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Skippy Goes to the Movies!: “Iron Man 2” May 12, 2010

Posted by Skippy in Comics, Popular Culture.
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Verdict: Only mildly entertaining

The problem with sequels is this: either they surpass their predecessor, or they don’t. For example, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan not only surpassed Star Trek: The Motion Picture, but, in many ways, it along with The Empire Strikes Back stood as the gold standard of summer movie sequels. Further, comic book movie sequels have a more unique problem. Once you’ve established the superhero, where do you take the character?

Superman: The Movie and Superman II were shot back to back. The first couple of Batman movies had Tim Burton’s unique stamp and the second series of Batman movies have had Christopher Nolan’s talented direction behind them. If there’s any problem with any of those movies, it’s that the superhero doesn’t really progress much beyond who he was in the first movie. Granted, Nolan’s The Dark Knight was good—-very good; however, the last fifteen or so minutes of the movie very nearly gutted the emotional impact of Rachel Dawes’ death (OMG Spoiler Alert!). Had the movie ended there, I would have proclaimed it as being on par with The Empire Strikes Back.

Anyway, after Iron Man came out, comic movie fans were wondering what the second Iron Man movie would be like. Could Robert Downey Jr. recapture the manic hilarity of his performance as Tony Stark in the first movie? Would the second movie be as entertaining as the first one? And perhaps more importantly, would moviegoers accept Don Cheadle in the role of James Rhodes after Terrence (Crazy!) Howard was fired left the production?

I must say, I’m not a big Marvel comics fan. You see, in the world of the comic geek, there are two major comics companies: DC and Marvel. DC Comics has Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman (the so-called “Trinity” of DC comics), Green Lantern, the Flash, and, yes, Aquaman. Marvel Comics has Spider-Man, Thor, Iron Man, the Hulk, the X-Men, and a bunch of other pathetic characters. I grew up reading Superman primarily and found Marvel Comics to be too “soapy,” while I loved the mythic, almost godlike characteristics of Superman. So, I come to movies that come from Marvel with a bit of bias—-for example, I haven’t liked ANY of the Spider-Man movies.

This was a damned abomination.

Anyway, getting to Iron Man 2, I went to the movie theater just hoping to be entertained. I wanted a good, solid comic book movie. I’m not very familiar with Iron Man’s “rogues gallery,” so I wasn’t really pressed about who would be the main villain. And I suppose I could tolerate Gwyneth Paltrow in the movie—-for some reason, she is less annoying when she’s acting than when she’s running around GOOPing. I figured, “Ah, what the hell. It should be a decent movie.”

I was a bit disappointed with this movie. It just didn’t have the same kind of energy as the first one did. Even Downey’s Tony Stark seemed to be all over the place. The main villain, Whiplash (Mickey Rourke) was so paint-by-the-numbers, that I wound up not caring. Actually, at one point in the movie, I whipped out my iPod and played a bit of Tetris. I think the problem with this movie was that there was too much focus on a) “developing” Whiplash and b) trying to develop Tony Stark. Clearly, by the end of the movie, we’re supposed to buy that Stark is moving in a particular arc. While I found his insouciance hilarious in the first movie, in this movie, I wanted him to shut up, take a Ritalin or five, and dial it back.

Speaking of annoying, I must talk about Sam Rockwell’s Justin Hammer. Hammer was a business rival of Stark’s. After being particularly shown up by Stark, Hammer forges an alliance with Whiplash and blah, blah, blah, CGI fest! Anyway, Hammer was absolutely the most annoying character I’ve seen on the big screen since Jar Jar Binks. After a while, I was thinking, “We GET IT! He wants to be Tony Stark, but he doesn’t have the natural charm that Stark has! Jesus! Could somebody kill this fool already?”

That said, once the fireworks got started, it turned into a mildly entertaining summer movie. It certainly was not last summer’s Star Trek—-not by any stretch of the imagination. I would suggest going to a matinée—-don’t pay full price for this one.

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