Marvel Movie Marathon: Iron Man 2: I saw most of IM2 again a couple years ago and I thought it had held up a *lot* better than expected. My memory of it was that it really wasn’t very good, which is borne up by the fact that basically everybody seems to think it really wasn’t very good, but…actually, it’s pretty good.
It does, yes, have the problem of following very similar beats to the original film in terms of the Whiplash storyline, which ends with him in a giant mech just like Stane ended in. But outside of that…it’s pretty individualistic.
Tony’s storyline is…I mean, it’s a *disaster*. *Tony* is a disaster. He’s dying of palladium poisoning and he’s doing the world’s absolute worst job of trying to do right by people before he dies. He’s AMAZINGLY bad at it. SO BAD. It’s kind of wonderful. But you know what? Even if he’s a terrible person, a womanizer, a cad, insensitive, all of it…I would not be afraid if I was locked in a room with Tony Stark.
But Justin Hammer, in this movie? I would be terrified. He’s a lot of the reason I didn’t like the movie in the first place, because he’s SO unlikeable, so craven and glory-hungry and competitive. Tony without any of the charm or, frankly, the social skills. I would feel *threatened* by that man, if I was stuck in a room with him, because he doesn’t care at all about other people, only himself, and Tony, despite his flaws, does. Hammer would be perfectly okay with hurting me, deliberately, to get what he wanted; Tony would not. And in this #metoo era, that makes Hammer an *exceptionally* alarming villain, which I thought…really worked.
Mickey Rourke’s Vanko really borders on this side of tragic–I think with a little more finessing they could have made the character heartbreaking. It wasn’t what they wanted to do, but I think they *could* have.
And then there’s poor Pepper, who once again gets the rigid, upset thankless female part. A thing they did well in this one, though, was end up with Pepper and “Natalie” on the same side (a decision that I like but am not confident was well telegraphed in the actual movie; it seems like an abrupt flip on Pepper’s part rather than being organic). I just kind of wish there’s been a moment of softening or forgiveness toward Christine Everheart, who is, in her way, as caught up in Tony’s nonsensical world as Pepper is, and it’s not Christine’s fault that Tony is who he is. She just went with it, and really, who wouldn’t? I’d rather have seen Pepper sort of sympathetic to her than openly hostile.
Gosh, I forgot how very *bouncy* Black Widow’s hair is in the “I kick everybody’s ass in the hallway” scene. IM2 is my least favourite incarnation of Natasha (and holy god, she really slimmed down for that catsuit; she’s not as tiny in the other films, nor does she need to be), but it’s hard to not remember the sheer glee of seeing her just *waste* all those dudes, particularly with Happy in the background whaling away on the one. “I got him!”
I was pretty darn unhappy about the fact that Terrance Howard’s Rhodey was recast at the time, but I’ve come around to where I find Howard the anomaly and I now kinda wish I could’ve seen Don Cheadle as Rhodey in the first movie, because I do love him. (My recollection is Howard wanted more money, and my opinion was, and indeed is, that he probably deserved more, pretty well regardless of what he was getting paid, and that was BEFORE the revelations about how shockingly underpaid white actresses are compared to white actors, and how magnitudes-more-shockingly-underpaid actors of color are than white women started coming into the more general consciousness, but I’ve also since learned that he is apparently…not a nice person…at all…which I suspect may have had *more* to do with him being replaced than the money, which can often be a convenient excuse.)
So the upshot is that IM2 is really worth a re-watch, which is a pretty pleasant discovery!