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Iron Man 2: The movie that will bust your bunker with the ex-wife

May 30, 2010

Iron Man 2 was better than okay, but it didn’t hang together as nicely as the first.

Please don’t continue if you haven’t seen the movie.

There were some wonderful scenes and impressive moments.   By halfway through the movie, Robert Downey had recaptured the charming narcassist that made the first movie.  Mickey Rourke was excellent.  The Black Widow entering the Hammer compound was worth the entire cost of admission. 

But, while the first movie was flawlessly done (within the contraints of the genre and the source material), the sequel was not.

Minor Points

These nitpicky points might seem trivial, but point to a lack of care in putting together the sequel that was in place in the first movie.

1.  Even in a world of unbelievable things, I found Hammer unbelievably incompetant.  How did he ever get a military contract?  In the comic, he was far more cunning.

2.  When designing his new element to save himself from poisoning, why didn’t Stark aim the beam where it needed to go, rather than cutting half the room in half to get there?  And why didn’t the super beam cut through the wires on the way to its final destination?  Glaring goose eggs like this are annoying after the tight script of the first movie.

3.  The scene where Iron Man is drunk in his armor.  Overwritten and overdone.

The Big Problems

These are the missed opportunities–things that made Iron Man great seemingly forgotten for the second movie.  It makes you wonder, did the writers and producers know what made the first movie good, or was the first movie a fluke–the millionth monkey accidentally typing Shakespeare?

1.  Character.  Many movies cast heroes who are supposed to be both charming and jerks.  Unfortuantely, for the most part, due to mediocre acting and/or bad writing, they are just jerks.  In Iron Man, Downey and his writers strike a perfect pitch, depicting a man who you can’t help but like, but is really an a-hole.  In Iron Man 2, Stark is just a jerk who thinks he is charming, until he regains his charm when he serves Potts the meal on the plane and from that point on.  This charming a-holishness made the first movie brilliant and deserved better attention for the first half of the second movie.

2.  Plot.  The subplot was embarrassingly amatuerish.  Tony Stark is dying from the very element that saved his life.  That part could have been nice, but I never really cared.  It was overshadowed by the special effects, the fight choreography and Mickey Rourke. 

But that’s not the worst part of it.  The problem is solved in such a ridiculous way I can’t watch the movie again.  Here’s the solution in chronological order. 

  1. Howard Stark has the blueprint to creating a new element. 
  2. Howard Stark dies.
  3. SHIELD has collected all of Howard Stark’s stuff.   They are an intelligence agancy and must have reviewed the materials. 
  4. Tony Stark is dying from the very element that is saving his life.  He can’t figure out what to do.
  5. SHIELD shows up and gives him his dad’s stuff. 
  6. Tony Stark reads the notes, watches the news reels and realizes that the layout for the World’s Fair is a new element that coincidentally will be the only thing that can save his life.
  7. He creates the element and saves his own life.

Ridiculous Problem Number One:  Howard Stark has a blueprint to create a new element that his 1972 technology can’t create.  Why does he hide the schematics for the element in a diorama of a World’s Fair instead of in notes or a blueprint?  He could have sealed them and left them for Tony, which appears to have been his intention all along. 

Ridiculous Problem Number Two:  (Props to Najah Masudi for pointing this out).  SHIELD gives Stark his dad’s stuff, intimating that the answer must be in there and only Tony can figure it out.  SHIELD must have gone through the stuff.  So one of two ridiculous things happened.  

  • Ridiculous Option #1: SHIELD knows there is a hidden blueprint to the element that will save Tony Stark is contained within, which means they are complete wanks for not just telling Stark the secret.  I mean, he could have missed it and died, leaving Nick Fury at Stark’s funeral saying, “Oops.  I guess we should have let him know.”
  • Ridiculous Option #2.  SHIELD has reviewed the material and missed the hidden blueprint of the new element.  That means they think Howard Stark’s stuff is unrelated formulas and embarrassing newsreels.    Then why did they hint that Tony needed this junk to solve his problem?

Ridiculous Problem Number Three:  How did Howard Stark create a new element that just happened to be the very thing that would save his son’s life 30 years later after Tony was forced to save himself by sticking a poisonous element into his body and then just happened to stumble across this discovery  just before he was about to die?  It’s impressive enough Howard created a new element–but solving a problem that doesn’t exist yet is quite a trick!

Iron Man 3 had better have Tony heading back in time on Doctor Doom’s time machine to tell Howard about the element and how to hide it so Tony’s past self can find it in the nick of time.  I’m just saying. 

In the movie, Justin Hammer promises that his ultimate weapon, a missle he installs the War Machine armor, is fantastic and calls the “ex-wife” and it can bust the bunker below the bunker you were hiding in.  Then when War Machine uses it, it is a dud.  The movie doesn’t fail that badly, but it certainly doesn’t live up to its potential.

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