Iron Man 2

Release Date: May 7, 2010
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He has one for every day of the week.

On the Big Board
Position Staff In Brief
6/12 Les Winan Keeps the tone and fun of Iron Man, attempts to add too many storylines. Still terrific, just would have been better with less. Top notch cast.
15/123 David Mumpower The symmetry between bitter Russian inventor Ivan Venko and driven American capitalist Tony Stark is great moviemaking. Iron Man 2 isn't as good as the original, but it is a worthy sequel.
18/190 Max Braden I'd give the first Iron Man an A, this sequel a B+. The elements were there, I'd like to have seen more Pepper and more teeth from Sam Rockwell's character.

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“Clearly, there is big money in the opening weekend performances of comic book adaptations, and Paramount Pictures and Marvel Studios want to own the next ticket to ride on this money train.”

This was the statement I made regarding the impending release of Iron Man in 1998. And boy, did they ever. Iron Man’s official albeit semi-disputed opening weekend tally was $102.1 million, a total that reflects $3.5 million worth of Thursday sneaks that some choose to leave out of its three-day tally for no apparent reason. Of course, the money train did not stop there. Thanks to glowing reviews combined with majestic word-of-mouth, Iron Man flew (see what I did there?) into the exclusive $300 million club, finishing with $318.3 million.

This total was good enough for the second best performance of 2008, a paltry $215 million behind The Dark Knight. Okay, the silver medalist finished waaaay behind the gold medalist in this race. It did, however, edge out the much more storied Indiana Jones franchise along the way, no small feat in and of itself. Iron Man was not just a solid domestic performer, either. Another $263 million overseas garnered the title a gaudy worldwide take of $581.3 million against a production budget of $186 million. It also bears noting that Iron Man was also the second best seller on home video in 2008, again finishing behind only The Dark Knight. Clearly, this was the second strongest achievement in movie making in 2008, with most of the credit going to Robert Downey Jr. for finally becoming the above-the-title movie star his talent dictated that he always should have been.

Fast forward to 2010 and there is no sequel to The Dark Knight ready for theatrical release (it’s not my fault, so save your boos for Christopher Nolan). There is, however, a new Iron Man film ready to go. If you are surprised by this, you are not the only one. Director Jon Favreau, who is so the money and he doesn’t even know it, worried about the quick turnaround between the release of the first film and the beginning of pre-production for its successor. To his credit, he held firm against heavy pressure and wound up getting several concessions that allowed him to make the movie he wanted to make.

That film happens to be one that includes a couple of iconic Marvel characters. As all the Marvel movies prepare for the ultimate (see what I did there?) arrival of the first Avengers movie, Iron Man 2 will introduce the character of Black Widow Natasha Romanoff, an espionage expert who also happens to be sex on a stick. Fittingly, Scarlett Johansson was cast in the role and yes, Tony Stark is going to love her while Pepper Potts (the returning Gwyneth Paltrow) will not.

In terms of others returning to their roles, the news is less pleasant for Terrence “Whoop That Trick” Howard, who had expected to see his character, Lieutenant Colonel James Rhodes, get his own armor in becoming War Machine. That will happen, but Howard will not be playing the role. Instead, one of the finest actors in the world, Don Cheadle, has been brought onboard to play the part that he recently described on Craig Ferguson’s show as “Black Iron Man”. It’s funny ‘cause it’s true. Other actors from the original film who return from the sequel include Leslie Bibb as a too-hot journalist, BOP’s beloved Clark Gregg as a S.H.I.E.L.D agent, and Paul Bettany as the wry, dry voice of Stark computer butler JARVIS.

Also returning is Samuel L. Jackson, recurring in his post-credits appearance as Nick Fury. There exists the possibility that other characters expecting to appear in the Avengers movie such as Thor and The Incredible Hulk may also show up, but their presence is being kept under wraps for now.

What we do know for certain is that the villains can both act. Mickey Rourke cashed in his redemptive performance in The Wrestler in order to get a bigger paycheck as Whiplash, a guy who you know from the trailers to have whips on his arms. The opposing forces of Rourke and Downey Jr., the two comeback stories of 2008, squaring off in Iron Man 2 represents a sublime casting decision. Of course, the fun doesn’t stop there. As is the case with most of the tentpole comic book adaptations these days, there is another nogoodnik around and that character is Justin Hammer as portrayed by BOP fave Sam Rockwell. In terms of special powers, Hammer is and I quote “a normal, middle aged man.” I’m guessing that doesn’t translate exactly in the movie adaptation.

In terms of expectations, Iron Man 2 has arguably the loftiest of 2010. It’s either this film or Toy Story 3. The biggest comic book adaptation on the summer schedule will be a disappointment if it earns less than its predecessor and many are projecting it to have one of the five largest debuts of all time. The problem with such massive expectations is exactly the problem Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull faced in the days after Iron Man 2 stole its thunder in May of 2008. Simply matching forecasts is oftentimes viewed as disappointment in and of itself, no matter how unfair such thought processes are. With Avengers in the offing, Marvel’s lineup of several movies has its success riding on Iron Man 2 managing to surpass the original in terms of box office while also providing a quality viewing experience for consumers. BOP expects Favreau, Downey Jr. et al to be more than up to this task. (David Mumpower/BOP)

Vital statistics for Iron Man 2
Main Cast Robert Downey Jr., Don Cheadle, Gwyneth Paltrow
Supporting Cast Mickey Rourke, Sam Rockwell, Scarlett Johansson, Samuel L. Jackson, Jon Favreau, Garry Shandling, John Slattery, Kate Mara, Clark Gregg, Olivia Munn
Director Jon Favreau
Screenwriter Justin Theroux
Distributor Paramount Pictures, Marvel Studios
Rating PG-13
Talent in red has entry in The Big Picture



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