I loved comics as a kid. One of my earliest childhood memories is putting together a “Fantastic Four” jigsaw puzzle. I collected comic books for a while, waiting at the newsstand while they put the new issues out, eagerly snagging all the titles I was fond of (mostly Marvel, but a few DC too). For reasons too complicated (and embarrassing) to get into, I ended up selling my collection when I was about 13. I think I got $50 for the lot. If I’d held on to them and kept them in good condition, they’d probably be worth thousands now. Sigh. Anyway, I pretty much lost interest in comics at that time. Later on I’d get into some of the hipster indies like “Hate” and “Eightball” but I’d put superheroes behind me. Likewise, I haven’t had much interest in superhero movies, although there were a few I enjoyed (the second entries in the X-Men and Spider-Man franchises were both pretty good, and Nolan’s Batman films are enjoyable entertainment). The first Iron Man left a particularly sour taste in my mouth, a tedious borefest of gee-whiz effects and dull characters.
But lately I’ve been tempted to see the upcoming Avengers, based on remarkably positive word of mouth and the fact that Joss Whedon is at the helm. So I figured I better catch up with the other films in the series, just so I’d be up to speed. I read the comics as a kid, but can’t remember a lot and besides, who knows what kind of inside connections there might be between the movies? I want to be in the know.
Now I’m not sure it’s worth the effort. Somehow even more boring than the first movie, the sequel is a humdrum mishmash of scenes that feel haphazardly smushed together. Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) starts out as this arrogant dickhead and you can see the “redemption” coming, but even that is mishandled and unsatisfying. Downey’s flippant attitude and weak one-liners make him an unappealing character… which would be okay if there was some other side of him that was interesting. But no, just a half-assed alcoholic thing. I spent the entire movie wondering who the hell Don Cheadle was supposed to be and what exactly his role is. I couldn’t remember him at all from the first one. Turns out he was replacing Terence Howard… who I also don’t remember from the first one. The “villains” are Sam Rockwell playing some rival defense contractor and Mickey Rourke as Angry Man With Bad Russian Accent. There’s astonishingly little action in the movie, and when it comes it’s simply more CGI creations slamming into each other with no sense of stakes or emotional involvement. It’s as fun as watching someone else play a videogame. And not even the good parts of a videogame. It’s all a lot of loud and shiny nonsense. Oh, and I don’t know what’s more irritating… hearing The Clash in such a lame movie, or hearing AC/DC at all.
Scarlett Johannson’s character provides most of the best moments of the film, which is surprising because I don’t really like Scarlett Johannson that much. But she — along with Samuel L. Jackson — is a character I’m looking forward to seeing in the Avengers movie. Iron Man? I’ve had enough of him already. Rating: Crap