Iron Man 2 is the 2010 sequel to the amazing 2008 original. The storyline presented in this film leads directly into the 2012 Avengers movie.
This film introduces the idea of blood toxicity. All of a sudden, Iron Man's artificial heart is killing him. It's a neat metaphor for Tony's own self-destructive behavior but it seems to come out of the blue since it wasn't mentioned at all in the first film. Also, as a viewer I wasn't really that worried about it. What are they going to do... have Iron Man die from blood poisoning? Ultimately, this leads to Iron Man creating a "new element" to replace the Pallatium that was poisoning him (don't even get me started on the messed up science in that sequence!).
While the first film presented Stark as a deeply flawed individual he still remained quite likable. This film almost crosses the line and presents Stark in a very dark line. It squanders much of the good will the first film created. Seeing a drunk Stark stumbling around in the Iron Man armor and mocking the person he cares most for in the world, Pepper Potts, is tough to take.
I liked how the film turned the spotlight back toward Tony's father, Howard. Seeing Tony explore his father issues was a nice paralled for Vanko's own father issues.
Of course, every fan loves seeing the clever little tie-ins between the movies. Seeing Thor's hammer at the end is a big one. But it's also cool that Nick Fury and Agent Coulson actually travel from one film to the the next (Thor, Iron Man 2, and the Incredible Hulk have sequences that overlap chronologically). This type of tight continuity really helps tie together the "Marvel Cinematic Universe."
I was REALLY bummed that the sequence from the trailer with Potts kissing the Iron man helmet and then tossing it from the plane was cut from the film... was a great sequence ("You complete me!")! It was nice to see them finally get together at the end anyway.
The inclusion of War Machine and Black Widow both seem a little forced and both characters suffer from being a little too two-dimensional.
Whiplash (although I don't believe they actually call his character that the entire movie) is an okay villain. Mickey Rourke is BRILLIANT in this roll. Man, can that dude act! Justin Hammer is a great sleezeball businessman but he comes off as a little bit of a putz which diminishes his presence on screen. Plus, Hammer sees WAY too much screen time and he gets to be a bit annoying.
All in all, this film takes a big step down from the first installment... but how couldn't it? It still stands on its own as a very entertaining film.
1LR Review - 17 out of 20 - It's a Solid Hit!