So, this went up last night after the (mostly atrocious, technically-speaking) Oscar telecast. We thought we’d give it a watch and tell you guys what we thought. You should tell us what you think, too!
Chad: This is one of the few areas where not being a decades-deep Marvel nerd pays off: I have just about zero preconceptions about who any of these people are or how they’re supposed to react. I know enough about Tony Stark and Pepper Potts to know that Robert Downey Jr. and Gwyneth Paltrow did a great job bringing those characters to life. Past that? Everyone’s more or less new to me.
I still have a minor fear of character bloat; there’s a lot going on here, and too many characters on screen has been the death kiss for more than a few franchises. Other than that, I’m having a hard time finding anything to really get upset about here. I never had that much of an issue with Don Cheadle taking over as Rhodey, and the little bit more we see of him interacting with Tony here just cements the deal for me. I think I can reasonably expect to be as entertained as I was in the first one, regardless of whether or not Favreau hits the same high mark. I certainly hope he does, though.
And, apropos of nothing, the suitcase armor is hot, not that half of Twitter hasn’t said that already.
Janice: I might be one of the only people who really liked Terrence Howard as Jim Rhodes in the original film. To me, Howard’s performance spoke world-weary volumes about Rhodey’s relationship to Tony– he was the straight man, the long-suffering college roomie who comes home to the sock on the doorknob every single night during finals week. (Worse yet, his buddy still aces the exams, too.) The whole mess about casting Howard in IM2 made me worry, and the first trailer didn’t really convince me that Cheadle was the right guy.
This trailer makes me happier about that, and it’s entirely due to how well Cheadle plays the “lone gunslinger” speech. That one line makes me more convinced that he’s an excellent choice than anything he did in the entire first trailer. It’s a brilliant encapsulation of the same Rhodey/ Tony dynamic– Rhodey tries to put Tony on the straight and narrow, and Tony subverts his plans by playing on Rhodey’s id and offering him a big, shiny metal toy. Rhodey fails his save, as always, and the fans get to see War Machine.
(Nerd quibble: I can’t say I dig the enviroments and lighting on the fight with Hammer’s VX-02s, but I’ll cut the VFX vendor some slack. Not every VFX shot in a trailer is finaled– ready to go into the finished film– and not every VFX shot in IM2 is by ILM, it’d be too much work for them to handle alone. We might be seeing work by another house who picked up some shots, we might be seeing something that’s still very much a work in progress.)
I’m not sold on Whiplash yet. Mickey Rourke is very good at looking like someone who needs a shower, and I’m certain he can more than hold his own against RDJ in any given scene… but I’m not sure this movie needs Whiplash. At the same time, though, it’s complicated– making this movie about, say, Justin Hammer and the Crimson Dynamo proper turns the climactic battle into a rehash of the fight with Obadiah at the end of the first film. Now, on some level you want commonalities– the first film had the Ten Rings in an uneasy alliance with Stane, this one has Vanko and Hammer working together– but you can’t just go back to the well and pull out an exact copy of the first movie.
As a longtime Marvel Zombie, though, my first reaction to Whiplash is always somewhere around “…really? Whiplash? Really now?”, and Favreau and Rourke will need to work to overcome that.
Now, Pep and Tony? Still spot-on, chemistry-wise. I was not a big Gwyneth Paltrow fan before, but she could play Pepper pretty much forever and I wouldn’t mind. “I want one.” “NO.” Just perfect; they’re so much fun to watch. RDJ is a fine actor who seems to have found a real home in genre films, especially in this series, where the candy-coated whiz-bang conceals a larger statement on technology and its abuses. Paltrow really gets into the heart of Pepper’s complicated enabler/ mother/ crush relationship with Tony, and I find her performance honest and compelling.
Natasha? I’m… I think this is where I really start to worry about character overload. I can certainly see a situation where this movie should’ve had Hammer and Whiplash or Hammer and Natasha as its chief antagonists… and not both. However, I’m not sure Natasha is an antagonist here, or that she will stay one if she is, given her 616-universe ties to SHIELD. I just don’t know enough; we’ve seen so little of Johansson in the role so far. Definitely worrying, but who knows.