Iron Man 2 deals with the consequences of Tony Stark so flippantly revealing to the world that he is Iron Man. Anyone who has seen the previous film knows that he put absolutely no thought into what might follow from his revealing this information so nonchalantly. Here he will have to deal with being in the public eye and under scrutiny even more than when he was just billionare Tony Stark, combined with the additional stresses of being a superhero and trying to revitalize a corporate empire that just stopped manufacturing its number one product: weapons.
The stress will get to him and put strains on his personal relationships in addition to himself directly - while we will not really see much more drinking than in the previous film, we will get a hint of the "Demon in a Bottle" storyline from the comics in which he hits rock bottom in his life. Waiting to step in and take advantage of this will be rival arms manufacturer Justin Hammer (Sam Rockwell), who will be instrumental in constructing the War Machine armor for Rhodey.
We don't know at this point if Scarlett Johansson will be a "good guy" or "bad guy," but I would suspect that she'll be a little of both - probably sent over from Russia to acquire the Whiplash tech created by Ivan Venko (Mickey Rourke) which runs on what looks like the same sort of power supply as the Iron Man armor.
The tech in Stark's lab will be more advanced than in the last film, with more of the 3D holographic interface that we saw when he started designing the Mark II armor. There will only be a couple of computer monitors to be seen. Based on reports, there will be more use of Iron Man's chest beam this time around as well.
While Howard Stark will have passed away long ago during present time in the film, he will play a pivotal role (in flashbacks, one must assume). There is some sort of secret hidden in the Stark Expo from 1974 that is a key to providing another power supply for the armor and possibly to keep Tony alive.
While they'll be stepping up the action (which Marvel Studio head Kevin Feige admitting was not the previous film's strong suit) the important thing here is still that it be a character driven story. Having said that, personally I'd love to see more kick-ass action in the sequel and it seems that War Machine will have more than just a fleeting role in the film. Based on the footage from Comic-Con, War Machine will be fully decked out with munitions-type weaponry just as it is in the comic-book, complete with shoulder mounted gatling gun.
Finally, while Tony Stark will be going through some serious struggles in the film, Iron Man 2 will maintain the combination of drama and humor that was done so well in the first movie.
Keep tuned to Screen Rant for the latest news on Iron Man 2, which opens on May 7, 2010.