It was good and could have been so much better.
If you are not a comic book fan from the 70′s & 80′s when this story was first written it is very likely you would have been lost and wondering “who are these people”.
The problems with Iron Man II are several but they emanate from one key point, they tried to keep the movie short by gimping the story thus leaving it with huge gaps. Keeping the movie short means you can get more plays per day and maybe set an opening weekend revenue record.
Stan Lee, the creator of the Marvel Comics Universe, has a reputation for telling great and wonderful stories in his comics. My advice to Stan is to do what feels right and just tell the story.
The Iron Man II story revolves mostly around Tony, Pepper, Tony Stark’s best friend Lt. Col. Rhodey, and Nick Fury played by the great Samuel L. Jackson.
Finally Tony and Pepper start to fall in love, but it comes as a total shock because they do no real exposition and growth in their relationship till the end when Tony tells her his “secret” and wham they are kissing. It is barely believable.
Tony ‘s best friend (Rhodie) steals one of the Iron Man suits and Tony can stop him but doesn’t. How do we know that this Lt. Col. Rhodie is Tony’s best friend? Well either you read the comics 30 years ago and knew this like I did, or you found out in the movie when someone says “your best friend just stole one of your suits”, or you remembered the few moments he was on screen in Iron Man I. Each Iron Man suit comes with an intelligent computer that only answers to Tony Stark named Jarvis. All Tony would have to do was say “Jarvis shut down suit two” and that’s it.
There is no character exposition of Lt. Col. Rhodey at all so it was simply not believable that they were best friends. There was no build up of a relationship between them and even at the end of the movie you are still not left giving a rip if “Tony’s best friend” lives or dies.
Planet Earth to Marvel Comics; without good character exposition the audience will not care about the character.
This goes double for Nick Fury. Nick Fury is the head of a secret organization (think of them as Section 31 from Star Trek) called SHIELD. Tony Stark completely cooperates with SHIELD which is not believable because he routinely tells the United States government to go fly a kite. But maybe if they spent six minutes cultivating a relationship between Nick Fury and Tony Stark we might buy it.
I heard the whispers in the theater and after in the hall people wondering what is this SHIELD guy?
My message to Marvel, stop screwing these stories up, fix Iron Man II in the directors cut and start telling a story about people we can care about as I know full well you are capable of doing even if it means a 2 and a half hour movie.
With that said there are many delightful aspects to the film: The Senate hearing scene was wonderful, Tony saying that he has had enough of the liberal agenda and the pressure groups that come with them, and the human side of Tony that shows how difficult it is for a man of great ability and creativity to be surrounded by so many people who are just out for their own narrow-minded selfish wants or incapable of appreciating Tony for the wonder that he really is (I felt this way in college where I often had to dumb down my own work for the class either to please a professor or to not intimidate fellow students. It really is very frustrating).
Last but not least, Mickey Rourke deserves an award for what was a beyond brilliant performance as the “bad guy” in this film. Words cannot do justice to what he brought to the character so I will not even try.
I say Iron Man II deserves 3 and a half stars. It could have been and should have been a 4 and a half star film.