If the Marvel Universe wasn’t a part of your childhood, then you might not be a real American – or at least one affixed the general mainstream of the country. The Marvel world as rendered by Stan Lee and his cohort’s gone so far as to impact pretty much every medium of culture this country – and the world at this point – has to offer. Apart from being in print form, it’s on TV, in movies (natch), on clothing and in toy stores. There’re even probably a few places I neglected to mention.
That’s why the first Hulk movie was such a disappointment. It stunk. Visually, the film wasn’t stunning or even really too well put together. And while the first Iron Man movie did well in the box office, having Robert Downey Jr. in there as the leading man still seems bizarre.
So, the second installment – and viewers could be anticipating another one without too much dreaming – of the series being nothing more than an extension of the first isn’t that surprising. If one’s come up with a financially successful model, there’s no reason to deviate from the form.
The interesting thing about Iron Man 2, though, is the fact that as much as all these Marvel films are supposed to be visually exciting, it seems that this film had some specific investment in finding extravagant ways to impart that.
Beginning with all the various Iron Man suites, the film takes an immediate stance as being something of a clearing house for cool design. Everyone shoots around town in a Bentley or flies through the air in an elaborate costume. It looks cool – and despite there being a real plot, or as real as comic book narratives can get being translated to the big screen – there’re a few other instances of supplemental, but cool creations floating around in the film.
While Pepper Pot, as portrayed by Gwyneth Paltrow, might be something to look at, the odd perpetual motion sculpture sitting on her desk not only looks cool, but attracts Tony Starks attention throughout an entire scene. Odd, but true. It might seem chintzy, but it works.
Perhaps more culturally important, though is the brief inclusion of the Alberto Giacometti sculpture, “L'Homme qui marche I,” flashing in the background. It doesn’t push the plot anywhere. But since the real piece was recently sold for something around ten million dollars, it not only looks cool, but works towards portraying the ridiculous wealth Stark works with.
The movie was passable, but the art direction was better.