Fun with Franchises: Our Final Thoughts on The Marvel Universe – Iron Man 2

All right… we’ve watched the film, talked about it, had fun with it, and then we went and listed our favorite images from the film yesterday. Now all that’s left is to finish up with what we actually thought about the film as a whole.

This is our space to go over what we liked and didn’t like about each film we watch for Fun with Franchises. We talk about specific things as we get to them during the articles, and we’ll mention our general thoughts during them, but we don’t really ever get to sit and do broad strokes during the articles. So this is why we do these Final Thoughts. We get to take a step back and talk about the films as a whole, rather than discussing specific scenes or images. We’ll talk about how we felt about the film, how we liked it as a film, how we liked it as a member of its franchise, and where we think it falls within that franchise.

Again, it’s not very complicated, but it is a place to find out what we actually thought about certain movies, since, while we’re having fun with them in the articles, it may get difficult to tell sometimes. Because we’ll just rip things to shreds for fun, even if we love them.

So here are our final thoughts on Iron Man 2:

Final Thoughts on Iron Man 2:


I don’t hate this movie as much as everyone else seems to. I think the general response to the Iron Man sequels can be largely explained by the viewing public’s hopes after the first movie happened. They wanted Iron Man 2 to be as good as the original. It wasn’t, for many reasons, so it gets shit. Then, Iron Man 3 comes along, and there are many ways in which it’s shittier than Iron Man 2, but at this point The Avengers is out and everyone is willing to lie to themselves as long as Iron Man 3 can have been an improvement over Iron Man 2. 

Rather than fret about what could have been better in this movie, I’m more inclined to look at it from an absolutist stance. People often call this the worst or second worst Marvel movie. That’s absurd. I give this film a C- or so, maybe a C if I’m feeling generous. The Incredible Hulk is an F, no doubt. I haven’t gotten to Thor 2, but I hear that’s a doozy as well. And I have my reservations about Iron Man 3, for that matter. Maybe Thor will piss me off when I watch it again. Who knows? The point is, I don’t think this movie deserves the level of hatred it gets, because there are plenty of other movies in this franchise that should be hated just as much, if not more.

One reason this movie gets something of a pass from me is because the character has a baseline level of likability that he never quite dips below. You can screw up everything else about the movie, but if Downey is there, you know it won’t be a total wash. We like Tony Stark, even if they are sort of milking that at this point.

They messed up with the story on this one, that’s for sure. There should have been more of the father issues, and maybe a bit more of the personal discovery that comes with that. Hammer should have found Mickey Rourke in Russia and bankrolled him, rather than being completely duped as he was. Sam Rockwell is great, but he was wasted here. If he had been the more devious, competent enemy, we’d have had a better fight, and maybe there could have been a more interesting three-way battle when Vanko tries to go his own way. The good, the bad, the ugly Mickey Rourke. Finally, the blood toxicity thing was clumsy. You know that the hero needs to have an existential crisis in the second film, but they made it a physical ailment tied to his use of the suit. I can see the appeal in that idea, but it’s also…too simple. I really liked Mike’s idea of making the celebrity of public heroism his downfall, and that has a way of bringing about self-destructive behavior as well. 

I could do without most of the SHIELD distractions. Maybe the dad connection is fine, and they slap him around so he figures out how to make the new element. But all the Coulson stuff, and the Thor nonsense and the Captain America shield…you can really feel the Avengers creeping into the plot and blurring the focus.

I’m going to just say, in spite of everything I said, I really only suggested variations or alternatives to what was done in this movie. It wasn’t The Incredible Hulk, where I was trying to figure out if there were even five minutes of film or plot that could be salvaged for a better film. There were good things, too, like how there wasn’t as much Gwyneth, or how we saw Sam Rockwell dance.

Sam Rockwell should have danced more.

Was it an incredible movie? No. But, there are other questions. Did it have the worst story in Marvel? Nope. Did it have the worst cinematography in Marvel? Not by a long shot. Did it have the worst acting in Marvel? Certainly not. The worst direction? Still gonna say no. We don’t love it, we won’t watch it a lot, but this movie gets a level of hatred akin to Attack of the Clones, which it does NOT deserve.

My Final Thoughts:

My thoughts on Iron Man 2 are that it’s not that great a movie, but not as bad as I thought it was. Because I thought it was bad. Like, bottom three of Marvel bad. Which, okay, it’s maybe like bottom four, but still, there are elements of this movie that are worthwhile. They just don’t add up to anything worthwhile.

They really start hammering (that counts as a pun, given Thor) the shared universe thing home in this movie, with that extended donut shop scene being the major suspect there. Which detracts from their ability to tell a fully coherent story. But then there’s other stuff too. I can’t tell if it’s Marvel trying to put more action in there, or trying to force the expanded universe in there at the expense of the story.

There’s a good story in here that isn’t fully realized. Tony, dealing with everyone knowing that he’s Iron Man, trying to publicly keep up the playboy/celebrity life, while also slowly self-destructing — it’s a good story. But the film doesn’t care about that.

And Mickey Rourke, despite seeming like a good choice as a villain at the time, was actually pretty terrible. Because of what they chose to do with the villain. Which is not really make him a threat whatsoever. It seems like most of Tony’s villains in this franchise are demons he brought about. The movie sets up Whiplash as something that was inevitable but happened at the exact right time for a sequel. And then he spends the whole movie on the sidelines. Which would be cool, if only the personal side of Tony’s story mattered to them. They literally solve his problems by a random injection from SHIELD and him discovering a new element. That’s not how you tell a good story.

This is a tough one to rate for me, because its heart is in the right place, and it seems like this is more Marvel fucking it up than Favreau. As evidenced by him leaving after this one. I don’t think this movie deserves scorn, but it also doesn’t deserve praise or a strong defense. This movie’s problems show. Very openly. Your main character is a pitiful, depressed sad sack for most of the movie. And while he’s slowly dying, we cut to the villain sitting in a room, typing a computer and making comic relief with Sam Rockwell.

Think about how much of this movie is the forcing in of the Avengers and universe set up. Scarlett Johansson, the diner scene, the entire Captain America scene in the garage, the end — these are scenes that could have been used to further this film’s plot along. And told Tony’s story a little better than it was. But even then, a lot of that stuff wasn’t even that interesting anyway. So I don’t even know how to rate this.

I feel like this film is a decent enough misfire. It’s an overall better movie than the third one, but not nearly as entertaining. It’s kind of weird how these Iron Man movies just aren’t that great outside of Robert Downey Jr.

– – – – – – – – – –

Tomorrow we start Thor.

(See the rest of Fun with Franchises here.)

One response

  1. That’s funny…I usually tend to be more forgiving towards this movie than most people (I mostly put the Iron Man sequels and Thor movies in one big pile on which is written: Good ideas, problems with the execution, not as bad as The Incredible Hulk but also not part of the “top half” of the Marvel movies) but your review reminded me how little there actually is what I like. I agree, Hammer would be enjoyable if he were more competent, but I am not even able to believe that he would be able to lead a company. Vanko…the less said about that the better. I like the poisoning and the call-backs to his father, but honestly the whole part with the hidden message is just dumb.

    Unlike everyone else the tie-ins are actually my favourite part of the movie. Coulson’s interaction with Tony (btw, Tony knows who Cap is, the joke is that he just doesn’t care…becomes even more hilarious in hindsight once you have seen The Avengers), Fury calling him out on his BS and I guess I enjoy Natasha more than other people because the first time around I genuinely didn’t know who she was and therefore spend most of the movie trying to figure out the character. Plus, it is always nice to see Tony interact with anyone not Jarvis or Pepper for a change of pace.

    Even the final plan, the attack on the expo is not that bad. It is honestly most Vanko (and his parrot) at which point the movie falls apart for me.

    The plot contrivances and unbelievable leaps paired with villains I just can’t take serious kill this movie. And thematically, it has way less to say that the Thor movies or Iron Man 3. There is nothing good about the ideas in it, it is all pretty run-of-the-mill.

    Nah, you have convinced me (at least for now): Iron Man 2 is the second worst movie of the franchise.

    May 10, 2015 at 1:55 pm

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