>"Iron Man 2"

>Unlike “Avatar,” I couldn’t wait to see “Iron Man 2.” So, like a lot of other movie-goers this weekend, I went out to take in the latest superhero movie.

And, for the most part, I liked what I saw.

After the success Marvel has had with second installments in superhero franchises (“Spider-Man 2” is the gold standard of superhero movies in my book, “X-Men 2”) I had high hopes for the second Iron Man installment.

And while it was good, the first time I out I found it was lacking the focus of the original installment. Part of what doomed “Spider-Man 3” and the later 90’s Batman installments is on full display here– an overloading of characters and potential threats. In this case, it’s the script’s need to shoehorn in both Justin Hammer and Whiplash. I realize why this was probably done–Whiplash is visually cool and would look good in the trailers while Hammer offers an adversary for Tony Stark to go up against in the political and industrial arena that dominates much of the film’s running time. Seeing the clash of wills and egos of Stark and Hammer is fun, especially in scenes where the two chew scenery together or play off each other. And while Whiplash is well done, his screen time as a threat and taking on Iron Man is pretty short overall…and he’s far too easily dispatched on-screen. What should have been an epic battle instead ends up as a coda or an afterthought in some ways. It’s almost like we couldn’t have Whiplash left running around as the film ended, so we had to find some way to dispatch with him once he’d ended his usefulness to the script.

Now, don’t take all of that to say that I didn’t like the fan or–heaven forbid–think it’s along the lines of “Avatar” which was visually stunning but a hollow film. “Iron Man 2” works fairly well and it’s a lot of fun to see Robert Downey Jr. once again inhabit Tony Stark on the big-screen. One of the better pieces of casting done in the past couple of superhero movies in my not so humble opinion. And there are some genuinely thrilling moments like the first clash with Whiplash in Monaco. There’s also Don Cheadle, who does a nice job as Rhody, but isn’t quite given enough to do in this film.

Overall, it was good. It wasn’t great, but I enjoyed it. It’s a fun popcorn movie and while not quite as great as the first, it’s still a nice successor. I wonder if part of the weight now put on the film was that it is now a springboard for the rest of the Marvel Studios output for the next couple of years….

Time will tell.

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