Movie Review: Iron Man 2


I had seen Iron Man 2 two Fridays back when it was released here in Bombay. Going by my standards, it’s late to write a review on it now. But still I am doing it because of other reviews I have read in newspapers and magazines and seen on TV over these past ten days. A couple of these reviewers pointed out a few things which makes for an interesting debate on superheroes and their morality. And this will be the focus of my review today. Among other things, I believe a movie review should be more than just a bland assessment of story or the work of the people involved in making the movie.

Movie: Iron Man 2

Director: John Favreau

Cast: Robert Downey Jr. Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Mickey Rourke, Scarlett Johansson

Rating: 7/10 – Don’t expect a masterpiece, but do expect a smart and sleek superhero movie which entertains

Iron Man is not a man at all. It is just a body suit made of steel and equipped with weapons and technology so advanced, that its creator emphatically claims that it will take another 15 years for any government in the world to duplicate his creation. However, it’s creator is a man, a real one, with all the weaknesses a real man who is filthy rich, a genius and is world’s biggest manufacturer of advance weapons can have. Tony Stark is a one man technology and weapons factory. He is a scientific genius and has single handedly changed and privatized the US government’s weapons program. And he is also witty, arrogant, charismatic and a womanizer. And trust me, the reason why I personally loved both the Iron Man movies is because of the charismatic and flirtatious Tony Stark rather than the armored iron man who goes about blowing up the villains.

But how can a superhero be a characterless, arrogant flirt? This defies the fundamental concept of a superhero. A reviewer on TV gave a thumbs down to the movie because according to him, the character of Tony Stark has been “reduced” to being a womanizer who enjoys bragging about himself. Another review I read yesterday claimed that Tony Stark is so full of vanity and so lacking in altruism that it’s a relief to see the villain bashing up him up, even for a few fleeting moments!

So the issue here, is of morality and ethics. Over the years we have been spoon-fed the idea that a superhero is supposed to be a paragon of moral and physical prowess, a Demi God. They must be as close to perfection as possible. And more than anything else, they must be modest, altruist and be ready to sacrifice their personal well being for the greater good. “With great power comes great responsibility” says Peter Parker’s dying Uncle. And so poor Peter Parker didn’t have any choice but to sacrifice his love to fulfill his responsibility. Not just Spiderman, almost all the superheroes are made to wear masks or suits and not reveal their true self or take credit for their heroic actions. The fact that superheroes are supposed to be modest about their exploits, be generous and compassionate and live a double life hiding their true self, is, by now, a legend in the annals of superhero lore. And never ever does a superhero goes around sleeping with random women or flirt with them. That’s blasphemous!

I beg to disagree. To expect a superhero to be a man and not have a any of the character weaknesses that a real man has, is to expect too much from him. Isn’t it enough that he is putting his life at risk and saving the world, that you also have judge his character and morality? What’s wrong with a superhero coming out in front of the world and claiming that he is the superhero and he is going to change the world? What’s wrong with him fighting with the government and not giving away something that is rightfully his? What’s wrong with him taking credit for his invention and making some money in the process? And why the hell, should anyone else have a problem if he chooses to flirt with women? It’s his personal matter for God’s sake!

At the end of the first part Tony Stark reveals his identity and within six months forces the governments of the world to sign a peace treaty amongst themselves. There is no point in arms race now, since the Iron Man technology is far superior to any other weapon. But the US government claims that Stark has a dangerous weapon and so he must hand it over to the government. Stark disagrees, in his own style, and claims that the “weapon” is in safe hands and nobody will be able to make it for the next 15 years. This is where he makes a mistake because the man who helped him make the suit in Afghanistan, had a rogue son Ivan Vanko who knows the secret of the iron man suit and decides to take revenge on Stark.

Mickey Rourke as Iron Man's nemesis Ivan Vanko

Unfortunately for the world and fortunately for Ivan, Stark’s Buggest business rival Justin Hammar, hires Ivan to create an army of superior Iron Mans which would help him help him strike a deal with the US government. But Ivan has nefarious plans of his own, the result of which are disastrous.

Stark, on the other hand is facing the possibility of death anytime because of the poisonous effects of the palladium arc reactor in his chest. He must find an alternative to palladium or else he must die. With some help from Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and his super sexy agent Natasha (Scarlet) who are part of a secret scientific organization started by his father, Stark realizes that his father was indeed a visionary and had visualized a new element that can replace Palladium and can save his life. Thus, Stark gets a new life and a new, more efficient core element for his arc reactor that fuels Iron Man.

Scarlet Johansson as Natasha

But now he must face the threat from Ivan who threatens to destroy everything by manipulating Hammer and taking control over his army of robotic Iron Mans.  The film rides high on the panache of Robert Downey Jr. and his ultra sleek gizmos. The highlight of the movie is the way he works alone in his highly automated scientific facility.

But the downside of the fast paced script is that the characters of Samual Jackson and Scarlet Johansson are not well developed and the film tries to show too many things in one movie.

Bottomline

Iron Man 2 is a fast paced action adventure that does justice to the first film and is as entertaining, if not more. As for Tony stark and his arrogance, I would point out a particular scene in the end when, in his personality assessment card, Tony is described as a “textbook narcissist” and he gladly accepts that he is. That’s honesty and I stand behind Tony for that. Honest narcissism is far better than vain modesty. And for a change we have a superhero who doesn’t pretend to be righteous and doesn’t feel the need to hide behind a mask. Thats refreshing!

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One Comment to “Movie Review: Iron Man 2”

  1. Just want to say what a great blog you got here!
    I’ve been around for quite a lot of time, but finally decided to show my appreciation of your work!

    Thumbs up, and keep it going!

    Cheers
    Christian,

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