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The UnPopular Opinion: Iron Man 2

Jun. 20, 2012by: Alejandro Stepenberg

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THE UNPOPULAR OPINION is an ongoing column featuring different takes on films that either the writer HATED, but that the majority of film fans LOVED, or that the writer LOVED, but that most others LOATHED. We're hoping this column will promote constructive and geek fueled discussion. Enjoy!

**** SOME SPOILERS ENSUE****

I remember getting home from the midnight screening of IRON MAN 2 and immediately updating my Facebook status to something approximately along these lines: “Listen up, true believers! Marvel has done it again! IRON MAN 2 is fantastic and fun filled and definitely worth the watch. Go see it, sooner rather than sooner.” And I can guarantee that those first two lines are both word-for-word correct and exactly how I still felt upon re-watching this movie.

IRON MAN 2 is just a very fun flick, definitely more so than either THOR or CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER (my review here). I’d even go so far as to rank it above IRON MAN or THE INCREDIBLE HULK. The action in IRON MAN 2 is escalated to an exciting and suitably larger-in-scale place, Tony’s journey is one even more gripping and essential to his character than that which we saw in IRON MAN, and the movie’s tone as a whole works equally well both as a comic book movie and a movie in and of itself. Everything in IRON MAN 2 is just bigger, better, and more bombastic in the very best of ways, something for which I could not be more thankful.

Iron Man 2 unpop pic 1

"You come from a family of thieves and butchers.  And like all guilty men, you try to rewrite your history, to forget all the lives the Stark family has destroyed."

First off, IRON MAN 2 is impressive on a technical level. The art design is great, helping the colors to be constantly vibrant and alive. The framing, lighting, and camera use are great as well, with nary a wasted shot or frame of careless scene construction. Director Jon Favreau put his budget to good use, sparing no expense to help engage us with a world where a hi-tech superhero is not only a possibility but a reality. And there are small touches to be found in almost every scene that showcase the fantastic technical quality of this movie, with my favorite example (of many) being the how the camera is slightly shaky as Vanko escapes from his prison cell and kills a guard. This directorial choice allows us to key into the deeply destabilizing force that Vanko is, and shows Favreau’s increased command of his craft.

Iron Man 2 unpop pic 4

"I am Iron Man. The suit and I are one. To turn over the Iron Man suit would be to turn over myself, which is tantamount to indentured servitude or prostitution, depending on what state you're in."

Insofar as the story goes – I’ve heard complaints that Tony Stark just acts like an asshole to everyone until a sudden third act reversal, as well as complaints that the story beats found in IRON MAN 2 are simply a retread of the first movie’s events with a fancy big-budget varnish. Which, to those people making such complaints, implies that IRON MAN 2 therefore brings nothing new to Tony’s story. If you can’t already guess what I’m going to say, I disagree with all of these complaints.

Of course Tony is going to act like an even bigger asshole this time ‘round – he’s dying. Tony is in a situation that he can’t control and confronted with a problem that his genius intellect cannot solve, and so he lashes out. He is unsure, afraid, and unable to muster the courage to admit that he doesn’t know what to do. And that’s the brilliance of continuing Tony’s story this way - part two doesn’t find him a reformed man. His character was so distinct the first time ‘round that it would be crazy to expect a full conversion, and so instead we are shown the story of a man grappling with the tectonic plates shifting within his soul.

Iron Man 2 unpop pic 3

"There will be blood in the water, the sharks will come. All I have to do is sit back and watch as the world consumes you."

Now we come to the villains of IRON MAN 2, and I wish to use this as a link with which to hearken back to my 300 review from last week. What I tried to articulate there, and what IRON MAN 2 does so well, is that a good villain can be destructive and threatening while still being real. Someone (or something) can be a fascinating foe because of the text they speak and the strength of the actor and the way they play aagainst the hero, rather than because of fangs or a hunchback or a big metaphorical sign saying “this guy’s gross and evil.”  We see Vanko threaten Tony purely with his knowledge and his skill, with his actions and his white-hot hate.

Not to mention how he receives one of the coolest reveals in my recent movie memory. The camera work, the design, and the score are all spectacular. Really, the only way that scene could have oozed more cool would be for Steve McQueen to have played Vanko, and that’s saying something considering how Mickey Rourke’s acting ain’t exactly shabby. And yes, maybe Sam Rockwell’s Justin Hammer is a bit wasted in the general scheme of things, but Rockwell plays him with enough slimy desperation that I found him a nice counterbalance to Rourke’s roughness and violence.

Iron Man 2 unpop pic 5

"This lone gunslinger act is unnecessary.  You don't have to do this alone!"

Another part of the awesomeness of IRON MAN 2 is that it ably demonstrates the dictum that “a superhero must create their own villain." We get to see what it’s like for someone who thought they had power and control and everything of that nature to be suddenly confronted and brought down by the very qualities they thought to be gifts. As Vanko says early on: “If you can make god bleed, then people will cease to believe in him.” There’s no huge arch villain plan here, just one pissed off man with sorrow in his heart and rage in his veins. Could the final face-off have been more inventively staged so as to be more than just another suit-against-suit fight? Perhaps yes, though I personally find it plenty satisfying as it is considering Vanko's additions to his suit.

To put it plainly, IRON MAN 2 actually has much more interesting characters in a much more fascinating story altogether than the other solo Marvel movies. We get to witness Tony discover what it means to be a superhero, we explore with him as he confronts that which he most fears and least understands, and ride right alongside as he at last becomes the man he has it in him to be. And then, when Iron Man says “I need a sidekick” to Rhodes, it’s not just a cute callback to an earlier scene. This a moment where Tony Stark finally begins to become aware of what is really important, what is really worth fighting for, and the way in which he has to express his feelings. So when Stark then finally kisses Pepper, it isn’t just out of the blue but rather his way of exploring this new awareness. IRON MAN was about Iron Man, but IRON MAN 2 is about Tony Stark. And that’s exactly what this series needed.

Iron Man 2 unpop pic 2

Oh, and if you have any suggestions for The UnPopular Opinion I’m always happy to hear them. You can send along an email to ajstepenberg@joblo.com, spell it out below, slap it up on my wall in Movie Fan Central, or send me a private message via Movie Fan Central. Provide me with as many movie suggestions as you like, with any reasoning you'd care to share, and if I agree then you may one day see it featured in this very column!

Extra Tidbit: My Marvel Movie List: THE AVENGERS IRON MAN 2 THE INCREDIBLE HULK IRON MAN THOR CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER
Source: JoBlo.com

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12:52PM on 06/21/2012
Watched IM 1 and 2 back to back again recently after Avengers. Gotta say, the first is the superior film to me. It feels like they shoved so much in this movie, from Tony getting grilled by Congress to Vanko and War Machine.
I thought the way Justin Hammer is dispatched by Pepper at the end was forced and didn't really work.
Best scene: the fight at the racetrack. That's gotta be one of the top 10 scenes yet in comic films.
Watched IM 1 and 2 back to back again recently after Avengers. Gotta say, the first is the superior film to me. It feels like they shoved so much in this movie, from Tony getting grilled by Congress to Vanko and War Machine.
I thought the way Justin Hammer is dispatched by Pepper at the end was forced and didn't really work.
Best scene: the fight at the racetrack. That's gotta be one of the top 10 scenes yet in comic films.
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-2
9:09AM on 06/21/2012
Like any regular Joe I love me superhero movies and as such I don't tend to "judge" them too harshly. I this sense I truly believe IM2 delivers as is fun, visually stunning and the casting is something I only wish we could see gather for some other projects.

Yet we have to agree that the main problem are the bad guys which are highly underused. Rourke's character should have been far more threatening (for someone out for blood) and Rockwell's should have been more manipulating (or even
Like any regular Joe I love me superhero movies and as such I don't tend to "judge" them too harshly. I this sense I truly believe IM2 delivers as is fun, visually stunning and the casting is something I only wish we could see gather for some other projects.

Yet we have to agree that the main problem are the bad guys which are highly underused. Rourke's character should have been far more threatening (for someone out for blood) and Rockwell's should have been more manipulating (or even "smart") for someone out for Stark's position.

Plus the whole "talk, talk, talk" didn't help.

Fun? Sure. Visually impressive? Sure. Casting? Perfect. Thrilling? Inspiring? Moving? Meh.

To hate it is too much, but to make it a "cult classic", also.
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6:17PM on 06/20/2012
Despite a few flaws, I find this film more re-watchable than most the other Marvel films because its got a better balance of action and comedy. My favorite Marvel films in order:
1. Iron Man
2. Avengers
3. Iron Man 2
4. Incredible Hulk
5. Captain America
6. Thor
Despite a few flaws, I find this film more re-watchable than most the other Marvel films because its got a better balance of action and comedy. My favorite Marvel films in order:
1. Iron Man
2. Avengers
3. Iron Man 2
4. Incredible Hulk
5. Captain America
6. Thor
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5:11PM on 06/20/2012

Agreed

The hate for this one still baffles me. It's just as funny, just as well crafted, just as well acted (with an even bigger cast) and the action is staged executed way more smoothly and slick compared to the first one. I do agree the final fight with Vanko is disappointing but other then that Iron Man 2 is an almost perfect sequel.
The hate for this one still baffles me. It's just as funny, just as well crafted, just as well acted (with an even bigger cast) and the action is staged executed way more smoothly and slick compared to the first one. I do agree the final fight with Vanko is disappointing but other then that Iron Man 2 is an almost perfect sequel.
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4:37PM on 06/20/2012

Well...

You see the problem is that the first Iron Man is a masterpiece of the comic genre, so to live up to that standard the second was destined to fail with the fanboys. I think it's a fun film, no doubt (too much Avengers setting up though), but the first is awesome. I like that they mildly explored Tony's alcoholism.
You see the problem is that the first Iron Man is a masterpiece of the comic genre, so to live up to that standard the second was destined to fail with the fanboys. I think it's a fun film, no doubt (too much Avengers setting up though), but the first is awesome. I like that they mildly explored Tony's alcoholism.
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4:36PM on 06/20/2012

Well...

You see the problem is that the first Iron Man is a masterpiece of the comic genre, so to live up to that standard the second was destined to fail with the fanboys. I think it's a fun film, no doubt (too much Avengers setting up though), but the first is awesome. I like that they mildly explored Tony's alcoholism.
You see the problem is that the first Iron Man is a masterpiece of the comic genre, so to live up to that standard the second was destined to fail with the fanboys. I think it's a fun film, no doubt (too much Avengers setting up though), but the first is awesome. I like that they mildly explored Tony's alcoholism.
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2:33PM on 06/20/2012
Iron Man 2 was good I'm surprised for all the hate this movie gets. Only prob I had with the film was the fight at the end with Iron Man, War Machine and Wipelash was way too short.
Iron Man 2 was good I'm surprised for all the hate this movie gets. Only prob I had with the film was the fight at the end with Iron Man, War Machine and Wipelash was way too short.
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2:33PM on 06/20/2012
Iron Man 2 was good I'm surprised for all the hate this movie gets. Only prob I had with the film was the fight at the end with Iron Man, War Machine and Wipelash was way too short.
Iron Man 2 was good I'm surprised for all the hate this movie gets. Only prob I had with the film was the fight at the end with Iron Man, War Machine and Wipelash was way too short.
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12:21PM on 06/20/2012

This is nice to see.

Instead of more nerdy whining on the internet, it's nice to see praise for a movie that might have been universally panned. I'd love to see one of these for Superman Returns or Spiderman 3.
Instead of more nerdy whining on the internet, it's nice to see praise for a movie that might have been universally panned. I'd love to see one of these for Superman Returns or Spiderman 3.
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12:10PM on 06/20/2012
I watched it the other day and really enjoyed it. I had to watch each of Rockwell's scenes twice, he's so brilliantly subtle and hilarious. Favorite scene- His entrance dance at Stark Expo
I watched it the other day and really enjoyed it. I had to watch each of Rockwell's scenes twice, he's so brilliantly subtle and hilarious. Favorite scene- His entrance dance at Stark Expo
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12:05PM on 06/20/2012
I enjoyed Iron Man 2. I had fun in the film, the subplot with Tony dying and getting sick made the hero vulnerable. The villain was under-written. But the film gave us Black Widow and War Hammer which added to the fun. I like it when a film doesn't take itself TOO seriously but has enough faith in the cast to let the characters BE the story.
I enjoyed Iron Man 2. I had fun in the film, the subplot with Tony dying and getting sick made the hero vulnerable. The villain was under-written. But the film gave us Black Widow and War Hammer which added to the fun. I like it when a film doesn't take itself TOO seriously but has enough faith in the cast to let the characters BE the story.
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-13
11:47AM on 06/20/2012
All your counter arguments for why this movie sucks....well, they suck. This movie belongs on the bottom of the Marvel bin. It brought nothing new to the table. The action, comedy, villain, storyline. All done to perfection in the first movie. I even like Terrance Howard much more than I did Cheadal. Scar-Jo was a bit disappointing in IM2. Rockwell was just typical cliche douchebag.
All your counter arguments for why this movie sucks....well, they suck. This movie belongs on the bottom of the Marvel bin. It brought nothing new to the table. The action, comedy, villain, storyline. All done to perfection in the first movie. I even like Terrance Howard much more than I did Cheadal. Scar-Jo was a bit disappointing in IM2. Rockwell was just typical cliche douchebag.
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11:35AM on 06/20/2012
It wasn't that Iron Man 2 was bad, It just ended infinitely anti-climatic, in my opinion.
It wasn't that Iron Man 2 was bad, It just ended infinitely anti-climatic, in my opinion.
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10:46AM on 06/20/2012

For the record

I was quite pleased with how they played Black Widow in this movie. She's there, but she's still a mystery. Scarjo plays her with a real spy's reserve, never revealing her hand. It sets up perfectly IMO the bigger, more vulnerable portrayal of the character in The Avengers. Of how she has to make that transition from shadowy spy to superhero.

And oh yeah, you get to see her kick major ass in a tight black suit.
I was quite pleased with how they played Black Widow in this movie. She's there, but she's still a mystery. Scarjo plays her with a real spy's reserve, never revealing her hand. It sets up perfectly IMO the bigger, more vulnerable portrayal of the character in The Avengers. Of how she has to make that transition from shadowy spy to superhero.

And oh yeah, you get to see her kick major ass in a tight black suit.
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12:55PM on 06/20/2012
Scarjo was much better in the Avengers than she was in Iron Man 2. However, I never thought about how the she played the character. You stated that she played her with 'a real spy reserve, never revealing her hand" and to be honest, I never really thought about how that added to the bigger picture of the character. I think I agree with you!!

Not sure why you got thumbs down for your opinion though...
Scarjo was much better in the Avengers than she was in Iron Man 2. However, I never thought about how the she played the character. You stated that she played her with 'a real spy reserve, never revealing her hand" and to be honest, I never really thought about how that added to the bigger picture of the character. I think I agree with you!!

Not sure why you got thumbs down for your opinion though...
+0
9:15AM on 06/20/2012

was...but now...

When I saw this in the theater, I was VERY disappointed in it. I thought it was boring and horrible!! It seemed to be such a huge let down from the first one. However, when I was gearing up to see the Avengers I watched all of "Marvel" movies again, and I've got to say, I liked it A LOT more.

Marvel movies in order of how I enjoyed them:

1. Avengers
2. Iron Man
3. Incredible Hulk
4. Thor (even though this is number 4 on my list, I still LOVE this movie)!!
5. Iron Man 2
6. Captain
When I saw this in the theater, I was VERY disappointed in it. I thought it was boring and horrible!! It seemed to be such a huge let down from the first one. However, when I was gearing up to see the Avengers I watched all of "Marvel" movies again, and I've got to say, I liked it A LOT more.

Marvel movies in order of how I enjoyed them:

1. Avengers
2. Iron Man
3. Incredible Hulk
4. Thor (even though this is number 4 on my list, I still LOVE this movie)!!
5. Iron Man 2
6. Captain America (I hated this movie in the theater but rewatched it to get ready for the Avengers. I enjoyed it A LOT more the second time around but it's still at the bottom of the list as far as Marvel movies go...

Let's face it, Marvel, overall, is a great studio and knows how to make a good movie!!
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9:36AM on 06/20/2012
Agreed. They know what they're doing.
Agreed. They know what they're doing.
8:21PM on 06/20/2012
same exact order! only other person i know with captain america at the bottom.
same exact order! only other person i know with captain america at the bottom.
-14
8:58AM on 06/20/2012
Iron Man 2 is a piece of shit!
Iron Man 2 is a piece of shit!
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8:41AM on 06/20/2012
This one was actually much better on second viewing, after you got past all the plot holes and unnecessary plot turns. RDJ is fantastic as usual, and Cheadle is way better than Howard. And visuals are awesome. Not the best Marvel movie, but not the worst either.
This one was actually much better on second viewing, after you got past all the plot holes and unnecessary plot turns. RDJ is fantastic as usual, and Cheadle is way better than Howard. And visuals are awesome. Not the best Marvel movie, but not the worst either.
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+7
7:00AM on 06/20/2012

This movie does grow on you but

Drunk, self pitying Stark in the suit still rubs me the wrong way. I would have much rather them taken him the other way (please refer to Martin Riggs for action movie hero depression). Badass Mickey Rourke always works but as a mumbly intelligent scientist not so much. They really should have used Hammer to off set this.
Drunk, self pitying Stark in the suit still rubs me the wrong way. I would have much rather them taken him the other way (please refer to Martin Riggs for action movie hero depression). Badass Mickey Rourke always works but as a mumbly intelligent scientist not so much. They really should have used Hammer to off set this.
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6:14AM on 06/20/2012
I think one of the biggest criticisms against this film that isn't mentioned in the piece is the shoe-horning in of Scarlett Johansson in order to set up The Avengers.
I think one of the biggest criticisms against this film that isn't mentioned in the piece is the shoe-horning in of Scarlett Johansson in order to set up The Avengers.
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5:50AM on 06/20/2012

Fun flick

Not as tight and effective as the first movie but definitely not as lame as everyone else plays it be. Had a good time with it from beginning to end.
Not as tight and effective as the first movie but definitely not as lame as everyone else plays it be. Had a good time with it from beginning to end.
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5:25AM on 06/20/2012

Loved it!

I really liked it when I first saw it at the cinema, but I loved it when I watched it again recently, in preparation for the Avengers. I really loved the comedy and humor and how they treated Tony Stark. That being said, I did notice some pretty huge plot holes the second time around, like the fact that apparently no one bothered to check whether the weapons of Hammer's drones were loaded with live ammo before presenting them in an expo filled with civillians, or the fact that Vanko,
I really liked it when I first saw it at the cinema, but I loved it when I watched it again recently, in preparation for the Avengers. I really loved the comedy and humor and how they treated Tony Stark. That being said, I did notice some pretty huge plot holes the second time around, like the fact that apparently no one bothered to check whether the weapons of Hammer's drones were loaded with live ammo before presenting them in an expo filled with civillians, or the fact that Vanko, undoubtetly a psychopath, is left to work with various high tech and extremely lethal and destructive weapons and guns, completely unmonitored. Then I remembered that I was watching a movie about a billionaire in a murder suit...
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2:40AM on 06/20/2012

Loved the first one

but this one really sucked. Definitely bored me to sleep.
but this one really sucked. Definitely bored me to sleep.
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2:28AM on 06/20/2012
Pretty decent movie, nothing more nothing less IMO. Way below Iron Man 1, definitely below Thor, probably above Captain America. Anything with Downey as Stark is going to be entertaining, but the plot was really quite boring and after a few times seeing it I still think the "climax" is one of the worst in any movie I can remember. It works great as a comedy (I mean come on Downey and Rockwell? Awesome) but in terms of a satisfying superhero movie, it's very mediocre.
Pretty decent movie, nothing more nothing less IMO. Way below Iron Man 1, definitely below Thor, probably above Captain America. Anything with Downey as Stark is going to be entertaining, but the plot was really quite boring and after a few times seeing it I still think the "climax" is one of the worst in any movie I can remember. It works great as a comedy (I mean come on Downey and Rockwell? Awesome) but in terms of a satisfying superhero movie, it's very mediocre.
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2:16AM on 06/20/2012

re:truheart

Its pretty well established in the scene between Fury & Stark at the coffee shop that Stark basically let Rhodey take the suit. Stark, believing he is about to die from poisoning, is sorting out his possessions as many elderly, terminally ill, or suicidal people do. He gives his company to Pepper and saw Rhodey as the only man he trusted to carry on the Iron Man mantle. Not anyone could just take Tony's suits and fly off with them...they had security and redundancies to make sure that didn't
Its pretty well established in the scene between Fury & Stark at the coffee shop that Stark basically let Rhodey take the suit. Stark, believing he is about to die from poisoning, is sorting out his possessions as many elderly, terminally ill, or suicidal people do. He gives his company to Pepper and saw Rhodey as the only man he trusted to carry on the Iron Man mantle. Not anyone could just take Tony's suits and fly off with them...they had security and redundancies to make sure that didn't happen. But Tony made sure Rhodey could.

In the coffee shop scene, Fury directly mocks the idea that Rhodey "just took it" and thats followed by Black Widow pointing out that Tony's suits were secure from "unauthorized use"...translation: Rhodey was an authorized user of the suits.
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1:58AM on 06/20/2012

How is this a good movie

It's boring and there are basically 3 actions scenes. Not to mention how exactly is Rhodey able to power up that suit again? He doesn't have an arc reactor on his chest and Stark said that the suits were made so that only he would be able to use them. If he put an arc reactor in the suites, what was the purpose? He no longer wants to sell wmd's so why would the suites be made in a way that someone else could power them up? Iron Man 1 is good, Avengers is Great, Iron Man 2 is a snooze fest and
It's boring and there are basically 3 actions scenes. Not to mention how exactly is Rhodey able to power up that suit again? He doesn't have an arc reactor on his chest and Stark said that the suits were made so that only he would be able to use them. If he put an arc reactor in the suites, what was the purpose? He no longer wants to sell wmd's so why would the suites be made in a way that someone else could power them up? Iron Man 1 is good, Avengers is Great, Iron Man 2 is a snooze fest and nothing more.
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12:58AM on 06/20/2012

Is this unpopular?

I am not too sure how unpopular this actually is, but I greatly enjoy this movie, and love how all the other movies tie-in (ie- Howard Stark wasn't there for his son because of his quest to find Captain America); they add great new layers to this movie, and Rourke is amazing!
I am not too sure how unpopular this actually is, but I greatly enjoy this movie, and love how all the other movies tie-in (ie- Howard Stark wasn't there for his son because of his quest to find Captain America); they add great new layers to this movie, and Rourke is amazing!
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12:48AM on 06/20/2012
I hate to break it to you but factor out the rivalry hatred and the fanboy expectations and the consensus opinion is that Iron Man 2 is a VERY good film. General audiences loved it for a reason. It is indeed an intelligent and fun continuation of the original.
I hate to break it to you but factor out the rivalry hatred and the fanboy expectations and the consensus opinion is that Iron Man 2 is a VERY good film. General audiences loved it for a reason. It is indeed an intelligent and fun continuation of the original.
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12:23AM on 06/20/2012
I've watched it a few times now, always going in with a skeptical view...and while its not as cohesive or resonant as the first movie, its just a flat-out great movie to watch. All these great actors chewing the scenery, playing off one another. Stepped up the action from the first flick.

Its like Smokey and the Bandit. You know there's not really any threat at play, but you get some action, some humor, a cocky, suave hero with famous facial hair and a gnarly machine, and a bunch of great
I've watched it a few times now, always going in with a skeptical view...and while its not as cohesive or resonant as the first movie, its just a flat-out great movie to watch. All these great actors chewing the scenery, playing off one another. Stepped up the action from the first flick.

Its like Smokey and the Bandit. You know there's not really any threat at play, but you get some action, some humor, a cocky, suave hero with famous facial hair and a gnarly machine, and a bunch of great actors feeding off each other's chemistry with witty overlapping Altman-esque dialog. Hero gets in a jam, needs his friend with the bigger, badder, blacker machine to save his ass in the end. Cue the music and the credits. Go home happy.
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