Iron Man 2: A Paramount Pictures/Marvel Entertainment Film

Iron Man 2, a Paramount Pictures and Marvel Entertainment film, ignites the summer box office season with director Jon Favreau’s masterful follow-up to the explosive original.

Scarlett Johansson, Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Sam Rockwell and Robert Downey, Jr., star in Jon Favreau's Iron Man 2.

Produced by Favreau along with Kevin Feige and Alan Fine of Marvel Studios and Stan Lee of POW! Entertainment, Iron Man 2, offers the perfect summer combination of high tech, high jinks and a high impact thrill ride!

Iron Man 2: A Summer Must See!

The film opens with a “Living in America” theme reminiscent of Apollo Creed in Rocky IV that has Iron Man, making his grand entrance by flying through the nighttime sky, a jet trail ghost, into Flushing Meadows, Queens, New York for an appearance at the futuristic World’s Fair Expo.

Iron Man, known to all as Billionaire Tony Stark, a Richard Branson type character, who has cornered the global arms race with his high tech alter ego. A monopolist; the world worships him, the women idolize him, he is revered, a protector, and his competitors plot with equal intensity his demise.

The opening sequences introduce Pepper Potts, Stark’s PA/love interest/conscience portrayed by Oscar winner, Gwyneth Paltrow, Scarlett Johansson, the sultry and stealth Natalie/Black Widow and the irrepressible Mickey Rourke as Russian high tech antagonist Ivan Vanko and his alter ego Whiplash.

Mickey Rourke as Whiplash.

Comic Garry Shandling portrays a self-described "little prick" of a Senator whose intent, of course, is to derail the flashy billionaire Tony Stark at a Senate Investigative hearing convened to force the ambitious Stark into relinquishing his trademark Iron Man prototype.

At the same hearing the audience is introduced to Justin Hammer, portrayed by the ever evolving Sam Rockwell, who embodies every corrupt ambitious political patsy that sits on the Hill today and is secretly a black market arms dealer who gathers the world’s best to trade up. In this case, the world’s best illegal weapons include anything that will deliver the demise of both Iron Man and Tony Stark.

In the Think Tank of Billionaire Tony Stark.

The hearings dissolve into a circus of revelatory shady dealings as Stark exposes Hammer and along with it the current standings of the Technological Global Arms Race, as every enemy nation attempts to complete their own versions of an Iron Man prototype.

Hammer would seize any opportunity including commit treason to live fat and happy on no cap defense contract spending and with it gain judicial power, governance, destroy his main competition and finally, be revered, feared and adulated for his futuristic battalion of soldiers; the cheap knock off version of Iron Man.

Finding the hidden truth.

Also introduced at the Senate hearings, Rhodey, portrayed by Don Cheadle of Oceans 11 fame, Stark’s military confident, ally and savior. Rhodey is sold on Uncle Sam’s plan and never allows his personal feelings to shadow his professional obligations. He portrays a consummate career soldier.

Other, more well know, reviewers have analytically created parallels between Tony Stark’s destructive behaviors and Robert Downey, Jr’s, off screen problems. As a seasoned performer, Downey chose well and has a backpack of experiences, including those of his past, off screen, issues, to draw from in order to create a well rounded, struggling intellectual who is, as we found out early, dying.

"What does one do if one knows this is the last birthday one will  have?" An intoxicated Stark asks a sultry Scarlett Johansson.  The answer of course, anything ones wants and she adds, “With anyone he wants.”

Scarlett Johansson as Natalie.

Can there be correlation between Downey’s off screen past troubles and his current character? As one who has always been impressed, repeatedly, by his performances from Hollywood’s silent giant, Chaplin, the clueless principal in Charlie Bartlett,  the drugged out San Francisco Chronicle crime beat reporter Paul Avery in Zodiac and now with the impressive, stylish Tony Stark and yes, even, as a very young child, in the film Visionaries, a five-year old, very cute, Downey lisped through his lines, he has repeatedly hit the mark and followed his instincts, which is what, of course, he has done this time.

Tony Stark seeking answers from the grave.

He is calm, risky, flashy, a rock star feeding from the thrill; lost when he discovers the truth about his father. He loves and can’t quite figure out how to show it; he wants to squeeze life from every moment even if it kills him.

Robert Downey, Jr as Tony Stark living life to the hilt even if it kills him.

As the whole film is fast paced filled with great moments and stellar performances, Mickey Rourke sauntering with electric whips in hand,  Downey and the wind machine, Rockwell’s description of his newest cache of illegal weapons, Paltrow’s finale with Stark,  the scenes with Johansson and director Jon Favreau, who doubles as Happy Hogan the perennial losing boxer, are stand outs.

Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow.

Mickey Rourke, again, delivers an exceptional performance. He is a gifted actor and as one who remembers his earlier work, he has aged well and has not gone out of style. Better with each performance,  he is gritty, gutsy and willing, and possibly that comes from his lonesome season, to take chances. His performance here, as antagonist tech wizard, has him pitted in a good verses evil battle. The ending seems obvious and yet, here, it’s not.

Mickey Rourke, as Whiplash, making his move on the stunned Stark.

When Samuel L. Jackson shows up as G-Man, Nick Fury, it is difficult to know how his character will move. As it does he is tough as nails, high tech government, Special Agent IN CHARGE and he lets everyone including, Tony Stark, the billionaire bad boy who has just demolished his home in a drunken house party, know who is in charge and what is expected.

Samuel L. Jackson, as G-Man Nick Fury.

IRON MAN 2 is a full-tilt thrill ride and comes fully loaded with all the special effects, high tech gadgetry, voice activated Virtual Search units, Tasers, great performances, stunning explosions and enough technological wizardry to fill the summer with heat seeking fun!

IRON MAN 2 opens domestically Friday, May 7, 2010. In IMAX for a limited time.

For more information on IRON MAN 2 :

Advance screening courtesy of Warren Betts Communications:

Photos courtesy of Marvel Comics.

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