First, some background: Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) plays by his own rules! He’s wicked smaht! The ladies totally love him! And he gets away with everything! If you tried to pull off the stuff he pulls off, you’d get a mom-like talking-t0. (“Rachel. Remember how you essentially told that Senate hearing committee to go eat a toilet seat? I’m very disappointed in you.”) He’s a rakish, roguish, self-aggrandizing billionaire, and even though you should kind of hate his guts, he makes it impossible. Also, he replaced his own heart with a diamond-shaped generator powered by Palladium chips. Totally normal. And between heading up Stark Industries—a premiere technology company created by his long-deceased dad—and acting like a lovable jerk, he builds his own superhero suit, which is excellent for fighting the bad guys.
Now that we’re all caught up, it’s time for Iron Man 2: Cooler, Plottier, and Better-Cameos-ier!
Here’s the problem: Palladium is kind of lethal, and the Iron Man suit is slowly poisoning Stark. On the one hand, the poisoning gives him a great motivation to refine his power source. On the other hand, it’s not so great for, you know, being alive.
SEVEN-YEAR-OLD RACHEL: The Palladium makes maze tattoos on Tony Stark’s neck! The suit makes stuff blow up and it’s cool! Also, I saw it fly really, really high.
This time around, Stark’s nemeses are the effete, smarmy Justin Hammer—think Lucius Malfoy if he liked knock-knock jokes—and brunette Ivan Drago.
SEVEN-YEAR-OLD RACHEL: His name is really Ivan Vanko! He’s Russian! His teeth are made of metal, which is why his best friend is a bird. And he’s really mad and smart! He makes a metal mansuit, too, and it has electric whips, which means he is a very bad man.
Of course, Stark has his usual cavalcade of supporters behind him, including put-upon gal pal Pepper Potts; G.I. Joe Don Cheadle; Sgt. One-Eyed Samuel L. Jackson, and Boob Ninja (as played by Scarlett Johansson). The latter three do much to enhance the blow-’em-up elements, which are particularly delightful. Kudos also go to the chemistry between Gwyneth Paltrow and Robert Downey Jr., and to Sam Rockwell, who should get the Oscar for Hapless Villain.
But what of the ridiculousness? Iron Man 2 mostly avoids moments of total silliness, but both seven-year-old Rachel and adult Rachel/me should recount the very best one for you. Here it is:
Since Stark must find an alternative to Palladium, he breaks out his billionaire’s erector set and Rube Goldbergs up a machine that can forge the element in question.
SEVEN-YEAR-OLD RACHEL: And now we know who invented Unobtainium!
All said, we appreciated Iron Man 2’s smart take on the summer blockbuster. Seven-year-old Rachel said she’d rather watch it than jump on the bed, which coming from her, is pretty high praise.