By Marc S. Sanders

Iron Man 2 is a Frankenstein’s Monster of a film. Director Jon Favreau returns, but not with the same insight he invested into the first Iron Man. This loud, headache inducing sequel is an assemblage of cutting room floor scenes taped together to mask itself as a cohesive narrative brought to life. The movie exists. Yet it has no brain.

Six months have passed since the events of the first film, and Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr) is ready to open his peace parade Expo in New York. The problems begin here. Stark, who redeemed himself as a born-again, eyes open martyr at the end of the first film, reverts to an obnoxious jerk full of brash, rude cockiness. Downey goes so over the top with his improvisational one liners that you can hardly stand Tony Stark, and this is all before he gets drunk and pees in the Iron Man suit.

Stark is experiencing rapid blood toxicity from the suit and he is unable to find a solution. I might have been concerned at first but after the film is over, the convenient remedy just made me feel cheated. Poor writing offers a convenient get of jail free card.

Then there is Stark’s relationship with his friend Rhodey (Don Cheadle). Cheadle shows potential in the part he resumed from Terrance Howard, but he really only serves two sole purposes, to have an armor throw down with Tony throughout the mansion (a stupid fight by the way), and to wear the new War Machine armor. That, I’ll say is pretty cool in charcoal black with red eyes and a shoulder resting machine gun.

Gwenyth Paltrow is back as Pepper Potts, and she just kvetches a lot. Paltrow and Downey’s chemistry are all but gone. Not really the actors’ fault though. More so, it’s the dumb screenplay by Justin Theroux who I guess found it adorable for the two players to squabble amid the action scenes. It’s rather annoying actually.

Theroux makes a lot of misfires here. The great Mickey Rourke appears to have fleshed out a great villain known as Whiplash. A Russian physicist with a grudge against Stark. Rourke offers a scary appearance of long hair, gold teeth and a tattooed muscular body. Oh, and he has a cockatoo as well. Mustn’t forget that. Too much of this film is devoted to this bird that does nothing. Whiplash is insufficiently written. He has a mid-film battle with Stark at the Grand Prix in Monaco, then following a prison escape, he’s harbored by Stark competitor, Justin Hammer, in a factory where he does nothing but build robots. None of this is interesting.

Sam Rockwell plays Hammer as a whiny kid in nerdy glasses and even nerdier three piece suits. He’s not a villain you ever love. He’s a Frank Burns, but his stupidity against Stark and Rourke’s character offers no humor from the stooge that he is.

Side stories focus on anticipation towards the first Avengers film with Samuel Jackson as Nick Fury and Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow, yet not much is offered. They have nothing to do with anything else going on in this hodgepodge. Johansson finally gets a good fight scene during the climax, but it remains brief.

So there’s really nothing in Iron Man 2. It’s just a mix of things smashed together. The Iron Man suit only has three scenes, one to open the Expo (no fight there), one to have drunk Tony Stark fight with Rhodey while wrecking his house (Belushi did it better in Animal House, as well as the cast of Sixteen Candles), and then finally in a climactic ending against Hammer’s military robots and Rourke’s Whiplash who hardly participates in the moment.

Iron Man 2 is likely my least favorite of all the MCU films. (Actually, Eternals took that top honor, recently.) It offers one redeeming quality and that’s its end credit scene, maybe my favorite of that particular category.

Otherwise, Iron Man 2 is pointless, dumb, ignorant of its product, and flat out obnoxious.

Stan Lee Cameo: Was that Larry King? Really?

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