Iron Man 2

Directed By: Jon Favreau

Starring: Robert Downey, Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Scarlett Johansson, Mickey Rourke, and Samuel L. Jackson

The Marvel Cinematic Universe has really become something to behold.  It's something really special in the world of blockbuster filmmaking.  Marvel is doing solo films for a number of superheroes and then bringing them together as a team in the 2012 flick The Avengers.  The hero who led the pack and introduced this universe to moviegoers was Iron Man.  With that in mind, it's fitting that the weapons genius would be the only hero to get a sequel before they all team up in The Avengers.

After the events of the first Iron Man film, the entire world knows that Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.) is Iron Man.  While Tony thinks life is rosy with the world knowing who he really is, he decides to hold the Stark Expo in Flushing, New York to further the legacy of his father Howard (John Slattery).  However, that kind of public revelation about his alter ego doubles the number of enemies on his list. 

This list includes Senator Stern (Garry Shandling) of the Senate Armed Forces Committee who believes that the Iron Man suit is a weapon of untold power that should not be in the hands of a reckless civilian like Stark.  It also includes the wily Justin Hammer (Sam Rockwell), the head of a defense contractor competing with Stark Industries.  He wants to put Stark out of business.  Then, there's Ivan Vanko (Mickey Rourke) whose father Anton was double-crossed by Howard Stark decades ago.  He's building a weapons suit that rivals the Iron Man suit.  He plans to kill Stark while the whole world is watching.

On top of his long list of enemies, Stark is dying.  The palladium powering his suit and the electromagnet in his chest is also poisoning him.  With all these problems, he doesn't have time to run a company as well.  He decides to appoint his assistant Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) as the CEO of Stark Industries.  Seeing that Stark is a wreck with all these issues, Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) sends Natalie Rushman/Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) as an undercover operative in Stark Industries.  With Pepper now running the company, Rushman soon becomes Tony's new assistant.

Iron Man 2 is another flick that immerses us into the world of Tony Stark and his fantastic gizmos.  Like the first Iron Man, this sequel is sleek and edgy.  It features the same wit and charm from star Robert Downey, Jr. as the billionaire playboy Stark.  While getting re-acclimated with Stark and the gang, we also get introduced to a whole new roster of characters that are intriguing in their own ways, especially the sexy Scarlett Johansson.  As good as this sequel is though, it's not refreshing and innovative like its predecessor.

Like most comic book flicks, Iron Man 2 centers on its villains just as much as it does its star.  That being said, Sam Rockwell and Mickey Rourke are quite enjoyable on camera for very different reasons.  As Justin Hammer, Sam Rockwell brings a charisma on screen that rivals that of Robert Downey, Jr.  Whether dancing on stage at the Stark Expo or enjoying fine cuisine in an airport hangar, he brings an undeniable wit and charm to the movie as the wily defense contractor.  As Ivan Vanko, Mickey Rourke is the badass the film needs.  A savvy weapon maker and a skilled killer, Rourke's Vanko is smart, savage, and smooth in everything he does.  Together, Hammer and Vanko are a deadly combo that spell double trouble for Stark and great entertainment for the audience.

While Iron Man 2 is all about the growth of our star and hero Tony Stark and the hell through which his alter ego is putting him, it's also just a stop on the road to The Avengers.  With prominent roles for several members of S.H.I.E.L.D. including Nick Fury, Black Widow, and Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg), it's abundantly clear that Iron Man 2 is just one part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  You'll even find references to The Incredible Hulk, Thor, and Captain America: The First Avenger throughout the flick.

Iron Man 2 is a fun comic book movie that gives us another peek inside the life of wealthy genius Tony Stark.  While the film has a few highly unrealistic moments and is not quite as enjoyable as the original Iron Man, I can forgive these problems as I definitely had a good time watching this movie.  Have some wine coolers during this one.  Iron Man 2 gets a 0.03% rating.  Stick around after the credits for some more developments as we get ready for The Avengers.