Here are my thoughts on Iron Man 2:
What I liked:
They beefed up all the secondary characters really well, I thought Nick Fury, Happy Hogan, Agent Coulson, Natasha Romanov, were all well fleshed out and while not the focus of the story, really added to it.
The initial 45 minutes were really exciting, the first action sequence was great, and the story was set up well.
The last 45 minutes were also action packed, and really moved well, better paced and better action than the last film’s conclusion.
All of the action scenes worked great, just like the first film.
Smart villains, I thought both Whiplash and Justin Hammer were good foes for Tony Stark, and I was really surprised that they didn’t have Mickey Rourke playing a simple dumb brute, he was a really smart adversary.
The performances were good all around.
The “after the end credits” scene was totally worth waiting for (I won’t spoil it here).
Good continuation of the story, it’s great to have the origin out of the way, and this really worked to move the story forward.
What wasn’t as good:
The middle 45 minutes dragged a little, I thought they really dragged out the scenes with Hammer and Whiplash, and the discovery of his father’s “discovery” was a little far fetched.
I would like to see more of the action scenes in the daytime, both films had the final battle take place at night, and I think that’s cheating, let us see the fight!
The “final” scene with the senator was a really strange moment to end on, it really just laid there as a scene, not an upbeat moment like ending with “I am Iron Man”, strange choice from Favreau.
I personally didn’t like that Tony and Pepper end up together at the end, it really didn’t seem to be leading that way, it would have made sense that Pepper and Happy had gotten closer in the time that Tony had disappeared, and there were several moments in the film that suggested that (this is what happens in the comics). It would better serve Pepper as a character if she stayed President while not being his girlfriend and he has to respect her that way, it would also grow Tony as a character.
I did think Sam Rockwell’s performance was a little over the top as Justin Hammer, he could have dialed it back a little and it would have meshed with the other performances better, especially in his scenes with Whiplash.
I thought Rhodey’s motivations are very unclear, I was never sure why he chose to do what he chose to do at any given time, he should have been developed better as a character as far as his background to explain betraying Tony.
While I thought her performance was overal pretty good, and above average for a love interest in a Superhero Movie, I got really annoyed with Gwynth Paltrow’s character’s continual response to a dangerous situation to be staring at it. She did the same thing in the first film. How about trying RUN AWAY FROM DANGER INSTEAD OF STARING AT THE THING ABOUT TO FALL ON YOU!
My final negative was the music, the first film really benefited from a very original music score by Ramin Djawadi, it really added to the feel of the film, made it fun, and I think it was a big part of it’s success.
For this film, Favreau turned to a composer he’d used before, John Debney, who is extremely experienced, but I think that was the mistake, the score didn’t add anything to the film, it sounded like any other movie, it had no distinct musical feel.
Just because the negatives outweigh the positives, don’t come away from this thinking I didn’t like Iron Man 2, I loved it, and plan to see it a couple more times. My overall feeling about the movie is positive.
I wouldn’t bother criticizing it this thoroughly if it wasn’t worth it as a movie.