IRON MAN 2
Action-Packed Eye Candy with a Heart
Starring: Robert Downey, Jr., Gwyneth
Paltrow, Mickey Rourke, Don
Cheadle, Scarlett Johansson,
Sam Rockwell, and Samuel L.
Audience: Teenagers and adults
Runtime: 124 minutes
Distributor: Paramount Pictures/Viacom
Director: Jon Favreau
Executive Producer: Alan Fine, Stan Lee, David
Maisel, Denis L. Stewart,
Louis D’Esposito, Jon
Favreau, and Susan Downey
Producer: Kevin Feige
Writer: Justin Theroux
Address Comments To:Sumner Redstone, Chairman/CEO, Viacom
Brad Grey, Chairman/CEO
John Lesher, President
Paramount Film Group
5555 Melrose Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90038-3197
Phone: (323) 956-5000
The movie opens in Moscow with Ivan Vanko, played by a very grungy, tattooed Mickey Rourke, giving his dying father a cyanide pill to ease his pain and euthanize him. From the visuals, it is clear that Ivan’s father was the co-inventor of much of the Stark technology, but Tony “Iron Man” Stark’s late father Howard had sent Vanko back to Russian where he dies a broken, impoverished person. Ivan gets to work building his father’s tiny, heart-sized reactor similar to Tony Stark’s, to power an exoskeleton that will give him tremendous power. He wants revenge on Stark Industries.
Back in the USA, Tony is hosting his late-father’s extravagant Stark Expo. There, he comes out of the sky as Iron Man in the midst of a Busby Berkeley female chorus line so he can show his latest inventions. Tony refers to himself as a “Phoenix metaphor,” the Phoenix being a Christ symbol for rising from the dead.
As Tony leaves the expo, a beautiful girl gives him a subpoena to appear before the U.S. Senate. The miserable socialist senator form Pennsylvania orders that Tony turn over all his Iron Man technology to the government. The senator calls up Justin Hammer, a competitor of Tony’s, to make the case that one man cannot be trusted with this powerful technology, so the greedy socialist government should seize it.
At the hearing, Tony makes fools of the senator and Hammer, showing that they are the ones not to be trusted. This does not endear himself to them. By the way, they make statements such as “God bless Tony Stark,” but it is clear they are the villains and don’t really mean it.
Back at Stark Industries, Tony reveals he is being poisoned by the radiation from his artificial heart power source. He refuses to tell his trusted assistant, Pepper Potts, that he’s dying, but turns over the control of Stark Industries to her as CEO. Pepper brings in a lawyer, a very provocative looking woman named Natalie, played by Scarlet Johansson, with documents for Tony to sign. Tony is immediately smitten by Natalie and makes her his new personal assistant. She turns out to be a formidable martial artist and a covert operative.
The three of them, plus Tony’s chauffeur, travel to Monaco for the Monaco Grand Priz car race. There, Ivan shows up and, with his electronic whips, cuts their Rolls Royce, their sports car and other cars in half. Suddenly, it looks like Hammer and the senator were right. Stark cannot control his own technology.
Ivan is taken into custody, but Hammer breaks him out of prison so that Ivan can give Hammer the technology to become the sole government contractor. Tony’s military friend, Lt. Col. James “Rhodey” Rhodes, tries to get Tony to settle down after he goes on a rampage. Rhodey puts on an Iron Man suit and fights Tony man to man. Then, Rhodey takes the Iron Man suit back to the government, where, of course, it ends up in the hands of Hammer.
The climax develops as: Hammer and Ivan are weaponizing a steel-garbed fighting force and trying to destroy Stark Industries; Natalie and a covert team of heroes are trying to save Tony; and, Pepper and Stark are afraid to tell each other that they love each other. For the last 45 minutes of the movie, all stops are removed in a tremendous action adventure extravaganza.
For those who are sensitive, it must be noted again that IRON MAN 2 is a darker, more violent, and more sexual movie than the first one, with some pretty blatant sexual innuendoes. Also, even though it’s one of the most exciting popcorn movies yet, it is tough to sustain this level of adrenaline rush without very careful scriptwriting. So, there are moments in the middle that may seem a little too weighty. Even so, IRON MAN 2 has one of the best endings of a comic book fantasy in terms of structure, pacing and thrills. One could argue that the best ending morally was Spider-Man’s battle with Doc Ock in SPIDER-MAN 2.
That said, IRON MAN 2 has a lot for conservatives to appreciate. The greedy government socialists are the villains. This is an honest portrait of socialism from Hollywood, and the good guys are clearly identified with private property, capitalism and free enterprise. In fact, it is almost Ayn Randian in its intensity. Regrettably, the senator and the villain have the best pro-God dialogue, but the most redemptive acts of the plot belong to the movie’s heroes, Tony Stark and Pepper. These redemptive acts are very clear by the end of the movie. After all, this is a comic book. But, they are set in a very hedonistic pagan world. Stark likes women, and there are plenty of them. And, Stark likes his alcohol and even gets drunk in the middle of the movie, which embarrasses Pepper.
The main female characters, Natalie and Pepper, are good, well-rounded characters. They are women who triumph, but they also care and love and stand by their man. They do the right thing. They are complete women, but they are not feminists.
Mickey Rourke is a detestable villain.
Most adolescent viewers probably will be turned off by the tattoos, the heavy-handed government, and the hedonism by the end credits. There will still be some, however, who will like the villain’s characteristics and attitude.
The dialogue in IRON MAN 2 is slightly too clever. And, the direction almost becomes too stereotypical. This is a danger with comic book fantasies. But, again, the ending saves the day.
Please exercise caution for younger children on IRON MAN 2, but be assured that this movie embraces many positive values that people of faith appreciate, and the villains as well as the mistakes that people make are the things that people of values do not like. There is a moral order and a redemptive heart beneath Superhero Tony Stark’s very colorful iron skin.
IRON MAN 2 is a very exciting action adventure fantasy chock full of adolescent eye candy. It has some positive, redemptive messages if at the very end, but it is darker than the first movie. Please exercise caution for younger children on IRON MAN 2, but be assured that this movie embraces many Christian, moral values that people of faith appreciate. There is a moral order and a redemptive heart beneath Iron Man’s very colorful iron skin.