There's a scene early in "Iron Man 2" where Robert Downey Jr., as Tony Stark, speaks to the adoring crowd at the over-the-top opening gala of his Stark Expo. He refers to himself as a phoenix rising from the ashes of captivity (in the first movie) to reach great and powerful heights (as a hugely popular superhero and guardian of world peace in the sequel).
Of course, Downey Jr. could be talking about his own career trajectory. He once was imprisoned, literally and figuratively, thanks to a nasty and very public drug addiction. Now, he's the biggest movie star in America. He might even be the greatest actor of our generation. (Sorry, Johnny Depp, but I think RDJ even wins in the looks department.)
At this moment in time, there's nobody I'd rather watch on the big screen. Honestly, I went to "Sherlock Holmes" around Christmastime expecting nothing, and the only reason it was something was Downey and his supremely entertaining deadpan, rapid-fire delivery and cocksure attitude. No one does lovable SOB better than this guy.
Downey really is a heroic figure -- relatively speaking -- when you consider how much we love comebacks and redemption stories. I for one am glad he got his crap together because he flat-out makes a movie into a good time just by being himself. I don't mind paying my $10 -- $14 for IMAX -- and waiting in line to support his career.
Before I go, here are some reasons to love "Iron Man 2," besides its main character: Director Jon Favreau never takes himself too seriously. He lets his bodyguard character get beat up by a girl; Don Cheadle makes you kind of forget Terrence Howard; "Mad Men" star John Slattery makes a cameo appearance as Tony's dad; Stan Lee makes his traditional cameo, this time as Larry King; the late DJ AM does his thing in a hilariously raucous party scene; Scarlett Johannson and Gwyneth Paltrow both look absolutely fabulous; Sam Rockwell obviously had a lot of fun playing villainous weapons dealer Justin Hammer; Mickey Rourke is so damn ugly he's beautiful; the references to upcoming "Avengers" movies (most notably "Captain America" and "Thor") are both funny and exciting; and despite what you may have heard or read, "2" is just as much fun as the original. There are more explosions and more property is destroyed, but the violence never feels gratuitous.
A tip for fans of this franchise and all Marvel comics: Stay through the end credits.
Thanks to Jen Wielgus