Iron Mongering: Iron Man 2 (2010)

I hadn’t heard a lot of great things about Iron Man 2. Between friends and the Totally Rad Show guys, the reviews weren’t the greatest. I think those people are crazy. Sure Iron Man 2 had some problems, but overall, it gave me the things I found the original wanting: a really good final battle (the Iron Man vs. the drones was probably cooler than the final battle with Whiplash), a better actor portraying Rhodey and more action in general.

Some people complained that the movie was too long and maybe felt like there were too many characters which took away from the Tony Stark/Robert Downey Jr. goodness, but I disagree. It felt like a very well paced and balanced movie to me.

I’m not going to get too much into the plot because I’m sure some people haven’t seen it yet, but I will talk about a few things that I really, really liked. First off, Don Cheadle annihilates Terrence Howard’s performance. He should have been in the role from the beginning. Second, even though Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow wasn’t the kind of role I expected it to be, I like they worked her in and her fighting style was awesome to watch. I could definitely go for a movie with just her. Third, the comparison between Howard Stark (Tony’s dad, played perfectly by Mad Men’s John Slattery) and Walt Disney is perfect. It obviously wasn’t directly stated, but between Slattery sporting a Walt-like suit and telling the people at home about his idea for the future and Stark Expo aping the World’s Fair (a showcase for many of Disney’s creations that are still in the parks today), it’s on the screen. Plus, the way Howard helped Tony later in life was awesome.

The movie’s not perfect, though. There was one plot hole early on that I actually forgot in all the awesomeness towards the end, but I did think it was odd that Mickey Rourke’s Whiplash would allow Tony and Rhodey to communicate towards the end of the movie. Rourke was fantastic by the way. I however did not like two of the performances in particular that of the Sams Jackson and Rockwell. Jackson seemed to be playing his role as a buddy of Stark’s which just doesn’t wash for me. And for Rockwell, I’m kind of shocked at how much everyone liked his character, or liked to hate him. Yeah, he was annoying and douchey, but it came off as a bad Dana Carvey impression of that character to me. Hopefully if he shows back up in Iron Man 3, he’ll be a little less over-the-top.

All in all, I had a fantastic time watching Iron Man 2 (I love that they called it Iron Man 2, by the way, and not something with a colon). It had everything I wanted and actually topped my medium-sized expectations. Plus, for me at least, the first Iron Man movie seemed amazing at the time, but on repeated viewings I found it wanting. Maybe that will be the case with IM2, or maybe knowing that the sequel picks up on the potential of the first one and continues on will actually make me enjoy the original more.

Iron Mongering: Invincible Iron Man Vol. 1

INVINCIBLE IRON MAN VOL. 1: THE FIVE NIGHTMARES (Marvel)
Written by Matt Fraction, drawn by Salvador Larroca
Collects Invincible Iron Man #1-7
It’s been a while since I’ve read a new Iron Man trade and I’ve been hearing a lot of good stuff about Invincible Iron Man, but thanks to Ben letting me borrow I can now no longer say either of those things. I was at Wizard when this book first kicked off. I was pretty excited to read a good Iron Man comic (this was after or around the movie and during the post-Civil War comics that ruined Iron Man for a lot of people including me), but I don’t think I even got through the first issue. I wanted a brand new Iron Man comic that was doing something new and here I was given a villain who is the son of old Iron Man villain Obidiah Stane. Yawn, no thanks. So, I didn’t read anymore, but I wish I had.

The book is pretty good, but not great by any means. It felt similar to Warren Ellis’ attempt to reboot the character with his Extremis arc, with the idea that Tony Stark needs to be ahead of the curve and not falling into a technological rut. Frankly, this shouldn’t be something that needs to be said, it should just always be done, so I’m not giving it a ton of credit for doing the thing that an Iron Man book should.

I will give the book credit for coming up with what turned out to be a pretty good villain. Zeke Stane has taken his father’s anger towards Iron Man/Tony Star and used it to fuel his genius which he aims like a gun at taking them down using Stark’s own tech. There’s a huge dearth of good new heroes and villains being created in comics right now either because reader’s just want to read the same old characters knocking each other out or because writers are too devoted to the old and not wanting to create new. Stane seems like a pretty good addition that we’ll probably see again soon.

The seventh issue in the book has Spider-Man following Iron Man around while Iron Man ties up some loose ends from the main arc. It’s an okay story, but felt kind of pointless to me. I’m all in favor for doing one-off issues, but this one didn’t seem like it added much to the story as a whole or offer any unique takes that made me smile. Plus, Fraction doesn’t write a great Spidey.

Finally, am I the only one who liked Larroca’s art way better in the 90s? He had that rad, cartoony style and now, well, now I’m not quite sure what he does. It’s not bad, in fact it’s very crisp, but it reminds me too much of McNiven but with more celebrities popping up. Anyway, click here, here and here for what Larroca used to look like.