Six months later, all seems to be better than ever for Tony Stark. The year-long Stark Expo has officially kicked off in New York; however, Senator Stern (a finally hilarious again Garry Shandling) demands Tony to turn over the Iron Man suit as he deems it a “specialized weapon” and the technology could fall into the wrong hands. Tony’s arch-nemesis Justin Hammer (Sam Rockwell) wants the suit turned over as well so that the U.S. military can use the design to form droids that can be sent into battle even though Tony has already personally privatized world peace.
Just when everyone thinks all is going better than ever, Tony attends a speed race in Monaco with right-hand woman Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) and their new assistant, Natalie Rushman (Scarlett Johansson) “from legal,” in tow. Without anyone knowing, Tony jumps behind the wheel of his own race car and speeds away. Along comes Ivan finally showing up with his own weapon of choice which is a set of electrically-charged whips strong enough to cut a car in two — or three or four. After Happy Hogan (director Jon Favreau) runs down Ivan and Pepper tosses Tony his Iron Man suit-in-a-suitcase, they manage to apprehend Ivan who gets tossed in jail. Hammer assists in faking Ivan’s death to proposition him into helping make the droids all that they can be.
To make a long story “short,” after the Monaco incident, Tony realizes he needs someone more stable to handle Stark Industries and makes Pepper Potts the new CEO. Tony and Lt. Col. James “Rhodey” Rhodes (now played by the far-better-than-Terrence-Howard Don Cheadle) get in a drunken birthday brawl and Rhodey flies off in his own Iron Man suit which gets turned over to the military and sold to Hammer giving him exactly what he needs to one up Tony but Ivan has ulterior motives for what he’s really doing with his droid programming. Oh, and did I mention that Natalie is really Natasha Romanoff, a double spy working for S.H.I.E.L.D. led by Nick Fury (returning Samuel L. Jackson) which was co-founded by Howard Stark and is looking to recruit Tony for something called the Avengers Initiative or that the reactor in Tony’s chest is slowly killing him and S.H.I.E.L.D. may have a cure?