"The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he, who in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness, for he is truly his brother's keeper and the finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who would attempt to poison and destroy my brothers. And you will know my name is the Lord when I lay my vengeance upon thee."
Pulp Fiction (1994)
The Movie Maestro's Reviews: Iron Man 2 (2010) dir. Jon Favreau
The first sequel in the MCU, Iron Man 2 provides an interesting mixed-bag experience compared to its two predecessors. While the promise of an even more ruthless villain played by Mickey Rourke quickly falters as he struggles for screentime, the rest of the film is an intriguing peek at the future of the shared franchise.
Opening six months after the original film, we are quickly greeted to an extravagant display of Tony Stark's grandiose personality, and the reason why it seemingly hasn't changed after embarking on his career of heroism: the arc reactor is killing him. Lifting an oft-used prime motivator in the comics, Favreau and writer Justin Theroux use this dramatic aspect to great effect, both as fodder for the acting talents of RDJ, Paltrow, and newcomer Don Cheadle, who replaces Terrence Howard as Rhodey, and as a window into the psyche of Stark, his self-destructive tendencies, and the troubled relationship with his father Howard, threads which will become far-reaching in later MCU entries. The dearth of material already at hand threaten the pacing and narrative integrity of the film, but looking at it with fresh eyes, it plays almost like a story arc of the comics--which seems very appropriate for Marvel's television-series attitude towards filmmaking.
What Iron Man 2 has that some later installments do not is an allegorical underpinning: as several other writers have pointed out, IM2 heavily resembles Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged at certain points, with Tony firmly in John Galt's shoes, fighting off a government hungry to acquire his tech by unethical means. But by putting Stark in the shoes of the objectivist hero, Theroux and Favreau have dealt a major blow to Rand's ideals--Stark is impulsive, unpredictable, and even mentally unstable, and clearly is no preferrable alternative to the government. Perhaps the filmmakers could see America's current turmoil on the horizon?