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Robert Downey Jr.
Mickey Rourke
Sam Rockwell
Gwyneth Paltrow
Samuel L Jackson
Don Cheadle
Tim Robbins
Scarlett Johansson
Kate Mara
Clark Gregg.
Jon Favreau.
Justin Theroux.
Running Time
124 minutes

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Iron Man 2
Robert Downey Jr.'s aluminium avenger returns

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Playboy superhero Tony Stark (Downey Jr.) looks like he’s having the time of his life, but secretly he’s starting to crack from the strain of a mysterious malady. Meanwhile, deranged Russian Ivan Vanko (Rourke) is plotting to annihilate Tony, in the guise of super-villain Whiplash…

Iron Man 2
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The first Iron Man arrived at cinemas an oddball underdog — it was, lest we forget, a minor-property superhero movie from the director of Zathura, starring Zodiac’s third lead — and blasted out a gold-and-red-plated megahit. Now, two years on, things have changed. Robert Downey Jr. is, for the first time in his 40-year career, a giant star, while Ol’ Shellhead’s steely visage is famous from Peru to Timbuktu. And here comes the sequel, hotly awaited as one of the year’s biggest releases, the second instalment of a metallurgy-based action franchise that’s sure to roll on and on. The Wrath Of Can, if you will.

Like the sequels to Stars Trek and Wars, Iron Man 2 is a tale of revenge. But, unlike those films, this is one of the breeziest blockbusters you’re likely to see. There’s potential for darkness here: when we meet Tony, he’s hiding from everyone the fact he’s being gradually poisoned by his suit; villain Ivan Vanko (Mickey Rourke) is hellbent on avenging perceived injustices done to his father; and Jim Rhodes (Don Cheadle) is considering betraying his pal by teaming with rival arms dealer Justin Hammer (Sam Rockwell). But Jon Favreau, it seems, didn’t want to make his Part Two a downer. He’s out to have fun, not only in front of the camera (his chauffeur character, Happy Hogan, has been bumped up from cameo to supporting role, helping out Tony in two action scenes and getting pinned between Scarlett Johansson’s legs) but behind it too, focusing on gyrating cheerleaders and gleaming tech over inner turmoil.

Not that there’s anything wrong with fun, of course, especially in a film about a millionaire with a magic flying suit. It’s just a shame it rarely feels there’s much to threaten Tony Stark’s perfect world. In the movie’s stand-out sequence, Vanko launches an assault on his nemesis at the Monaco Grand Prix, twirling twin whips that fizz with megavoltage electricity. As he effortlessly slices up oncoming cars and advances, cackling, on a suitless and scared Stark, it actually feels like there’s something at stake, that our hero has met his Waterloo. It’s a feeling that’s sadly absent from the rest of the runtime.

Maybe it’s the fact that two of cinema’s most charismatic, weathered actors perform their most dramatic moments with faces cloaked by metal. The climax is a particular disappointment, a beefed-up re-run of the last film’s final reel, in which featureless metal men thump each other until one falls over.

Little emotional heft, then; fortunately, there’s still plenty of charisma. When he’s out of the suit – and Favreau has the good sense to keep him out of the metal mankini for as long as is superhumanly possible – Downey Jr. continues to be unstoppably likeable (though Tony’s burgeoning romantic relationship with Pepper needed more screentime and snappier patter). Rourke squeezes every drop of weird out of his character, even aside from the copious body-ink and pet cockatoo (though he’s relegated to sitting in a lab for the whole second act). And Sam Rockwell just about steals the show as Hammer, the fast-talking weasel who wants to be Stark but falls short on every level (no complaints here).

As for Johansson, who gets to show off her gymnastic chops in a mêlée sequence with a great punchline, her character is not the villain some predicted, more a walking teaser trailer for The Avengers (due in 2012). That’s a Marvel mindset that dominates the movie, with numerous teasy references and in-jokes setting up Captain America and Thor; the uninitiated will be baffled, especially when a one-eyed Samuel L. Jackson turns up halfway through as Nick Fury and starts banging on about SHIELD, but still appreciate the sight of Johansson in a catsuit.

Rourke and Rockwell make satisfying, complementary villains, while Downey Jr. delivers again. Shame this sequel feels inessential, over-busy and a little, well, mechanical. Nothing they can’t put right for Iron Man 3.

Reviewed by Nick de Semlyen

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Your Reviews

Average user rating for Iron Man 2
Empire Star Rating


apon crap. nice effects but the script is pants ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by SpeedSailor at 21:43, 22 September 2012 | Report This Post

Iron Man 2

Despite dazzling visual effects and a few good performances, Iron Man 2 does not live up to the expectations of it's original. The films spends too much time developing the wrong characters and not enough time keeping the audience interested in its plot. This sequel seems not much more than a way to make explosions and set things up for The Avengers. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by norgizfox at 03:05, 24 June 2012 | Report This Post

RE: Empire gets it right this time

L: ElSloano64 Time for tuppence worth...! A lot of scenes in Iron Man 2 felt like that. As if screenwriter Justin Theroux was doing an "Emil Gargunza" and extracting the urine, basically, out of his test subjects. think you'd earn much more than a tuppence for that one. I don't know how I missed it I saw the film again earlier today. It definitely isn't as good as the first film and they certainly blocked the arteries with the set-up for the Avengers. They should just have made mi... More

Posted by Emyr Thy King at 16:09, 25 April 2012 | Report This Post

Iron Man 2 Review

It isn't quite the breath of fresh air that Iron Man was, but this sequel comes close with solid performances and an action-packed plot. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by the film man at 14:09, 19 December 2011 | Report This Post

Great performance from Downey Jr. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Ciaran McDaid at 11:17, 16 October 2011 | Report This Post


I enjoyed this movie as much as the first i must admit but i thought they spent a bit to much time in "Get drunk because im dying slowly" mode.....AKA destroying his house and being depressed. Apart from that it was great, I just hope they dont use the "steal his plans and make my own robot" in the 3rd film if there is. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by AntGC at 11:57, 02 January 2011 | Report This Post

Dissapointing at best

Barely two action scenes, 1 at the start one at the end. There was a massive amount of time devoted to talking about a problem(1 hour maybe plus) that dissapears within 30 seconds of Jackson turning up with a miracle solution; why spend so much time building up the problem before eliminating it lickity split? Jackson came across as an angry and drunk NIck Fury. The ending scene was a joke with no real danger to anyone but Rourke who gives away his last chance for revenge 5 minutes before the bom... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by moc1988 at 07:10, 20 December 2010 | Report This Post

Yesterday: tp://]Iron Man 2arlier this year I missed it in the cinema so now I finally saw it on blu-ray. The result is a flick that isn`t a fresh as the first part by a long shot. Many of the things that made that film so fun, original and enjoyable now made sure that this part wasn`t any of those things. Especially this can be seen in the snappy dialogues between Robert Downey Jr. and Gwyneth Paltrow. They aren`t quite as sharp as in the first part and tend to ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by TheGodfather at 21:03, 19 November 2010 | Report This Post

Good. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by reminn at 11:42, 03 November 2010 | Report This Post

RE: Iron Man 2

L: Death_Row_Marv Iron Man 2 esus Christ, man!  Does the word Spoiler mean nothing to you?! ... More

Posted by Invader_Ace at 20:50, 02 June 2010 | Report This Post

RE: Iron Man 2

Ok, n 2od but quite dissapointing. The first was fantastic (9/10) and this sequel looked like it had the potential to live up to its first. Unfortunately, no. Why? here are my reasons: 1) Whiplash - Mickey Rourke's character was undeveloped and Whiplash was killed off far too quickly in a ridiculously short and anti-climactic end battle. 2) Too many characters spoil the broth - Was Scarlett necessary? Did Favreau's character need a bigger part? The fight between Iron Man and War machi... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by robwillphill at 20:06, 02 June 2010 | Report This Post

RE: Iron Man 2

A bit meh really. I was expecting far more from Whiplash and when Rourke looks so cool i think its criminal what he was wasted to. Had the end fight been better I would have found it more enjoyable- I liked the double team up but the appearance of whiplash was far too underwhelming. But three stars is about right, ill watch it again and I cant wait for the other marvel films. ... More

Posted by kumar at 00:16, 01 June 2010 | Report This Post

RE: Iron Man 2

L: Death_Row_Marv Iron Man 2 ...... lol well now no-one will need to see the film to know what happens.... too much info! Good job I've already seen it! :) ... More

Posted by mystra at 20:58, 27 May 2010 | Report This Post

RE: Iron Man 2

Was a bit worried about going to see this after reading some not so great reviews on here.   Glad to say I wasnt to worry.....Really enjoyed the movie. Everything you want from a summer blockbuster.   People moaned that he didnt spend enough time in the suit, am I the only one who prefers it when he's Tony Stark, RDJ is just awesome! All the little marvel references were great tho, and loved the cut scene at the end of the credits :-)   2 and a bit hours well spent!!... More

Posted by primebhoy at 09:21, 21 May 2010 | Report This Post

RE: Iron Man 2

Iron Man 2 Tony Stark (Robert Downy Jr.) the playboy industrialist billionaire (just how do you become one of those?) returns to wear the iron suit. This time instead of terrorists and back stabbing “friends” Tony is up against crazed Russian scientist Ivan Vanko (Mickey Rouke) and weapon maker Justin Hammer (Sam Rockwell.) Returning characters include Starks P.A Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow), head of S.H.I.E.L.D the eye patched Nick Fury (Samuel L Jackson), S.H.I.E.L.D agent Coul... More

Posted by Death_Row_Marv at 20:42, 20 May 2010 | Report This Post

RE: Empire gets it right this time

Harsh,but possibly fair. ... More

Posted by BOHEMIANBOB at 21:44, 19 May 2010 | Report This Post

RE: Empire gets it right this time

Time for tuppence worth...!   Iron Man 2 was bad. Watching it reminded me of a scene from an Alan Moore comic called Marvelman (Miracleman in the U.S.) where Marvelman's creator discusses the hybrid alien technology used to create a super powered human with Sir Denis Archer and more importantly, how Marvelman and Kid Marvelman and, "ahem", Young Marvelman  are "controlled" i.e. kept sedated and subjected to "ludicrous" fantasy scenarios (in other words, their 1... More

Posted by ElSloano64 at 11:42, 19 May 2010 | Report This Post


LOVED IT!! I was really worried I'd be disappointed, as I love the 1st film so much, but i might actually like 2 a little more... did everything i like in a superhero film, great action, story and characters and it's a got some funny moments too. I don't think it pushed the Avengers set up as much as some think. Scarlet was more bearable than i expected, but agreed on the forced sexuality others have mentioned here, sometimes it was a bit cringey but her action set piece was really g... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by mystra at 12:25, 16 May 2010 | Report This Post


I think,like any other opinion here,it's perfectly valid. RDJ portrayal of Stark make the character hard to like sometimes,which is a major problem in a superhero film,no matter how "different" it trys to be. ... More

Posted by BOHEMIANBOB at 00:02, 15 May 2010 | Report This Post


Yeah little bit too much smarm. Perhaps controversial but I was never sure RDJ was the man for the job in the first place. Queue backlash ... More

Posted by altopablo at 20:41, 14 May 2010 | Report This Post


Does what it says on the tin. Anyone else think that RDJ is bringing a bit too much smarm to the role?It can grate a bit... Otherwise decent,3 and a half stars,better than Spiderman. ... More

Posted by BOHEMIANBOB at 19:54, 14 May 2010 | Report This Post

RE: Worth Watching

I really enjoyed it. I felt Iron Man was a great comic book film that didn't need to go 'dark' and the sequel stays relatively positive IMO. It doesn't stew in bitternes and with the exception of Scarlet Johanson and John Favreau i thought the cast was great. More Whiplash would have been nice and the director had no need to be in the film as much as he was but other than that good stuff. Final fight could've been a bit more gripping too. ... More

Posted by TheSpleen at 17:47, 12 May 2010 | Report This Post

RE: Worth Watching

I can't tell if there was too much plot or not really any at all, but the movie's basically trash.  ... More

Posted by hatebox at 18:47, 11 May 2010 | Report This Post

RE: Worth Watching

L: LastSamurai  leave the thinking cap at home and escape for a couple of hours.ighto, if one leaves their thinking cap at home. They may not think to come back? ... More

Posted by Emyr Thy King at 16:28, 11 May 2010 | Report This Post

Worth Watching

Very enjoyable i thought. Better than the first and still managed to avoid "going dark" like alot of other sequels. Although i reckon they might go down that line with the next film (Tony Starks alcoholism). But then i think iron man is more of a family superhero film and to make it darker might alienate alot of the target audience. Yeah the script does jumps about a tiny bit but the story isnt incoherent and can be forgiven for that.  **SPOILER** I dont think you needed to be told th... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by LastSamurai at 18:26, 10 May 2010 | Report This Post

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