For those who are familiar with all things comics, it probably was no surprise that when Iron Man came out in 2008 it made a lot of money at the box office (almost $600 million worldwide). But when you look at it from the general movie goer point of view - an audience that had barely heard of the character - it really was a surprise.
But looking back now it seems kind of obvious it would become a success. And now we have the sequel, again starring Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark a.k.a Iron Man, who is irresistibly charming as ever. This time the titular iron clad hero has to deal with a villain from his father's past, the Russian scientist Ivan Vanko (Mickey Rourke) who's seeking revenge for the death of his father (there's a lot more to it but it's never really explained all that well).
Back for another go around is Gwyneth Paltrow as Tony's faithful assistant Pepper Potts and his army friend Rhodey (being played by Don Cheadle this time instead of Terrence Howard). New to the fold is Sam Rockwell (a very welcome addition to the cast) as Tony's rival arms dealer who wants to make "Iron Man look like an antique," and Scarlett Johansson as the mysterious Natasha Romanoff who first appears on the sign to handle legal issues but soon becomes more involved.
The main question on people's mind going in to Iron Man 2 is if it's better than the first one. Well, if you come to it looking for an improvement on the action that, let's face it, was lacking in the first one, then you'll come away very satisfied. Director Jon Favreau has indeed learned from his first Iron Man outing when it comes to the action sequences as there's more to be found here that's done in a far more cohesive, imaginative fashion.