A Bit Tarnished, But Iron Man Still Shines
Chris Kavan - wrote on 05/09/10
Now that the inevitable origin story is out of the way, it's time for Iron Man to make his next move and since Tony Stark announced to the world that he was indeed the hero, certain arrangements have to be made.
Unlike, say Batman or Spiderman, Tony Stark is all too happy to show his face. He revels in the spectacle and popularity. Lucky for us that Robert Downey Jr. is still having a good time as Stark. From the opening gala, to the Senate committee meeting - with a delightfully smarmy Garry Shandling - to his original meeting with the too-underused Scarlett Johansson's Natalie Rushman - Downey Jr. still plays Stark to the hilt.
Our villain(s) this time around are Russian Ivan Vanko and Stark rival Justin Hammer. Mickey Rourke and Sam Rockwell are both evil, but in very different ways. While Vanko is purely running on revenge fuel, Rockwell is a slimy, underhanded corporate villain who wants Tony's tech, to help him better destroy enemies of the state.
Tony also has to deal with Lt. Col. James Rhodes, who also wants Tony's tech to help out the U.S. armed forces; and a nasty case of poisoning courtesy of his super-powered heart. Oh, and he also hands his company over to sharp tack / love interest Pepper Potts - a seriously stressed Gwyneth Paltrow. Plus Nick Fury and his Avenger initiative is still trying to recruit him, since his dad was an original founder.
If all that sounds like a lot for one film, it is - and there lies the problem. With so many stories to tackle, none gets the chance it deserves. While Vanko and Hammer are good villains, you don't get much of a sense of them aside from broad strokes. Likewise, Johansson is stunning, but is given a scant amount of time on screen. There is action, but it's contained to two big scenes - the ending battle, and at Monaco. You do get to see a drunk Iron Man, though, that was good too.
Yet for the trouble of having way too much for one film, Iron Man still manages to be quite entertaining. It still has the right mix of humor and drama. It may not break any records, but it does serve as a worthy super hero film.