tek's rating: ½

Iron Man 2 (PG-13)
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Caution: Spoilers.

So, as you may have guessed, this is the sequel to Iron Man. It came out in 2010, but I didn't see it until 2012. I kinda want to say that... the way things stood at the start of the movie made me not quite understand something from the bonus scene in The Incredible Hulk, but that's not really important. (Wikipedia says this movie takes place after the majority of Hulk, but before the final scene, which I guess makes sense.) As for this movie, it begins with news coverage of something from the end of the first Iron Man movie (which I didn't reveal in my review of that, but since you have no reason to be reading this review prior to actually seeing that movie, I'll tell you now): Tony Stark revealed to the world that he is Iron Man. The news is seen in Russia by a dying old man named Anton Vanko, and his son Ivan. Anton had schematics that belonged to Howard Stark (or technically, Anton and Howard each had their own copy, having worked on a project together, years ago). When Anton died, he passed the schematics on to his son. This allowed Ivan to build his own arc reactor, to power some energy whips. More of that later.

Um... so, Tony is clearly enjoying the public's adoration of him and all he's done as Iron Man, apparently assuring world peace. And now he's kicking off the year-long "Stark Expo," in which scientists from around the world will be unveiling inventions. But it's a very party atmosphere, and... well, it was his father Howard's vision, from 1974. (We see Howard in old film reels from back then.) It all kinda put me in mind of Walt Disney. But when Tony's not having fun in public, in private he's concerned about the fact that the arc which saved his life is now slowly killing him, poisoning his blood. This leads him to do rash things, like giving away lots of stuff and generally acting even more irresponsibly than usual (which for Tony, is saying something). It also leads him to make his assistant, Pepper Potts (who we still like), the new CEO of Stark Industries, much to her surprise.

Tony replaces Pepper with a new assistant, Natalie Rushman (who we like). Meanwhile, the military wants Tony to share his technology with them, which he doesn't want to do. He has to attend a Senate hearing, which of course he doesn't take seriously, but still manages to get his way. At that hearing, we meet a business rival named Justin Hammer, who's working on his own suits like the Iron Man armor, but without much success. Later, while driving a race car in Monaco (because that's the kind of thing billionaire thrill seekers get to do, I guess), Tony is attacked by Ivan Vanko (seeking revenge for something Tony's father had done to his father). But after some help from Pepper and Tony's chauffer and bodyguard, Happy, Tony manages to take Vanko down, and he's arrested. But then Vanko is broken out of prison, by someone so predictable I won't bother to mention it.

Anyway, as Tony's behavior gets more erratic, his friend Lt. Col. James "Rhodey" Rhodes takes one of Tony's armor suits, fights with him, then heads back to the Air Force with the suit. Um... I know in the comics, Rhodey and his suit become known as "War Machine," but I really don't remember if I ever heard that name in this movie. The name is mentioned in the third movie, though. (Btw, Rhodey is played by Don Cheadle in the second and third movies, replacing Terrence Howard from the first movie.) And Nick Fury, only seen briefly at the end of the first movie, has a bit larger role here, actually drives the plot somewhat, providing some old information from Howard Stark, which helps Tony develop... something new. Something that could save his life and provide more power for his suit. Meanwhile, we also learn that Natalie Rushman wasn't quite what she seemed, which even if you don't know anything about comic books, shouldn't have surprised anyone. I mean, in the very first scene where we meet her, we learn she can totally kick ass; and she'll do a great deal more of that, later in the movie. Well, eventually there's a pretty kick-ass battle between Tony and Rhodey against a bunch of armored drones, and finally Vanko himself, in his own new and improved armor.

And I've probably said too much. But I'm leaving stuff out. Anyway, there is of course a post-closing credits scene that serves to connect the movie to "Thor," which came out in 2011. As for my impression of the movie... well, critics seem to have liked it less than the original Iron Man, but personally I think I liked it a little bit more. I'd have to rewatch the first movie to be sure, and I'm not planning on doing that for awhile... by which time I'll probably have forgotten exactly how I felt about this one. I may be doomed never to be able to make an accurate comparison (yes, doomed by something that is entirely within my control). But for now, I'm gonna say I liked the second Iron Man better, okay? I found parts of it very funny, parts of it sad, parts sweet, and all of it cool.


comic book movies

Marvel Cinematic Universe
Phase One: Iron Man * The Incredible Hulk * Iron Man 2 * Thor * Captain America * The Avengers
Phase Two: Iron Man 3 * Thor: The Dark World * Captain America: The Winter Soldier * Guardians of the Galaxy * Avengers: Age of Ultron * Ant-Man
Phase Three: Captain America: Civil War * Doctor Strange * Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2
TV: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. * Agent Carter
Netflix: Daredevil * Jessica Jones * Luke Cage * Iron Fist