Movies / Comics Movie Reviews

Avenger Spotlight: Iron Man 2

By Troy-Jeffrey Allen
May 3, 2012 - 18:43

In anticipation of The Avengers, I’m revisiting the Marvel films that lead up to the May 5th release. I’ll be reviewing each film as I’m attending what my local Regal multiplex has dubbed “The Marvel Movie Marathon.” Ill be examining why certain films captivated the zeitgeist, why certain films failed to impress critics, what each film meant for Marvel Studios’ end game, why The Avengers film could be a bigger sales boost for comic books than the New 52, and how Marvel has augmented Hollywood’s game plan.

Ugh. Iron Man 2 time. At least I get to see that hilarious Senate hearing scene…

With 2008’s Iron Man, Marvel Studios gave an incredibly strong introduction for what would be referred to as the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It was sleek, clever, extremely entertaining, and a pleasant summer movie surprise. In slight contrast, with Iron Man 2 (2010), Marvel, director Jon Favreau, and screenwriter Justin Theroux misstepped, making a follow-up that is clearly bogged down by Marvel’s larger continuity.

There is no argument that Iron Man 2 was a box office success ($623,933,331 worldwide), but for this reviewer the film is way too impressed with its own cleverness. The entire movie is an endless series of overlapping conversations, as if every character has something so witty to say that they all demand simultaneous screen time. In the first film, this improvisational feel was particularly refreshing. Here, it seems to be an attempt to mask an overly-crowded and hurried production.

Apparently, actor Robert Downey Jr.’s contract with Marvel stipulates that the star gets to choose what off-camera talent helps mold the Iron Man films (with Iron Man 3 he wisely chose Lethal Weapon’s Shane Black to write and direct, but that’s probably only exciting to me). For Iron Man 2, RDJ didn’t go with Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby, the original film’s winning screenwriting duo. Instead, he brought on Tropical Thunder’s Justin Theroux to condense an existing script by Favreau and Downey Jr. Ironically, Theroux’s script combined with Downey Jr.’s  ad lib-heavy performance, kind of makes the character of Tony Stark look --- well, kind of like a dick. The film tries to sidestep the comic’s infamous “Demon in a Bottle” storyline (in which, Stark’s heavy drinking causes the hero to become a reckless, walking weapon of mass destruction) by substituting booze with Tony’s despondency over his impending death. It’s a sound attempt, but it’s played out in a way that makes the main character seem inconsiderate, dangerous, and childish. Basically, all the character flaws that were circumvented by the first film’s end.

In all fairness, during the overall production of Iron Man 2, Marvel seemed a bit unprepared to play Hollywood’s version of musical chairs. Outside of a not-so-quiet actor swap that saw Terrence Howard replaced by Don Cheadle, Emily Blunt quietly replaced by Scarlett Johansson, and rumors about salary disputes from several peevish parties, the studio would soon find itself under the wing of the Walt Disney Company. I can only speculate that these factors, in addition to the demands of tying Iron Man 2 to 2012’s Avengers film forced Marvel to multitask ineffectively. The end result cost Iron Man 2 creatively.

Fortunately, Marvel remained savvy. In the summer of 2011, the studio would match their creative and financial ambitions with an impressive back to back showing. One that would erase any concerns raised by Iron Man 2 and shoot for the stars…

Last Updated: September 6, 2021 - 08:15

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