Movie Review | Iron Man 2
Previously in the Marvel Cinematic Universe: Tony Stark became Iron Man, saving the day be defeating his father-figure-turned-insane-enemy, Obadiah Stane, before then outing himself to the world as the man in the Iron Man armour.
Returning home, Stark was then approached by Nick Fury of SHIELD about the Avengers Initiative...
Movie summary: With the world now aware of his identity as Iron Man, Tony Stark must contend with both his declining health and a vengeful mad man with ties to his father's legacy. (IMDb)
Earlier in the week, a (very minor) criticism I had of the first Iron Man movie was that the action was kind of lacking, especially compared to what we get in the MCU today. With Iron Man 2, Marvel Studios over-corrected their course by quite some distance.
The action here is a step up, especially the scenes at the 'Grand Prix Historique' in Monaco, or the battle between Iron Man, War Machine and the Hammeroids. It all looks pretty damn good too, looking a far more polished and confident film than the first.
The main characters are great too, including Don Cheadle stepping in to replace Terrence Howard as James Rhodes/War Machine, and Scarlett Johansson making her MCU debut as Black Widow. All sounding pretty good so far, right?
Iron Man 2's main problem is that the movie is over-written to such an extent that Marvel Studios have tried to avoid repeating these same mistakes ever since - and only narrowly dodging that bullet with Age of Ultron, which has its own issues.
There are roughly half a dozen subplots, with just as many nods and winks to setting up future films and characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. However, I will concede that none of them do get in the way of the central story - because there isn't one.
Seriously, it feels like they had three different films that they wanted to make, tried to keep what they thought were the best scenes from each of them, and then slap them all together and hope that they worked. It doesn't - in fact, Iron Man 2 is arguably the epitome of a final product being less than the sum of its parts.
Each piece of the film is well-made, it looks great, and the performances from everyone involved are all entertaining. It just never comes together in a satisfying manner, with the movie keeping on going because it has a run-time to fill out.
In fact, I'd go so far as to say that this is the perfect 'YouTube movie', in that you can cut out chunks of it or drop them all into a montage or special video linking the various threads together, but as a two-hour film, it's a challenge to pay attention to what's going on because it feels like the movie has no idea what's happening either.
There have been some who have claimed that later movies referring back to characters or the events of Iron Man 2 redeem it, but - while I think that is true to an extent - it doesn't make it any more enjoyable to sit through on its own. Those later references are a nice callback, but that's all.
Iron Man 2 is a mess, even if it is a well-made mess. No individual part is bad per se, but it never comes together with any kind of cohesion at all - a film of sub-plots forgetting to have a central story. The action is great, and the characters still shine, but it never quite works as it should.