Like many of you, I saw Iron Man 2 this weekend. It was actually the midnight screening on the local (real) IMAX at Celebration Cinema. I had a great time with this movie, and felt it was far more fun than the original. It also had a greater sense of pace and handled a good number of leading characters very fairly and even handed, with much dignity for them all. Even Black Widow was handled with proper respect for the character. Having read some Black Widow comics, I was fully prepared for the character to be a very poor representation of the original, and was pleasantly surprised.
All of the action was turned up a few notches, and there wasn’t a very poor and generic villain that nobody had ever heard of this time around. Instead, we had two villains to worry about. An odd business tycoon that served as the generic villain of this film, but then an actual member of the Iron Man rogues gallery: Whiplash. About time, Favreau. The first film felt too much like Ang Lee’s Hulk by the end, with a villain that nobody really knew about, nor cared about enough to love to hate. Granted, he wasn’t that extreme, but you get the idea.
What did I mean, about movie being better than the first?
Spider-Man. When I saw that movie, twice, back in 2002, I was far more entertained by the Star Wars prequel Attack of the Clones. I didn’t like it. In fact, while it had some good moments, overall I was unimpressed by the story of the film, and the ending battle left me wanting more. Green Goblin wasn’t handled properly, and it also felt a bit too run-of-the-mill as far as the origins of both Spider-Man and Goblin were concerned. But then Spider-Man 2 came out and changed everything.
Spider-Man 2 was full of soul. It had a lot of heart, it was both heavy and light in equal doses of each, and had a proper villain that actually looked like a proper translation from page to screen. Not only was this a better movie than the original, it also made the original better by enhancing elements of the story and making me care more for the characters. The next time I watched the original film was different through these different points of view.
It doesn’t work the other way around, though. A bad sequel can never ruin its’ predecessor. At least that I have seen. But a great sequel can enhance the predecessor. While I don’t agree with either assessment regarding either X-Men or Nolan’s Batman series, with which people say X2 and Dark Knight are both better than the previous films in the series. I think that both were solid sequels that fit within the universe, neither better nor worse.
I have yet to see if the original Iron Man is made better by its’ sequel, but I have a feeling that might be the case. Granted, the original film had a superfluous scene that, while a necessary part of Tony Stark’s character at the time, the sequel did not have or need. The sequel did have some elements of the most poignant Iron Man storyline, Demon in a Bottle, but didn’t get as heavy as it probably should have about it.
All of this makes me a bit worried about some things, and hopeful about another. I’m worried about Captain America: The First Avenger and Thor from the perspective that the origin story always seems weaker than the follow-up. And both of those films will not have proper sequels until after The Avengers movie is released. I’m definitely hopeful for great sequels to each of those films, including an Avengers sequel so that the team starts out assembled prior to the story found there.
The Avengers film brings up another great situation, though, for the sequels to the individual characters’ films. Iron Man 3, Captain America 2 and Thor 2 could all feature team-ups with other established Avengers, if not just cameos. It would be really great to see them appearing in each others’ movies now that they are a team, but only if necessary.
The one that I am hopeful about is the Wolverine sequel that is currently in the works. It should be a massively improved sequel that should be the film that everyone wanted with the first one. In it, Logan heads to Japan for training. I hope it doesn’t waste any more time on the adamantium origin, which has appeared in most of the X-Men movies so far.
All of that being said, I really enjoyed Iron Man 2 and when I was half-way through it, I was looking forward to watching it again.