Iron Man 2: “You complete me!”
In Swingers, Mikey (played by Jon the Fav) talks about how the coolest bars in L.A. are the ones nobody can find. And saying you’ve been to one is like bragging that you know how to find it. Thursday midnight/Friday morning screenings in New York City are kind of the same thing. They’re exclusive (limited seating). You can’t just waltz in at the last minute and expect to be a priority. And…
There are rules. And the crowds are super excited and most likely overdosing on sugar and adrenaline. And once those doors open, you better MOVE. But if you’ve done it once and survived, you know the deal. And knowing the deal totally entitles you to bitch about people who do it WRONG (no, you can’t save 7825739 seats with one jacket… a**hole). And while I totally dread the panicked stampede into the theatre that ensues in the search for prime seating, a part of me celebrates the ritual, which I endure with a strange sort of pride. Because a night at the movies in New York City is different. And midnight shows are packed with people who are all part of the same crazy/nerdy/awesome club.
Last night, that club was dubbed (mostly, by me) Iron Man 2 Is Out And We Are FREAKING THE F*** OUT!
There are a number of factors involved here.
1) It’s been a rough year so far for movies and people are seriously starved.
2) It’s SUMMER! It’s the one time of year when audiences are totally permitted to be as demonically demanding of Hollywood as humanly possible. “You spent how much to make that piece of shit??? Gimme my money back, you thieving a**holes!”
3) Explosions, explosions, explosions.
But the fuel behind Iron Man (and the robust midnight-screening returns of its sequel) is most apparent in the time between its decent but comparably less exciting action sequences. What drives this franchise… is the Funny… steered by the impeccable timing and lightning-quick wit of the incomparable Mr. Robert Downey, Jr.
Arguably one of the most engaging and watchable screen actors of his generation, Downey is the master of comedic muttering. And it flows out of him like music. Conditions that would undoubtedly throw off a lesser actor, only serve to magnify the nuances of all the hilarity he throws at you. Whether he’s juggling various threads of dialogue in a single scene, complicated physical work or maneuvering imaginary computer images, he’s never lost. It’s this virtuosity that completely endears us and we’re only occasionally leaning forward in our seats when he’s actually suited up as Iron Man. What we really want… are the words. Ohmygod, what is he going to say next? I can’t STAND how funny he is!!!
It’s rare that there is such a need to single out the acting in a project like this. But the Fav— ahem. Sorry. Mr. Favreau wisely positioned Downey and his acting chops as the centerpiece of the first film, and he’s smart enough to know that it totally works. We also see shades of this from Christian Bale’s Fake Bruce Wayne, in The Dark Knight, which serves as a disguise not just for Batman, but Real Bruce Wayne. It’s an enjoyable character dimension (largely because Fake Bruce is kind of a dick) that’s all about personality.
But Tony isn’t a ruse. Tony Stark isn’t pretending to be Tony Stark, while he’s actually Iron Man. And removing the constraints of the conventional secret-identity set-up only opens the door for riotous truth-telling from our protagonist. All that narcissistic immaturity is completely for real. And when is that never a fun ride? Especially with Downey at the wheel. I mean, if you have him, you gotta let him play, you know?
Oh. And also, give him cool people to act against. Mickey Rourke, yes. Sam Rockwell, yes. Don “The Chead” Cheadle, yes! ScarJo (Someone else called her that, promise), yes. And while there are some polarized opinions about Mrs. Paltrow, she’s pretty saucy against Downey. And the two of them together pull off an impressive revival of the romantic-screwball comedy. The real kind… the kind that doesn’t make my brain vomit.
Is Iron Man 2 awesome, like The Dark Knight-awesome?? No (to be fair, what is?). But I don’t care. This movie is definitely a re-watchable laugh-fest that gives us Downey in top form. Go! Now! Right now! And once you see it, you’ll be a full-fledged member of the Cool People Like Iron Man 2 Club.