June 10, 2019

The MCU Project: Iron Man 2 [2010]

It’s my turn to write the review again, and this time it’s Iron Man 2.

The film opens with Tony Stark as Iron Man as national celebrity and hero, harkening back (well, forwards I suppose) to the scene in Captain America where the eponymous superhero is spending more time gallivanting and flashing his charms than fighting bad dudes. A large number of attractive young ladies dance around in tight shiny outfits for a while to make sure that the one-handed popcorn eaters in the audience are satisfied, and Tony Stark pontificates about how now they have Iron Man, no-one in the world will possibly attack America. I lower my pen to my notepad and jot down “Pride before a fall perhaps?”

Iron Man 2: Ironic Boogaloo

The film then introduces a frankly jaw-droppingly star-studded cast over the course of the next few minutes, before taking us into a frankly somewhat bold extended courtroom scene. This would have the ability to send any 12 year olds in the audience to sleep, were it not for the fact that the cheeky maverick Tony Stark is immune to being held in contempt and so can make glib wisecracks to his heart’s content. One of the perks of being rich I suppose.

Twenty minutes in and I’m experiencing flashbacks to the experience of watching Captain America, as I think “hang on, I think I’ve seen this before. Yes, I’ve definitely seen this before.” Vanko, our big bad guy for this evening, is introduced. He’s a Russian who drinks lots of vodka. We don’t really spend a lot of time in this film exploring his motives. It’s briefly touched upon, but skimmed over as quickly as possible, for fear that spending too much time on it would reduce the amount of time available for explosions and appreciation of the female form.

Iron Man 2: The Ironing

It won’t surprise you to learn that this film, like all the others so far, is pretty embarrassing in its sexism. At one point Karen asked “vis a vis the Bechdel test, have either of those two” (referring to the only two female characters of significance) “had a conversation that doesn’t revolve around Tony Stark?” to which I replied “no, but then I don’t think anyone else has either.” Pepper Potts gets promoted to CEO of Stark Industries on merit, which is cool, but then she struggles under the workload, perhaps because she’s a woman. Scarlett Johannson shows up and kicks some serious ass, which is cool, but she does it in a very and-now-I’m-sticking-my-bum-out way, perhaps because she’s a woman. Elongated Muskrat shows up as himself in a very awkward and robotically-delivered cameo, perhaps because he’s so filthy fucking rich that he can have whatever he wants.

2 Iron 2 Ferrous

Our first big fight occurs at the Monaco Historic Grand Prix. Safety is clearly not a priority at this event. Tony Stark decides at the last minute to drive, replacing the previously scheduled driver on his team. The race officials all think this is fine. The other drivers, instead of saying “there’s no fucking way I’m driving with that lunatic on the circuit in a 200mph death machine”, say “yes, this is fine.” A random guy in an orange jumpsuit (that’s Vanko, but they don’t know that yet) walks onto the track. At this point I expect the marshalls are all reaching for their red flags, but the head marshall says “no, don’t even think about stopping the race, I want to see how this pans out.” Random guy whips out some sort of electric whip weapon the likes of which has never been seen. Head marshall again has no problem with this. Random guy starts CUTTING CARS IN FUCKING HALF. Head marshall says “eh, I’m sure he’ll be gone in a minute. Let the race continue.” Meanwhile the pit crews are on the radio to their drivers saying “There are people probably dying between Piscine and Rascasse but it’ll be clear by the time you get there, I think.”

Iron Man 2: This Time It’s Ore-sonal

Vanko gets imprisoned but broken out by Justin Hammer, played by Sam Rockwell, who is one of those actors who I have a huge amount of respect for by dint of his ability to convincingly play pretty much any role you can think of. Right from the start you can tell where this dynamic is going – Hammer thinks that he’s holding the cards, but oh look here’s our old friend pride-before-a-fall. Curse your sudden but inevitable betrayal, Vanko! Vanko’s one of those uberhacker types who can break into any system by typing really fast for ten seconds. With these skills, he decides to make a robot army to destroy Iron Man, which strikes me as somewhat implausible, as you would be better off applying those skills to steal Tony Stark’s bank details instead, which would destroy him in a much cleaner, less risky fashion.

Another subplot that has been running throughout is Tony’s imminent death from palladium poisoning thanks to the glowy dongle in his chest. With a little help from Nick Fury, Tony discovers that his dad had actually solved this problem decades ago, but had been unable to implement it due to limitations in the technology of his time. Apparently unlimited money and resources back then are no match for one guy’s hand-made basement particle accelerator today. I know that no-one expects scientific accuracy from these sorts of films, but does it have to be so blatantly bollocks?

Iron Man 2: Back In The Habit

After a few more scenes of driving around in an Audi R8 (hey, remember back when those were exotic?) we get the final fight scene. Tony and Rhodes (who was working for Hammer for a while, until he realised “hang on, are we the baddies?”) fight off Vanko’s robot army with consummate ease, so you are in no doubt that the main event is yet to come. Vanko shows up1, good guys win (but only just, of course), Tony saves Pepper Potts one more time for good measure, film ends.

Themes of this film? Revenge, hubris, ladies’ bums. Next film will be Thor. Karen and I have definitely seen this one before.

  1. at this point, Karen and Bernard had a little punning tour de force, which I include here at their insistence. “He’s Ivan Man! Ivan Man, do you get it? Because his name is Ivan but Ivan sounds a bit like Iron!” and “Time to shoot the high pressure vodka gun!” and something about “Spud gun! Potatos! Because Russia!” and “You need two spud guns, one on each side, to make sure the potatoes are (adopts dubious Russian accent) evenly distributed among the people!” []
Pete

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