11 Days of Marvel: Iron Man 2

Day 3 of 11 Days of Marvel is here! In this project, Bill and Erin go through every sin­gle extant film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, write their reac­tions to them, and then have con­ver­sa­tions about them! The project start­ed here, with Iron Man, or you can click here to see all the arti­cles in the project so far. Today is about:

ironman2 posterIron Man 2 (2010)

Erin’s Response: Less Rockwell, More Rock

While I loved Micky Rourke’s accent and incred­i­bly fan­tas­tic hair, Iron Man 2 left me notice­ably cold this time around. Maybe it is the fact that I have been watch­ing super­hero movies for 3 days (with absolute­ly no police pro­ce­du­rals to numb my pain), or maybe it is that I have been work­ing all day for the last 4 days and don’t get a break until June 3rd.  Perhaps that is why I tire of Tony’s rich boy sub­stance abuse story line where his daddy (it is always their dad­dies) inevitably comes to his res­cue.

Perhaps it is the fact that the whole movie is, in one way or anoth­er, about fathers. Whiplash’s father is out-maneuvered by Stark’s father, so the world has to pay. Tony never felt loved by his father, which caused him to become a genius and a ser­i­al phi­lan­der­er.  This story line is so tired it put me to sleep, although that could have been my sec­ond glass of wine.

This movie miss­es out on the fun of Iron Man 1 – it is keen­ly aware that it must be more than its own movie, and it is the first of the MCU movies that real­ly feels like it is sim­ply one lego in a much larg­er design. On the whole, it suf­fers from far too much Sam Rockwell, whose entire 30 min­utes of screen time could have eas­i­ly (and pain­less­ly) been replaced by more AC/DC.

Best Part: Don “Freaking” Cheadle and the relationship/chemistry that devel­ops between him and Iron Man. Cheadle comes across as more play­ful than Terrence Howard, and when he bor­rows the suit at the end of the movie you are not sure he is going to go direct­ly back to the mil­i­tary with it.

Worst Part: When Nick Fury slips his arm around Natasha at the diner. She should have bro­ken his arm right there and then. The best thing about Romanoff in this movie is that she kicks impos­si­ble amounts of ass, the worst part is that she is never not objec­ti­fied on screen.

condescending fury

Best Animal in a Reoccurring Role: The “bourd.” ’nuff said.

i want my bird

All in all, I found the Incredible Hulk more appeal­ing than Iron Man in this movie. I think if they had had the courage to real­ly explore what chem­i­cal depen­dence does to a per­son this could have been the best MCU movie yet. Alas…

Erin’s Ranking:

1Iron Man

2. The Incredible Hulk

3Iron Man 2

justin hammer

Bill’s Response: Marking Time

This movie has no idea what it is about. Internet People like to describe this movie as just being a trail­er for The Avengers, but I don’t think that’s exact­ly true. The MCU-showrunners clear­ly haven’t quite fig­ured out what they’re up to yet: The Black Widow reads com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent­ly here than she will in every other movie so far, and aside from the brief ref­er­ence to Captain America, we have actu­al­ly very lit­tle else to con­nect Iron Man 2 with the rest of the MCU.

So, is Iron Man 2 about how Tony’s father may have done some­thing awful to a Russian sci­en­tist back in the day, and now that Russian sci­en­tist is going to make Tony’s life mis­er­able? No. One line from Nick Fury makes it clear that Anton Vanko was a bad per­son inter­est­ed only in prof­it, and that’s why Howard Stark had him deport­ed. The sins of the father weren’t sins. Okay. So is it about the com­pe­ti­tion between two rival weapons con­trac­tors, Stark and Hammer? No, because Justin Hammer is con­sis­tent­ly por­trayed as an incom­pe­tent jack­ass, such that no think­ing human being could ever con­sid­er Hammer to be a threat equal to Stark. Okay, so is it about Tony’s self-destructive behav­ior, like we see in the party scene? Not real­ly, because he doesn’t suf­fer any seri­ous con­se­quences from that self-destructive behav­ior. Instead, he eats some donuts with Samuel L. Jackson and gets a mag­i­cal mes­sage from his father which cures him of his pal­la­di­um poi­son­ing because MAGIC. He gets the girl and his best friend back with­out even hav­ing to apol­o­gize.

That’s not to say every­thing in the movie is ter­ri­ble. Like all MCU movies, it’s got some good moments: Black Widow beat­ing up about 20 dudes in a row is pret­ty swell, though it pales in com­par­i­son to the equiv­a­lent scenes in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Don Cheadle is in it, which is always a plus. Mickey Rourke is ter­ri­fy­ing if woe­ful­ly under­uti­lized. But none of this adds up to a coher­ent movie. It adds up to some badass moments in the first half and a sludgy mess in the sec­ond half. After the party where Tony drinks too much and wets the suit, every­thing is non­sense.

So, what is this movie actu­al­ly about? It’s about how they need­ed to make an Iron Man 2 before they could make other movies: need­ed to prove that peo­ple would keep com­ing to MCU movies before they fin­ished mak­ing Thor and Captain America and cer­tain­ly before they pulled the final trig­ger on The Avengers. At least Hulk felt like an hon­est if bro­ken attempt to make a movie about some­thing. Every time Hulk mis­fires, I say “Yeah, but I know what you were going for.” This movie was clear­ly designed by com­mit­tee. It may be the worst movie in the entire fran­chise: we’ll see how I feel after the run. It’s def­i­nite­ly the worst we’ve seen so far.


Favorite Moment: Natasha Romanoff beat­ing up twen­ty Hammer Security dudes while Happy Hogan strug­gles to even take out one is obvi­ous­ly the best scene in the movie.

Least Favorite Moment: The end fight scene is the most bor­ing cli­max we’ve seen so far, although I like the ban­ter between Stark and Rhodey. I par­tic­u­lar­ly (dis)like the fact that Vanko shows up at the end in a whole robot­ic suit that he absolute­ly did not have time to build. That whole scene plays out like the final boss of a third-rate videogame.

Most Underutilized Plot: Remember how the begin­ning of the movie is about whether or not Stark should hand over his armor, and about whether or not he can pro­tect the US from exter­nal threats? And how Vanko attacks him not to kill him, but to “make God bleed… [so that] peo­ple will cease to believe in Him?” Remember how the movie for­gets about that whole arc and instead goes off on some bull­shit about cre­at­ing a new ele­ment and Justin Hammer and so on? I’d like to see a movie which is actu­al­ly about that whole first arc, about the ten­sion between pri­vate super­heroes and the mil­i­tary, or about pub­lic per­cep­tion of Iron Man. Iron Man 2, unfor­tu­nate­ly, is not that movie.

Most Incompetent Police Force: These snarky arti­cles aside, I don’t nor­mal­ly like to nit­pick super­hero movies. People on the Internet get real­ly jazzed up say­ing “But why did­n’t he just do X” and so on, when the answer is always “because that would­n’t have led to the awe­some scene we saw later.” Gipsy Danger did­n’t use its sword until halfway through Pacific Rim because that way, when it did use the sword, it would be awe­some. That said, the Monégasque police1 should be ashamed of them­selves. Do you mean to tell me that there is absolute­ly no secu­ri­ty at the Grand Prix?

whiplash burn

Bill’s Ranking:

1Iron Man

2The Incredible Hulk

3. Iron Man 2

Yeah, so far Erin and I are in com­plete agree­ment. I won­der if and when our opin­ions will diverge?


And Now, A Conversation

Bill: I think the main thing about this movie is that it intro­duces Scarlett Johansson as The Black Widow, right? Like, every­thing else is more or less dis­pos­able, Don Cheadle aside.

Erin: Sure, and she is hot, but she has no char­ac­ter in this. I hon­est­ly would­n’t have been sur­prised if she’d just start­ed mak­ing out with Gwyneth at some point. That would have made about as much sense as any­thing else in this movie. Although, her hair color in this is sub­stan­tial­ly more believ­able.

Bill: Yeah, it’s pret­ty dumb. I have to say, for all that Internet People like to crit­i­cize Joss Whedon’s fem­i­nism (and I’m at least open to some of those argu­ments) he seems to real­ly res­cue this char­ac­ter from pure objec­ti­fied fan­ta­sy in The Avengers.

Erin: True enough.

Bill: For all that we did­n’t like this movie, there’s some­thing about how the first half of both this and Hulk were a lot bet­ter than the sec­ond half. People seem to have a hard time end­ing super­hero movies from 20082010. I’ll be curi­ous to reeval­u­ate if that’s true after­wards.

Erin: I agree. I think it is because they are always fun to start off, but then you have to defeat the big bad (who, in order to be scary, has to be real­ly big and real­ly bad) and this always feels like non­sense by the end.

Bill: I think this movie got tan­gled up in the rival­ry between Hammer and Stark, which is dumb and bor­ing, where­as the rival­ry between Vanko and Stark could, at least, have been inter­est­ing. I do like the way the movie par­al­lels Vanko mak­ing his own arc reac­tor with Stark announc­ing that he’s Iron Man, and the way it makes it clear this is an achieve­ment almost as great as when Stark did the same thing INCAVE, WITHBOX OF SCRAPS. Instead, Vanko does it INMUSCOVITE SLUM, WITH WHATEVER WAS LYING AROUND. Anyway, I love Sam Rockwell, but this movie would be a lot bet­ter with a total Rockwell-ectomy.

Erin: Indeed. He is just too hammy, and no one believes he is actu­al­ly Tony’s com­peti­tor. What is the point of hav­ing him in the movie? It feels a bit Orientalist– the Russian man still needs an American man to save him, even though the American man is a blun­der­ing, tone-deaf idiot. Pass. Although, I did love all the AC/DC. There could have been more AC/DC.

Bill: I had no idea you loved AC/DC so much. This is news to me.

Erin: (Bill gave me so much crap about AC/DC while we watched this movie.)

Bill: AC/DC is fine! I just implied that they weren’t as good as other, sim­i­lar rock bands, and Erin STRONGLY dis­agreed.

Erin: AC/DC reminds me of my child­hood.

Bill: That’s fine! And AC/DC is total­ly appro­pri­ate for Iron Man. I just, uh, am more of an Iron Maiden guy. Anyway. The next two movies aren’t per­fect either, but I sus­pect we’ll enjoy them more than these two. They also get much weird­er: Thor and Captain America are much less ground­ed in 21st-century America than Iron Men 12 and Hulk. Any pre­dic­tions or thoughts?

Erin: I remem­ber lik­ing those bet­ter, so hope­ful­ly they will be more fun. That was one thing I liked about Thor — even Thor does­n’t take him­self too seri­ous­ly. I think that type of light­ness is real­ly need­ed after all this brood­ing.

Bill: I am excit­ed to revis­it Loki in Thor. I remem­ber think­ing his arc was the best part of the movie, even though I did­n’t like him as much in Avengers or Thor 2. I’ll be curi­ous to see if I still think that now, sev­er­al years after the last time I’ve seen the movie.


That’s it for Iron Man 2! Join us next time for our look at Thor, and com­ment below if you have any thoughts, or if you agree with Erin that AC/DC is bet­ter than most other bands. See you tomor­row!

  1. As shown in the movie. I don’t know any­thing at all about the real-life police in Monaco. []

Bill Coberly

About Bill Coberly

Bill Coberly is the founder and groundskeeper of The Ontological Geek, now that it has shifted over to archive mode. If something on the site isn't working, please shoot a DM to @ontologicalgeek on Twitter!