Robert Downey Jr. is never really an actor which you can say is in the “wrong role.” I revere his versatile talents even though I admit that it’s hard not to watch a movie which he’s in without knowing all through the thing that it’s Robert Downey, Jr. Does that make sense? Here’s an example of my quandary: Downey, as Tony Stark/Iron Man (donning his masked suit) makes a smirk-inducing quip at one of his co-stars. Now, as I watch this, I find myself thinking, “Robert Downey is really funny,” when I feel like I should be thinking, “Iron Man is a prick!”
That is my dilemma in which I have faced during both Iron Man movies. The first Iron Man was the better of the two although the second in no way displeases. The addition of Scarlett Johnansson is a little off-putting because the story doesn’t need another good-natured superhero in the mix. Then I thought maybe she was supposed to initially serve as some romantic interest to tease the audience with the prospect of a faltering loyalty on Stark’s behalf towards his muse Pepper Potts, but that prospect is basically written out after two of her scenes.
On some levels, I feel like Iron Man was a great success because it was original and fun and action-packed and uniquely acerbic for a summer blockbuster superhero movie (an aspect that is mainly thanks to Downey). Iron Man 2, however, just seems like a way to keep the name brand alive. It’s not fresh anymore and the audience knows exactly what to expect from both the storyline and its principal character. The draw it has on audiences is primarily that of coolness or comedy and it was too straight-forward to fulfill either promise.
I think Iron Man 2 should have been marketed differently. The trailers never seemed to reflect the direness of Tony Stark’s palladium-infected blood situation. Here is your titular superhero, filled by your beloved, sharp-tongued actor – and he’s gonna die by side-effect of his own design people! Not to mention someone’s trying to kill him! But none of that was puffed up by the studios for popcorn-chomping audiences to devour and process. Instead we’re left to just think we’re heading into the same old theater, on the same old Friday night, for the same old summer superhero movie, where there’s the good guys and the bad guy and the bad guy’s hell bent on world destruction (or personal vendetta, you’re pick). Then we get in there, sit down, lean back, prop up our feet on the person’s shoulder in front of us, and find out the movie is an Ang Lee Hulk-inspired superhero drama? While I (not the pimple-faced, hyper-active, demographic they were aiming for) was actually pleasantly surprised by the film, the guy in front of me fell asleep on my shoe.