‘Iron Man 2’ is heavy on the glitz, but lacks substance

After government weapons manufacturer Tony Stark publically confessed to being a metal-suited superhero at the end of Iron Man, moviegoers could not wait to see what lay ahead for the extremely pretentious, yet very likable billionaire and his new position as world peacekeeper.

The answer, as one could have predicted from the trailers, includes lots of explosions, twisting metal and numerous complicated, yet somewhat shallow storylines.

While the first installment of the Iron Man series focused mostly on the character of Tony Stark and the trials and tribulations he had to endure to create the man-made superhero, the sequel concentrates on how he uses his newfound alter-ego.  However, the movie features so many problems and plotlines it is a bit of a challenge for the viewer to wrap his head around.

Rival weapons expert Justin Hammer, (Sam Rockwell, Everybody’s Fine) has teamed up with Russian outlaw Ivan Vanko (Mickey Rourke, The Wrestler) to try and destroy Iron Man.  To bolster their defense, Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson, Lakeview Terrace) and Natalie Rushman (Scarlett Johansson, He’s Just Not That Into You) attempt to persuade Stark to join S.H.I.E.L.D., a secret superhero alliance.  Also, further adding to the complication of the film, Stark’s promotion of Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow, Two Lovers) to CEO of his company has caused dissention among stockholders.  The U.S. government tries to seize the Iron Man suits and make them property of the Defense Department.  And, to make matters worse, the element used in Starks’ battery-powered heart is slowly intoxicating his blood and killing him.

It almost seems as though director Jon Favreau decided to take the quantity over quality approach when it comes to the challenges Stark faces in Iron Man 2.  Instead of allowing a few compelling storylines to grip the viewer throughout the entire movie, as was the case in the first Iron Man, the sequel is a series of convoluted storylines that lack substance.  The movie keeps the viewers interest more through the flashy explosions and exciting battle scenes than great acting or a gripping plot.

Despite the great number of celebrity actors in Iron Man 2, the viewer should not go to the movie expecting to see superior acting or a deep storyline, which were factors that put the first Iron Man in such elite company.  Instead, it is similar to most superhero movies sequels today, comprised of a mediocre plot, below-average acting, but is somewhat saved by impressive special effects and intense battle scenes.

Overall, compared to the first one, Iron Man 2 is a bit of a disappointment.  Then again, Iron Man set the bar very high and duplicating it would have been a tough task.  Compared to other superhero sequels—for example Spider-Man 3 or Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer—it could do a lot worse, and it still should be worth the price of admission as long as the viewer’s expectations are in the right spot.