Directed by Jon Favreau
Another summer, another Marvel movie. Like 3-D films, I think it’s gonna be a long, long, time before we ever reach another summer movie season and don’t have a Marvel super-hero movie coming out. (And as long as they keep both Marvel movies and 3-D films separate, I won’t mind. I swear to God, if Whedon has to end up making “The Avengers” in 3-D I’m gonna puke.) The problem with these films, is coming up with something interesting to say when writing about them. And that’s not because they are particularly bad or good, only that, because they are so heavily scrutinized due to their “summer tent-pole” status, there’s nothing really left to say about them by the time they finally come out. I could say, “wow, this movie sure did have pretty explosions” cause it did. I could say “Robert Downey Jr. is the most talented A-lister actor working today” because he is. I could even say “Favreau has become a much more competent action director,” because once again, this is true. The problem is, it doesn’t matter what I say about a film like this. It has its audience and it has its naysayers, and it always will. It doesn’t matter what anybody writes. Of course, having written all that, I’m now going to write more about what I think of the film. (I’m an annoying little brat, aren’t I?)
With pretty much every other super-hero movie, I think that it’s fair to say that it’s the character, not the actor, who puts the asses in the seats. People want to see Batman, Spider-Man, or Superman. It doesn’t really matter who the hell is playing them. (As 2 out of those 3 heroes have already proven, and Spider-Man soon will as well.) But with Iron Man, I truly don’t think the film would be the hit it was without Robert Downey Jr. Look back at the opening weekend for the original “Iron Man”. It made something like ninety-some-odd million dollars. That’s a boatload of cash, there’s no two ways around it. But it wasn’t that opening weekend that really carried the film. It was the subsequent weekends that followed. Word of mouth built up from those who had seen it, and I guarantee people weren’t saying, “damn Iron Man is an awesome super-hero.” They were saying “damn, that Robert Downey Jr. is charismatic.” Robert Downey Jr. puts the asses in the seats when it comes to the “Iron Man” films, just like Johnny Depp does for the “Pirates of the Caribbean” films. Both of these film franchises would be nothing without their two main leads, and I hope that there doesn’t come the day when we have to find this out, though I’m sure we will. All that preamble is just to say that Downey Jr. is as awesome as always in “Iron Man 2” and without him, despite the many other talented people involved, the film would just not work.
That being said, I believe that “Iron Man 2” is a better film than its predecessor. It may not have the same spark that the first film had, and its humor may be slightly less apparent, but it’s quite obvious that Favreau has learned quite a bit about directing action due to his experiences on the first film, and the action scenes are much better in this sequel. And since the dialogue scenes remain largely just as effective as in the first film, it’s hard for me not to champion this film as better of the two. I also have to briefly apologize and thank Jon Favreau. I know that I’ve just spent the bulk of this review saying that these films would be worthless without Downey Jr. but without Favreau this would almost be equally as true. The reason why Downey Jr. is so effective in this role is because of the directorial style of Jon Favreau. Favreau is well-known for his great appreciation of the directorial stylings of Robert Altman (read: improvisation) and without the freedom that Favreau allows Downey Jr. to have, his performance would be no where near as kinetic as it is.
A few other things worth mentioning: Sam Rockwell makes every film he is in much better by a factor of Sam Rockwell (yes, the man is so talented that he deserves his own mathematical formula), Scarlett Johansson deserves a mathematical formula describing how hot she is in relation to the sun, and Mickey Rourke plays what I imagine in real life is Mickey Rourke. A tattooed old Russian man who loves birds. So while “Iron Man’ 2 never really transcends its genre, it remains a vastly entertaining piece of pop culture goodness.