Iron Man 2 is about as good as the first. Maybe better in some ways- the villain isn’t as cheesy and there are two of them, it has more and funnier jokes, we get War Machine, and it explores the political ramifications of an actual Iron Man suit existing. It also has many of the same faults- namely cookie cutter character development and surprisingly limited and impotent action scenes.
So while I completely hated the first movie why is it that I think the sequel is up to the standard of ‘ok’? Well, it all has to do with where both movies start to fall apart. The original had a solid and exciting opening but then abused the timeline and common logic so much that anything after the first 30 minutes ended up being complete garbage. The sequel has many story problems as well but at least it waits until the climax to start self destructing. Historically it is usually the ending of movies, when things need to be wrapped up, that bad writing rears its ugly head and takes a fat dump on the audience.
So on to some spoilers (and some nitpicking). In the sequel, the villain Whiplash is contracted to build competing Iron Man suits by Hammer, Tony Stark’s business rival. Instead of building suits he builds unmanned drones which gets Hammer understandably upset. Predictably, Whiplash takes control of the drones and the War Machine suit and attacks Iron Man. Scarlett Johansson, whoever she is supposed to be, busts into the computer lab and frees War Machine from the villain’s control leaving both good guys to defeat him. End of story.
But there are so many problems with this scenario that make it feel generic and toothless:
- Why does Whiplash create drones instead of military armored suits like he is contracted to do? He can take control of War Machine with someone inside it – certainly he could do the same with other soldiers and keep Hammer from getting upset with him for building the wrong thing. It would also make Iron Man’s job a lot more difficult if he had to fend off attacks from innocent people without killing them. The obvious reason for this change is so we could get a lot of CG explosions everywhere.
- When Scarlett Johansson breaks into the computer and reboots the War Machine suit, why not also disarm all of the drones? The obvious reason for this change is so we could get a lot of CG explosions everywhere.
- Seriously, 10 second warnings on bombs? How successful would the Taliban be if they used timers? After a year where The Hurt Locker won Best Picture, can’t the movie industry grow up already and realize that people don’t put bright red blinking lights with warning countdowns on bombs? It sort of defeats the purpose.
Once again, the writers are treating us like complete morons. How else can they allow such glaring oversights? It’s like they bought some B-Roll for the plot.
Believe me, I work in an entertainment studio. I know how these things work. When you don’t have a smart visionary spearheading the direction you end up with something very vanilla. This write by committee approach results in the very safe, paint by number storyline. And in generic plots like this one it is more important to have iconic moments than to make sense.
So the sequel is more interesting because of specific events and a longer period of plausibility. Watch it and have fun- just don’t dig into the script too deeply. Otherwise you might get so enraged that you feel compelled to start a blog just to bitch about it.