In preparation for Avengers: Infinity War, I’m watching all the Marvel Studios movies leading up to it.
Iron Man 2 (2010)
Iron Man 2 is not the most loved movie by fans. I understand it. I didn’t have the problems with it when it first came out that a lot of people did. But looking back on it in context, it’s definitely one of the weaker Marvel movies. However, I don’t know that I agree with the criticism that the movie failed because of it trying to introduce the wider elements of the MCU. I thought Fury, Coulson, and Black Widow were all integrated pretty seamlessly along with Howard Stark’s connection to SHIELD. There’s just that so much other stuff is going on.
There are a lot of REALLY great moments in the movie. Sam Rockwell as Justin Hammer is a lot of fun as a very unworthy business rival of Stark’s. Mickey Rourke is intriguing as a different sort of villain for Iron Man (at least initially.) The Pepper/Tony chemistry is still there and I enjoyed their banter. Black Widow makes an impressive debut on the action front, and the Monaco racetrack battle is exciting (although I could do without some of Pepper’s hysterics.)
I think the issue is that the movie is trying to do too many things at once. Justin Hammer would have been fun as a bad guy. Whiplash might have worked as a bad guy. But having BOTH of them with different (if intersecting) schemes AND having Rhodes and Tony fight AND having Tony uncover his legacy (while dealing with an easily resolved bit of blood poisoning) AND introducing the Black Widow just means that, despite their best efforts, the story kind of fractures. This would all be forgivable, however, if Whiplash was ever much of a threat. He looks impressive and initially looks to be great, but then he’s taken down in Monaco. There’s a lot of build-up to his armored form fighting Iron Man and War Machine, but that’s a pretty anticlimactic fight, really. I like the idea of the drones, but the fight with them isn’t that interesting to me. I’d rather more time was spent with the Whiplash fight. It’s a note pretty much every superhero movie could take: Fighting mindless drones gets old fast.
I still had fun with the movie, but it does feel like if they had just stripped a few elements away it could have been stronger.