“You complete me!”
God, I wish they would have gone with that opening. Still though…. we’re here to defend this flick.
Ahoy, shellheads! Aidan here.
Glad we could finally catch up…. it’s been forever. I know, I’m an asshole. But Movies That Deserve More Love is back!
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I’m not totally crazy about 2008’s Iron Man.
Wait! Don’t stop reading just yet. I loved the movie, I still do – but after exiting the theater five years ago, I was simply satisfied with what I deemed to be another quality Marvel product. Call me spoiled, but with the bar being set by 2000’s X-Men – followed up with gems like X2, Spider-Man, and Spider-Man 2 – I simply assumed Iron Man would deliver. It did, and that was cool. Had I known Phase 1 was in full swing, maybe I’d have been a little more juiced.
Anyways, I dug the hell out of The Incredible Hulk later that summer, and was instantly enthused about the obligatory Iron Man sequel – both to see whether or not RDJ’s charismatic turn as Anthony Stark could carry another film, and to behold comic book history as the Marvel Cinematic Universe unfolded before my nerdgasming eyes.
Everything was in place: War Machine. Black Widow. Nick motherfucking Fury. All with prominent roles in a summer blockbuster that was poised to pop geek boners around the world. And what happened?
Iron Man 2 opened to mixed reviews despite enjoying a $623 million haul at the worldwide box-office. Audiences cited the film’s pacing, villains, and general storyline as main offenders – you’ve heard the common complaint – hell, you might even be one of the people hurling it – that Iron Man 2 “is just a big commercial for The Avengers.”
My response: “So??“
Iron Man 2 is one hell of a summer blockbuster. RDJ proves his charm can extend past good ol’ shellhead’s freshman outing, and the storyline digs deeper into characters’ relations to one another by exploring the quirks that make them live and breathe. Mickey Rourke’s Whiplash is a perfectly suitable adversary for Iron Man, with Sam Rockwell’s Justin Hammer serving as excellent comic relief, and Don Cheadle (replacing Terrence Howard) as War Machine is at once a badass and amiable friend to our hero. The film coasts along at a pace that feels comfortable for it, and feels like a fresh departure from the traditional “comic book movie structure.”
Banter between RDJ and his comrades is still quippy, smart, and funny as hell – the aforementioned new characters are fleshed out and fun to watch, and everyone gets their own moment of glory.
It takes its time with characters and plot points – not because it doesn’t have anything to say, but because Favreau’s unique directorial touch that made the first film such a success is in full swing here. The film is airy with just enough emotional gravitas to ground it, and plays like a fun, live-action comic book.
My basic beef with people’s (especially comic book geeks’) lukewarm reaction to Iron Man 2 is rooted in the notion of counting your blessings. If I would have told you twenty years ago that you’d get a funny, action-packed, well-acted Iron Man film in which he teams up with Black Widow, War Machine, and Nick Fury – all the while being recruited for The Avengers – you’d have had to change your pants right then and there.
And with comic book films like Catwoman, Ghost Rider, and Batman & Robin in existence, are we really going to give a movie shit that does exactly what it’s supposed to do?
Iron Man 2 entertains on all cylinders while tying up loose ends in preparation for the biggest comic book film in history, The Avengers – which we all knew was coming. Phase 1 was in full swing, and we knew what we were in for. We generally understood this film’s job was to set the wheels in motion for shellhead’s membership with Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, and holy moly, it does that more than adequately.
Could the fight scenes be longer? Sure. Is there a bit of a lull in pacing midway through the film? Possibly, depending on what you like.
But count your blessings, comic nerds, because Spider-Man 3 exists. So go a little easier on Iron Man 2.
See you next week with another installment of Movies That Deserve More Love!
Until then…. “You lose!”