Going off this over-stretched, over-cluttered and yet somehow incomplete sequel, Jon Favreau didn't really understand what worked about the first Iron Man. And for me it was far from a masterpiece, but it rose above the monotonous summer stock because it had the brains to point its camera at its leading man and let him be awesome. Because that's what Robert Downey Jr does. But Marvel Studios let the sequel fall victim to their five year plan, shoehorning in too many facets of their universe, foreshadowing The Avengers whenever and wherever they can and almost forgetting to let this be a film in and of itself. To quote Tony Stark "I want nothing to do with you're superhero boy-band."
Because I get the sense that perhaps, if you ditch the Samuel L Jackson SHIELD crap, lose Sam Rockwell's character, the War Machine stuff and just let this film be about Robert Downey Jr and Mickey Rourke, then maybe there's a passable blockbuster with some semblance of its own identity, rather then a game of spot the B-list Marvel comics character. Because Rourke, if given a bit more screen-time and vitality to the story, may have created a memorable villain. Not the Joker or anything, but one worth watching. But no, he spends the whole movie, barring one opening action sequence, stuck in Rockwell's lab, reacting to Rockwell spew and endless stream of awkward, unfunny dialogue. Fuck did I hate what this movie did with Sam Rockwell. You take one of the best, most watchable actors of his generation and somehow make him into this; an irritating, cheap one-note joke. An over-compensating geek unworthy of the worst workplace sitcom.
Downey Jr, whilst still managing to bring some of his soothing cool to proceedings, does carry a slight heir of desperation as the movie progresses, as if is aware of the chaotic rambling mess that is happening, and is powerless to stop it. The movie makes too many cheap jokes that undermine any semblance of intensity that it builds up, note the painfully embarrassing Iron Man is drunk sequence, which actually includes a fight scene scored to 'Another One bites the dust.' Fuck you Jon Favreau. Inevitable comparisons to the Spider-Man sequel that dare not speak its name are there to be made. But at least that movie went out swinging. It tried to do something and missed. Missed badly, but still. The back-half of this movie was almost repulsive, with Marvel using a multi-million dollar franchise as a platform to launch the even more obscure superheroes in its locker, but frankly I don't care. I'll see Thor, Captain America and the sure to be an abomination Avengers movie when they come out. Right now I'm here to this fucking movie, assholes.
All this to say nothing about how this movie entirely wastes Gwyneth Paltrow, Scarlett Johansson and Don Cheadle. Paltrow just looks exhausted to even be here, and her chemistry with RDJ is forced beyond belief. Cheadle is OK but pretty much extraneous and as far as Johansson goes, her reason for being here as far as I can tell is to provide ass-shots, given no real character beyond hot chick in a catsuit. But given the state of everything else this might be the best thing about the film. I will say the final battle was stronger in this movie then the first, but that's about all I've got. For the foolish people who thought Iron Man was Dark Knight standard, prepare for a sharp fall.