Iron Man 2.
The Man. The Myth. The Mask. The Toxic Nuclear Heart Thingy. The Effects Budget. The Mickey Roarke Wrangler Who Deserves a Behind The Scenes Oscar, Probably.
Here is the short version of my Iron Man 2 review: Moar Plz.
When we last saw our hero Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) he had gone from dilettante to world-saver by way of imprisonment in Afghanistan. Invented a thingy to keep his heart from exploding, designed a suit to make himself bullet-proof, gone all conscience-laden, gotten a tad tripped up on some hubris and betrayal by Jeff Bridges. Like you do.
This installment kicks off with a previously unknown Russian guy passing on some technology to his extremely surgically altered son, who "cries" for one frame before going into Electric Whip Manufacturing Montage, Wait, I Have To Feed My Bird #1.
But enough of him – back to Tony, who’s dying because his blood is 17%…no, wait, 23%…nope…51% toxic due to the palladium that’s keeping him alive. How does a person remain up and around and drinking when half their blood is toxic? NO TIME FOR THAT NOW. We need to get Don Cheadle into a silver Iron Man suit.
Wait, why? Because the military, understandably, doesn’t want Tony Stark, Narcissist and Hedonist, to be their unaccounted-for nuclear deterrent. But after he makes a fool of them all at a Senate hearing (C-Span never had it so good as in this Starkalicious world, btw) they decide to have
Crewman #6 Sam Rockwell come up with competitive technology. Which he is Very Bad at, so recruits the unpredictable deranged Ivan (Roarke) to do for him. Good planning. Since Stark thinks he’s dying, what with the fact that he’s dying, he gives the company to Pepper Potts, hires a hot assistant who can pin Jon Favreau in under 4 seconds (Scarlett Johanssen), and goes into self destruct mode. So Don Cheadle "steals" his suit and gives it to the military.
Anyway, blahblahblah explosions and revitalized Queens and general battle quippy fun ensues. My favorite part about the Iron Man franchise is honestly the writing, which I NEVER say about comic movies (exceptions: The first X-men movie, every word out of Heath Ledger’s mouth in The Dark Knight). The dialogue for Iron Man 2 sounded like a cross between Christopher Guest, Aaron Sorkin and a heavily censored David Mamet. Lots of mumbling and asides and banter-parrying; very silly and very amusing. This kind of writing is key to making the movers and shakers seem SMART in this world – Justin Hammer (Rockwell) can’t verbally communicate his way out of a paper bag, and this is how we know he’s both a bad guy and a loser. But Fury (Samuel L. "Can Do No Wrong" Jackson) and Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg) and even Stark’s computers are sharp wisecracking dudes with an excellent sense of when to hold for a beat and when to follow directly on the heels of another line.
Double plus bonus: Pepper Potts is more than competent when the company is left in her hands, manages the crisis situation of *spoiler alert* something going ever so slightly amiss with the killer drone robot plan and generally sucks much much less than she did in Iron Man: Original Flavor. Johanssen’s Agent Romanoff kicks ass both physically, technologically and beating-up-stooges-with-humor….ally, and her fierceness plays nicely off of director/producer/Happy Hogan Jon Favreau’s well-meaning condescension. Especially when she lays out 7 guys in a hallway while wearing her catsuit and maces the 8th without turning her head. She’s the one who wrests control of the souped up suit from Ivan the Unintelligible, etc.
1. Pepper Pott’s stilettos. If Paltrow can’t walk, they are too high, character be damned.
2. Pepper Pott’s Frozenness in the face of danger: I get that Iron Man’s motivation has to be Tarzan Protect Jane on some level, but my god, woman. You live in a world where killer robots exist – when you see a beeping blinking red light, ASSUME IT’S NOT TRYING TO COMMUNICATE, AND RUN AWAY.
3. Agent Romanoff’s luscious curls: Puhleaze. No woman who has to accomplish anything physical does it with 3 gallons of Vidal Sasson’s finest product spilling over their shoulders. Someone, PLEASE, give me a kickass woman who throws her locks up in a ponytail, slicks it back with a headband, or better yet, HAS SHORT HAIR.
4. The director of photography’s inability to shoot Scarlett Johanssen from the back without focusing on her butt. Seriously. I don’t mean starting with her hips and panning up. I mean following her around with the tripod set at Great Dane height. This is what we in Feminism 101 call The Effect of the Male Gaze. I get that you guys in your dudely dudeliness are drooling over Scarlett Johanssen. If you’re not drooling, you should probably check for a pulse because she is stunning in this movie. But for eff’s sake, give her face a chance to act. Shoot over her shoulder. Pan back to take in the whole room or at least some part of her silhouette that doesn’t involve the inches immediately below her belt.
5. Mad Men’s John Slattery (Howard Stark) with brown hair. Great casting, love that he’s perpetually trapped in the 1960s and can only communicate with us through creepy Disney-esque newsreels but my god. Brown hair on that silver fox? Wrong-o.
That’s it. It made me laugh, it made me flinch, it made me want to re-watch Only You for some more RDJ quality time.
It maybe even made me want to read some comics.
This is not a franchise about re-booting, or en-serious-ening. This is a franchise about having fun, making the briefest of political points, and casting awesome people to have a blast playing off one another. So go see it, come back, we’ll talk about wtf was up with those previews.