Damn you, Kevin Pasquino and your well-written review! I agree with all of it. Not as good as the first but well-done and pretty character-driven. More than ever, you equate bad boy Tony Stark with bad boy Downey but his momentary fall from grace is justified in the film. That was an uncomfortable scene, drunk Tony in his suit, especially as I think it featured the late DJ AM. Wasted potential indeed.
Yes, Black Widow’s presence didn’t make a ton of sense, and between all the action sequences and other plot points the opportunity for a good love triangle between Tony, Pepper and Natalie/Natasha was wasted. Vanko/Whiplash knowing Stark would be driving didn’t make sense, nor did it make much sense that one dude could get all those drones together plus a kickass new set of armor in what appeared to be a couple days. Still, I can’t say that the logical failures didn’t all lead to some good action scenes, although I did find IM2’s climax to have much less real threat and personality than the one in the first film.
As far as acting, Downey is still great, a delightful rogue who mostly has the right idea but doesn’t have time to explain it you. Some of the best scenes find him spitting out big chunks of dialogue while fidgeting, preening, always trying to seduce whoever he’s speaking to, whether an individual or crowd of thousands. Cheadle brings little to James Rhodes, ScarJo is mostly wooden and her hair looks weird. Clark Gregg and Garry Shandling are suitably unctuous. Rockwell is great as the Stark wannabe, and Paltrow makes the most of her meager chances. You really do feel like she’s someone for whom you’d want to improve yourself. Rourke does his best with his inexpressive, ruined face, bad Russian accent and beer gut. He seems to have shown up on set with his own clothes and cockatoo and talked director Favreau into using all of it. Actually, Favreau seemed to want to make up for Rourke’s mug by letting the hair appliances and dye, costume, bird, constant toothpick and tattoos do the acting instead.
It’s not that the film really answers the question of whether the greatest inventions and weapons of modern times should be entrusted to one spoiled genius fairly—the answer is yes here because Downey’s charisma will charm a yes out of you. At least it asks the question, though. A question the movie raised with me, though is why Gene Colan (along with Bob Layton, John Byrne, the Romitas, Matt Fraction and others) gets a Special Thanks in the end credits but apparently within the millions spent on the film and its promotion, no one can kick in a few grand to take care of his medical bills. I’m not talking about a creator credit, ownership or anything like that, just a small bit of money. It’s a well-made film, however.