Posted by: pea | July 5, 2010

Iron Man 2: A Cruel Joke

Sucking like no big-budget superhero movie has sucked before.

I’ll admit it, I’ve never been someone that goes nuts over a superhero movie, but I really, genuinely liked Jon Favreau’s Iron Man. An interesting and somewhat relevant plot, fun action, memorable characters…why then, oh why did Iron Man 2 have to happen? There are so, so many things wrong with the film that I actually found myself wretchedly fighting the urge to leave the theatre—and this was just in the first thirty minutes. I feel like the people who claim to have enjoyed this movie are willing to make excuses for how much it sucks because they’re comic book fans, Jon Favreau fans, or Robert Downey Jr. fans. I too, wanted to like this film. But I can’t. And here’s why:

Robert Downey Jr.’s charm, while endearing and fun to watch at times* (*acting effort acknowledged) cannot, on its own, carry an entire movie.

Tony Stark is a pompous, brilliant, cocky, smooth-talking proponent of technology who has a major problem with authority. You see that? You see what I just did there? I summed up Downey’s performance in a 124-minute movie in a single sentence that you read in about one second. I found myself desperately trying to hold back from shouting at the screen “I get it! I get how witty and cool you are! Let’s move on now!”

Romance-shmomance—absolutely no chemistry exists between Pepper and Tony.

Try as you might, Jon Favreau, you can’t make me want the lead male and female to be together when, in literally every scene in the film, they’re fighting. Whatever happened to a little honest love? Constant bickering and endless arguments (far exceeding the maximum limit for playful banter, one might add) somehow culminate in a less-than-passionate rooftop kiss that does nothing but leave me wondering how many hours it’ll be until the separation papers are served. It would be great if the writers for this film could have figured out how to throw in a love story that works on any level. All aboard the failboat!

Was Samuel L. Jackson in this movie? Oh yeah, for about 15 seconds.

At the end of Iron Man, I was so excited to see that they were going to have Jackson in the sequel. What a squandered opportunity! It’s so unfortunate that they had absolutely no idea how to bring out the big guns with a star as entertaining and fun as Samuel L. Jackson.

He has a freakin' eye patch! How could you mess this up?!

His only purpose (if it can be called a purpose) in the film is to be the informant to Stark about “The Avengers.” Nothing makes me angrier than when a film raises my expectations and makes me anticipate a particular cameo, and doesn’t deliver the goods. No, Jon Favreau, no.

As long as we’re talking about pointless costars, Scarlett Johansson? I mean, really…what the hell was that?

Wow. How original. A curvy redhead in a skintight black leather leotard punches and kicks some bad guys. Talk about an absolutely unnecessary part. But why not add an “I’m only here to be the hot chick that can kick bad guys’ asses in one scene” individual into the already nauseating medley of characters that are driving whatever I used to know and love about Iron Man into an early grave? Go for it!

Since we’re already on the topic of female exploitation—Pepper needs to grow a pair, apparently.

Don’t worry, I’m not going to go on a feminist tangent here, (I can sense your eyes rolling, and I understand why), but I just have to mention that it made me a little sick to my stomach when Pepper gave up being the CEO of Stark Industries because it was just “too hard” to run. It’s not enough that her character is completely static and bitchy throughout the film, but now she has to be rendered incapable of doing the “man’s job” in the end because she simply doesn’t have the strength? I understand that the typical superhero story often requires a submissive female who needs to be rescued, but to set up a character like Pepper who actually seems intelligent and competent and, over the course of the movie, to deconstruct any of the aforementioned promising attributes into what can only be perceived as outright weakness is just insulting. Nice one, Hollywood. I’ve never felt better about myself.

Let’s talk about some particularly appalling scenes/action sequences.

  1. We’ll start with that 72-minute courtroom scene in which Stark is being indicted by the government for withholding his fabulous suits and technology from military possession. Oh. My. Word. It was like an episode of JAG gone horribly wrong. Did they really plan for this to go on as long as it did? I guess they wanted to milk that Downey Jr. charm for as long as they could. Thanks for half-heartedly attempting to insert some kind of hackneyed political statement, but it just didn’t work out. And yes, I get the irony of Garry Shandling as the conservative judge. How delightful.
  2. Practically every action sequence in the film was unwatchable. Everything was happening so fast and there were so many cuts and pointless explosions that I literally had no idea what was going on and might have dozed off a couple times. And let’s not forget about Don Cheadle coming in to stop Tony from embarrassing himself in his drunken stupor…by putting on a suit to fight him and destroy his house. Where’s the NBC “The More You Know” star swipe when you need it? The one fight I was looking forward to with Mickey Rourke (quite possibly, the only character I liked in this movie) as the villain, ended in about five seconds.
  3. Finally, one of the most ridiculous moments in the film was the scene in which Stark inexplicably discovers a new element from schematics of an old model that his father built. Maybe I should invest in a laboratory where I can turn and move around some glowing blue projections using only my hands…who knows? It might lead to the discovery of a new element! Laughable.

    Zzzzz...oh sorry, I fell asleep while looking at this courtroom scene picture.

One can often guess the plot of a superhero movie, but this one is so predictable, it’s almost offensive.

Good guy, bad guy, fights happen, girl gets saved… I’m more than ok with sticking to a formula, especially when it comes to a superhero movie, but certain plot points in this movie almost made me feel patronized as an audience member. For example, when Rourke has initiated his “attack of the drones” and buildings are getting blown up everywhere, Pepper stays behind after everyone has evacuated the expo. Hmm…do we think she might be endangering herself so that Tony can come in at the last minute and sweep her off her feet? Iron Man 2 certainly takes the concept of “dumbing it down” to a whole new level.


So much potential met with so much failure. Iron Man 2 is the perfect example of Hollywood effectively zapping any integrity out of what might have been a good sequel. A movie simply can’t rely on expensive graphics, big movie stars, and rehashed storylines to capture my heart, but I’m sure the marketing executives are laughing all the way to the bank as its domestic gross as of July 4, 2010 is $308,241,000 (Box Office Mojo). At least I have Iron Man to look back on fondly. *sigh*

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  1. Part 1

    Good article but being a 25 year veteran of the ongoing conflict know as superhero movies I take exception to the statement “dumbing it down” to a whole new level. One simple viewing of Batman & Robin would give you the proper perspective of how truely insultive a comic book seqeul can be to ones intelligence. Now I know every movie needs to stand on it own two feet, but with a movie genre that includes such crap as Fantastic Four, Daredevil and Superman 4:The Quest for Peace Iron Man 2 is a long way from the “Sucking like no big-budget superhero movie has sucked before.”


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