Iron Man 2

Iron Man 2 - Tony Stark and War MachineAfter pulling in nearly $600 million worldwide the first go, you knew there would be an Iron Man sequel. But, how does it stack up to the first? I’d say it’s close, but the first is just a little better than the follow-up.

While the film is entertaining to say the least, it seems more like a placeholder for obvious films to come. Still, part 2 is solid enough that moviegoers are gonna love it no matter what critics say.

In Iron Man 2, Robert Downey Jr. is brought back as billionaire Stark Industries CEO Tony Stark, who this time around is a worldwide celebrity after he revealed he was the man behind the “Iron Man” suit at the end of the first film. Even though it seems he’s enjoying the attention, he is facing a few challenges: the U.S. government is trying to take control of his “Iron Man weapon” as they call it, and the self-made battery in his chest has made him a “superhero with an expiration date” as quoted by the L.A. Times.

He is, however, happy with the fact that he’s “privatized world peace,” but for how long?

Obviously, most have seen the previews already, so you already know Stark has a few enemies who will surface to test his superhero bravado.

Mickey Rourke takes on the role of Ivan Vanko, who — as the movie opens — is working in Russia on an exoskeleton that will rival Starks’ Iron Man. Why? Well, Stark has some skeletons from his past that finally surface and bite him on the ass. Vanko is one of them. He confronts Tony during their first showdown at the Grand Prix in Monaco, and from there, you can see the Iron Man sequel is going to be full of explosions and pyrotechnics.

Stark also has to deal with rival weapons tycoon Justin Hammer (of Hammer Industries), played by Sam Rockwell. He’s jealous over Stark’s success with the Iron Man suit and will do anything to one-up him. This becomes a problem Stark will have to face later in the film, as Hammer pulls out no stops in trying to get Stark’s design.

Even Stark’s close friend Rhodey gives him another dilemma, just as his problems begin to stack up. Rhodey (played by Don Cheadle, who replaced Terrence Howard’s character in the first film) gets so pissed at Stark that he steals one of the his Iron Man suits to turn over to the U.S. government, and later emerges as War Machine to help him fight off mystery robots in the film’s climatic battle scene.

Other characters introduced in the Iron Man sequel include one played by Scarlett Johansson. She is a mysterious triple agent named Natalie Rushman. But, who is she? You have to watch to find out. Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury character might have something to do with it, but we won’t elaborate on this. In Marvel Comics, Fury is well-known, but his appearance is still unexplained to the casual Iron Man fan. That’s one element the creators of the movie franchise have yet to sew up.

While Iron Man 2 offers a lot of action, special effects, and awesome gadgets and technology, it’s rather busy and lacks focus. Does it drastically weigh the film down? No, but it definitely takes away from its overall flow. I was thoroughly entertained with the sequel, and would recommend that fans go see it. Just don’t look too deep into it. Enjoy the ride, because from the looks of it, the studios are planning a lot more of them.

Our Rating: 3.5 out of 5.0

Iron Man 2 hits theaters Friday (May 7).