“…disappointing not because of what we got, but because of what could have been.”
“If you could make God bleed, people would cease to believe in him”. These words were spoken by the Iron Man villain Mickey Rourke… uh, I mean Ivan Vanko when he talks about his plan to ruin Iron Man. Iron Man 2, funnily enough, seemed to have the same motive as Vanko but was just as effective. In this review I’m going to be talking about Iron Man 2, but I’m going to assume that everyone reading this will have already seen it so there will be spoilers throughout.
The problem with superheroes is it is easy for people to think they are invincible. Of course, in many cases they are invincible which is why they are superheroes, but that makes for a boring narrative. Many people dislike Superman because they claim he is over powered, which in turn makes him boring. I don’t see it that way. Superman is a guy who was sent to earth when he was a baby, and had to grow up starting 10 steps behind any human child because he is the only one of his kind. That is where his weakness lies, in not being able to fit in. Tony Stark is different. In Iron Man we were introduced to this character who manufactures weapons, but then gets an alarming wake up call when he realizes that this weapons are being used to harm the people of earth more so than protecting them. That is not the only humanizing element we see in Tony Stark however. We see a man who regrets his life, has issues the originate with the relationship (or lack thereof) with his father, and therefore lives fast and loose not getting to attached to any one thing. In Iron Man 2, we are reintroduced to Tony but this time he is dying from palladium poisoning. There is also another side to this, and that is Tony Starks addiction to alcohol. Now I haven’t read any Iron Man comic books, but I have done some research over the years and even without doing that, it is plain to see. Tony Stark suffers from alcoholism, probably stemming from him realizing that his life is not quite what he wants it to be so he would rather be inebriated than face it sober. That is the opportunity that Iron Man 2 missed. I truly believe that is what directer Jon Favreau had in mind, in many interviews stating that Iron Man 2 was meant to be darker, but chances are the studio got in the way. I’m not pointing fingers, I just know that what we got was pretty disappointing. In Iron Man 2, Iron Man is more akin to a Superman (in that he is untouchable) than anything, which makes the movie boring. Tony Stark is a human and every single human on the planet has emotional baggage, but instead of bringing that up the movie glosses over it. “If you could make God bleed, people would cease to believe in him”. It’s funny, because that mindset is most likely shared by the studio (or whoever changed the movie into the lighthearted romp we got). I don’t believe that this quote holds water, at least for someone like Iron Man, who I’m sure many people living in the Marvel Universe see as a god. Making God bleed is to make him vulnerable, and while many people may see this as a fault, others (myself included) see it as a strength. Had the movie made “God bleed” we would have seen the doors open to a more relatable character. A character who suffers from the same shit that everyone else on planet earth suffers from. Instead of really diving into any issue, Iron Man 2 opted to gloss over everything. This guy wants to dethrone Tony Stark? Iron Man beats him in two fights and then is rewarded a medal. The U.S. wants an Iron Man suit? Rhodey takes one and then the U.S. never uses it. Tony gets sad and goes on a bender? Samuel L. Jackson shows up and tells him to cut the shit and then he is all better. Tony is dying from palladium poisoning? That’s fine, he’ll just make an entirely new element to shove in his chest. Every single thing in this movie seems like a non-issue to me. It seemed more like minor inconveniences then things that could ruin lives. And I understand that Iron Man is a superhero, so things should come easy for him. The problem lies where everything is too easy for Iron Man, and therefore nothing is a problem. Without character depth and struggle, Iron Man becomes no more than the average sitcom character. Sure, they are fun to watch once a week for 30 minutes, but after a month you get bored because there are no stakes.
That is the main problem I have with Iron Man 2, but there are also smaller ones that I will address here. The first of which is that the characters are written so poorly, they are almost a shell of what they should be. By that I mean, they are stripped down to absolutely basic tropes and then they run them into the ground. First up, Tony Stark who is absolutely annoying in this film. Honestly, the issues that the character should’ve had were boiled down to “acting like a child” syndrome. Not only that, but I’m pretty sure the dude is some form of bipolar, as made evident with the line “Well that was last week”, when Nick Fury tells him his behaviour is shit. Again, this proves that there are absolutely no ramifications for any of the actions ion this movie. Honestly, Tony Stark should’t be let anywhere near the Avengers after the shit he pulled in Iron Man 2, but guess what? I’ll be watching him right there with the others in about a week. Pepper Potts was absolutely insufferable throughout the movie. It is understandable that she is upset with Tony’s behaviour (I mean, who isn’t), but I wish she was more than a shouting machine in Iron Man 2. Then you have the “villain”, Ivan Vanko whose motivation is about as clear as mud. I guess his father worked with Tony’s father, and then his father died, so now he wants Tony to die? I honestly couldn’t follow what I was watching with his character. At least they got Mickey Rourke for the part, so I was actually scared of the villain for once. Other than that, the score of Iron man 2 seemed like a product placement, or a ploy to sell soundtracks. Almost every single song being by AC/DC or a mashup of Queen/Daft Punk/whateverthefuck. Honestly, the choreography for the fights was pretty good, especially the back to back fight with War Machine and Iron Man, and the Black Widow sequence. The final fight between Iron Man, War Machine, and Whiplash was kind of a cluster fuck, and was mainly just super close-ups of the actors faces. One thing the movie has going for it is it was pretty fun. Even though the story is ultimately disappointing, and the characters are kind of shit, I wasn’t really bored watching Iron Man 2. It still has pretty good effects, and the action is well done.
Overall, Iron Man 2 is disappointing not because of what we got, but because of what could have been. The movie is still fun, but there is a distinct lack of substance.
I give Iron Man 2 a B