IRON MAN was a damn good first foray into the character of Tony Stark & IRON MAN – but I think just about everybody was a tad disappointed in the Iron Monger. That last act just wasn’t quite as super-awesome as the first two-thirds. In IRON MAN 2 – it kicks it up several notches across the board.
For the first time, we really get a glimpse at the self-destructive Tony Stark – not the Demon in the Bottle storyline we all cherish, but something equally strong. Tony is addicted to being IRON MAN – the rush and thrill of being in that armor and knowing there’s nothing on the planet that can even come close. He’s cocky, but he has a secret that is killing him, literally. The palladium he uses to help power that awesome bit of tech in his chest is slowly, but surely poisoning his system and will result in his death. In addition – the various mods he’s done to the IRON MAN armor is eating through the palladium batteries in an
increasingly quickening pace.
He’s been working on trying to come up with another power source, but he’s continually thwarted.
Meanwhile – all at the same time we’re introduced to Mickey Rourke’s Ivan Vanko aka Whiplash. He’s the son of a brilliant physicist that worked with Tony’s father in designing the large version of what’s in Tony’s chest. Ivan’s father has raised Mickey with a hatred for the Stark family, which he blames for the ruin of his life – he’s become a ruined drunken shell of the man he should have been. The genius that worked in the shadow of the figurehead – at least, that’s how Ivan sees it.
Once he sees Iron Man in action – he begins to work on his own miniaturization and being brilliant – he gets it up and running and creates the Whiplash outfit to take out Tony.
All at the same time – we’re also introduced to Sam Rockwell’s Justin Hammer – who is kinda like a Michael Dell to Tony Stark’s Steve Jobs. He struggles to project an image that is to Tony, second nature. Justin rather desperately wants to be Tony Stark – he wants Tony’s genius, his women, his fame and adulation. But he’s just not quite that good. He can’t quite crack the magic 8% of Tony’s brain that gives him a decade’s edge on everyone else.
The scenes with Tony and Justin are classic. The dialogue is so sharp, so incredibly well delivered between Rockwell and Downey – that I really do think that it can’t get better. And yet it does.
Garry Shandling’s Senator Stern is just an incredible ass. And he plays it effortlessly. His last scene of the film is particularly awesome. He’s somebody that looks at the IRON MAN tech and gets wet just thinking about an army of IRON MEN serving the interests of the United States. Frankly, the thought kinda scares the shit out of me… while also thinking that’d be cool.
But the thing that is just fucking outstanding about the film is that every single character has motivations and I understand where they’re coming from.
It is impossible to watch Downey’s Tony Stark and not be quite a bit concerned about the direction he could take. Here’s a man that has “privatized world peace” – snuffing out the problems of the world unilaterally. We hear that he kicked ass in Darfur, put down terrorist cells, basically – if there’s been a place where trouble has sprung up – he’s taken care of it – and without taxpayers fitting a single bill. Without a single American life being taken. BUT – he’s also a crazy womanizing philanderer – who will recklessly put himself in a Formula One Racing Car in Monaco – without any prior notice…