US multi-billionaire Tony Stark’s (Robert Downey Jr.) superhero ‘alter ego’ was revealed to the world at the end of Iron Man (2008), and John Favreau’s follow up Iron Man 2 (2010) picks up where we left off, with Stark attempting to market his new Iron Man ‘brand’. However (as all superhero’s must learn) with power – be it physical or financial – comes ‘great responsibility’.
The United States military now view Stark’s ‘suit’ as an invaluable weapon against America’s enemies, which attracts the envious eye of fellow weapon’s developer Justin Hammer (Sam Rockwell). In addition, Stark’s Iron Man has a new supervillain to contend with in the shape of Ivan Vanko (Mickey Rourke), a Russian physicist with a personal vendetta against the Stark dynasty.
Films based upon comic books and graphic novels almost always have a certain licence to move beyond the boundaries of reality. Yet in comparison to Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight (2008), which blends comic book action with a degree of hard-edged realism, Favreau’s Iron Man 2 lacks a sense of both weight and plausibility. The film is unfortunately unable to emulate moments of true drama, where life and death decisions are shown to have very real consequences.
Despite its minor flaws, Iron Man 2 is certainly an impressive spectacle that will surely please both unacquainted viewer and the die-hard Marvel fan alike. The ever-growing self-referentiality between the cinematic outings of Marvel’s best loved superhero’s in anticipation for The Avengers film series should ensure that the global audience’s hunger for superheroes will remain as cast-iron as Tony Stark’s suit.