Most of us by now have seen how Tony Stark became Iron Man-at least Hollywood’s version of the origin-we have also seen Iron Man square off against the only other man in the world capable of creating the same technology as him (Iron Man 2). In Iron Man 3 we get to see a “stripped down” version of Iron Man.
In other words, we get to see the “man behind the mask” as Tony Stark comes to terms with the fact that Iron Man is a super hero and the responsibilities that come with that. We see a Tony Stark who is unsure of his abilities and overwhelmed by his need to protect Pepper Potts after the events of The Avengers.
Enter The Mandarin: A new foe hell bent on teaching The United States a number of lessons through ruthless terrorist acts meant to undermine the capabilities of the American government.
Happy is injured while investigating a suspicious character that he spotted at Stark Enterprises . Tony learns that The Mandarin was somehow responsible for wounding his friend and threatens the terrorist. The Mandarin answers the challenge with explosive violence, separating Pepper from Tony.
While trying to find the woman he loves, Tony investigates The Mandarin and discovers some startling facts concerning individuals from his own past before he became Iron Man, or even created the arc reactor. Ultimately, Tony Stark learns that the traits and abilities he has are what make it possible for him to be Iron Man.
When I first saw the trailers for Iron Man 2 I was pretty thrilled to see that Mickey Rourke would be the villain and was slightly disappointed that Terence Stamp would not be reprising his role as Lt Col Rhodes. Before you correct me, a Lt Col is called “colonel” because it’s just easier to say. Every soldier knows that the silver maple leaf indicates the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. At least, in the Air Force and Army it does. I say slightly disappointed, because I think that Don Cheadle is a great actor.
What really does get to me about Iron Man 2 is the mixed reviews. I personally feel that the sequel is better than the first, while some weren’t so impressed. I won’t name names because they are entitled to their opinion and own personal experience.
So, without further delay I’ll tell you why I think it is so great.
First and foremost, the effects are spectacular. I am still in awe with the holographic computer interface that Tony Stark uses in his lab/garage. Really, I hope that’s what computers are like in the near future. Imagine telling your Grandchildren; “We used to have these things called a mouse and a keyboard.” and they look at you completely clueless for a reference. Another thing about the effects that impressed me is showing Tony and Dusty with their face plates up while in the armor if I hadn’t already known about the effect I would not have been able to tell. Trust me, I have an eye for visual effects though I’m no expert at making them. That’s ILM’s job.
Secondly, the chemistry between Gwyneth Paltrow and Robert Downey Jr was fantastic. I was really expecting to see Pepper and Tony to have an all out fight. I’m glad they didn’t though because that would have added a bit more drama than was necessary. More precisely, the whole cast worked extremely well together. A testament to Jon Favreau’s directing ability.
Third, the characters themselves. From returning characters Tony Stark, Pepper Potts, Happy the chauffeur, and James “Rhodey” Rhodes who in and of themselves bring a plethora of entertainment; to Ivan Vanko (Mickey Rourke), Natasha Romanoff/Natalie Rushman (Scarlett Johannsen),Justin Hammer (Sam Rockwell) and Senator Stern (Gary Shandling) we get a very well-rounded cast who only help in creating the world of Iron Man. Let’s not forget Jarvis, Tony Stark’s well-mannered computer AI voiced by Paul Betanny who really adds to the awe I have with Tony Stark’s computer. In this installment, there are so many characters; including Nick Fury (Samuel L Jackson) that we can choose to either love or hate. Who else wanted to slap Senator Stern upside the head? I did. Sorry Gary, but you did your job and made a unlikeable character unlikable. Likewise, everyone else played their parts with equal skill and dedication. I want to see the movie a third time just so I can once again watch Scarlett Johannsen beat the tar out of…I think its seven security guards in the time it takes Happy to defeat one.
Other than the fact that the film is very entertaining with a splendid mix of humor, action and drama, Iron Man 2 gives us a better idea of who Tony Stark is; how he deals with his own mortality, the responsibilities of being a lover, a hero and heir to a legacy. The story also provides an almost teasing amount of information about S.H.E.I.L.D. Just enough to get wondering about this organization.
After all is said and done, Iron Man 2 does what it should. It entertains and wets our appetites for another sequel and does it superbly with style. To borrow from AC/DC whose music is in the movie, Iron Man 2 does unapologetic-ally “Shoot to Thrill”.