Movies: Iron Men. There’s So Many of You!

More. More. More. There's more villains, more plotlines, more iron men, more action setpieces and more commercials. Yes, commercials. We'll get to that in a sec.

Picture 8 The villains number four. Sam Rockwell is Stark's weapons dealing nemesis Justin Hammer. Mickey Rourke (making great use of The Wrestler career momentum) is the Russian physicist genius "Whiplash" who builds his own arc reactor and nearly kills Stark with it in the first action setpiece. Garry Shandling is a Senator hellbent on taking Stark's suit into US custody. And, depending on how you read the film, Tony Stark is also an evil bastard or at least his own worst enemy.

There are
more stories here than any film could do justice to. They tend to crash into each other just like men encased in armor are also prone to do. People are already bitching about the movie's talkiness but the constant chatter isn't the problem at all, especially not with this many fine actors assembled. They sell the broad character outlines with pizazz.

The problem is in both the structure of the plotting and the abundance of it. Stark's iron suit is poisoning him. Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) gets a huge promotion she's ill equipped for (hi sexism!). Rhodey (Don Cheadle replacing Terrence Howard) has a crisis of conscience and keeps flip-flopping sides. Justin Hammer is trying to nab a lucrative new arms contract. Whiplash is plotting revenge for ancient events involving Tony's father Howard Stark (John Slattery) who is himself sending secret messages from the grave. There are senate hearings about the iron man weapon. The new secretary Natalie (Scarlett Johansson) is not what she appears to be. Finally — though I'm sure I'm forgetting something in the plot pile up — Nick Fury keeps popping up to sell the upcoming Avengers movie talk about "The Avengers Initiative".

This last plotline is a shameless commercial. The Avengers (coming to a theater near you in 2012?) is the most awkwardly integrated story element. The screenplay from actor Justin Theroux has the right idea about grafting it onto the main plot but it still juts out awkwardly, always working against the movie's ease and speed. In the end, perhaps due to its annoying frequency, it plays like a cynical con job "Here's another movie you'll love to see! And another! And another!" It's fitting that the movie takes place at and during the annual Stark Expo because like the grandiose corporate
event that houses it, this movie is an expensive commercial. While attempting to sell Iron Man 3, The Avengers and two other superhero films (I shan't spoil which), the film forgets to really close the sale on Iron Man 2

Picture 9

That said, it's still as reasonably fun as something this unwieldy can be. The action scenes are pedestrian, failing to bring much grace or rhythm to the iron clanging and palladium banging, but that was a problem in the original, too. They just don't soar. You can thank the crisp colors, good performances, genre goodwill and light touch that the movie still works. While this sequel doesn't feel effortless like its predecessor, its best moments are arguably stronger. Just don't complain about the talking when you leave. Iron Man 2 has the good sense to keep placing its famous faces front and center, even during the metallic mayhem. Without Rockwell's desperate verbal diarrhea, Rourke's menacing Russian threats, Downey Jr's charismatic yet abrasive self-regard, and Paltrow's screwball frustrations, this behemoth wouldn't fly at all.


  1. says


    I tried to like it. I TRIED SO HARD. I love Comic Books so much, but this was just a waste. It was corny and lame. Ugh.

  2. TANK says

    Hey, no nightmare on elm street remake talky talk? C’mon…it sucked, but so did the first one! Sucked so bad it’s…not as good as the original.

  3. Jacks says

    ^these guys are a bunch’a’fags. Iron Man was bomb and the sequel was just as good, meaning fun and en-fuckin-joyable. Maybe it was sitting 3 rows back from the front having to chase the action with strokes of, near the end,painful neck arching thrill. Yeah it was commercial-filled but come on, what isn’t, enjoy an action, explosion filled ride. I especially liked the racist content of Tony’s friend Rhodes stealing from his own friend, after beating him up. That was tripped. Now go fuck yourself

  4. says

    @Jacks with whatever I said that told me to go fuck myself, but listen. I know it had a lot of action, which was pretty cool. Other than that Don Cheadle was seriously not needed because he made it lame. I’m not saying I didn’t enjoy this film but its what someone should expects a sequel to be. NOT GOOD.

  5. says

    I am so excited to have so many gay American men reading my fucking shit reviews because my site is for people who are not a bitch and you are definitely NOT a bitches! Thank you also for agreeing with me very much about all the talking that was so awesome*.

    *It was not awesome but in the contract I sign with the studio to write my “Four Boners Up”© review I must say it is awesome and not suck like it really is and makes your boners fall asleep. ZZZZzzzz

  6. Rovex says

    I thought it was better than many reviews made it out to be. Sure its not the best film ever, but its not bad. It was never going to be as good as the first, but it didn’t degenerate into the complete crap Pirates of the Caribbean or the Matrix did in their squeals.
    Under used yes, but Mickey Rourke was great nonetheless and for a change I didn’t hate Scarlett Johansson.

    The script was busy and the plot did perhaps have unnecessary elements, but sometime I wonder about the intelligence of people who complain about a ‘complicated’ plot on films like this.

  7. galore says

    I know it’s really silly but I was distracted by him donating his vast art collection to the Boy Scouts and then proclaiming that they are an organization that deserves a donation of presumably very high value.
    But then, maybe this was some kind of joke about useless art that I didn’t get…

  8. Rad says

    Two words: Net Flicks. We don’t bother with comic book dreck like this, much less any sequel.

  9. Duck says

    Nate Rogers, I’d love to have read your piece, but for one little thing – GRAMMAR, bitch! “There’s so many of them…,” “There’s more villains…,” “There’s more stories…,” “There’s senate hearings…”

    Have you ever heard the word “are”? Funny little word, that means the same as “is” (or “‘s” in your case), but refers to a plural noun – plural nouns like “villains”, “stories”, or “hearings”. USE IT!! Just because you write a blog doesn’t mean you have to forget third-grade grammar class.

  10. Goose says

    I agree with English Prof. Duck ^^

    Good god, Nate. Learn English. And do a little copy editing before you hit the Post/Publish button.

    Other than that, interesting review. Didn’t plan to watch Iron Man 2, and don’t plan to watch it now.

    Carry on…

  11. Mike says

    Hey, Duck, I think an extra comma chopping a sentence in half is more distracting than an incorrect contraction, personally. When you post on a blog to criticize someone else’s grammar, it’s a good idea to proofread your comment. Or you could just not criticize at all.
    Nice piece, Nathaniel, by the way. I’m sad that a cast that amazing is united for a movie that looks pretty blah.

  12. Ian says

    The movie industry obviously learned NOTHING from Spiderman 3 in terms of NOT putting too many plotlines into one film.

  13. says

    ^ Speaking of which, does Iron Man 2 have gratuitous post 9/11 imagery like Spiderman 3? Because that might make me wanna go see it.

  14. Alex says

    This struck me as unfair:
    “Iron Man 2 has the good sense to keep placing its actors famous faces front and center, even during the metallic mayhem. Without Rockwell’s desperate verbal diarrhea, Rourke’s menacing Russian threats, Downey Jr’s charismatic yet abrasive self-regard, and Paltrow’s screwball frustrations, this behemoth wouldn’t fly at all.”
    Well, what about…the movie was a success? I mean, I feel like there’s no reviewer out there who is going to give this movie any credit because it ISN’T the first one. It just makes no sense to try to see what the film would be without these stars because…it would never get made that way and in fact, this IS the way it was made, so what about if we talk about that? This was a seriously fun movie, and it was never going to be very deep, but it was very entertaining. Well worth the money and the trouble for opening night, in my book.

  15. says

    I did my penance and fixed the offending bits duck duck goose (same person?) I shall now go flog myself for forgetting the word “are”. It really are a beautiful word.

    hee. I kid.

    Point taken. I must slow down. Damn you, blogging platforms, with your speedy ease of usage!

  16. says

    Alex — I only meant that a film that was a little more concerned with “will people be bored?” might have left out a good deal of the acting fun. I don’t really believe people are out to get this one, but I do think 2 was much messier than 1. That said I liked 2’s best moments more. Hope that makes sense. (I don’t think the original is god’s gift to cinema for what it’s worth. The best superhero film is Spider-Man 2. Period. It gets *everything* right)

  17. Silverskreen says

    I’d have to agree with ya, Nathaniel. Spidey 2 has been the best comic book movie. Period.

    I wasn’t a big fan of the first Iron Man. I didn’t hate it or anything, but it just seemed to me that Jon Favreau couldn’t decide if he was directing an action movie or a t.v show.
    With this second one there was too much going on, as pointed out by just about everyone, and not enough of one specific thing. The action was kinda forgetable.
    I was partial to Scarlett Johansson’s hallway kick-ass scene. The fight with War Machine at the house? Meh. Not so much.

  18. TANK says

    And you say that having seen the dark knight? Oy… Obviously, the performance of the actors isn’t as important to you as the f/x in that genre. Though alfred molina (he can actually act) was the best choice for doctor octopus and it was exceptionally entertaining, I don’t see it matching up to nolan batman series.

  19. London says

    First Iron Man was awesome, second Iron Man was PHENOMENAL. Don Cheadle was wayyyyy better than terrence howard. the movie kicked ass.