Well this is late....apologies, more about why in my next blog post.
So Iron Man 2. It takes place a few months after the first film and deals with Tony Stark having just revealed that he is Iron Man to the entire world. So this being an Iron Man film we get plenty of weapon contracts, government involvement and a corporations are dicks message. Really you aren't going to see this film for the plot. It's to watch Robert Downey Jr. play a suave and slightly douchey yet ever hilarious playboy. And giant robots beating the shit out of each other.
Iron Man 2 delivers in spades on one of those and the other, whilst present is neglected a little bit. Iron Man 2 is bigger in every way than the first film and whilst this helps the actions scenes immensely, it takes away some of the spark of what made the first film great. Iron Man 2 isn't bad, but when the first Iron Man so fun and witty and didn't need to rely on huge action set-pieces, it feels a bit out of place this movie improves a weak area of the first film at the neglect of what was working in the first place.
Robert Downey Jr. is still Tony Stark but because the world has increased in scope, he gets slightly less screen time. Luckily the likes of Sam Rockwell (proving he makes all films better by just being in them) and Mickey Rourke are able to shoulder scenes without Downey being in them. But the movie doesn't just rely on those three actors, and whilst no one else is 'bad' you do wish that we'd go back to the others. Even when Tony Stark is embroiled in the Shield parts of the film, which are only there to build mythology for the Avengers movie, he still shines.
I don't want to be too overly critical of this film. The humour is still there, the action is very well done. The balance and tone are great, far better than the shit heap that is Transformers 2. But it lacks a spark of what made the first film rank up there with Dark Knight and Spiderman 2 as truly great comic book films. Maybe it's trying to pack in technically two franchises into one with set-up for Avengers as well as dealing with plot lines from this own franchise. Or maybe a distinct lack in movement of this franchise. I would have loved to be building towards the Armor Wars or the Demon in a Bottle storylines but there didn't seem to be much expansion beyond what we found in the first film. Maybe it's being left for Joss Whedon's Avengers film but I would like to see something set up for an Iron Man 3.
Overall Iron Man 2 is a very fun film. Great action, good acting, particularly Downey, Rockwell and Rourke (Cheadle wasn't brilliant though). Sadly the spark of what made Iron Man 1 a fantastic film has lessened a little bit. I'm still super excited for Thor, Captain America and The Avengers but my excitement for Iron Man 3 isn't burning as strongly as before. I'm sure in roads will be laid in the Avengers film but that movie is still 2 years away. Iron Man 2 could have been one of the greatest comic book movies ever (especially due to the normal comic book movie rules) but sadly it's been bogged down by trying to appeal to two different franchises. When it focuses on or the other it works a lot better, so lets hope Iron Man 3 will be free from the tethers of having to work within the time frame of The Avengers 2.