Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr) must take on his greatest challenges yet; he is coming to terms with the fact that he has outed himself as a superhero, the device he uses to stay alive is slowly killing him, and Ivan Venko – AKA Whiplash – is looking for vengeance.
So we all know by now that there were issues with the first Iron Man film, and it seems that Marvel, director Jon Favreau and screenwriter Justin Theroux have taken steps to rectify these problems in Iron Man 2. Gone is Terrence Howard as Jim Rhodes, and in his place the wonderful Don Cheadle, Mickey Rourke has stepped in as villain Whiplash and is wonderfully over the top, Scarlett Johannson brings some tension to the relationship with Pepper and Tony and S.H.I.E.L.D are involved in a big way. Gwyneth Paltrow is still in the mix but we can’t win them all.
Robert Downey Jr knows all too well what it is like to go down a road of self destruction, and it is obvious that he has tapped into his own past problems for Tony Stark’s descent into chaos. Once Stark learns that the Ark reactor in his chest is killing him, he runs down the path of self destruction – prompted in part by Natasha, Natalie… Whoever she is – which leads to the creation of Jim Rhodes as War Machine. Downey Jr brings the same charisma to the role as he did in the first Iron man movie, but he also manages to explore his father issues and the darkness within himself in a believable, if self obsessed, manner.
Don Cheadle takes of the role of Jim Rhodes and brings some much needed levity to the role, even when he is double crossing his best friend and flying away in one of his suits. Scarlett Johannson shrouds herself in mystery, and kicks some serious butt when the time is right. Sam Rockwell as Justin Hammer is as egotistical as his rival, but while Stark learns humility, Hammer just plays the insane card; something that Rockwell does incredibly well. Mickey Rourke further brings the crazy as Ivan Vanko, but whereas Hammer is all about wearing his crazy on his sleeve, Rourke allows Vanko to be brooding and quiet, and more than a little bit threatening, something that was missing from Jeff Bridges’s performance in Iron Man 1.
As well as all of these fantastic performances, the set pieces in Iron Man 2 are fantastic; the Monte Carlo sequence will have the audience cringing away from thescreen, and the final battle between Iron Man, War Machine and Vanko’s drones is a thrill ride and a joy to watch.
Iron Man 2 solves the problems of its predecessor, while keeping the elements of the film that worked well. The humour is there, as are the spectacular chases and the audience is brought deeper into the world of the Avengers with the long appearance from Samuel L. Jackson as S.H.I.E.L.D director Nick Fury. Iron Man 2 is a fast paced thrill ride that does not disappoint, and reminds audiences of how fun and silly superhero movies can be.