The Oscar Project Reviews
The Marvel Cinematic Universe gets back on track with the second installment in the trilogy of Iron Man films. Despite the bad guys feeling like alter egos of characters from the first film, the second Iron Man continues to provide intense action, a few doses of comedy, and budding relationships (romantic and professional) that will last through the rest of the MCU films.
We are introduced to several new characters throughout this film, from the vicious Ivan Vanko (Mickey Rourke) and the conniving Justin Hammer (Sam Rockwell) to the Tony Stark's sultry new secretary Natalie Rushman (Scarlett Johansson) who turns out to be none other than Black Widow, a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent assigned by Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) to work undercover within Stark Enterprises. It may be the first time we are meeting these individuals, but they all have a realness about them allowing us to easily accept who they are and what motivates them.
The plot here is simple, and a bit derivative of the first film. Tony is dying because of the arc reactor he build into his chest in the first film. He is back to being the flashy billionaire, only made worse as he faces his mortality and feels powerless to change it.
The two villains feel familiar and basically come across as two sides of the main villain from the first film. Hammer is the billionaire side that really wants to make money selling weapons and will go to just about any length to do so. Vanko on the other hand is the scientist side, dedicated to bringing down Stark by using the technology that their fathers worked on a generation earlier. In Vanko we see what Stark could have become, had he fallen to the "dark side," to mix film metaphors.
We are also introduced to the fact that there is a much larger story at work for the first time in this film. Agent Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) is assigned by Fury to keep Stark under house arrest until such time as he can find a non-lethal compound to power the reactor in his chest. However, once Stark returns from breaking house arrest, Coulson announces that he's being reassigned and heading out to New Mexico, a comment that is explained in the post-credits scene. These scenes have become something of a cult favorite, but they really started hitting their stride with this scene.
Iron Man 2 received one nomination from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, for Best Visual Effects, but was beaten out by Inception.
In the final analysis, Iron Man 2 is a tremendous film and helped propel the MCU forward. I couldn't quite give it a full 10 out of 10 since some of the material felt a bit recycled from the first film, but applaud what it accomplished in setting the tone for the next several films in the series.
9 out of 10
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