Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Why Iron Man 2 is My Favorite Marvel Movie

The third film in what has become known as the Marvel Cinematic Universe had a lot riding on it's shoulders. It was the follow-up to Iron Man, the massive hit that started it all. It came out in 2010, after 2009 became so far the only year to lack an MCU release. Most notably, Iron Man 2 was hot on the pre-Avengers hype. It understandably wasn't everyone's favorite, but almost a decade later it's still considered one of the worst out of over 20 of these things. And I find that crazy. It's my favorite!

Why I love Iron Man 2 can be summed up in one sentence: It's a classic superhero adventure, not another "end of the world" story. Most of these Marvel movies end in massive battles with the highest stakes imaginable. It's always the end of the world or the universe or the multi-verse.

I'm not saying I don't like movies where it feels like if the hero loses the final battle than it really will be the final battle, but that's like all of them. If origin stories are appetizers, any movie where some sort of world is about to end is a dessert and you can't have dessert for every meal. You need an entree.

I love Iron Man 2 because it just feels like another week in the life of Tony Stark. If it were a comic, it'd just be one of his continuing adventures, not a massive crossover event. If this were a cartoon, it wouldn't be a big series finale like every other movie is. Iron Man 2 feels like a perfect comic book story arc.

Iron Man 2 doesn't waste time with any origin story, even the villain's personal motives are dulled out slowly over time. Whiplash doesn't want to create an army of military drones to take over America or something. He built them specifically to kill Tony - he didn't even care if he survived.

Tony spends the film dealing with his own problems, they're exacerbated by Whiplash's appearance, and then he takes some time - using Batman's fake "prep time" superpower - and then solves all of his problems. Yes, it's light on fight scenes but so are the other two.

These movies have all basically been character vehicles and seeing characters introduced in one movie and then have their entire being risked in the very next leaves much to be desired. We only ever see The Avengers together when the world is at stake. Quicksilver died in his introduction movie. Half of the Avengers quit at the end of their second film. There are no small stories where Avengers Tower gets invaded by the Masters of Evil. Do movie goers really need their explosions to get bigger and bigger?

Most of the complaints I've heard about Iron Man 2 come from it spending too much time setting up The Avengers. As if every movie that has come since wasn't doing exactly that? Marvel fans love all the references and allusions and teasers for upcoming movies, how does this movie have too much of that? We see the Cosmic Cube in a journal and Coulson leaves to go meet Thor. That's pretty much it. That stuff isn't my favorite part of the movie but at least it's not Falcon zooming into Ant-Man for a random fight scene.