Hello fellow Marvelites! Welcome to the third installment of The Marvel Report’s thirteen-week Retrospective of the Marvel Cinematic Universe leading up to the November 4th release of Marvel’s newest superhero on the block, Doctor Strange. This week we return to the Iron Man franchise with Marvel’s Iron Man 2.
I am a long-time fan of Marvel. The X-Men animated series and the X-Men and Excalibur comics of the 1990s pulled me into The Marvel Universe fandom. Having just turned 35 in June, l am old enough to remember many of Marvel’s earlier films when Marvel did not have its own studio–such as Generation X and Roger Corman’s take on Fantastic Four. I have even seen the 1978 Dr. Strange film–which I recommend that you don’t do. When it was announced Marvel would be making its own films, I become ecstatic. I was less familiar with members of the Avengers, but I became a fan after the first Iron Man movie. Tony Stark fascinated me with some interesting idiosyncrasies and his issues with his father. Finally there were Marvel films that played with drama and comedy with their characters in a way that appealed to me!
Iron Man 2 marked the first sequel to a Marvel film that was in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (and Phase One: “Avengers Assembled”). This movie provided the linchpin to the Avengers team that was getting assembled–which Nick Fury hinted at in an end-credit scene at the end of Iron Man. Over the course of Iron Man 2, we learn more about SHIELD and its members–including Natasha Romanoff, aka The Black Widow, who, for the first part of the movie, is undercover and evaluating Tony Stark to see if he is qualified for the Avengers Initiative (He isn’t.)
Agent Phil Coulson, the fan favorite SHIELD agent from Iron Man, also returns in Iron Man 2. There is a humorous scene where Coulson threatens to taze Stark if Stark tries to leave his home. Before Coulson gets a chance to taze Stark, he is reassigned to deal with something that has happened in New Mexico (Check out Captain America’s shield that is used in this parting scene!) We learn from the Iron Man 2 end credit scene that Mjölnir, Thor’s hammer, was found in New Mexico and Agent Coulson has been tasked to recover it.
Other memorable scenes include Tony Stark talking to Nick Fury and Natasha Romanoff at LA’s famous Randy’s Donuts (which does not actually have a sitting area, unfortunately), Iron Man and War Machine taking on some drones, and an appearance of Howard Stark, in a touching scene between father and son. Iron Man 2 is full of wonderful character-driven scenes; this focus on character depiction is what makes the villains as interesting as the protagonist and his friends.
Iron Man 2 has three antagonists: Senator Stern, Justin Hammer, and Ivan Vanko AKA Whiplash. Justin Hammer is a smarmy technocrat, but is kind of everything Tony Stark isn’t. Vanko is quite a fascinating character study, as well. He has been shaped by the influences that Howard Stark had on his father and his life, creating a one-sided blood-feud between him and Tony Stark because of this. The sins of the father run deep and remain a lasting theme throughout the MCU films that follow.
While Marvel’s Iron Man 2 may be the least favorite of the three Iron Man films for many fans (according to IMDB.com ratings), it is both a memorable film for its character depictions and connections to later Marvel films, Marvel One-Shots, and television shows.