Top 5 Iron Man 2 Treats
By Bret Dorman
(As always, Spoilers! apply to the following movie in discussion.)This week saw the release of the trailer for the highly anticipated Iron Man 3. I watched a little bit of it before turning it off (why ruin all the best parts/plot points?) but I’m sure many people watched it several times over. In fact, I saw as many as three people online post something to the degree of “Here’s to hoping it’ll make up for the second one!”
Whoa whoa whoa.
I know Iron Man 2 was… a disappointment to most. But really? I thought after a couple years to cool down and people still being pretty fresh off the high of Avengers most people could give it a little pass. I was wrong.
So I must ask… why was Iron Man 2 SOOOO bad? What about it deserves so much hate? I know there’s the whole “There’s too much Avengers set up that it gets in the way of Iron Man’s story!” thing. Eh. I don’t think that excuse holds up. It’s a whole hour before we see Nick Fury and even then he’s in the movie about 15 minutes. Tops. And what does he do? He gives Tony Stark a video of his dead Dad talking to him that gives him a clue to save his life. So… Nick Fury comes in and gives Stark a ghost to confront and a way to advance the story by not having our main character die of heart battery poisoning. Oh… that really gets in the way of the story!
I think it could be expectations. Most Marvel Movies when we expect something good we get something not good and vice versa. Here’s a quick Marvel Movie Breakdown:
Iron Man – Modest Expectations – Beloved by All
Iron Man 2 – High Expectations – Crapped On by All
Hulk* – High Expectations – Crappy Movie *Technically not Marvel but the sequel is…
The Incredible Hulk – Why Bother? – Great Hulk Movie
Thor – High Expectations, movie to kickstart the summer – Not that good
Captain America – Lower Expectaions, having seen Thor (and Green Lantern) earlier that summer – Decent Movie, Fun Ride
Avengers – Impossible Expectations – Nailed itI think all of those pretty accurately describe how I feel, except invert Iron Man 1 and 2. Now, I don’t think Iron Man is crappy, but its a good START. At the end of my Iron Man review I likened it to Batman Begins/The Dark Knight. I said remember how when Begins came out everyone was excited but then TDK came out and it blew everyone away? Well just imagine what Iron Man 2 can do… Already I was aware that Iron Man was simply a good start, not the be all end all product that Marvel and crew could deliver. Now is Iron Man 2 as good as TDK. No, but it’s tighter and more fun.
So here are my Top 5 defensive things about Iron Man 2. I hesitate to call it the Top 5 moments because some are moments and some are entire characters. These are all the treats that make for one great, fun, candy dish that is the better of the two Iron Mans…
5) Garry ShandlingIt’s Garry Shandling’s Show. Great. The Larry Sanders Show. Phenomenal. What Planet Are You From? Okay. Oblivion… not good. Garry Shandling started strong, hit his peak, then faded into obscurity. It probably didn’t help that he was already a nervous wreck who constantly was pushing himself and other people to their comedic limits and getting great results. Like with Dave Chapelle, the pressure just became too much and instead of going the route of Adam Sandler or such, he had some bad plastic surgery and disappeared.
Iron Man 2 didn’t mark his triumphant comeback, but damn it’s nice to see at least he’s still doing something. He adds that small spice that turns an otherwise forgettable role into a running joke throughout the movie good for the last laugh. (I couldn’t find any of his scenes on youtube but he makes a brief appearance in the trailer.)
4) Jet Knee ThrustThere are a lot of small little nuggets in this movie. No, not Easter Eggs like the Captain America shield or ‘Cosmic Cube’ reference in one of his Dad’s notebooks. I mean very small minor touches. Like how Gwenyth Paltrow really sells when Scarlett Johansson judos Jon Favreau to the ground. Or that annoying spinning thing being right in the middle of the shot when RDJr is talking to Paltrow trying to apologize and how he deals with it.
But when it comes to those small little nuggets, nothing gets me giddier than a small action nugget. It’s already badass every time Iron Man or War Machine lowers their face shields or lands from flying into that kneeling down position then slowly gets up. So to take a couple extra minutes to actually think of what would be cool DURING a fight should be noted. For example… Iron Man has rocket boosters on his feet. So he can fly. But this also allows him to rocket boost his knee right into a baddies face then bring his elbow down dismantling him for good. I believe this youtube clip is a mirrored version (normally its on the left of the screen but here its on the right). Regardless the tiny little nugget occurs at the 44 second mark.
3) “The sharks will come.”Mickey Rourke as Ivan Vanko is one tough dude. He turns on his electro whips and just lets his shirt burn off. He hangs two bodyguards seemingly effortlessly (although too brutal for an on-screen PG13 kill). He has no qualms about killing some stranger to escape prison. The whole movie he completely ignores Justin Hammer, his ’employer’ of sorts, just doing whatever he wants. He gets taken down and bloodied up, then while being dragged away he laughs at Iron Man sputtering “You lose!… You lose!…” And the whole time he does it with a Russian accent. Extra badass.
But the best moment is his prison cell scene. ”If you can make God bleed, then people will cease to believe in him. There will be blood in the water. The sharks will come. All I have to do now is sit back and watch as the world consumes you.” You could end this story right there if you wanted. He’s right. He’s absolutely right. Tony Stark thinks of himself as The INVINCIBLE Iron Man (see what I did there?) and he just got a big dose of reality. This allows for Hammer to give Vanko better toys to play with. At the same time it also take away Hammer being the “end fight bad guy” since he is just a weasel incompetent of anything worthwhile (physically) but always out to make a buck. And it gives Rhodes an incentive to take a suit which will later become War Machine. Sure you could argue that you have to wait 30 minutes for an action scene (by the way, the first movie only really had 3 action scenes and so does the second, but they are better in the second in my opinion) but the consequences of this scene reverberate throughout the whole movie.
2) Iron Man Vs War MachineSpeaking of action scenes… Iron Man. Versus. War Machine. Fuck. Yeah. Tony Stark is drunker than we’ve seen him before. Jim Rhodes has never flown a suit like this before. The two have an antagonistically friendly relationship and adding metal suits doesn’t just complicate things, it escalates them. Stark schools Rhodes at first but Rhodes’ main objective is to make sure everyone leaves safely then take the suit for himself.
What I love about this scene is how much Stark and Rhodes are able to let loose because the suits add a certain level of believability within the story that they actually can survive the brutality each one is beating down on the other. I honestly wouldn’t mind if movies put their human characters through the gauntlet like this on a regular basis. I don’t need them to be in metal suits or Gods from another world or Terminators. But the fact that the filmmakers took this opportunity and let loose is very refreshing. Avengers was able to get away with the same thing. If you have an opportunity for a fight scene like this… don’t let it go to waste.
1) Sam Rockwell as Justin Hammer
Let’s get some things clear:
Scarlett Johansson – very good as the shy assistant who also can deliver the ‘I don’t take crap from anyone’ attitude when her true role is revealed. Also, she’s great at rising up into the frame with an intense look after her stunt double just did 80 flip twists on a guy throwing him into the gorund.
Don Cheadle – “Oh I hate it when they change actors wah wah wah!” Can you imagine the rigid dryness of Terrence Howard delivering lines like “I’m only gonna say this once, get out.” or “Oh this can’t be good.” when Rourke shows up in his mega-mecha-suit? No. Cheadle is much more playful and able to quip back and forth with RDJr a bit more naturally.
Gwenyth Paltrow – Not a huge fan. Super fun and super sexy in this movie though. Great chemistry with RDJr. Also she’s less of a damsel in distress here and in situations better suited to her skillset, where she takes charge like a pro.
Mickey Rourke – See #3.
Garry Shandling – See #5.
Samuel L. Jackson – First time we get to see him as Nick Fury in a real scene. Perfect casting for a Joss Whedon movie. How did they know?
Clark Gregg – Good to see him get to play around and set up a through line for all the Marvel Studio movies.
But it’s Sam Rockwell as Justin Hammer that deserves the non-Tony Stark/Iron Man character spotlight. I mean, let’s think of it this way…For those late coming to the party (i.e. didn’t see how awesome Robert Downey Jr. was in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang) people were absolutely stunned by his performance in Iron Man. I don’t think I would have cast him for Tony Stark, but seeing as where they took it and how they executed it I can’t argue or complain. He’s fantastic. And it’s his movie. He’s the title character. And for the sequel everyone would be watching him. LOVING him. So for someone to come in and play a foil character, an egotistical arms dealer who has to try to fill his shoes after he announced in the first he wasn’t going to make weapons but IS the ultimate weapon (or should I say high tech prosthesis?), takes a lot of guts. I mean, you can’t try to steal the show from RDJr because no one wants you to, but you have to at least go toe to toe with him.
And that’s what Rockwell does. He immediately acknowledges Stark’s greatness, is one upped by him, then at Monaco brushed off by him, and always behind him in the Iron Man suit arms race. He’s the biggest villain of the movie because he provides Vanko with the means to be a physical threat but he also puts lives in danger by making constantly inferior weaponry. That and he has the resources and means to strike financially at Stark Industries. But you don’t even care about any of that as he chews the scenery and delivers a top notch sleaze ball performance (“I DON’T SPEAK RUSSIAN!”). I mean really, he’s well dressed, a good talker, and a great showman. This scene could belong to Hammer or Stark (ala beginning of Iron Man) but its the small touch of the gloves that makes all the difference…
So there you have it. Iron Man 2. I say not only is it underrated, but because it moves quicker, has more on its plate, and a stellar cast all with some actual stuff to play with… I say it is even better than the first. I know many will disagree, but I hope at least to have swayed some haters to the “yeah, I guess its not THAT bad” side. Either way, I think we can all agree that after Avengers we all expect the first Marvel Studios movie release to be pretty freaking good. Well… I think with Shane Black at the helm and adding Guy Pearce and Sir Ben Kingsley to the mix we’ll at least get a fun Summer Blockbuster on par with the first two. And when I say two I mean that as a compliment.