Iron Man 2 Review

Published 5 years ago by , Updated May 3rd, 2011 at 6:20 pm,

iron man reviews1 Iron Man 2 Review
Screen Rant reviews Iron Man 2

Let’s get the big question out of the way: Was Iron Man 2 better than the first film? Not quite.

Having said that, remember that the first film set the bar WAY high, so not topping it doesn’t mean this sequel was bad. Far from it. What it means is that while I liked it a lot, I didn’t quite LOVE it like I did the first film.

Iron Man 2 opens with a voiceover that takes us through the speech at the end of the last film where Tony Stark reveals that he is Iron Man. About six months have passed since that announcement, and since then Tony has been busy zipping all over the world intervening in international conflicts. Of course the U.S. government is not too happy about having a private citizen loaded with weaponry intervening overseas on behalf of the country, and they want the Iron Man tech turned over to the military.

The government is represented by Senator Stern (played with perfect pompousness by Garry Shandling), who can’t convince Stark to turn over his private technology. This puts Tony on the opposite side of the equation with his good friend James Rhodes (Don Cheadle) who believes that sharing the technology with the military would lower the risks of having to depend on just one man. Speaking of Rhodey, it was great how they buried the whole “Terrence Howard isn’t Rhodey” thing with this line from Cheadle right at the start of the film: “It’s me, I’m here, deal with it and let’s move on.” There’s also a nod to fans of the first film in Tony’s first appearance where he says “It’s good to be back” and asks the audience if we missed him.

don cheadle iron man 2 Iron Man 2 Review

Don Cheadle in a scene from 'Iron Man 2'

Stark Industries’ rival is Justin Hammer (Sam Rockwell), another wealthy weapons manufacturer who is the less charismatic version of Tony Stark. Hammer is jealous not only of Stark’s Iron Man tech, but of the man himself (Hammer comes off like a used car salesman who wants to be classy but doesn’t know how to do it). He’s developing his own armor technology but it’s years behind Tony Stark’s.

sam rockwell iron man 21 Iron Man 2 Review

Sam Rockwell in 'Iron Man 2'

One of the main plot points driving Iron Man 2 is the fact that Stark is being slowly poisoned by the palladium that powers the miniature arc reactor in his chest. It’s getting rapidly worse and despite applying all his genius towards finding a replacement, he hasn’t been able to find anything that works – he’s dying and it’s going to happen sooner than later.

While all this is going on we have Ivan Vanko (Mickey Rourke) over in Russia, whose dying father was apparently shafted big time by Tony’s father, Howard. Vanko manages to build his own miniature arc reactor and vows revenge against Stark. Finally we have Scarlett Johansson playing “Natalie Rushman,” an accountant who comes into the Pepper Potts/Tony Stark relationship.

Continue reading for our analysis of Iron Man 2

Our Rating:

3 out of 5

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  1. I was expecting much much more once again and ended up with an over budget film with good visual effects and a boring story.

    The Hollywood interpretation of Justin Hammer is a real joke, far away from the cold and cool calculating mind in the comic. But then again, John Favreau is good for comedy, the action sequences lack excitement and imagination, makes me wonder if any of the script writers ever read comic books?

    Fury and Widow only have cameos what a shame, a wealthy man such as Justin Hammer would have imprisoned Whiplash in a giant factory à la Die Hard 4 kinda set or James Bond.
    Rhodey betrays Tony no way ? I think Rhodey has less word in his dialogue scenes then Kurt Russel in Soldier.

    Iron Man looks good every time he appears on screen but he is 2 dimensional ? I prefer the much angry Tony from the first one, this version is more goofy.

    Mickey Rourke is good but underused.
    Happy was good in the show, supportive of Tony, funny and had a bit of action in it.

    Well, I hope we don’t get a goofy Mandarin in the 3rd installment of this franchise.
    OR a kiddy version of Fing Fang Foom,

  2. I was a little bummed out with the film… it just felt a bit hollow. It had to many slow spots. I know it’s a middle movie but the end of it really didn’t show as much as I wanted to see. I hope there is a extended version on Blu-Ray that actually shows Whiplash doing something more in his armor.

  3. This film was very entertaining – I liked how they mixed in a lot of comedy with the action – the comedy definitely helped kept it going. It definitely felt like it was worth it. I enjoyed seeing some references to some other comic book characters. I especially enjoyed Scarlett Johansson’s scenes near the end, very awesome!

    p.s. My “Iron Man 2″ review:

  4. I have to go with Vic here and wonder why he’s being attacked. You have to look at movies in context. If you looked at IM 1 critically, you’d know from the final battle not to have too much expectations for sequel. I mean what else can they do with the guy? “Il raconté tout”- there was nothing more Iron Man could show us. He had done air manoeuvres, kicked ass, shot beams. His final battle in IM 1 hinted to the cliche. Like a Robocop 2 finale (and not the sequel like someone said earlier). But the IM concept was unexpectedly novel so we applauded it. IM 2 on the other hand didn’t have the benefit of surprise and expectations were high…too high. I for one didn’t see what else they could do which wouldn’t be repetitive. And when I heard the villian was a half-naked man with whips..I thought this movie wouldn’t be too good.Against a man in protective armor that shoots beams….I mean come on! How close can he even get.
    But Fav surprised me with a great sequel. He utilised the traditional Whiplash sparingly to appeal to common sense and used supporting cast and subplots to give us something refreshingly different. Anything else and we would have been trying to spot the difference between the two movies. As for fight scenes, besides flying, brute force and beams what else do you expect? Even Hulk’s fight with Abomination was brief for fear of protraction. It’s not a comic for pete’ sake!  I give it 4/5 for giving us a movie that beat the odds. Unlike Batman whose sequels can hit solely due to his interesting gallery of villains, Iron Man does not have that luxury. He is not on the same tier as Spidey and Hulk. Mandarin? Please, really.
     So in the context as Vic said, it satisfied its target and thus deserves thumbs up.

  5. @Daniel F: you’re kidding right? competitor reviewer?? I wonder if those IronMan ads in the site have something to do with this rating. I still can’t believe Vic gave 4/5. Well i have to deal with it.

    Anyway, changing the subject, all those Scarlett J. haters, what do you think now about her? It’s a great plus for the movie just for how she looks.

    • Wow. Just wow.

      It’s only the very rules I’ve established here that keep me from telling you what I really think (lucky for you).

      I guess all these reviewers were paid off by advertising, too?

      Joe Neumeyer – NY Daily News (8/10)

      Chris Vognar – Dallas Morning News (8/10)

      Jay Seaver – eFilmCritic (4/5)

      Gary Thompson – Philadelphia Daily News (B)

      Roger Ebert (7.5/10)

      Roger Moore – Orlando Sentinel (7.5/10)

      Sara Vilkomerson – New York Observer (7.5/10)

      James Berardinelli – ReelViews (7.5/10)

      Peter Travers – Rolling Stone (7.5/10)

      Carrie Rickey – Philadelphia Inquirer (7.5/10)

      Nick Starkey – Premiere Magazine (7.5/10)

      All a bunch of corrupt, no nothing movie critics, I guess. Or at least they must be according to your oh so very learned opinion.

      • Seriously! Is there any website on the internet that didn’t have an Iron Man 2 ad on it? Dude, that accuser should change his SN to “The1Guy_WhoDidn’tLike_IM2″. Way to bring the facts ScreenRant.

        • Hrm, let’s see…
          Internet advertising tailors itself to the content showing on the webpage it’s attached to, correct? Like, my Geek blog will have Google ads show up on anything from Comic Book Stores to Geek Squad, depending on what I’m writing about.

          Iron Man 2 articles and comments are flooding this website right now. Review, spoiler discussion, international hit, deleted scenes, Avengers movie hobbling it, etc. etc.

          He could have given the movie 1 out of 5 stars, and the ad engines would just see “IRON MAN 2″ an plug the ads in accordingly.

          Look at your man.
          Look at me.
          I’m on a horse.
          Your arguement is invalid.

    • Scarlett was HOT!!!

      • What? Thats a spoiler!

    • Iron Man 2 ads are on Screen Rant because the people who read it (or the majority) are interested in it and it is a good movie!

  6. I still maintain she needs to stick with Woody Allen – - even though Rebecca Hall blew Scarlett away in “Vicky Cristina Barcelona.”

  7. @Vic

    7.5/10 is a more accurate rating that 4/5 i think… Let’s finish this discussion already.

    • On a rating scale from 1-5 stars at half star increments I can’t give a 7.5 out of 10 (if that was my intent). That’s 3.75, which I can’t do. So it would be either 3.5 or 4 stars.

      So then you’re essentially accusing me of skewing a review for money and being unethical over A QUARTER STAR difference of opinion. For your information, this sort of thing actually came up in a meeting I recently had with the sales team, where they asked me if I didn’t think Transformers 3 were any good when it’s released but there was an ad buy on the site if I would still write a negative review. I told them of COURSE I would – or why should anyone bother reading my reviews?

      You, sir, are offensive – because you think that I should bend my opinion to yours instead of just recognizing that we have a difference of opinion. Tossing around accusations like that is total and utter crap whether you recognize it or not. I don’t have to take that from anyone.

      And yeah, I’m done. I *WAS* done until you impugned my ethics.


  8. Ok, maybe i went too far. I apologize. It was the heat of the moment.
    Sorry if i offended you.

    Sincerely, JM.

    • JM,

      OK. It’s history.

      Annoying how passionate we can sometimes get about movies, isn’t it? And things can get out of hand in discussions online as opposed to over a couple of beers…


    • JM,

      FYI (and not beating a dead horse here, there’s a reason for this comment), I was on the fence from the time I wrote the review as to whether to go 3.5 or 4 on Iron Man 2. Our 5 star scale sometimes doesn’t seem to have a scale that’s fine enough for “in between” ratings. Anyway, after a lot of thought, you’ll be happy to know that I changed my rating to 3.5/5.

      I don’t change ratings often (I’ve done it maybe 3 times total) but sometimes after further thought I re-evaluate my initial rating.


  9. Speaking of positive/negative spin about a movie … did anyone notice the negative slant Drudge seemed to be giving the film?

    By negative I mean: when one of the early reviews was negative, Drudge highlighted it as “First Review: ‘IRON MAN 2′ — BASHED…..” Never mind the fact that that *hadn’t* been the first review and that there were reviews that continued to pile up on the positive side.

    And then, on opening day Drudge was literally screaming about how it wasn’t breaking records on earnings. But now today, Drudge called IM2′s earnings a ‘rebound’ and yes, it did break a record … 5th highest opening or something like that.

    The generally negative vibe that Drudge seemed to be putting out about IM2 really had me scratching my head on that one. I mean, what gives with that?

    • The very first couple of reviews of the film WERE negative, and the no-record headline was probably related to the fact that the movie was opened on a record breaking number of screens – more than any film before. One can deduce that the reason for that was to try to break a box office record, which didn’t happen.

      Although with over $250MM worldwide so far, I’m sure Paramount is quite happy.

  10. Vic i’m still pissed about the TDK review when u gave it a 4.5 when it clearly deserved a 4.55 I mean seriously u must of been paid off to rate the film so low.

    Seriously though I’ve always liked scarlette johansan and never understood all the negativity toward her she won me over in The prestiege which is in my personal top 4 films.

  11. Hi all! I saw the movie yesterday in Vienna. Ususally, I watch the english version of movie. This time I had to watch in German because of a friend who joined us.

    I’ll cut right to the chase: I was really disappointed by the sequel! I loved the first Iron Man, though. Even for a comic adaption the story was ridiculous (Ivan hacking into system within seconds using only the console, boring dialogues between Stark and Pepper, etc.). I have to admit that the english version may have been better.

    Anyway, there is no way I’ll watch another sequel (assuming there will be one).

    Just my two cents :)


  12. So does anyone know what happened to Fin Fang Foom? The dragon that was supposed to be in Iron Man 2?!?


    • Well it was supposed to be on a billboard – something like that would be pretty easy to miss…

  13. Just saw the movie today – Vic, your review was right on. The movie lost me about midway though, but otherwise a very fun movie.

    Interestingly enough, I thought the girls had the best performances in this movie. When you think about it, Gwyneth Paltrow’s role isn’t exactly anything original or exciting, but yet she brings to it a certain sense of presence that it might have otherwise lacked, especially when you take in account how many scenes she shares with RDJr. She also had terrific delivery of lines, just like RDJr and I think they make each other that much better. And Scarlett Johansson may have single-handedly made a Black Widow movie bankable. Very good job to these women.

    Don Cheadle was definitely better as Rhodey, Sam Rockwell was a fun Justin Hammer, and I’m starting to like Samuel Jackson Jr better as Nick Fury. The only thing I thought was regrettable was that they didn’t really utilize Mickey Rourke’s talent as much as they could have – when you watch the Wrestler, you realize this is a man that probably should have had more scenes than he did in this movie. Nevertheless a very enjoyable movie.

    But the story wasn’t as well paced as the first movie. The first movie never lost me once the entire time. I actually almost nodded off during the middle act of this one. Hopefully the third movie will deliver a better and more dramatic story.

  14. Finally got the chance to see the movie last night, outstanding movie. Not as good as the original of course but the script for these movies is phenomenal.

    If you even remotely liked the first one, its worth seeing this one on the big screen.

  15. Grrr!

    The film sounds well worth seeing!I loved the review. If my darn leg wasn’t in a cast I would go and see it right now!

    Ah well, I’ll watch the first Iron Man from bed, and refresh my memory. Then, I’ll rewatch Constantine. I’m actually enjoying that movie more every time I see it! It sort of grows on you.

  16. I hate to say it but I thought Im 2 was better. Im one was just horrible at the end. I liked the begining but the movie went to crap. I’M 2 was enjoyable all the way through.

  17. Wait a minute, am I seeing right? I thought that this movie was given a 4 star rating just a few days ago. Where’d it go?

    • After some reflection I decided that I was a bit too generous and dropped it to 3.5/5.

  18. In my opinion and no offense meant to anyone I’d rate the move a 2.5. It didn’t catch me up in the action or the drama for that matter. It was rather boring. I love action movies especially when they’re based off of comics because I don’t expect it to be the same. I expect it to be a completely different world that draws me in from the beginning and this movie lacked that. I’ll admit the first movie set the bar high. But if you’re going to set it that way the least they could have done was to follow through. Sadly I was disappointed.

  19. Jon did a great job on this film. Its often very difficult to make the follow up film hold up against the first of any film. Here, I think Jon and the talented bunch did it. I actually helped line his pockets and watched it 3 times. Different groups of friends wanted to see it, so I kept going.

    Undoubtedly, the snafu with replacing “James Rhodes” was a hurdle, but to the average movie goer, that topic had to be brought up for it to be noticed. Don is a great actor and he carried this role with the same gusto that Terrence Howard did. The previz teams did a fantastic job at making it all look gorgeous.

    I did, however, note the super duper similarities between Howard Stark and Walt Disney. Epcot, Tomorrowland – the whole shebang. I’m a fan of WDW, so Ive read books and been many (30+) times – and it was Walt to the bone. However, the folks over at Marvel (Disney) will tell you that the idea was contrived from the one and only Howard Hughes. I didnt see it, and wont ever see it. Maybe the mind sees what the mind wants, either way…it was Walter E. Disney to this fella.

    That being said, I loved the movie and look forward to the next. I only hope that no more cast members are replaced.

    I am however, looking forward to “Cowboys and Aliens” – glad to see Harrison stepping back on the silver screen.


  21. Just saw it…finally.
    I liked it. and better than the first one too!

  22. This film was fun, but I really feel like it lessened the greatness of the original. They should have taken some time and tightened up the script, so we didn’t have long, dragging segments in between the actual good parts.

  23. For me, 3.5 out of 5 translates into 7 out of 10, and no, I can’t agree with that — I’d have to give this beast a 5 out of 5. Actually, a 9 out of 10, losing 1 point because it was only incredibly entertaining and had a plot line that held together. But, getting that 10, is hard.


    but I want to say this first! The acting was picture-perfect. This reminds me of Richard Donner’s post-production remark, in gist: “I guess Marlon Brando was worth the money.” Perhaps I shouldn’t put quotes around that, but that is what he meant. It pays to have talent and these people so earned. I agree, a half-naked Whiplash didn’t seem believable — Favreau and Rourke MADE it believable. The burning underneath relationship between fickle Tony and over-burdened Potts was believable. I really didn’t believe Scarlet could pull off Black Widow.. but, boy, oh boy, did she pull off Black Widow, leaving me wanting more. I so wish I could say that about the former Spider-Man series! And, then there is Sam Rockwell’s swarmy Stark competition, Justin Hammer.. very well played, sir. Sam is going places. We first saw him as the sneak in Charlie’s Angels playing the victim to be revealed as the espionage snake, I saw him help beat a drug-wasted art celebrity to near unconsciousness in Basquiat. He’s clearly doing things, be it Moon or otherwise. Very nice interplay within the cast. And Cheadle came through for us as the seamless replacement. Lessening my concern over Edward Norton / Mark Ruffalo affair. Director Favreau, Happy, Foggy Nelson, +1, when are you going to return to your role in Dare Devil, I miss you (and that cast)!


    and then there is the tiny role of Nick Fury.. actually, I am disappointed with the one-eyed Jackson in this. Maybe he isn’t being given enough room to role but Marvel should have went with the original image.. no sense of Nick’s toughness here.. I really hope he changes this in the Nick Fury Movie, if that ever happens.


    but blink and that is really a very small part. I loved the timing and the story here. IM2 supercedes 1!! And as I say this I know there are other opinions: the hard-ass action all the way folks won’t agree. Fine. Look at the story: Iron Man’s dad has a greater vision but his creative partner in the formulation of the ark reactor did too. In a sense, Iron Man is Howard Stark’s creation but Whiplash was his partner’s. There is the idea of connectivity and karma here: what goes around, comes around.. sins of the fathers kind of thing.. not developed enough to bring that solid 10 out of 10 but close. And Whiplash is brilliant and not dead at the end of the flick either. Captain America’s unexplained shield. And, Thor’s hammer. All on a time-line preceding The Incredible Hulk.

    I also loved the idea that Tony was dying from essentially metal poisoning via the battery implant (the alcoholic gig just wasn’t palatable), that SHIELD is aware of it, and that Tony has issues with his past relationship with his father. Nice writing there! Frankly, Batman TDK does not hold up to this cinema. The writing, the acting, the film-making is better here. I really hope this is not Marvel’s highest peak but just the start of a sustained plateau. Film-making is getting smarter.