“I have successfully privatized world peace.”
Director: John Favreau
Writers: Justin Theroux (Screenplay), Stan Lee (Comic book)
Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Mickey Rourke, Sam Rockwell, Don Cheadle, Scarlett Johanssen
As a general rule I set the bar fairly low with superhero movies so maybe it’s no surprise that when Iron Man (the first one) turned out to be an all-around decent film I started to get my hopes up for the franchise. Always setting myself up for disappointment this guy. Because Iron Man 2: Snore Expo 2010. I’ll elaborate momentarily.
So Tony Stark has a shiny metal suit and he’s a douche but also sort of lovable (WE KNOW THIS ALREADY). The government wants Tony to hand over the suit to the military in the interest of national security but he is so awesome and they are SO lame so that doesn’t happen (booo rational thinking, right?). There’s also this dweeby billionaire (Rockwell) who envies Tony. Oh, and there’s this Russian guy with electro-whips who has a blood vendetta against Tony. Oh and Tony’s old suit technology is eventually going to kill him. And he’s fighting with his best gal Pepper and friend Rhodey. And his dad didn’t love him. Oh! And there’s Samuel L. Jackson. Jeez, they sure put a lot on the damn table didn’t they?
What generally makes this movie a long, boring mess is the fact that they introduce all these complicated problems, let them stew and co-mingle for a little while (WAY too long in fact) and then wrap them up implausibly quickly and without fuss. The major problem is the script. And I love my boy Justin Theroux, he’s a wonderful actor.
There’s my handsome fella! But handsome or no, the script he wrote is lacking a major component. Now I’m no writer (I am a writer) but if I was (I still am) I would tell Justin a good script needs STAKES. “Yum.” No, Justin Theroux! By stakes I mean something the main character stands to gain or lose through the central conflict. Sure, Tony stands to lose his friends, his reputation, even his life but he doesn’t particularly care and neither do we. The problem with having a playboy jagoff as a main character is that pretty soon they will have to wake up to the problems facing them and CHANGE in order to deal with their crises. This is something the first film achieved very well. You would assume what worked once might work again, but instead the film backslides to the former Tony but keeps him as self-obsessed and narcissistic at the end of the film as he was at the beginning.
His only growth moment (and it barely is one) is where he spends an afternoon sifting through his deceased father’s dioramas which contained the information to CREATE A NEW ELEMENT. You know how dads are. Always thinking ahead and disguising revolutionary physics equations inside tiny models of things. Dads.
What’s worse is that none of the villains seem to offer the slightest challenge to Stark Man. Joss Whedon said that a good villain has perspective, that they are at least partially right. No villain here is given that respect and Tony remains generally unaffected by their threat anyway. Don’t get me wrong, Rourke and Rockwell were both very good in their roles, it’s just that their roles were kind of a waste of time. And on the topic of bad guys did anyone else notice the conflicts were mostly between American military manufacturers? “I can make America safe!” “No, I can!” “Give us that so we can protect America!”
FROM WHAT EXACTLY?
There is nothing in this movie to suggest that America or any of these cold-war caricatures were under any threat from any foreign power. Who are they so desperate to fight off???
This movie needed more Mothra. That’s really all I’m saying. It’s way too long and the action scenes are anticlimactic but at least the performances are good and there’s some fun to be had in the humour, but that’s about it. Summer movies are off to a bad start. Also! Be sure to stay after the credits because you might just catch a sneak peek-OH IT’S THOR’S GODDAMN HAMMER WHO GIVES A SHIT?
Great Moment: John Slattery from my beloved Mad Men guest appears as Tony’s pop.