After the run away success of Iron Man, Marvel quick put into production numerous movies leading up to groundbreaking Avengers. Among them was Iron Man 2. Robert Downey Jr. returned as Tony Stark, solidifying himself as the only person who could conceivably play him. After the first movie, people were incredibly excited for the follow up.
A few changes were made to the sequel from the original. Shortly after the first movie, director Jon Favreau leaked that he was not asked to return as director for the sequel. Fans flipped out (shocking behavior from denizens of the internet). While I don’t want to give them too much credit, I’m sure this helped him secure the position a second time around. Along with this, they replaced Terrance Howard with Don Cheadle as James Rhodes. Howard wanted more money. This is when people realized just how money conscious Marvel Studios was.
Gwyneth Paltrow and Sam Jackson also returned to the movie, though Jackson had some serious negotiations Sam Rockwell joined as Justin Hammer, Mickey Rourke as Ivan Vanko (a combination of Whiplash and the Crimson Dynamo), and Scarlett Johansson as the Black Widow. Emily Blunt was set to play Widow but dropped out do to scheduling conflicts. She was filming Gulliver’s Travels. That’s two posts in a row I’ve mentioned that horrible movie.
The pieces were in place to make an awesome movie. Scripts though, scripts are important. Having loose guidelines written down is not a script. Justin Theroux is credited with the screenplay for the film. Iron Man 2 didn’t really have a script. The story came from Favreau and Downey, though they changed things constantly. Rourke is quoted saying how confusing the filming was, with nothing set in stone, and things changing constant. Whatever the two came up with, they changed on the fly.
There is a reason why things are put on paper. It helps set everything straight, allows for changes, and shows what sections need ironing out (zing). Iron Man 2 didn’t have this, and it’s a little obvious. Ostensibly the movie is comprised of three elements; Demon in a Bottle, doing the first movie bigger, and setting up the Avengers. Looking at it like that, I think it succeeded.
Demon in a Bottle is one of Iron Man’s most famous story lines. Tony must confront his alcoholism. He stops being Iron Man for a time, with friend James Rhodes taking over. When Tony returns to the suit, Rhodey get is own suit, the War Machine. This is some heavy stuff to be in a Marvel/Disney movie, and probably the closest we’ll come to see it is here. Tony’s dying and becoming self destructive. Shane Black (writer director of Iron Man 3) suggested giving Tony an element of depression like Robert Oppenheimer did after the Manhattan Project. I think that subtle touch worked well.
This movie was overly concerned with setting up the Avengers, going on about S.H.I.E.L.D., and how they’re trying to help. For many this was a problem. In the comics, S.H.I.E.L.D. is often in the background, weaving in and out when needed. I’ve seen this before and expected. What did bother me was how anticlimactic the final battle was. This was the Iron Monger battle from the first one done bigger. I wouldn’t have minded it so much if it wasn’t over so quickly.
A few other things I didn’t like was the idea of how S.H.I.E.L.D. wanted Iron Man, but not Tony. I understand what they were getting at but it didn’t pan out and was mostly nagging. Wasn’t the point of the movie how Tony didn’t want to give up his technology? So why was S.H.I.E.L.D. trying to recruit his suit? And weren’t we led to believe that Tony was in after the ending scene in The Incredible Hulk? Having Tony tell Fury he wasn’t interested in joining their boy band flew in the face of that. Confusing. And Tony rediscovering Vibranium (the stuff Cap’s shield is made of) was a little silly. Especially all the parts involving his father. Coolest part of the movie was the Mark V (the briefcase suit). That was really sick. I watched that clip in a trailers a few times before the movie released.
Iron Man 2 gets more flack than I think it deserves. It’s the weakest of the Marvel movies so far (yes, I enjoyed 3 more than 2, only because it tried something different). It’s still a far cry better than many of the superhero movies out there.
I really want that briefcase.