Iron Man 2 ain’t gonna be joining the pantheon of great sequels that top the first instalment. Not a lot has changed from the first outing. That is unless you count Iron Man’s identity now being out in the open. Or that Terrence Howard was unceremoniously replaced by Don Cheadle. Hang on maybe this isn’t really much like the first one at all... Look, Downey Jr is still enjoyable as Tony Stark - he’s particularly amusing at the Congressional hearing for example. And I suppose his lunatic behaviour is somewhat justified by the self-poisoning suit plot device. But the weird ego-maniacal peace keeping thing is strange, right? I mean, he’s clearly an alcoholic with a weapon of mass destruction, right? Maybe this is what makes you come back for more - he’s pretty much a train wreck of a human being and his own worst enemy.
Speaking of enemies, I’m sure they could’ve made better use of Mickey Rourke. Sure I get what he’s doing but it’s hardly jaw-dropping. Same goes with Sam Rockwell - there are glimpses of brilliance in his portrayal of Justin Hammer, but you never feel like he runs away with it and steals the show like he could and should have. Rockwell does do some of his trademark dancing though for a moment to the theme from Swingers which was a nice touch from Favreau!
Don Cheadle is adequate as Rhodey at best (do you buy him as a lieutenant colonel?) and it’s a shame Terrence Howard didn’t have the opportunity to flex as War Machine since I felt he owned it in Iron Man 1.
On a positive note, Scarlett Johansson is subtle and concise in her introduction as Black Widow with a particularly nice action sequence with Jon Favreau as comic relief.
Overall Iron Man 2 is the obligatory follow-up to the successful and understated original - it’s missing that indie feel and the element of surprise that Favreau managed to cultivate previously so it ends up being a mildly enjoyable but largely forgettable blockbuster.
Up next — The god of thunder!