Week of January 16, 2022:

Iron Man 2 released May 7, 2010 (where to watch)
Scott Hardie | January 16, 2022

Watching this again for the first time since release, I think it's still not great, but it's better than I remembered, and better than its reputation as one of Marvel's weakest films.

Mostly its problems are structural: It spends so much time introducing S.H.I.E.L.D. and Black Widow that it loses the thread of its main storyline, and it takes too long to commit to whether Hammer or Vanko is the real antagonist and underdevelops both of them in the process. Also, the whole "Epcot's blueprints contain the atomic structure of a new element" thing is just plain ridiculous.

But I liked the alcoholic depression behind Tony's final bender (PG-13 though it was, and "Demon in a Bottle" though it wasn't), and I liked that his own ego and vanity continued to create real problems for him as they should, and as a longtime War Machine fan, it's just awesome to see Rhodey kick ass in battle, give or take an Ex-Wife.

Random thoughts:

• The suits are identity protected so that only Stark can operate them, right? So for Rhodes to suit up at the party would require for Tony to have given him some kind of access for use in case of emergency, right? So, couldn't Tony have ended the fight immediately by telling J.A.R.V.I.S. to revoke Rhodey's access? (Also, I thought the suits were powered by the arc reactor in Tony's chest. I guess each one must have its own separate power supply for emergencies, or I misunderstood.)

• This movie has a difficult relationship with its women. On the one hand, Pepper's competence earns her a well-deserved promotion, and she does well as a leader, especially at the end when Hammer's demo goes haywire. Plus, Natasha's big action showstopper is great. But on the other hand, Natasha is ogled and discussed like a sex object throughout the film, and Pepper quits her CEO job at the end because she can't handle some stress? What bullshit. Also, I know there's been a spark between her and Tony from the beginning, but that rooftop kiss really came out of nowhere. Both of them should have had two dozen other things on their minds than a kiss at that moment.

• No love for the Coast Guard? Hammer promises drones for the other branches of the military, but I guess our shorelines just aren't worthy of the finest in automated protection! If the Space Force had been around, they'd have gotten drones!

• Via the Howard Stark footage that riffs on Walt Disney's famous announcement of his "Florida Project," it's fun to see this Paramount film parodize the Disney corporation so soon before Disney would buy Marvel. Speaking of which: Kelly and I watch a lot of short videos about the history of Disney World that frequently incorporate clips from Walt's announcement video, so we've seen that guy going down the ladder dozens of times, and we joke that he's doomed to keep climbing down that Sisyphean ladder for eternity. So when Tony found the old "Stark Expo" blueprints in the CEO office, we laughed at what appeared to be a ladder leaning against the shelves next to it! Looking at it again on a better screen, I see now that it's just the edge of the glass frame. Too bad.

• Stark begins blowing up glass objects in the air above party guests and they don't run away or start screaming about glass shards in their eyes? No, I find that scene extra hard to believe. And this is in a movie where Tony Stark synthesizes a new element that remains stable for more than a nanosecond and doesn't kill him with radiation.

Scott Hardie | January 18, 2022
This comment contains spoilers for The Avengers and Spider-Man: Homecoming. Reveal it.

Scott Hardie | January 19, 2022

Kelly brought up the Elon-Musk-is-Tony-Stark connection before Musk's cameo in the film, and it raises a good question: To what degree has Elon Musk's cult of personality and fan base been influenced by the MCU's benevolent view of Tony Stark? How would Musk look to us if these Iron Man movies had never been made?

Scott Hardie | January 20, 2022
This comment contains spoilers for Avengers: Age of Ultron and Captain America: Civil War. Reveal it.

Erik Bates | January 22, 2022

It took me nearly the entire week to watch this one. Time got away from me. This installment of the MCU has never really appealed to me. I can’t put my finger on it. Sorry. Not too much to add to the conversation this week.

Matthew Preston | January 22, 2022
This comment contains spoilers for Avengers: Endgame. Reveal it.

Matthew Preston | January 22, 2022

I'm saddened (along with a lot of the internet) that they never gave Sam Rockwell as Justin Hammer more of a role in the subsequent films. I know he shows up briefly in a one-shot, but Sam did such a great job as a likeable villain.

Scott Hardie | January 22, 2022

Ha! Yes, I forgot about the surgical mask scene. It plays so differently in 2022. As for Tony's "thing" about being handed objects, this movie brings it up a lot, but I don't recall it ever being mentioned elsewhere. I guess they were going for a Howard Hughes vibe, like Tony is an increasingly isolated, increasingly eccentric (ie. crazy) genius. If so, the surgical-mask thing was a part of it. "Look at the kooky germophobe. He's so weird, right?" No, not entirely.

From what I read, Rourke went deep into his character, inventing tons of backstory and working extra hard to get Vanko's tattoos and speaking voice right. He specifically talked in Slovakian-accented Russian, not just any Russian, because he wanted to be precise. He also paid out of his own pocket for the gold teeth and pet cockatoo because the studio wouldn't. So I believe that every acting choice he made was very intentional.

Matthew Preston | January 22, 2022

Well there, you have it. Genius!

Scott Hardie | February 18, 2022

Original opinion: 6/10
Today's opinion: 5/10

Stephanie McCann | February 23, 2022
This comment contains spoilers for Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Captain America: Civil War, Avengers: Infinity War, and Avengers: Endgame. Reveal it.

Scott Hardie | February 23, 2022
This comment contains spoilers for Captain America: Civil War. Reveal it.

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