Iron Man 2 - Cinema Review

'there is fun to be found in Iron Man 2 but it's not as prevalent as last time'

The interesting thing about Iron Man 2 is that, when you really think about it, it's a great advert for The Dark Knight. Of course the films are several years apart and it seems strange to say that Jon Favreau's sequel to his 2008 hit promotes Christopher Nolan's film but it really does: Iron Man 2 shows how difficult it is to make a comic book sequel that both satisfies the fans and reaches the heights of the first film.

Perhaps the reason that Nolan was so successful, and one of the reasons why Favreau doesn't even get close to him, is that the Batman Begins director forgot all about any potential sequel of his sequel and just got on with making a great singular film. Favreau doesn't and can't and the first of a number of problems that blight Iron Man 2 is that he always has to keep one eye on what else is happening in the Marvel universe.

And so we get a flimsy introduction to Black Widow or Natasha Romanoff as she's presented here in the guise of Scarlett Johansson, bringing new meaning to the phrase one-dimensional in this year of 3D. It's not all her fault though and you would have thought that in having to include her, someone would have written an actual part for her to play. But they didn't and she doesn't, instead doing a great impression of a personality vacuum at every opportunity.

Elsewhere Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) shows up again, espousing the virtues of The Avenger Program at every opportunity but never, so far as I could tell, actually having a need to be there, above and beyond promoting the film he will no doubt be fairly central to. Favreau too has got his own franchise to be concerned with and it is to his great credit that he manages to craft an interesting character for the future in Sam Rockwell's Justin Hammer, by far the most developed persona on display.

It's just a shame that others don't get that level of attention. Mickey Rourke's Ivan Vanko may or may not have a personal vendetta that motivates him to destroy Tony Stark but it didn't really appear to matter, so long as he got to blow stuff up. Continuing as Iron Man's eponymous alter-ego, Robert Downey Jnr. looks as disinterested as Mickey does at some moments and despite pulling off a lot of the same levels of charm as the first film, he just looks like he's having less fun than last time, never more apparent than in the opening speech which just felt, well, awkward actually.

It is saved though by two relationships; that of Iron Man/Tony Stark and War Machine (Don Cheadle) and Tony Stark and Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow). Sure, neither goes as far as it should and the Potts/Stark confrontational love arch is particularly given short shrift but both axes are interesting enough to drive us through the narrative and give us something to look forward to next time.

There is fun to be found in Iron Man 2 (Favreau's heightened grasp of action scenes hasn't disappeared overnight) but it's not as prevalent as last time and at times it is more like a work-a-day thriller than a superhero film. Stick with it though and the human relationships will pull you and it up but Marvel, take note: cinema prices are rising and I will only keep on coming to see feature length trailers for your next film for so long before something approaching boredom sets in.

Look further...

'I went in with really low expectations and hated it, this is Wolverine bad' - Ethan's Reviews, 2/10


  1. Alright, then. I was merely meh for the first one, so I wasn't panning on seeing this anyway.

  2. It's a relatively easy watch with some good moments (the Monaco GP attack, Sam Rockwell) but yeah, unless you're a really major Marvel fan (in which case you might be in geek nirvana) then its certainly not essential viewing.