After the colossal entrance into film by Marvel Studios with Iron Man, they followed it up with The Incredible Hulk. It took them a while to get up and firing on all cylinders, so they went back to the Iron Man well again with the follow up, Iron Man 2. This film gets a lot of flack for not being as good as its predecessor, but it’s really a solid film.
We can get the bad out of the way first. Switching out Terrence Howard for Don Cheadle as Rhodey was a bit of a head-scratcher for your regular moviegoer who doesn’t follow the “industry”. Scarlett Johansson (who was far better in her subsequent appearances in Marvel films) was pretty stiff as Natasha Romanov. And some of the action sequences, while thrilling, didn’t make a huge amount of sense. (Happy driving a Rolls Royce against the flow of traffic at the Monte Carlo Formula 1 race, Iron Man vs. Iron Man at Tony’s birthday party.)
But I’ll counter by pointing out that Ivan Vanko (Mickey Rourke) is a superior villain to Obadiah Stane from the first one. Those electric whips were extremely cool. Sam Rockwell was a hoot as Justin Hammer, the idiot who gives Vanko the means to exact his revenge. And I really enjoyed the sequence of Tony discovering a brand new element to save himself from palladium poisoning, and not just because it features a delightful appearance by Clark Gregg’s Agent Coulson.
Speaking of which, Paul Bettany was in Iron Man 2 with Clark Gregg. Clark Gregg was in…