Iron Man 2 is one of those rare sequels that expands and improves the overall storyline and shows the growth of the main characters without sacrificing the very thing that made its predecessor so good to begin with. In this case it’s Robert Downey Jr, and his wonderful portrayal of Tony Stark and the fun both the actors and the filmmakers bring to it. Iron Man 2 pretty much starts where the last one left off, and now that Tony has let the cat out of the bag that he is Iron Man, the U.S. Government wants to take his one man wrecking crew of a suit and mass produce it for the military. Of course Tony says no during a committee hearing in Washington, a scene which is one of the highlights of the film and shows Downey’s flair for comic timing as well as the fact that he was pretty much born to play this role.
As the story moves along, Tony runs into Ivan Vanko (also known as Whiplash) who has a serious score to settle with the Stark family. Mickey Rouke, who plays the latests nemesis doesn’t have very many lines, but shows that he’s more than capable of going toe to toe acting wise with Downey. Though Vanko is credited with being the big bad in this movie, the true villain is Sam Rockwell’s Justin Hammer, a defense contractor desperately wanting to fill the weapons void left by Stark Industries. Though Hammer possesses the intelligence, he doesn’t have the swagger, confidence or the charisma of Stark, so he’s constantly second banana to him. Because of this, Hammer enlists Vanko to make his own Iron Man weapon, as its referred to in the movie and that’s when the fun begins.
Supporting characters don’t get overshadowed by Downey’s greatness as Stark, as Don Cheadle steps in as ‘Rhodey’ Rhodes who plays the straight man to Stark’s comedic quips and playfulness. Scarlet Johansson, who is underused as the Black Widow, is also good, if at times she seems to be going through the motions for most of the movie, until it’s her time to unleash her girl power on an entire security force, then you get to see the potential this character will have in upcoming movies. And Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper Potts, who isn’t as annoying this time, but just as every bit as serious as her role expands in this movie from Stark’s right-hand lady, to CEO of Stark Industries. And let’s not forget Sam Jackson who does a good job in his small role as Nick Fury.
Iron Man 2 isn’t an action packed movie from start to finish. As a matter of fact, much of the movie is spent on character development as we start to see more and more of Stark’s love and reliance of alcohol and how it affects those around him. The scenes that do have action in it is executed superbly and surpass the first film. By far the best part of the movie is Downey Jr. He carries this movie with his charm and whit and you can’t help but like him as Tony, even at times that you know you shouldn’t. While slow in parts , the cast, specifically Downey, make Iron Man 2 a worthy sequel to the first and while it’s not better than the original, it stands pretty close as an equal to it.