Following the successful release of Iron Man in May 2008, Marvel Studios announced and immediately set to work on producing a sequel. In July of that same year Theroux was hired to write the script, and Favreau was signed to return and direct. Downey and Paltrow were to reprise their roles from Iron Man, while Cheadle was brought in to replace Terrence Howard in the role of James Rhodes. In the early months of 2009, Rourke, Rockwell and Johansson filled out the supporting cast, and the film went into production that summer. Like its predecessor the film was shot mostly in California, except for a key sequence in Monaco.
Iron Man 2 premiered in Los Angeles, California on April 26, 2010, and was released in 54 countries between April 28 and 30 before going into general release in the U.S. on May 7, 2010. The film was a critical and commercial success, grossing $623.9 million at the worldwide box office. The DVD and Blu-ray were released on September 28, 2010. The third installment of the Iron Man trilogy, Iron Man 3, is set for release on May 3, 2013.
PlotIn Russia, the news media covers Tony Stark's disclosure of his identity as Iron Man. Ivan Vanko, whose father Anton Vanko has just died, sees this and begins building an arc reactor similar to Stark's.
Six months later, Stark has used his armor to help maintain world peace. He re-institutes the Stark Expo in Flushing Meadows to continue his father Howard's legacy. Senator Stern demands that Stark turn over the Iron Man technology to the government. Stark refuses, claiming that foreign nations and business competitors are decades away from recreating his work, and that it is his property.
The palladium core in the arc reactor that keeps Stark alive and powers the armor is slowly poisoning him, and he has failed to find a substitute. Growing increasingly despondent and reckless due to his impending death, and choosing not to tell anyone about his condition, Stark appoints his personal assistant Pepper Potts CEO of Stark Industries, and replaces her with Stark employee Natalie Rushman.
While Stark is racing at the Circuit de Monaco, he is attacked by Vanko, who uses his arc reactor to power whip-like energy weapons. Stark defeats Vanko with the aid of his portable briefcase armor, and learns that Vanko is the son of his father's old partner, Anton Vanko, who had collaborated with Howard on the first arc reactor. Anton was deported to his native Soviet Union following attempts to profit from the technology and died in poverty, explaining Vanko's desire for revenge on the Stark family. Rival defense contractor Justin Hammer fakes Vanko's death and recruits him to perfect a line of armored suits to upstage Stark. Hammer, who equals Stark on narcissism and arrogance, wishes to not only defeat his rival in military contracts, but also wishes to absolutely destroy his legacy.
At what he believes is his final birthday party, Stark gets drunk while using the Iron Man armor, forcing his friend, U.S. Air Force Lieutenant Colonel James Rhodes, to intervene. Rhodes dons Stark's Mark II armor and battles Stark. The battle ends when the combatants both fire repulsor beams at each other, creating a huge explosion. After fighting with Stark, Rhodes delivers the armor to the U.S. military. Nick Fury, S.H.I.E.L.D.'s director, approaches Stark, revealing Rushman as undercover agent Natasha Romanoff and that Howard Stark was a S.H.I.E.L.D. founder whom Fury knew personally. Fury gives him some of his father's old material; a hidden message in the diorama of the 1974 Stark Expo proves to be a diagram of the structure of a new element. With the aid of his computer J.A.R.V.I.S., Stark synthesizes it. Vanko reveals to Stark that he is still alive and seeking revenge so Stark uses the untested element, ending his palladium dependency.
At the Expo, Hammer unveils Vanko's armored drones, led by Rhodes in a heavily weaponized version of the Mark II armor. Stark arrives in his new armor to warn Rhodes, but Vanko seizes control of both the drones and Rhodes' armor and attacks Iron Man. Hammer is arrested while Romanoff and Stark's bodyguard Happy Hogan attempt to capture Vanko. He escapes, but Romanoff returns control of the Mark II armor to Rhodes.
After defeating his drones Stark and Rhodes confront Vanko himself, now in a new and powerful suit of armor. Neither can match Vanko, but Vanko is ultimately defeated when they fire repulsor rays at each other, causing a large explosion. With his suit too damaged to continue the fight Vanko activates his suit's self-destruct mechanism, along with that of his drones, apparently killing himself in the process. Stark saves Potts from the exploding drones' remains. Potts quits as CEO, and she and Stark kiss.
At a debriefing, while news footage of a rampaging Hulk plays, Fury informs Stark that while Iron Man is a suitable candidate for the "Avengers Initiative", he himself is not. Stark agrees to serve as a consultant if Senator Stern acts as presenter at a ceremony planned for awarding Stark and Rhodes with medals for bravery, which Stern reluctantly does.
In a post-credits scene, S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Coulson reports the discovery of a large hammer at the bottom of a crater in a desert in New Mexico.
- A billionaire who escaped captivity with a suit of armor he created, he now struggles to keep his technology out of the government's hands. Downey and Favreau, who had been handed a script and worked from it on the first movie, conceived of the film's story themselves. On Stark being a hero, Downey said "It’s kind of heroic, but really kind of on his own behalf. So I think there’s probably a bit of an imposter complex and no sooner has he said, ‘I am Iron Man -’ that he’s now really wondering what that means. If you have all this cushion like he does and the public is on your side and you have immense wealth and power, I think he’s way too insulated to be okay." Downey put on 20 pounds of muscle to reprise the role. Six-year-old Davin Ransom portrays Tony Stark as a child.
- Stark's closest friend, budding love interest, and business partner; Pepper is promoted to CEO of Stark Industries. On her character's promotion, Paltrow opined "When we start Iron Man 2 Pepper and Tony are very much in the same vibe... as the movie progresses, Pepper is given more responsibility and she's promoted and it's nice to see her sort of grow up in that way. I think it really suits her, the job fits her really well." Paltrow expressed excitement to work with Johansson.
- An officer in the U.S. Air Force and Tony Stark's close personal friend. Cheadle replaces Terrence Howard from the first film. Cheadle only had a few hours to accept the role and did not even know what storyline Rhodes would undergo. He commented that he is a comic book fan, but had not previously participated in comics-themed films due to the scarcity of black superheroes. Cheadle said he thought Iron Man was a robot before the first film came out. On how he approached his character, Cheadle stated "I go, what’s the common dominator here? And the common denominator was really his friendship with Tony, and that’s what we really tried to track in this one. How is their friendship impacted once Tony comes out and owns 'I am Iron Man?'". Cheadle said his suit was 50 pounds of metal, and that he couldn't touch his face while wearing it.
- An undercover spy for S.H.I.E.L.D. posing as Stark's new assistant. Johansson dyed her hair red before she landed the part, hoping that it would help convince Favreau that she was right for the part. She stated that she had "a bit of a freak-out moment" when she first saw the cat-suit. When asked about fighting in the costume, Johansson responded "a big part of me is like “can I move in this? Can I run in it? Can I like throw myself over things with this?” And I think just the prep, you just have to put in the hours. That’s what I realized is that just putting in the hours and doing the training and repetition and basically just befriending the stunt team and spending all day, every day, just over and over and over and over until you sell it."
- A rival weapons manufacturer. Sam Rockwell was considered for the role of Tony Stark in the first film, and he accepted the role of Hammer without reading the script. He had never heard of the character before he was contacted about the part, and was unaware Hammer is an old Englishman in the comics. Rockwell said, "I worked with Jon Favreau on this film called Made. And Justin Theroux, who wrote the script, is an old friend of mine, they sort of cooked up this idea and pitched it to Kevin Feige. What they did, they were maybe going to do one villain like they did with Jeff Bridges, but then they decided to split the villains. And really Mickey [Rourke] is the main [villain], but I come to his aid." Rockwell described his character as "plucky comic relief, but he's got a little bit of an edge".
- A Russian physicist and ex-convict who builds his own arc reactor-based weapon to exact vengeance on the Stark family. The character is an amalgam of Whiplash and Crimson Dynamo. Rourke visited Butyrka prison to research the role, and he suggested half of the character's dialogue be in Russian. He also suggested the addition of tattoos, gold teeth and a fondness for a pet cockatoo, paying for the teeth and bird with his own money. Rourke explained that he didn't want to play a "one-dimensional bad guy", and wanted to challenge the audience to see something redeemable in him. Not knowing anything about computers, Rourke described pretending to be tech-savvy as the hardest part of the role.
- Director of S.H.I.E.L.D.; Jackson signed a nine-film contract to play the character. On the subject of his character not seeing any action in the film, Jackson said "We still haven't moved Nick Fury into the bad-ass zone. He's still just kind of a talker."
Additionally, news anchor Christiane Amanpour and political commentator Bill O'Reilly play themselves in newscasts. Adam Goldstein appears as himself and the film is dedicated to his memory. Further cameos include Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk and Oracle Corporation CEO Larry Ellison. Tanoai Reed from American Gladiators appears as a security guard.
Development with Obadiah Stane (Jeff Bridges) becoming Iron Monger during the sequels. After a meeting between Favreau and various comic book writers, including Mark Millar, Stane became the main villain in Iron Man. Millar argued the Mandarin, whom Favreau originally intended to fill that role, was too fantastical. Favreau concurred, deciding, "I look at Mandarin more like how in Star Wars you had the Emperor, but Darth Vader is the guy you want to see fight. Then you work your way to the time when lightning bolts are shooting out of the fingers and all that stuff could happen. But you can't have what happened in Return of the Jedi happen in A New Hope. You just can't do it." Favreau also discussed in interviews how the films' version of Mandarin "allows us to incorporate the whole pantheon of villains". He mentioned that S.H.I.E.L.D. will continue to have a major role.
During development, Favreau said the film would explore Stark's alcoholism, but it would not be "the 'Demon in a Bottle' version". While promoting the first film, Downey stated that Stark would probably develop a drinking problem as he is unable to cope with his age, the effects of revealing he is Iron Man, and Pepper getting a boyfriend. Downey later clarified that the film was not a strict adaptation of the '"Demon in a Bottle" storyline from the comic book series, but was instead about the "interim space" between the origin and the "Demon" story arc. Shane Black gave some advice on the script, and suggested to Favreau and Downey that they model Stark on J. Robert Oppenheimer, who became depressed with being "the destroyer of worlds" after working on the Manhattan Project.
Pre-productionImmediately following Iron Man's release, Marvel Studios announced that they were developing a sequel, with an intended release date of April 30, 2010. In July 2008, after several months of negotiating, Favreau officially signed on to direct. That same month Justin Theroux signed to write the script, which would be based on a story written by Favreau and Downey. Theroux co-wrote Tropic Thunder, which Downey had starred in, and Downey recommended him to Marvel. Genndy Tartakovsky storyboarded the film, and Adi Granov returned to supervise the designs for Iron Man's armor.
In October 2008, Marvel Studios came to an agreement to film Iron Man 2, as well as their next three films, at Raleigh Studios in Manhattan Beach, California. A few days later, Don Cheadle was hired to replace Terrence Howard. On being replaced, Howard stated, "There was no explanation, apparently the contracts that we write and sign aren't worth the paper that they're printed on sometimes. Promises aren't kept, and good faith negotiations aren't always held up." Entertainment Weekly stated Favreau did not enjoy working with Howard, often re-shooting and cutting his scenes; Howard's publicist said he had a good experience playing the part, while Marvel chose not to comment. As Favreau and Theroux chose to reduce the role, Marvel came to Howard to discuss lowering his salary – Howard was the first actor hired in Iron Man and was paid the largest salary. The publication stated they were unsure whether Howard's representatives left the project first or if Marvel chose to stop negotiating. Theroux denied the part of the report which claimed the size of the role had fluctuated.
In January 2009, Mickey Rourke and Sam Rockwell entered negotiations to play a pair of villains. A few days later Rockwell confirmed he would take the role, and that his character would be Justin Hammer. Paul Bettany confirmed that he would be returning to voice JARVIS. Marvel entered into early talks with Emily Blunt to play the Black Widow, though she was unable to take the role due to a previous commitment to star in Gulliver's Travels. Samuel L. Jackson confirmed that he had been in discussions to reprise the role of Nick Fury from the first film's post-credits scene, but that contract disputes were making a deal difficult. Jackson claimed that "There was a huge kind of negotiation that broke down. I don’t know. Maybe I won’t be Nick Fury."
In February, Jackson and Marvel came to terms, and he was signed to play the character in up to nine films. Downey and Rourke discussed his part during a roundtable discussion with David Ansen at the 2009 Golden Globes, and Rourke met with Favreau and Theroux to discuss the role. Rourke almost dropped out due to Marvel's initial salary offer of $250,000, but the studio raised the offer, and in March Rourke signed on. Later that same day Scarlett Johansson signed on to play the Black Widow. Her deal included options for multiple films, including potentially The Avengers. In April, Garry Shandling, Clark Gregg, and Kate Mara joined the cast.
FilmingPrincipal photography began April 6, 2009, at the Pasadena Masonic Temple. The fake working title was Rasputin. The bulk of the production took place at Raleigh Studios, though other locations were also used. Scenes were filmed at Edwards Air Force Base from May 11 through May 13. The location had also been used for Iron Man, and Favreau stated that he felt the "real military assets make the movie more authentic and the topography and the beauty of the desert and flightline open the movie up". The Historic Grand Prix of Monaco action sequence was shot in the parking lot of Downey Studios, with sets constructed in May and filming lasting through June. Permission to film in Monaco prior to the 2009 Monaco Grand Prix had initially been awarded, but was later retracted by Bernie Ecclestone. The filmmakers shipped one Rolls-Royce Phantom there, and filmed a track sequence in which race cars were later digitally added. Tanner Foust took on the role of driving Stark's racing car. Also in June, it was reported that John Slattery had joined the film's cast as Howard Stark. Olivia Munn was also cast, in an unspecified role.
A massive green screen was constructed at the Sepulveda Dam to film a portion of the Stark Expo exterior, with the rest either shot at an area high school or added digitally. To construct the green screen, hundreds of shipping containers were stacked, covered in plywood and plaster, and then painted green. For the conclusion of that climactic scene, which the crew dubbed the "Japanese Garden" scene, a set was built inside Sony Studios in Los Angeles.
Principal photography lasted 71 days, and the film's production officially wrapped on July 18, 2009. A post-credits scene depicting the discovery of a large hammer was filmed on the set of Thor, and some of it was reused in the film. Jon Favreau revealed that the scene was filmed with anamorphic lenses to match Thor.
Post-productionvisual effects supervisor, and Industrial Light & Magic again did the bulk of the effects, as it did on the first film. ILM's visual effects supervisor on the film, Ben Snow, said their work on the film was "harder" than their work on the first, stating that Favreau asked more of them this time around. Snow described the process of digitally creating the suits:
On the first Iron Man, we tried to use the Legacy [Studios, Stan Winston's effects company] and Stan Winston suits as much as we could. For the second one, Jon [Favreau] was confident we could create the CG suits, and the action dictated using them. So, Legacy created what we called the "football suits" from the torso up with a chest plate and helmet. We’d usually put in some arm pieces, but not the whole arm. In the house fight sequence, where Robert Downey Jr. staggers around tipsy, we used some of the practical suit and extended it digitally. Same thing in the Randy's Donuts scene. But in the rest of the film, we used the CG suit entirely. And Double Negative did an all-digital suit for the Monaco chase.ILM created 527 shots for the film, using programs such as Maya. Perception worked on over 125 shots for the film. They crafted gadgets, such as Tony Stark's transparent LG smartphone, and created the backdrops for the Stark Expo as well as the computer screen interfaces on the touch-screen coffee table and the holographic lab environment. In total, 11 visual effect studios worked on the film.
In January 2010, IMAX Corporation, Marvel Entertainment and Paramount Pictures announced that the film would receive a limited release on digital IMAX screens. It was not shot with IMAX cameras, so it was converted into the format using the IMAX DMR technology. The film underwent reshoots in February. Olivia Munn's original role was cut, but she was given a new role during the reshoots.
MusicA soundtrack album featuring AC/DC was released by Columbia Records on April 19, 2010, in at least three different versions: basic, special and deluxe. The basic edition includes the CD; the special edition contains a 15-track CD, a 32-page booklet and a DVD featuring interviews, behind-the-scenes footage, and music videos; and the deluxe includes a reproduction of one of Iron Man's first comic book appearances. Only 2 songs on the soundtrack actually appear in the movie. Although not included on the soundtrack album the film includes songs by The Average White Band, The Clash, Queen, Daft Punk, 2Pac and Beastie Boys.
The film score was released commercially as Iron Man 2: Original Motion Picture Score on July 20, 2010, featuring 25 songs. John Debney composed the score with Tom Morello.
MarketingSan Diego Comic Con, a five-minute trailer for the movie was shown. Actors portraying Stark Industries recruiters handed out business cards with an invitation to apply. A website for Stark Industries went online, with an attached graphic of a "napkin memo" from Stark to Potts announcing that Stark Industries no longer made weapons. Another section featured an online application. It was confirmed that the first theatrical trailer would premiere in front of Sherlock Holmes (another Robert Downey, Jr. film). This trailer was released online on December 16, 2009. A new trailer was shown by Robert Downey, Jr. on Jimmy Kimmel Live! on March 7 after the Academy Awards. Promotional partners included Symantec, Dr Pepper, Burger King, 7 Eleven, Audi, LG Electronics and Hershey.
Author Alexander C. Irvine adapted the script into a novel, also titled Iron Man 2, that was released in April 2010. Prior to the film release, Marvel Comics released a four issue miniseries comic book titled Iron Man vs Whiplash, which introduced the film's version of Whiplash into the Marvel Universe. A three issue prequel miniseries titled Iron Man 2: Public Identity was released in April.
Video gamesThe video game was released by Sega on May 4, 2010 in North America, written by The Invincible Iron Man scribe Matt Fraction. The game's Comic Con trailer showed that the Crimson Dynamo was set to appear as a villain.
The Wii version was developed by High Voltage Software and all console versions were published by Sega, while Gameloft published the mobile game. Cheadle and Jackson voice their respective characters in the games. The trailer revealed that A.I.M, Roxxon Energy Corporation, and Ultimo (depicted as a man named Kearson DeWitt in a large armor) are enemies in the game as well as reveal that the wearer of the Crimson Dynamo armor is General Valentin Shatalov. The game received generally unfavorable reviews, with a Metacritic score of 41% for both the PS3 and Xbox 360 versions.
ReleaseThe international release date of the film was moved forward to increase interest ahead of the 2010 FIFA World Cup association football tournament. Since the film was included in a predetermined legacy distribution deal that was signed before the Walt Disney Company purchased Marvel, Paramount Pictures was able to acquire 8% of the box office, while the remaining portion went to Disney.
Home mediaOn September 28, 2010, the film was released onto DVD and Blu-ray Disc.
The film is also scheduled to be collected in a 10-disc box set titled Marvel Cinematic Universe: Phase One – Avengers Assembled which will include all of the "Phase One" films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. However, in September 2012, the release of the box set, which was scheduled on the same day as the Blu-ray release of The Avengers, was delayed until Q1 2013, due to a pending law suit over the suitcase used to package the collection.
Box officeIron Man 2 premiered in Los Angeles, California on April 26, 2010, and was released in 54 countries between April 28 and April 30 before going into general release in the U.S. on May 7, 2010. It launched in six European markets with number-one openings on Wednesday, April 28, 2010, for a total $2.2 million from 960 venues. It earned $100.2 million its first five days from 6,764 theaters in 53 foreign markets for a strong average of $14,814 per site. IMAX Corporation reported grosses of $2.25 million at 48 IMAX theaters overseas, for an average of $46,875. This surpassed the previous record-holder for an IMAX 2D release, 2009's Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen ($2.1 million).
The film grossed $128,122,480 in its opening weekend in the United States at 4,380 theaters, the fifth-highest opening weekend ever, at the time, behind The Dark Knight, Spider-Man 3, The Twilight Saga: New Moon and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest. It also had the highest opening for a 2010 movie. The film yielded an average of $29,252 per theater. It grossed $51,239,677 on opening day and became the eleventh highest opening day on record. Iron Man 2 generated $9.8 million from 181 IMAX venues. That was the highest opening weekend for a 2D IMAX film, surpassing Star Trek's previous record of $8.5 million.
Iron Man 2 closed in theaters on August 19, 2010. It grossed $312,433,331 in the United States and Canada, as well as $311,500,000 in other markets, giving the film a worldwide total of $623,933,331. Iron Man 2 was the third-highest grossing film of 2010 in the United States and Canada, behind Toy Story 3 and Alice in Wonderland. It was also seventh-highest grossing film of 2010 internationally, behind Toy Story 3, Alice in Wonderland, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1, Inception, Shrek Forever After, and The Twilight Saga: Eclipse.
Critical responseIron Man 2 received generally positive reviews. It holds a 74% overall approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 264 reviews with an average rating of 6.5/10, and the film is "Certified Fresh", with the critical consensus that "It isn't quite the breath of fresh air that Iron Man was, but this sequel comes close with solid performances and an action-packed plot". Metacritic gave the film 57/100 based on a normalized rating of 40 reviews.
Positive reviewers include Brian Lowry of Variety who stated, "Iron Man 2 isn't as much fun as its predecessor, but by the time the smoke clears, it'll do". Anthony Lane of The New Yorker said, "To find a comic-book hero who doesn't agonize over his supergifts, and would defend his constitutional right to get a kick out of them, is frankly a relief". David Edelstein of New York Magazine wrote, "It doesn't come close to the emotional heft of those two rare 2s that outclassed their ones: Superman II and Spider-Man 2. But Iron Man 2 hums along quite nicely". Roger Ebert gave it 3 stars out of 4, stating that "Iron Man 2 is a polished, high-octane sequel, not as good as the original but building once again on a quirky performance by Robert Downey Jr". Frank Lovece of Film Journal International, a one-time Marvel Comics writer, said that, "In a refreshing and unexpected turn, the sequel to Iron Man doesn't find a changed man. Inside the metal, imperfect humanity grows even more so, as thought-provoking questions of identity meet techno-fantasy made flesh."
Critics of the film include Kirk Honeycutt of The Hollywood Reporter, who stated, "Everything fun and terrific about Iron Man, a mere two years ago, has vanished with its sequel. In its place, Iron Man 2 has substituted noise, confusion, multiple villains, irrelevant stunts and misguided story lines."
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