The Marvel Cinematic Universe: Iron Man 2 (2010)

| April 8, 2019

For better or worse, a generation is now growing up with the movies of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and whatever that says about the direction of Western Civilization will be left to history depending largely on who writes it.  Avengers: Endgame brings the hammer down on this series on April 27th, so for the next few weeks I am going to take a look back at the films that have built a massive phenomenon.  Are they any good?  Let’s take a look . . .

As 2008 drew to a close, one of my overriding joys was being able to confidently place Iron Man on my 10 best list.  It’s always fun to put a great piece of commercial film-making on a list among the more important prestige pictures.  That movie was a shock to the system, a curious and funny and exciting action picture with a fun performance by Robert Downey Jr. at its center.  Naturally, I had expectations for the sequel and, well . . . I opened my review by calling it “a curious misfire”.  Nine years later I still stand by that assessment.

Iron Man 2 is a movie that takes forever to get going and once it does, it comes together piecemeal in a way that feels more like Iron Man 1/2.   It establishes a plot that seems so underwritten that it felt like a rough draft.  There are two stories going on that never really get going – one involving Tony Stark’s failing mechanical heart and the other an assault by a Russian physicist (Mickey Rourke) who wants revenge because his old man got screwed out of billion-dollar idea by Tony’s old man.

The ideas are here but the approach is a real head-scratcher.  The light tone and fun and creative spirit of the original has been retooled here into a movie that is oddly mean-spirited.  There is a lot of hostility here which isn’t helped by the action scenes which seem to abruptly end before they’ve even started.  When the villain is finally dealt with at the end, I’m not sure exactly what happened to him.  Iron Man 2 is a movie that is never sure what it wants to be.  The ideas are in the blender, but no one seemed sure how to put it all together.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.