Marvel Cinematic Universe guide: part 3 – Iron Man 2

Posted on 1 February 2016
By Alex Green
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With the huge success of Iron Man, Marvel were quick to move with a sequel, with Iron Man 2 coming just two years later in 2010.

The film was a commercial and critical success, doing well to follow its brilliant predecessor. It isn’t quite the thrill of the first film but it certainly also isn’t a disappointment and it still gives the audience an action packed film full with great performances.

Robert Downey Jr again gives a sterling performance in the lead role as Tony Stark/Iron Man, with Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Sam Rockwell and Mickey Rourke also weighing in with their own brilliant performances.

Samuel L Jackson returns as S.H.I.E.L.D. Director Nicky Fury and this film introduces us to future avenger and master spy/assassin Natasha Romanoff aka Black Widow, played by the brilliant Scarlett Johansson.

As for the story itself, it isn’t one that fits directly into the MCU larger story. The idea of Phase One was to individually introduce the main roster of the Avengers and then to see them team up. As we’d already had an Iron Man film, this sequel goes off that path of introducing and setting up a larger story, but more leans to a solo story with some hints to the larger universe.

The story contains several numerous sub plots which all merge and conclude as one nicely throughout the film.

We learn early on that Tony’s health is rapidly decreasing due to the arc reactor in his chest whilst at the same time he is refusing to hand over the Iron Man technology to the U.S. government. At the same time, Ivan Yanko aka Whiplash has developed similar technology and builds weapons to take down Stark, whilst teaming up with Tony’s business partner and weapons manufacturer, Justin Hammer.

Nick Fury returns and informs Tony of his father’s work with Anton Yanko, Ivan’s father. Tony learns that they both invented an arc reactor but when Anton wanted to sell it for profit, Howard Stark had him deported, thus explaining Whiplash’s vendetta against the Stark family.

In the message from his father, Tony finds a hidden message that contains the structure of a new element. Working with JARVIS, Tony uses it to cure his problems with the arc reactor and save his life. Meanwhile, Vanko has built armoured drones for Hammer who unveils them publicly, led by Colonel James Rhodes in a more weaponised version of Tony’s mark II armour. Hammer is subsequently arrested for his part in Yanko’s plan.

When Tony turns up to warn the Colonel, Yanko takes control of his suit and the drones and this leads to the films climax, with Tony and a now free Rhodey battling the drones and defeating Yanko.

The post credit scene shows Agent Coulson reporting the discovery of a large hammer at in a crater in New Mexico.

Whilst the storyline doesn’t really add to the large MCU story, it does introduce some interesting elements, especially the one of the government being actively involved and the consequences of a superhero on the larger world. These elements are explored more in Phase Two after the events of the Avengers but Marvel really laid the groundwork here in Iron Man 2.

One of the key events in the upcoming Civil War film is that of the government trying to limit the power and authority of superheroes. Whether Iron Man 2 was a set up to this and how much Marvel knew of their future plans is unknown but you have to think Marvel always had at least an idea to plant an idea like this.

Some of the geekier spots and Easter eggs in the film include a brief look at Wakanda on a world map in a S.H.I.E.L.D. safe house, of course linking to the fictional home of Black Panther. In the same safe house, we also see TV footage of a rampaging Hulk from our previous film, we see a broken and incomplete model of Captain America’s shield in Tony’s basement and of course, as ever, our Stan Lee cameo who this time appears as famous American talk show host Larry King.

If you happened to miss part 2 of our MCU guide featuring The Incredible Hulk, you can read that here:

Thor is the movie we’ll be discussing in part 4, so stay tuned for that one!