The story picks up right where the first left off. Tony Stark reveals his secret identity to the world, he is Iron Man, leading to complications for the billionaire playboy. Robert Downey, Jr. was once more in top form here as Stark, but his snarky quips seemed to lack the same heat that they had in the first film.
Meanwhile, the U.S. government wants Stark to share his Iron Man technology, while Stark is dealing with a rival business tycoon Justin Hammer who wants Stark's tech to ensure his contract with the government. Sam Rockwell does a marvelous job as Justin Hammer, and actually steals the show, kind of playing that geeky guy that everyone says ya better not pick on cause they'll be your boss someday. Now, on top of all that, Stark's arc reactor in his chest that is keeping him alive is also killing him cause the element it's made of is toxic, which I thought was an extremely nice touch that added some much needed drama to the story.
As you can see, this is a busy story, but director Jon Favreau and screenwriter Justin Theroux managed to keep the film from feeling all cluttered, giving it some room to breath, which is something that a certain webhead failed to do in his third outing (--cough!-- Spider-man 3), but it does feel jumpy at times and certain plot threads seem to be left dangling for a touch too long before they return to them to tie them up. Of course, this is an action movie, and the action in the film ups the ante from the original, having more explosions and giant iron fists of fury. If anything all of the action sequences were so well executed that they left you wanting more, but it is sad when the most show stopping scene of the entire film occurs a mere thirty minutes into the film at the Monaco Grand Prix, but the finale was still well executed.
Spinning all that into a frenzy, Stark must confront a villain named Ivan Vanko, a.k.a. Whiplash, who uses these awesome electric whips that he wraps around Iron Man and electrifies him with in the awesome action sequence at the Monaco Grand Prix. Vanko, played by "it" actor Mickey Rourke, was not as menacing as the trailers led one to believe, but he serviced the job well, but ultimately I missed Jeff Bridges from the first film. Regardless, Vanko is bent on vengeance for his father's misfortune which was at the hands of Tony's father, which I felt was not really touched upon all that much, and I think Rourke's character was actually the most underused of the film.
Perhaps there was no way for them to capture lightning in a bottle again, after all, seeing as how the first film did feel so fresh and original, but they did a good job of continuing the story, giving some more character development and such. As well, there were many nods to other Marvel characters like Captain America, Thor, and The Avengers, not to mention the film featured Black Widow played by Scarlett Johansson who looks just like a comic book vixen ripped straight from the pages, and Nick Fury played by Samuel L. Jackson himself. In the end, it managed to be a worthy successor, and makes me wanna see more from this iron clad superhero on the big screen.
I give Iron Man 2 a C+!