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Darren says

A lot of things go well for the movie - War Machine, Black Widow intro, Mickey Rourke, great action sequences by Tartakovsky. Some of the drama seems a bit artificial and clunky at times, but is still an enjoyable watch.

Tym says

Actually a rewrite of THE DARK KNIGHT, which is why I like it more than most do.

Ciaran says

A great effort to follow up a fantastic first effort but a difficult act to follow.

Iron Man I is fresh and fun, while Iron Man II fleshes out the past and the future.

Iron Man films are a roguish backcap to Batman films. This general rewrite of The Dark Knight (doppelganger suit villain and psycho villain, middle chase sequence with flipped vehicle, the struggle to escape a hero role that is killing him) is similarly driven on the energy of success and more ambition. Though there is sprawl, there is more growth in the principal and his principles to ballast the expansions. And Robert Downey Jr. owns every moment of it with toney snark.

The Marvel universe is a decades-long relay from the '40s to the present. The new films had lacked this throughline, but here the flashbacks of his father Howard Stark sketch a connect from Captain America through S.H.I.E.L.D. to the present day. Howard brings the first sense of mythos lineage for the Marvel Studios universe, as well as a sense of history and conflicted motivation to his son Tony. In casting John Slattery, they also trade on the jet age-chic cache of Mad Men.

But the first concrete steps toward The Avengers start with Nick Fury and Black Widow. Samuel Jackson comes into ownership of Fury, and Scarlett Johansson simmers and erupts as the Widow. With the proper debut of War Machine (Don Cheadle), the first hints of future hero rollover begin. (The films owe a great debt to the defining late '70s comics arc by David Michelinie, John Romita Jr., and Bob Layton, which introduced Rhodey as a replacement Iron Man). The highlight is the finale, with the two shellheads fighting side by side in a spectacular Japanese Garden sequence that homages the mecha tradition.