IM2 proves to be a bit of a hard film to rate. For all its fairly obvious flaws, it’s still a better than average blockbuster, but without question, no match for its predecessor. Initially, I was very concerned. It wasn’t instantly engaging like the first film, and there seemed to be a lot of lazy script moments early on. It certainly picks up and gets better as it goes along, but the first half an hour was pretty weak indeed. The first proper action sequence, set in Monaco, was a joke compared to anything in Ironman, and just plain silly for the most part. Main baddie, Ivan Vanko (Mickey Rourke), is introduced straight away, but his motives are not really explained well and feel wafer thin. Eventually the script kicks into what the movie is really about though; the development of S.H.I.E.L.D and The Avengers project.
I thought it would be, but the involvement of numerous characters wasn’t so much of a problem for me. I definitely got a kick out of all the in-jokes and set ups for inevitable, down the line Marvel projects too (including a stay till after the credits moment much like the original film). In fact, it was Rourke of all people that felt most out of place. His performance was fine enough, but his Whiplash appeared only when really needed to forward Sam Rockwell’s Justin Hammer arc once the film got started and his much anticipated face-off against Iron Man and War Machine, with an absolute kick arse machine of his own no less, barely lasts two minutes. Scarlett Johansson and Sam Jackson at least served a larger purpose. Of course, Rockwell steals every damn scene he’s in as far as I’m concerned – including with Downey Jr’s ostentatious as ever, Tony Stark. The introduction of Rhodes was a cheeky surprise by Favreau, and to Cheadle’s credit, I actually thought the continuity might suffer slightly with a different actor, but after a couple of scenes, it was almost, Terrance who? Continuity outright is pretty good, though it does feel like a bit more than six months later as stated at the start.
By blockbuster standards, it is definitely a decent sequel, but considering the first movie was an origin story, it didn’t seem to really build on too much beyond the Avengers stuff. Stark’s hedonism is certainly explored, his and his father’s true “legacy” is brought forward (and finalized) as the central theme, and Pepper is given a little more to do than just flirt this time. It makes little difference unfortunately in a fairly clunky script, that leaves little direction for a third film, especially when you consider how much Marvel push other ‘coming soon’ characters here. Thankfully, the one liners were still there, and pretty consistent (“I was here first. Get a roof!”). The humour overall was a strong point of the film.
I didn’t enjoy it as much as other second comic book films such as Spiderman 2, X2 or even Hell Boy 2, but it certainly wasn’t boring. The action is predictably exciting, the CGI flawless. Fans of the first film (which I love) will find many things to like in it, but IM2’s execution is certainly sloppier, less compelling and less smart overall. Rest assured for those having doubts though, it definitely ends a lot better than it begins, and almost certainly did leave me willing to suit up again for a third if it happens. Worth your time, though it is clear, Marvel is using this film as a stepping stone to bringing their entire universe to the big screen.