MCU Rewatch Issue #3: Iron Man 2

It’s MCU film number 3; Iron Man 2; MCU sequel number 1. (See what I did there? “Oh Jimmy, you so clever!” I know right?) Ahem, let’s see what the Geeks have to say about this one…

watson: Ok. Here we are. I was dreading this one. I clicked on “watch, Iron Man 2” and iTunes said “Really???”
I clicked on nonetheless!

The thing is, though I still hated the parts I hated (pretty much all things with the villains), I did forget some of the parts I did like. Don Cheadle, the Stark pre-guilt cockiness, the massive drone battle at the end, and the first appearance of Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow. You also see a lot of the actual character/story arc of the MCU because this point in time feels a lot different than what we are seeing today. Some of it is character…some of it is the way the MCU tells its stories.

tomk: There is a trailer for The Last Airbender at the start of my DVD copy before the menu…

watson: I hope that is good!

tomk: Can’t go wrong with Shamaylan!

Man, Whiplash takes multiple hits to the junk from Happy’s car and stays standing…

watson: I know. I was trying to figure out if the exoskeleton had some form of protection. Because later that day, he’s sitting up. It seemed silly.

I think the villains in Iron Man 2 were worse than Thor 2 and Ant-Man. Mickey Rourke was terrible.

tomk: Tony did also punch him in his unprotected face…

Rourke hated the movie. Said a lot of his material hit the cutting room floor.

I’m watching it now and it’s on my least favorite scene: Tony’s birthday party.

watson: Yeah. We were all sad when DJ A.M. died before the movie.

tomk: I just watch this movie and it occurs to me Tony isn’t much of a hero.

Much of the plot shows Tony involved in deep self-indulgence.

And I know the point is he’s dying and trying to make the most of his time left, but he seems to have regressed as a character.

watson: I kind of saw this as his downward slide to parallel his alcoholism plot line from the comics.

Later in the MCU, he’s still cocky but he grows emotionally. It’s like the redemption where he goes clean, but Disneyfied.

tomk: I like to look at Avengers as the end of Tony’s arc. It’s the one where he finally acts like a selfless hero.

watson: Yeah. Then Civil War is the guilt of being a responsible human being.

tomk: With IM3 being PTSD from his heroics. Everything he does post Avengers deals with him trying to make the world better and safer without showing off quite so much. Arguably Ultron is how he sees saving the world through technology.

And Sam Rockwell seems like he wandered in from a different movie.

watson: When Sam Rockwell can’t get it done, you know it’s shit.

I wonder if RDJ’s take on Tony Stark mirrors his own personal growth. He was still closer to Rock Bottom then. Now he seems to have embraced fame and cleaner living.

tomk: Maybe.

I’ve finished the movie, and there’s a lot to like, such as Downey’s general onscreen charisma, his chemistry with Paltrow, Cheedle as an upgrade for Rhodey (even if Rhodey may have less to do in this movie), ScarJo is a bit impressive, and the action sequences aren’t bad.

That said, we’re seeing the start of Marvel’s villain problem here. Bridges had a motivation at least, and Roth was twisted by gamma power. But Hammer is just a dork that makes me wonder if all his stuff sucks how he’s still got a viable company, and Rourke seems like he should be chasing a moose and squirrel more than Iron Man.

But the more I watch, the more I think Tony’s just not a good hero at this point. He suits up to show off or defend himself or his property. He isn’t exactly a proactive hero. Even when he refers to himself as a deterrent, he’s one guy. He should be relatively easy if not to stop, then at least to go around.

Plus, there does seem to be a sense of just adding stuff to make the MCU bigger.

That said, I will add that the post-credits scene, the first time I saw it, actually psyched me up for Thor, and I was fairly certain at the time Thor was going to be rather ridiculous.

watson: A couple of other thoughts:

– I loved the intro of Rhodey. “It’s me. I’m here. Let’s Move on.” So classic. Fit into the scene (Tony is mad Rhodey is testifying AND a wink that they had recast the role amid controversy). Cheadle is sooooooo good in this role.
– This is the first time I’ve seen Agent Coulson in anything in a while. Sad he is dead.
– Pepper Potts is a weak character. She’s got modern day polish, but she is still the classic damsel in distress. Putting her in charge of the company after being his personal assistant (she literally picks up his laundry in IM1) is bizarre.
-I am not sure if I forgot or didn’t realize at the time that the way they beat the big boss at the end was to rip off Ghostbusters’ “don’t cross the streams” gambit!

tomk: I remembered, and the trick came from the end of the birthday party, the scene I most disliked. Jimmy was upset that Stane figured out how to fly the Iron Monger suit within minutes, but he might have had some instruction between scenes we never saw. How about Rhodey knowing exactly how to pilot one of Tony’s suits just by putting it on?

watson: He’s a natural!

A prodigy!

tomk: The Air Force trained him better than I would have thought!

watson: A convenient plot point in a bad movie!

Jarvis is a good co-pilot?

He took the tutorial at the beginning of the video game instead of hitting SKIP?

tomk: Yeah, I mean, the biggest complaint about this one is it has far too much stuff setting up the Avengers and ignoring its own movie. And I can see that. I don’t mind that too much because I want to see the Avengers, but it occurred to me The Incredible Hulk did a better job at universe building just by making the universe building stuff part of the Hulk’s plot and not just a side trip to see Nick Fury at a donut shop.

watson: Ironically, that didn’t bother me THIS viewing because I’m so used to it now. Every movie is setting up the next one. It’s becoming like damn comic books…

tomk: Equally ironically, it bothered me more now than it did then.

But I think it comes from what I said before about Tony’s regression. I didn’t mind, say, a Thanos scene or two in GotG because it was part of the movie’s overall plot. Even the MacGuffin-esque explanation of what the Infinity Stones were worked because it was explaining what the thing everyone was fighting over was. But here it bugged me a bit that I was wondering why someone from legal was first Tony’s and then Pepper’s all-purpose assistant.

watson: She was supposed to be “the notary” to…

I chalk that up to she’s a great spy and worked her way into where she needed to be.

tomk: A great spy with lingerie pics online…

watson: There’s even a funny acknowledgement from Tony that she works for Pepper after he finds out she’s a spy.

The pics were plants to entice Tony the perv.

tomk: Though that US Marshall who served Tony’s papers was Kate “Fantastic Four” Mara.

watson: A lot of other cameos I didn’t recognize then! Larry Ellison, Elon Musk, Olivia Munn!

Wasn’t it a little jarring to see their performances here now that Fury and Widow have refined their portrayal of the characters in later films?

Fury seems a bit less smooth here than later and Widow seems like she’s trying a lot harder with less impact that ScarJo delivers in say Winter Soldier?

tomk: Is it really a cameo if its an unknown actor in a small speaking part as we saw with Mara?

watson: Small roles, then?

tomk: Widow works better with Steve. I think its because ScarJo and Chris Evans are apparently good friends off-screen.

watson: Or even with Hawkeye.

tomk: Though funny story:

I was teaching a class when some students asked me if Scarlett Johansson was attractive. Now, normally, I’d say that since she’s younger than me and the first time I saw her she was underage, I don’t normally think of her that way. I feel the same about Natalie Portman and Kirsten Dunst. But the answer I gave was, “If you saw her walk out in the tight leather outfit in Iron Man 2 and didn’t think she was hot, you must be some kind of homosexual.”

Then I tripped over the foot of a kid in the front row and apologized to him, but everyone in the class was laughing so I assumed they thought it was because I “outted” the kid in the front row (I had not).

After class, someone came up to explain to me the kid disagreeing over ScarJo from the middle of the room actually was a homosexual and that’s why they were laughing…

jimmy: You guys started the party without me!

I think I’ve only seen this once before and I hated it. It wasn’t quite as bad as I remember, but it still wasn’t great. Whiplash was absolutely awful and Hammer wasn’t much better. I liked Cheadle over Howard. And with regard to him knowing how to use the suit, I got the impression he has tried them out in the time since the first film.

I liked the world building of the MCU, but agree it felt a bit more forced than Incredible Hulk.

PS. Coulson isn’t dead.

tomk: Not at this point he isn’t!

watson: Coulson is dead! What movie has he been in since Avengers?

tomk: We aren’t on Avengers yet!

And Joss Whedon agrees with Watson .

jimmy: Well, we know how we feel about Whedon and Watson at this point.

tomk: We want Watson to direct a Batgirl movie?

watson: It’s a re-watch. I kind of know what’s coming…

tomk: True.

jimmy: Anyway, Coulson is great. I like the Thor end credit scene. These are the ones that really worked, teasing the next film before we knew every detail about them prior to like we mostly do nowadays.


It was at this point that we weren’t getting much traction on an Iron Man 2 discussion, so I appealed to the masses for help at our most recent board meeting.

jimmy:  On a completely different subject, Iron Man 2 discussions have begun for any interested parties.

watson:  I’m in the discussion and even I am not interested in Iron Man 2.

jimmy:  Yeah, gonna be a tough one.

ryan:  Get Jenny in. She loves it.

jenny:  I do love Iron Man 2!!!

jimmy:  Dear God no.

tomk:  Again, someone had to.

jenny:  Dude, Jimmy, Iron Man 2 is a solid movie! We get Don Cheadle as War Machine, Tony synthesizes vibranium, Justin Hammer is delightfully awful, we get the best Howard Stark, Black Widow appears for the first time, and Tony is recruited to SHEILD. How does no one but me like this movie?!

jimmy:  Whiplash negates 9/10 of that.

jenny: No way!

He’s delightfully awful too!

I love IM2!

tomk:  Because some of those things aren’t true, Jenny.

jenny:  Haha!

greg:  Jenny that was the best 4 sentence synopsis of any movie I have ever read. Whole movie in a nutshell.

Unfortunately, we were still unable to recruit anyone else into our discussion, but at least it gave us some fodder and inspiration to continue…


jimmy: On Jenny’s little side rant, she praised Tony synthesizing Vibranium. I thought that was rather lame. So 40 years ago Stark’s father hid the details for exactly what Tony would need to keep him alive?

tomk: Was it vibranium?

jimmy: I had no idea it was outside of what Jenny said.

tomk: I didn’t think it was.

jimmy: It probably wasn’t.

The point remains.

tomk: I just remember Ryan getting upset that Ant-Man “recast” Howard Stark by using John Slattery instead of Dominic Cooper.

jimmy: Wait until Cap, Iron Man and Thor get recast.

tomk: Ryan will be pleased if they are played by the Rock, Kevin Hart, and Jack Black.

jimmy: Haha

And star in Krull 2: The Iron Fist Years.

tomk: Worst. Movie. Ever.

jimmy: And, of course, Iron Man 2 gives us the first MCU appearance of Peter Parker.

tomk: In retrospect, yes.

Do you suppose Richard Parker died during that expo?

jimmy: I thought the Red Skull killed him? In any case, it’s a silly retcon.

watson: Did they ever confirm that kid was Peter? Clayton said that during the rewatch but he’s a known liar…

tomk: Wasn’t it in a novelization for Homecoming or something?

jimmy: Holland and Feige made it up while promoting Homecoming I think.

watson: If Feige says it, It’s canon to me…

tomk: But it strikes me that putting Peter Parker as the kid in the mask right there is just another example of using Iron Man 2 less to tell an Iron Man story and more to use it to create a cinematic universe. That actually reminds me of Batsoup. Iron Man 2 is nowhere near as bad as Batsoup, but the movies were used more to expand the universe for other movies than to stand as a coherent story in its own right.

jimmy: What? The unfinished Cap shield wasn’t necessary to the plot???

tomk: Well, Tony did need something to prop up that coil.

jimmy: Has either of you actually read Demon In A Bottle? I haven’t. And from what I can tell, they didn’t quite go down that path, but we did get a drunken Iron Man.

tomk: I only know it by its reputation.

jimmy: Me too.

watson: Years ago. Before you were kind enough to join us, I made a reference to that. It feels like this was the rock bottom moment and the redemption angle begins at the end of IM3 and plays out through Civil War. Only the redemption isn’t AA. It’s the Sokovia Accords.

jimmy: I usually skip over your comments.

tomk: When did Jenny grab Jimmy’s account?

jimmy: Oh, and I LOVE Iron Man 2. It’s so great and stuff!

tomk: Tony makes vibranium or something?

jimmy: So Jenny was kinda right according to:  http://marvelcinematicuniverse.wikia.com/wiki/Tony_Stark%27s_New_Element

“In the Iron Man 2 novelization, the element created by Tony Stark to replace Palladium in the Arc Reactor is called Vibranium. The subsequent release of Captain America: The First Avenger retcons that information.”

tomk: Jenny was right?

watson: Jenny is never right. Even when she is correct.

tomk: It looks like she was retconned into being correct. Or right. Or something.

jimmy: I don’t think the novelizations are considered canon. And she was retconned into being incorrect.

tomk: What was she before?

jimmy: Not Vibranium.

tomk: Jenny is Vibranium now?

jimmy: Ugh. Moving on…

tomk: No wonder she’s looking forward to Black Panther…

jimmy: So Iron Man 2 isn’t invoking much conversation in either spectrum. Shall we move onto the scores?

tomkSix and a half out of ten meta-commentary opening lines with a plus or minus one Jenny Squeal depending on how I feel about Tony inventing Vibranium.

jimmy: Lol

Same score from me. 6.5 outta 10 I can’t top what Tom said.

watson: I’m a little less bullish based mainly on the villains and the DJ fight. I give it 5.5 R.I.P. DJ A.M.s out of 10.

jimmy: I’m going to resurrect a tradition Ryan began with our Fast and Furious rewatch. I give you, the Rolling List Of Truth!

Iron Man 9.7
Incredible Hulk 7.2
Iron Man 2 6.2

watson: That’s a downward trend. Why again were we excited about the MCU early?

jimmy: Excellent question. I think part of it was that they were really doing something we hadn’t seen before in terms of a shared universe. It was also right in our wheelhouse as comic and Marvel fans when there wasn’t much else out there. And Iron Man was THAT good.

tomk: That’s actually why I haven’t discounted the DCEU. Batsoup, like the Hulk, was only the second movie.

jimmy: This is probably for another discussion but I think part of the problem with the DCEU was that they didn’t want to “copy Marvel” and have all the solo movies build up to Justice League. But in doing so they gave most of these characters very little development and half the team ended up debuting in that film. Again, “part”.

Alright then. Time for the Chris’s to arrive and “save” the MCU.

watson: Looking forward to the arrival of Chris our saviors!

 

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