seem all very confusing when having to try and talk about what's happening. They probably could have shaved out one or two of these things to make it easier to digest, but honestly, taking out any one element I feel would have only created more questions as to how to resolve things.
It's certainly a complex story, but that's not necessarily a bad thing, but now I'm gonna look at the themes. The big one, the obvious one for which I think all those threads work is that it's about Legacies. What Howard left to Tony and what Tony wants to leave to others when he thinks he's dying. On the other side, we have people like Hammer, who just wants to bring down Tony, to destroy his rival and Ivan, who has a much more personal interest in this, his father passing onto him a hatred of Stark. Basically, Howard, who Tony disliked, left him a legacy that would not only advance technology, but result in saving Tony whereas Ivan, whose father mistreated him, left him with nothing but spite against people Ivan had never even met which eventually got him killed.
Alright, gonna short hand the ones we're familiar with, Tony and Pepper are still pretty good, if not taken to more extremes in their personas as Tony goes on a deathbed booze bender and Pepper is even more neurotic due to having to now run Stark Enterprises whilst dealing with Tony.
Don Cheadle, as I covered before, I feel lacks the presence that James Rhodes should have, he's certainly a better foil to Tony, but he just doesn't feel like a military man who was decorated up the wazoo.
Justin Hammer... I hate Justin Hammer. In the comics, he's a man who has been a rival to the Stark Family for years, he's an industrialist and while not as smart as Tony or Howard, he's still a good business man and a ruthless individual. This Hammer is a twonk who so incompetent at the job for which he has gotten a GOVERNMENT CONTRACT! Had to stress that part, that he basically seems to be here for no other purpose that to be the horse's ass that facilitates this massive cock up later. It's not like such people and such things don't occur in reality. A single person can cause a dramatically epic screw up, but for a movie, why, just why? They could have had him as an old conniving business man and just have Ivan stab him in the back later, but no, they made him just so much of a stupid ass it's just hard to believe.
Mickey Roarke, for playing a character whose comic basis is virtually non-existent here, really makes it his own and I appreciate that. Ivan Vanko is by far, one of my favourite villains in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. While I'm aware that's a fairly short list, having managed to pull ahead of the Red Skull in my opinion certainly makes him something worthwhile as a villain.
As for the Shield guys, Coulson is great, as always. Watching Jackson in a full part as Fury is an... Experience to say the least, as are many roles that man plays, but the runaway one is Johansson as Black Widow. Everything I've read with that woman, Scarlett seems to have down.
Style doesn't have as much going for it as it did in the last movie. Here, the only real background pieces worth mentioning are Ivan's apartment in Russia, which is a hole basically, very stark contrast with... Stark... I didn't intend that, but I'll take the prize and Hammer's factory, which is a bleach white show room basically. In fact, Hammer is in essence, all for show, that's his bit. While Tony is all bells and whistles with the substance underneath, Hammer does nothing but rip off Tony and leech on Ivan's work all in an attempt to outshine the former, and then seemingly wonder why it doesn't work in the end. All they needed was a trumpet doing the 'wah waaah' sound effect for this guy, really.
Other than that, in terms of style, we have to look at things besides set pieces and characters for contrast. Namely, Howard Stark's old movies on film reels, his map for a new element being laid out in a scale model. That sort of 50s World of Tomorrow vibe we get contrasting against Tony's Bleeding Edge technology helps you really define the generation gap.
Ultimately, while it has that strong theme of inheritance and legacy, it's not got much of a leap in style from the original, Bad guy dislikes Tony, tries to kill Tony, fails the first time and comes back in their own dull grey variation of his armour.
All in all, the worst I can say for this movie is that it's probably too much of a transition piece. Unlike Thor 2, which is building towards something, but relied on its main plot to do it, Iron Man 2 while passable, isn't a big enough leap from the first one and instead sits more in the same comfort zone whilst building towards Avengers.
Now then, with nothing else to say on the matter, I am apologetically Hawkeye2701 and welcome to the Review of Tomorrow.