There were serious expectations set with the 1st sequel for the Marvel Movies, and even though this is thought of by many as one of the “lesser” films in the MCU it still has a lot to like about it.
Some of the high points of course include the continued amazing performance of Robert Downey Jr. who pretty much embodies the swagger of the character as well as his ability to implode when confronted with personal demons. His journey throughout the movie is pretty well handled I thought, and even though it’s a little “deus ex machina” when it comes to resolving his condition, it still feels earned.
In what turned out to be a lucky bit of casting, Don Cheadle’s version of Major Rhodes is MILES better than Terrance Howard’s portrayal in the first movie, especially his comedic chops which are exceptional.
I’m a bit torn on the “villains” of the movie, with Sam Rockwell’s Justin Hammer being essentially a less cool version of Tony Stark with some severe inferiority issues. Overall though I like his role in this as a reflection of what Tony used to be like before his life changing moments in Iron Man. What is still fairly disappointing even upon rewatching is Mickey Rourke’s Whiplash. It seems like it might have been an interesting enough character if given some time but we’re basically given a bunch of snippets right up front indicating he hates the Stark family and that’s about it. It’s not until later that we get any real “meat” about why he’d be angry, but at that point it’s fairly pointless. And the “final battle” with him, Iron Man and War Machine is very underwhelming.
In the end, Iron Man 2 has some great character moments but as a story it seems like a filler issue from the comics at best.