So, a week or so back the reviews began to hit the internet for Iron Man 2, the sequel to the 2008 surprise hit for Marvel Studios. The reviews were mixed. In fact, somehow the fact that reviewers were not joining forces to give us early warnings about what level of awesomeness to which we should calibrate ourselves became a story unto itself. It seemed that not everyone felt Robert Downey Jr. and Co. had lived up to the expectations.
On Sunday, I caught the sequel, and I am suspecting that at this point, many of you guys may have also seen Iron Man 2.
I simply don't get why people are so down on the movie. I'm not saying that Iron Man 2 is as good as its predecessor, or that its even a great movie. But as for an exciting summer popcorn action flick sequel? For me, it got the job done.
Some awesome @#$% is about to commence.
The movie picked up immediately after the events of the first film, addressed questions that most superhero movies (and comics) dodge regarding the US government's interest in superheroics and super-hardware, and how the appearance of Iron Man would spell "arms race".
It is true that there were a lot of plot threads in the movie, and possibly one or two too many characters. There was also some fairly extraneous, ridiculous stuff that made the movie feel "dumbed down", such as the use of the robot voice of Jarvis to act as an insta-exposition device. The party scene feels a bit forced. Maybe the resolution of Stark's illness is a bit pat.
But with so many sequels that fall completely flat (from what I hear: The Matrix Sequels), or take the characters in directions at odds with the course of the previous film or films (like, say... Highlander 2), Iron Man 2 continues the thread of the same over-the-top Tony Stark we met at the beginning of the first film, and infuses him with a new direction for himself, his company and for what he sees as a future he may be bringing to the world.
Sure, I would have thought Stark would have been held in contempt of congress, or some such charge, but its a fun scene, and more or less wins you over to the unlikely opinion that Stark should be the sole-proprietor of the Iron Man technology (which is, at its heart, a far more driving question in the film than "how sick is Stark?" or "will the villains' scheme work?"). But even that scene is fairly plot heavy, drawing in characters, establishing Hammer's role in the film, and establishing the conflict.
Pretty much exactly what it looked like when I met Jamie...
There's certainly also plenty of connecting the dots between where Iron Man concluded and where Stark will need to be for either an Avengers installment or a sequel. If you're looking at the movie as a foretaste of the Avengers franchise (and I am), its fun to see pieces falling in place. Far more so than were Marvel Studios to try to find an excuse in the Avegers movie to bring all of these characters together with no previous tie-ins. Its an experiment, but one that could pay off like no other franchise before.
One could say there was not enough in the way of Iron Man duking it out with badguys. Maybe I'm old, but there were plenty of other distractions, plot wise, to keep me interested.
spoiler: And, no, nobody believed Stark would die of metal poisoning, and so I didn't mind that it acted more as a catalyst for finding how to super-charge his armor and set up Stark Industries for a new era, all while completing dad's dream. If I can get that plot point in short hand, that's fine by me. end spoiler.
At any rate, its an imperfect film with some great set pieces and a wide variety of characters. And, yes, its a movie featuring both Gwyneth Paltrow and ScarJo, so there's plenty to distract you.
Yeah, I vaguely remember some robot-guy was in the movie, too.
The action scenes and flying scenes we do get are pretty darn good. Guys in armor and with crazy technology beat the living holy hell out of each other (and everyone's kind of okay), robots fly through the air and go "pew pew pew!" at Iron Man, lots of fireballs, and there's even some superspy karate stuff.
Honestly, I have seen Iron Man a fair share of times at this point. While it holds up just fine, I think after Ghost Rider, Daredevil, two fairly embarrassing Fantastic Four movies, Spidey 3, and likely several others I'm forgetting... we were all sort of surprised how much we liked Iron Man.
What you won't get is the satisfaction of the superhero origin story, which is usually the most interesting part about most super-heroes (except for "Matter Eater Lad", who has a boring origin, and is interesting because he eats any kind of matter). We can look to how Nolan must have realized he had spent his Bat-fuel on an origin story, and decided to trade a standard superhero storyline for a sort of intense crime thriller. And maybe that's what some of these sequels are going to have to learn how to do.
It wasn't expecting Dark Knight. I was expecting a superhero movie sequel that was better than FF2, and felt that we got that. So, you know, great.
But, take all this with a grain of salt. I'm also the guy who liked both Hulk movies and Superman Returns.
Yeah. Kind of puts things in perspective.