Saturday, May 08, 2010

Iron Man 2: A Stark Difference Between 1 & 2

If you're like me then you were never really into Marvel Comic books as a kid, but nothing complemented a big bowl of cold Frosted Flakes better than those super hero cartoons on a Saturday morning. Now fast forward 20 or 30 years later, if you're honest. Your Saturday mornings are void of cartoon watching, that's for the kids! But there you are at Paramount Pictures "Iron Man 2" screening this weekend, sans the young'uns because there's still a little bit of kid left in you.

Metal verses metal action, loud explosions, pretty women, hi-tech special effects and gadgets. For more than two hours "Iron Man 2" provides plenty of things to marvel over. But if you're not an avid Marvel Comic nor Iron Man fan all that visual eye candy is a distraction from an epic super hero story you may need an Iron Man primer to understand in all its glory.

I'm not saying seeing the first "Iron Man" featuring Robert Downey Jr, Gweneth Paltrow, and Terrance Howard is necessary. However, it is helpful. Cocky, billionaire playboy and weapons maker, John Stark, isn't merely an uber-successful businessman, he IS the business, man! And as Iron Man he uses his business, resources, and scientific knowledge to make peace not war the world over.

In "Iron Man 2", Stark has changed and the forces around him have too: The US government deems the Iron Man designer business suit collection a weapon and wants Stark to turn it over; the very element that keeps Stark's ticker ticking, is slowly killing him and he begins acting irresponsibly; and a pissed off Russian (Mickey Rourke) seems to have created his own Iron Man knock-off and vows to destroy Stark Industries to avenge his father. You think YOU'VE got problems!

Stark is running out of time and out of ideas to keep himself alive. Not to mention his best friend, Lt. Col. James Rhodes (replaced by Don Cheadle in the film) is mad at him too and delivers one of the Iron Man suits to the US government. Cheadle in the role delivers a strong performance as expected, but honestly I would've like to have seen what Terrence Howard would have brought to the role.

Now here's where that Iron Man primer would've been useful. Mid-way in "Iron Man 2" Samuel L. Jackson appears as Nick Fury. He delivers a mysterious chest once owned by Stark's deceased father. In it is the key to saving Stark's life and the family empire. But if you know little about Marvel Comics, you miss the whole relevance of Fury's presence. I totally forget his brief introduction after the credits of the first film, but luckily I saw the new film with a human Marvel Comic aficionado who explained everything.

Ladies fear not! "Iron Man 2" loves the ladies! In it Stark promotes Pepper (Paltrow) to CEO of Stark Enterprises and hires sexy Natalie Rushman (Scarlett Johnansson) as the new assistant. But what Pepper nor Stark know is that the new employee "from legal" is actually Fury's implant and she kicks ass with the best of the men.

SIDEBAR: HOLLYWOOD WHAT'S A BLACK ACTRESS OTHER THAN ZOE SALDANA GOT TO DO GET ONE OF THESE COVETED SEXY ACTION ROLES! WE'VE BEEN KICKING ASS SINCE THE 70's AND BEEN SEXY LONGER THAN THAT AND YOU KNOW IT!

Overall, I enjoyed the first "Iron Man" better than I did "Iron Man 2" possibly because I didn't know what to expect. The second time around, expectations were high creatively but I got lost in some of the technical stuff and how all the characters fit into the Marvel story as a whole.

So is "Iron Man 2" worth the long lines at the theater this weekend? YES! Just replace that big bowl of wet corn from your childhood for the large bucket of dry, air-popped kind then let the big ass kid in you come out and play!

1 comment:

cashmiguel said...

Agreed! The premise of having a major super hero whose identity is well known was the tricky device director Jon Favreau and Robert Downey Jr. wanted to play with in this film, with mixed results. There's a certain template that fans expected that wasn't delivered (we should have seen Iron Man in action to start the film, and then go to Ivan Vanko. Instead, we have to wait for Vanko to attack Stark).
The first film was better because the template was easier to follow, and Downey's performance WAS the picture! "IM2", however, took too many chances, and lost its way.