Tony Stark ain’t Peter Parker.
But then again, Robert Downey Jr. ain’t exactly Tobey McGuire, is he?
This is a good thing for which moviegoers should be rejoicing in with the arrival of “Iron Man 2.”
I suppose it’s a matter of personal taste, but I’ve more than grown weary of nice and fuzzy superhero movies, the kind found in the “Spider-Man” trilogy. Boring. Fortunately, the last two Batman movies and the “Iron Man” franchise have saved the world from superheroes who never forget to say “Please” and “Thank you.” Heck, Tony Stark doesn’t even say “Excuse me” after belching at the dinner table.
From the opening scene in which he flies through the air to the tune of AC/DC’s “Shoot to Thrill,” Downey Jr. lets you know he came to rock the party.
And “rocket” he does.
When the U.S. Senate tries to force its hand on Stark to hand over designs for his Iron Man suit, Stark not so kindly tells them to take a long walk off a short pier. He then proceeds to make senator/prostitute jokes. Score one for the Stark man.
Meanwhile, Justin Hammer (played by Sam Rockwell), CEO of Hammer Advanced Weapons Systems, is desperate to bring down Stark’s company, his staunchest competition. He’s so desperate to beat Tony at his own game he enlists the dangerous help of Ivan Vanko (Mickey Rourke), the son of a disgraced Russian physicist who once worked with Tony’s father.
It is Vanko who will prove to be Stark’s arch-enemy and overall buzzkill to the good life.
Although his role is somewhat limited due to him playing a brutish Russian with limited dialogue, Rourke brings another element to the party that wasn’t as evident in the first film.
Not that it’s much of a stretch for Rourke, the hard-living star of yesteryear who burst back into the movie mainstream with 2008’s “The Wrestler,” to play a hard-living Russian bad guy. He basically has to look creepy and talk as if he lives on vodka. I think he can handle this.
When he’s not saving the world, Stark can usually be found undressing curvaceous women with his eyes, stiff drink firmly in hand. Enter Natalie Rushman (Scarlett Johansson), a curvaceous woman with an apparent penchant for wearing skintight catsuits. Innuendo abounds.
“Is that dirty enough for you?” she asks Stark about a martini but not really.
“Iron Man 2” is a cool superhero movie for a couple of reasons.
One, it doesn’t take itself too seriously. For example, how many superheroes do you know who relieve themselves in their iron suits? Tony Stark does.
Second, as far as smart aleck superhero movies go, it’s hard to imagine one that could out-smart aleck or out-superhero this one. This is almost entirely due to the presence of Robert Downey Jr. Love him or hate him, the man can play a smart aleck superhero like nobody’s business.
A nice mixture of action scenes and witty one-liners keep things rolling along smoothly here. On-point performances from all the key players put this sequel on par with the original, and maybe even a step ahead. It’s a fun watch, all the way through.
At the risk of sounding like one of those critic quotes always plastered on ads for movies, “This is why we go to the movies!”
Sophomore slump? No thank you.
Sorry, this ain’t “Spider-Man” — just “no” will suffice.
Joel Sensenig is news editor of the Review Times. Although he enjoys superheroes of the boorish variety — for the sake of teaching his son good manners ““ he makes a point of saying ”excuse me“ when belching at the dinner table.