Making the Grades
When one boy has the biggest and best toy, it’s just a matter of time before someone tries to trump him. And that is the case for Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) after he admits to being the guy inside the Iron Man suit. Proud, to the point of arrogance, that his invention has lead to a state of world peace, the self-made super hero struts his rocket propelled creation with rock star poise through publicity events, including his own Stark Expo.
However a competing arms manufacturer has convinced US Senator Stern (Garry Shandling) to see Iron Man in a different light. “Is it a sword, or a shield?” asks Justin Hammer (Sam Rockwell) in a hearing to which Stark has been subpoenaed. Concerned about Stark’s escalating control, along with intelligence reports of other countries duplicating his high tech armor, the Senator insists Stark Industries quits privatizing word peace. He also demands the company hands over the technology behind the flying suit. However the conceited mastermind, more intent on making jokes than concessions, quickly dismisses these requests and fears.
But in comic book land there is always an enemy. Unbeknownst to Stark, he has a Russian nemesis, Ivan Vanko (Mickey Rourke), who is on the verge of duplicating the high tech power source that provides Iron Man with his energy and the mortal inside with his life. The latter point is becoming an increasingly pressing issue for Stark as the palladium-based reactor implanted in his chest is releasing toxins at an increasing rate. Always reminding him of his precarious situation is Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow), a personal assistant that watches over her boss with great concern.
Like the previous Iron Man, you can expect aggressive confrontations in this film. The most brutal of these scenes involve assaults between mechanical alter egos. Collateral damage surrounding the battles is huge, although blood effects are minimal, making the sequel slightly less violent than its predecessor. The hero succumbs to alcohol again, but faces consequences for his intoxicated behavior. Sexual content consists of a couple of veiled remarks, bikini clad women seen on a stage and a couple of brief moments of women in underwear. While profanities are infrequent, they do include two bleeped words that are obviously sexual expletives.
On a positive note, the gallery of stars in this film delivers performances well above what is typical in this genre. The solid script provides an engaging story that is well paced. Unlike some other super-hero adaptations, this one doesn’t come across as two hours of darkness and despair, thanks in part to great tongue-in-cheek humor, as well as scenes of serious dialogue and interpersonal drama. Somewhere between the bombs and blasts the pompous protagonist also manages to have an experience humbling enough to leave him with a greater desire to value other people’s opinions and contributions. And it is this attitude adjustment that just might make Iron Man 2 fly for parents and their older teens.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Iron Man 2.
How does humor help to mitigate the violence and serious themes in this film? Is this use of comedy consistent with Iron Man’s heritage with Marvel Comics?
Consider the character of Tony Stark. Without his suit, is he a "tough guy?" Why are many superheroes scientists or intellectuals (what we might call "nerds")? How does this affect the way the audience relates to these characters?
In one scene a character makes a remark about the US being so at peace that doors are not locked. Another character says, "This isn’t Canada!" Do you think Canadian society is really that secure? Do some regions of the US enjoy more security relative to other areas?