Trilogy Thursday: Avengers Initiative Phase 1A
Iron Man 2
Max: Iron Man 2 was a victim of expectations. The first movie had been widely successful and the pressure was on Jon Favreau to deliver an incredible sequel. Tempers between Favreau and Marvel flared throughout the production and the quality took a bump because of it.
Everything was in place for a success. Robert Downey Jr. was returning as Tony Stark/Iron Man. The Avengers Initiative was in full swing, with the movie featuring countless references towards the entire Avengers universe, including Scarlett Johansson as the Black Widow, not just Iron Man 2 itself. Then they even cast Mickey Rourke, fresh from his Oscar nominated turn in The Wrestler, as the main villain. Something just didn’t click.
It almost felt as if Iron Man 2 only existed to set up the Avengers story. It never comes close to standing up next to the original. Even the big fight that has Iron Man and War Machine fighting a group of clones feels boring. It seems as though Mickey Rourke only had room for one good movie in his comeback because he hasn’t done much since.
Iron Man 2 exists on the lower tier of Marvel Films in my eyes and I hope they can do the character a better service in Iron Man 3.
T: Where does Marvel go from here? After a great introduction to Tony Stark and his larger-than-life existence, and his reveal to the world of his “secret” identity, Robert Downey, Jr reprises his role as the ever-pompous, self-centered, egotistical, and self-indulgent Tony Stark…and that’s why we still love to watch him.
With a supporting cast that once again brings this superhero to great heights, Director Jon Favreau brings this tale to life and allows for the reality aspect of comic-based films to come to the forefront. (I must say, that Don Cheadle/War Machine was a nice addition to the mix, although, I did have an affinity towards Terrence Howard as Colonel Rhodes). Added cast members such as Sam Rockwell, Scarlett Johansson, Mickey Rourke, and Samuel L. Jackson all increased the film’s prestige…although each of their roles received perhaps less than adequate attention.
The struggles that Stark undertakes against professional, personal, and powerful villains add to the sense that Tony Stark is not just a comic superhero, but…”yeah…okay…I guess it could really happen that way in real life!” The short-wit humor. The quick comebacks and clever one-liners. All of it added to the film’s essence and appealed to its sense of plausibility.
Although, the film lacks in originality as it can stated that the plot mirrors the first one as Stark struggles to find meaning in his life and is set to fight against another power/revenge hungry man in a machine. Scarlett Johansson (revealed to be S.H.I.E.D. agent Natasha Romanoff) is introduced to the Marvel movie universe with some unforgettable moves (and hair) that is continued in The Avengers. More of Nick Fury and Agent Coulson (not to mention another expectedly awesome after-credits scene) keep fans awaiting more teases for a whispered/rumored Avengers movie in search of clues and leads for information of what’s to come.
Iron Man 2 struggled but survived the curse of the sequels as it had Downey, Jr., underlying Avengers teases, Nick Fury (Jackson), and director Jon Favreau in play. I was glad to see it had almost equal success to that of its predecessor. I enjoyed it very much, but, of course, couldn’t wait for more as The Avengers lay on the horizon.
Max: These first three films showcased a grand experiment. Marvel decided they were going to make multiple origin stories and then each character would come together for a movie sequel never before accomplished. It was a big gamble for the studio because they could make a lot more money keeping these characters apart…or could they? It goes without saying that the eventual goal of this endeavor was a massive success leading towards the third biggest box office opening of all-time. But how do these movies stand up on their own? Iron Man remains the pinnacle of Marvel Studios origin stories. It could easily stand next to Batman Begins, Spider-Man, and Superman as one of the best superhero movies ever. The Incredible Hulk turned out better than the previous effort, but it doesn’t seem like that character resonated with audiences in that attempt. While I probably enjoy Iron Man 2 more than The Incredible Hulk (Downey is awesome), it’s still a failed sequel. The Marvel Studios experiment ended in a monster success.
T: Being a big fan of Marvel movies, the beauty of this trilogy…and the three subsequent films that followed (Thor, Captain America, The Avengers)…is the connection they all share. Multiple actors, multiple directors, multiple screenplay writers, one studio, all working together towards a common story that is told in such an exciting and enthralling manner. I enjoy each of the films because they connect together, yet contain enough story to stand alone. DC may have Christopher Nolan…and a fine weapon for their arsenal he is…but they don’t have a Hulk.
If you haven’t seen these marvels, be sure to watch them!
Other Films in the Trilogy Thursday Series: