Jan 17, 2018

The MCU Roundtable: Iron Man 2

If you’re anything like us, than you were blown away when the first Avengers: Infinity War trailer dropped. The extended Comics Cube family was so excited that we have decided to embark upon a full re-watch of the Marvel Studios film series. Every week we are going to watch and provide a roundtable discussion about each Marvel movie in release order. So far, we’ve done the first two movies that launched the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk. Next, is the first sequel of the franchise.

Countdown to Avengers: Infinity War
Iron Man 2

Due to the success of Iron Man, it’s only natural Marvel would immediately start working on a sequel. Iron Man 2 was released on May 7, 2010 (can you imagine a time when an entire calendar year passed without a Marvel Studios movie?) and made $128 million on its opening weekend. It ended its theatrical run at $312 million in the United States and $623 million total worldwide. Despite a lukewarm audience response, it was still an incredibly successful film.



BEN: Tony Stark gained a heart in the first movie, and this movie is about the repercussions of that. He has to deal with his new heart poisoning him physically, emotionally, and mentally.

DUY: This is my second least favorite MCU movie and a huge part of it is that’s it’s so in-cohesive.

BEN: Favreau reportedly was getting a lot of interference from Marvel which is why it’s so all over the place. It’s also why he didn’t return to direct the third movie.

TRAVIS: One of the few times I think an action movie could use forty minutes put back in… and it would feel shorter.

ANTONIO: My favorite of the three.

JD: I liked it more than 3 .

LAMAR: Okay, this is the second time I’ve watched this movie and I feel like y’all owe me money for this go-round. I’d rather sit in church and listen to my grandma and her choir buddies run down the 2 Live Crew’s greatest hits than watch this miscarriage of fantasy again. Also, I’m a teetotaler and this movie makes me want to smoke reefer.

BEN: Oh look, Psylocke (Olivia Munn) is in this. The Invisible Woman (Kata Mara) is too.

DUY: Regarding Travis’ comment the first time about how they just let Tony be a jerk, it’s still true here. Stark commandeering the Senate’s monitors is only right because he happens to be right. Also, the Senator that you know is Hydra kinda colors this entire scene now.

BEN: Spoilers!

BRIAN: Still weirded out by the replacement of Terrence Howard as Rhodey. Cheadle does a fine job, but I’d like to see the alternate universe version with Howard as War Machine.

DUY: I don’t think Howard had the edge to pull it off.

BEN: I don’t really like either of them as Rhodey.

"Okay, this is the second time I’ve watched this movie and I feel like y’all owe me money for this go-round." -LaMar

DUY: After the first one, I wondered how they would follow it up villains-wise, because most of Iron Man’s villains are either outdated Cold War era villains like the Titanium Man or Crimson Dynamo, or lame ones like Whiplash. Somehow they gave both kinds.

SAMANTHA: Mickey Rourke is a train wreck in most of his films at this point, and I think that’s why I keep watching his stuff – guess I can’t turn away.

BEN: Rourke was definitely going for it, and he didn’t quite get there.

JEFF: I really didn’t care for Rourke in this movie, his casting seems so “flavor of the week” coming off The Wrestler.

BEN: Exactly that. Sam Rockwell as Justin Hammer is much more interesting and a much better performance. I’m also really glad he didn’t get the job of Tony Stark previously.

JEFF: Rockwell stole almost every scene he was in. But that isn’t saying a lot for this movie.

JD: Justin Hammer was as close as Favreau could get to having his buddy Vince Vaughn in the cast. Rockwell killed it. He’s hilarious.

MATT: I liked Hammer, but overall this movie was a mess. Rourke was incoherent, literally, I need subtitles. Best to just skip and move on to Cap.

TRAVIS: I thought Rockwell and Rourke were both great. It’s fun. The performances are mostly what the movie has going for it.

DUY: Drunken Tony scene, shoot me.

"Rockwell killed it. He’s hilarious." -JD


BEN: Oppenheimer was an inspiration for this movie. Apparently he sunk into a deep depression after helping to create the atomic bomb, as the weight of what he had helped bring into the world began to sink in. That’s what they were trying to achieve with Tony Stark, which explains the odd drunk Iron Man scene.

DUY: Anyone who actually wants a “Demon in a Bottle” movie seriously overestimates how entertaining that would be.

BEN: The suitcase armor was cool as hell, and a great nod to the comics.

TRAVIS: The nerd jokes in this, like the Stark Effect, are funny and unexpected. I don’t gut laugh any more, but I do chuckle.

DUY: This five-minute Black Widow sequence just makes me wish she had her own movie.

BEN: It made the whole movie worthwhile for me, at the time.

DUY: I feel like they were going for the traditional sex appeal route with Widow (she has a “changing scene” and also some lingerie pictures in this one). The Disney purchase shifted that over to topless dudes.

"This five-minute Black Widow sequence just makes me wish she had her own movie." -Duy

TRAVIS: Which reminds me: I still don’t get where she was supposed to have been sexing all the male Avengers. At what point in this movie was she supposed to be remotely sexually interested in Tony? But, folks still talk like that was a real thing that happened.

DUY: She’s been actively interested in exactly one (whether or not that was the right one to do that with is questionable, and I’m sure we’ll get to that with Ultron). Anything else is people bringing in preconceptions.

SCARLET: I saw a bit of chemisty between her and Bruce in the first Avengers (and this was before Ultron came out) but it was kinda overshadowed by the relationship with Hawkeye, which surprised us all by being platonic.

DUY: I think she and Bruce had that moment in the first Avengers. I figured Hawkeye was platonic though, actually, and that they were more best friends than anything. But that was also partly because I was hoping Mockingbird would show up.

DUY: I’m so glad Cheadle is War Machine instead of Howard.

LAMAR: I wish Don Cheadle was Terrence Howard.

BEN: It’s interesting how Marvel was able to build such a strong reputation when two of the first three films are considered the worst of the franchise.

DUY: It’s because the next two deliver. Not as much as Iron Man, but just enough to build up that anticipation for Avengers.

TRAVIS: Cap really didn’t deliver anything for me well, except, well, Cap. It felt like it was a cut to be a prologue. A ninety minute scrolling yellow prologue set to Yankee Doodle. #90sCap4ever

"It’s interesting how Marvel was able to build such a strong reputation when two of the first three films are considered the worst of the franchise." -Ben


DUY: Three movies in and there’s been one good movie, pretty much. You could say virtually the same thing of the DC Extended Universe. So would the public be more accepting of the DCEU if it had come first? Same exact movies, just in an alternate reality where they come before the MCU.

ANTONIO: I don’t think that’s quite fair. If you break the movies down, sure, maybe there’s plotholes and issues, but all the performances remain enjoyable – at least with Iron Man.

BEN: Iron Man 2 and Incredible Hulk are good, not terrible. That’s the difference.

ANTONIO: I think it helped that Iron Man was clearly pointing towards and Avengers line-up.

LAMAR: The main difference with the two is Marvel set their universe up properly. Even with the not so good films, the universal narrative is still in place so the whole thing isn’t dependent on the movie quality as much. DC’s universe fails because the whole thing is set up wrong, so the mistakes are more glaring and defined.

JEFF: The movies are solid summer action movies, none of them leave you shaking your head like seeing the hero snap the villain’s neck at the end, and after the first Iron Man movie you knew that they were going to interconnect and building up to something big.

BEN: Jessica Biel, Gemma Arterton, Natalie Portman, Jessica Alba, and Angelina Jolie were considered for the role of Natasha Romanov a.k.a. Black Widow. Emily Blunt was originally cast, but had to pull out due to scheduling conflicts with the movie Gulliver's Travels.

ANTONIO: Jolie would have been weird.

BEN: Also, Eliza Dushku actively campaigned for the role of Black Widow, but did not get it, much to Duy’s disappointment.

DUY: Scarlett is the right person for the job. This was outside of Eliza’s wheelhouse.

BEN: Why, because she can’t act?

DUY: Essentially. She’d still have been the better Mary Jane Watson though. But Emily Blunt might have been interesting.

BEN: Who wins the award for “Best Supporting Actor?”

JEFF: I would say Rockwell, he was spot on and made the most out of the screen time he had.

BEN: It’s unfair to count Scarlett, so outside of her it’s Rockwell for me.

TRAVIS: Rockwell, I think, outdid everyone. I’m more entertained by Rourke’s scientist, though. Dudes both take Tony’s ego, father issues, and drive to impress and make way more complex mockeries of it.

JD: I have always liked this movie. I always thought of it as a The Avengers #0 kind of story. It introduced Fury and Black Widow and S.H.I.E.L.D. and War Machine. We got a look at the hammer (in the post-credits teaser) which everyone was asking about when they left the theaters. It was so much fun answering Marvel questions for strangers while I cleaned. Best supporting actor, the War Machine armor.

BEN: That’s an interesting point because the universe was expanding quickly and it was so exciting at the time. It’s hard to remember now, but it was so very cool that Black Widow was in this movie, and they didn’t have to give her too much screen time, it was the perfect tease for the future. I think that’s why even if the movies weren’t great, viewers were still ready for what comes next.

TRAVIS: The idea that there’s more coming, and that this universe will be huge, really comes to play with this movie.

DUY: Ehhh, I’m gonna go with Scarlett for best supporting actor. Really makes you excited for the future. I’m not really willing to give this movie an award that stands on its own.

"I have always liked this movie. I always thought of it as a The Avengers #0 kind of story."  -JD

PETER: I know we usually rank this and Hulk at the bottom of the MCU rankings, but for its time and on its own, it was fun. The only thing I didn’t like was Rourke’s acting and character. The Black Widow fight scene was quite a thrill at the time and remains excellent to this day. And I still don’t mind half paying attention to it when it’s on cable these days. It’s just that when you have to rank all 16 MCU movies, well one of them has to be 15th or 16th, right?

DUY: Yeah, I need to point out that this is the one MCU movie I didn’t see in theaters, due to my general dislike of the Iron Man character, by the time I’d seen it, Thor and Cap had already come out, so my personal bar was higher.

PETER: I don’t really have any comic book recommendations for this. Hammer’s daughter shows up as the villain in the Fraction/Larocca run and it’s not too bad, so maybe that.

DUY: Any other comic book recommendations for Iron Man 2? I’m gonna go with Waid and Samnee’s Black Widow run, which may provide a nice template for Widow going forward.

PETER: The Liu/Acuna mini-series was disappointing, but maybe I set my expectations too high because of the creative team.

BEN: Widow was great in Brubaker’s Winter Soldier comic too.

JEFF: Iron Man: Doomquest, The Mask in the Iron Man, Hypervelocity. There’s a good but forgotten Black Widow story from the old Journey Into Mystery days, recently added to Comixology, #517-519, worth a read.

BEN: Oh yes, the Iron Man vs Dr. Doom fights are great, mostly because they have my beloved Morgan Le Fay.

JEFF: Doom commanded that when the name Doom is spoken, greatness is always assured and expected.

TRAVIS: I’ll recommend Rucka & Grayson’s Black Widow, and a little farther afield, Transmetropolitan. Political gaming. Father issues. Burned colleagues. Dangerous wealthy fame-chasers. Angry, drunken binges you regret. And, sci-fi.

BEN: Final question, who gets the “Val Kilmer” award for dominating the movie? It’s hard not to say RDJ, since he’s the main thing keeping this movie afloat, and it’s easy to take him for granted with all the new shiny characters.

DUY: Anyone who says anyone other than RDJ is lying.

MATT: You could make a case for Rourke and his insane performance.

ANTONIO: Rockwell definitely gave it a go.

BRIAN: Favreau’s MMA skills all the way!


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