To be quite honest, Marvel comics is losing the war of super hero/comic book movies.  Sure, they have put out more films than DC comics has, but the term “quality over quantity” has never been more true in films made today.  Especially for those die hard comic book fans who are expecting the best effort possible in bringing their favorite hobby to the big screen.  No matter how many attempts Marvel has made, they are yet to come close to the masterpiece that is The Dark Knight brought to us by Christopher Nolan who admits himself he has no idea how he is going to top that movie.  Other than probably one X-men movie and two Spiderman entries, Marvel is currently in second place in the movie department.  Thank the comic book stars that they decided to not let Hollywood make any more of their films.  But one franchise may keep them afloat; Iron Man.

            Two summers ago, the first installment in this movie series did extremely well; positive reviews across the board, record box office sales, and helping to remind movie fans that Robert Downy Jr. is one of the better actors of our time.  Part two literally picks up where the first ends.  Director Jon Favreau immediately introduces us to our next villain, Whiplash (Mickey Rourke) also known as Ivan Vanko.  Vanko is a Russian physicist and son of Anton Vanko, also a physicist who worked with Tony Stark’s (Robert Downy Jr.) father, Howard Stark.  Judging from all the old articles about Tony Stark plastered all over his wall, he undoubtedly has a vengeful itch for Tony that really needs to be scratched. 

            We pick up with Mr. Stark six months later at the opening of his yearlong Stark Expo where developers can show off their new ideas and concepts in technology to try to make the world a better place.  In addition to dealing with his competitors trying to catch up with him, Tony also has the U.S. government to worry about who desperately wants him to hand over his Iron Man suit and technology.  Reality is also setting in that the device he has in his chest that has been keeping him alive is also slowly poisoning him.  He decides to make his assistant Pepper Pots (Gwyneth Paltrow) the new CEO of Stark Industries in lue of this.  Stark Industries’ top competitor Hammer Industries led by Justin Hammer (Sam Rockwell) decides to recruit Ivan Vanko after his failed attempt to eliminate Tony Stark at the Monaco race track in France. He hopes, with Vanko’s help, that he can utilize Starks’ Iron Man technology to create his own weapon to sell to the government.  Here in lies our main plot and sets up the expected climatic showdown at the end.  Don Cheadle fills in for Terrence Howard as Lt. Colonel Rhodes and Tony’s best friend and battle buddy War Machine.  Cheadle along with Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanoff, Ms. Potts’ assistant and undercover S.H.E.I.L.D. agent, and Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury are among the new faces in this second installment.    

            Once again Robert Downey Jr. proves that he is Tony Stark.  There is no other actor out there, in my opinion that can bring Tony Stark’s in-your-face charismatic personality to life like he does.  Super hero movies are usually not known for their acting, but Downey’s performance along with Mickey Rourke’s were hands down the best in the movie.  From the Russian accent to his physicist genius and calm but maniacal crave for vengeance, Rourke’s performance commands the audience’s attention from the villain perspective of the story.  The other actors were good not outstanding but seeing as how their characters really didn’t call for any memorable performances, it suited them well.  Director Jon Faveau, who also got in on the action a little in the film as Stark’s driver, Happy Hogan, seems to get the idea of Iron Man on the big screen correct for the second consecutive time.  With the screenplay by Justin Theroux aided by Stan Lee himself, it was kind of difficult to go wrong.  Putting one of the godfathers of Marvel comics on these projects may have been the greatest executive decision done by the company.  I assume that was a no brainer.

            The special effects and action sequences were well done but not done enough.  The first Iron Man didn’t have a lot of action either but that was kind of forgiven being that it was an origin story, telling the audience how the metal clad super hero came about.  With all of that already said and done, I expected more of Iron Man himself.  With the exception of a drunken Tony Stark partying in the suit during his birthday and a brief conversation with Nick Fury at a donut shop while wearing it, the presence of Iron Man was kind of lacking.  Even the end fight scene seemed to be lackluster and finished way too premature for my liking.  Although the movie itself did not seem to drag on too much, some of the sub plots felt overdone a bit.  Although a makeshift fight scene between Tony and Lt. Rhodes both in Iron Man suits was ok, it might rank up there in the future with the dance number contained in Spider-Man 3 as unnecessary scenes contained in a movie.

            Even though I wanted more action and a lot more Iron Man in an Iron Man movie, the story, acting and action sequences that there were will probably put this film among the top ones put out by Marvel yet.  Of course, leaving room for a third entry and continuing to lay the ground work for other Marvel projects already in production, Iron Man 2 is worth the trip to the movie theater and should be appreciated by most comic book fans who would give half their collection to direct a film of their own.  I give Iron Man 2 “3.5 battle tested flying suits of armor out of 5”.

“If you could make God bleed, people will cease to believe in Him. There will be blood in the water, and the sharks will come.”

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