Thursday, April 16, 2015

Recap: "Iron Man 2" Part 3: Ironclad

Who lives? Who dies? ...Like you all don't know the formula already. Save the day, get the girl, etc.

Actually, funny story, when I was showing Iron Man to my sister for the first time, after Iron Monger aimed his weapons at Pepper, she asked "Does Pepper die," to which her boyfriend and I both replied "Yes." And she believed us, because why would we both lie to her?

I love you, sis, but that payback was a long time coming after you tricked me into eating red pepper flakes as a kid.
Over at the Air Force Base, Rhodey removes the Arc Reactor from the Mark II before Hammer comes in to have a look at the armor. The General asks if that’s the power source, and Rhodey tells him that they’re here to arm it, not figure it out. Because Rhodey might be giving the military an suit to pacify them, but he's not giving him the golden egg.

Hammer soon shows up and gives his little weapons presentation. As I hope I’ve made abundantly clear, Justin Hammer is an idiot. And that’s nowhere as clear as in this scene right here. He shows off a few basic weapons before getting into the good stuff.

Justin Hammer: “This is an M134 7.62 Minigun. Six individual barrels. The torso taker, powder maker. Our boys in uniform call it Uncle Gazpacho, or Puff the Magic Dragon.”

First of all, you’re talking to the boys in uniform. Second, “Puff the Magic Dragon” was what they called the helicopter that carried it, not the gun itself. Third, you’re an idiot, Hammer.

So then he brings up the final bit of the arsenal.

Justin Hammer: “This is a kinetic-kill, side-winder vehicle with a secondary cyclotrimethylenetrinitramine RDX burst.”

Written out in the standard way, that would be a “cyclotrimethylenetrinitramine (RDX) burst.” “Cyclotrimethylenetrinitramine” and “RDX” are two names for the same thing. Hammer just referred to the same thing twice because he has no idea what the words he's saying mean.

Justin Hammer: “If it were any smarter, it would write a book. A book that would make Ulysses look like it was written in crayon.”

Ulysses was written in crayon. James Joyce’s eyesight was so bad that he couldn’t see what he wrote unless he did it in crayon.

In closing, Hammer. I award you no points, and may Odin have mercy upon your soul.
Can I just say that I love Sam Rockwell’s performance? Just in general? Iron Man 2, Galaxy Quest, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy; I just find him a joy to watch.

Rhodey tells him he’ll take all of it as Tony opens his dad’s chest. He finds the original Arc Reactor blueprints, a newspaper, and a film reel of bloopers from the Stark Expo intro, which he puts on while he flips through his dad’s science notes. The notes are filled with Easter Eggs, whether it be a reference to an "Abnormal Zeeman Effect,” which is a real life thing known as the “Stark Effect,” or a diagram of some kind of hypercube.

Probably unimportant. Forget I mentioned it.
As Tony reads, the film reel begins to make it clear that Howard Stark wasn't a stick in the mud. The reel contains some bloopers with flubbed lines, goofing off in front of the camera, Tony messing around with the model of the City of the Future, and a quick scotch break.

"I love scotch. Scotchy scotch scotch. Here it goes down, down into my belly...."
Tony is more like his dad than he ever knew. And the final thing on the film is a message to Tony.

Howard: “I built this for you. And some day, you’ll realize that it represents a whole lot more than people’s inventions. It represents my life’s work. This is the key to the future. I’m limited by the technology of my time, but one day you’ll figure this out. And when you do, you will change the world. What is and always will be my greatest creation is you.”

True, but I think your wife may have helped with that a little bit. I mean, she had to add half the ingredients herself.

Somehow, the newly-inspired Tony Stark escapes his house off screen, buys some strawberries from a fruit vendor, and drives off to Stark Industries to see Pepper, who is on the phone with legal about the government’s “illegal seizure of trademarked property.” He tries to apologize in his usual rambling way, offers her strawberries (which she’s allergic to), and gets a major talking to about responsibility as “Natalie” and Happy come in to do their jobs, and Pepper leaves to do hers. Before “Natalie” leaves with others, Tony asks if there’s anything real about her.

Tony Stark: “Do you even speak Latin?”
“Natalie”: "Fallaces sunt rerum species."

A Seneca the Younger quote. "The appearances of things are deceptive." Those English/Theatre degrees are finally coming in handy. Life choices validated!

Tony takes note of the old model of the 1974 Stark Expo (probably left over from planning the latest Expo), and takes a long look at it, realizing something familiar to the layout. He drives the thing home and maps it out digitally. With a little tweaking, he realizes that all the buildings are laid out in a very specific way. It’s the blueprint of an atom. Specifically, an atom of an element that should work much better than palladium ever did.

JARVIS: “Unfortunately, it is impossible to synthesize.”

That does seem like a setback, yes.

Tony starts tearing apart his house and creates a particle accelerator. Coulson comes in to ask what the heck is going on.

Tony Stark: “Hey, I’m playing for the home team, Coulson, you and all your Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers.”

Franklin, Phineas, and Fat Freddy. And Phil, too, apparently.
Coulson finds an old half-finished replica of Captain America’s shield and uses it to prop up a bit of his accelerator. Coulson is not amused.

But he’ll have to be unamused in New Mexico, because that’s where Fury’s reassigning him. Long story short, Tony manages to use both science and lasers to create his new element, burning a line in the wall in the process. I’m not sure how this is supposed to be working, exactly, but it seems to be working well.

Seriously, is there a particle physicist in the audience who can explain this to me?
According to some of the onscreen details, the element Tony creates is known as "Ununonoctium," which means it has 118 protons. This puts it square in the theoretical "island of stability," which means that unlike other transuranic elements, it won't be radioactive. In the supplemental MCU materials, Tony will run into some problems patenting it. Mainly because he wants to call it "badassium."

Now, you might be wondering why this element has all these nigh-magical properties. Well, without giving anything away, let's just say that it's based off of Howard Stark's research on a more... cosmic element.

But enough potential spoilers, Ivan has just finished a new Arc Reactor of his own. Hammer calls him up and asks for a demonstration, but Ivan insists that he’ll just have to wait for the presentation at the Stark Expo.

Ivan: “Presentation. No fly. No shoot.”

But that’s not to say they won’t do anything.

Ivan: “I can make salute.”
Justin: “You can make salute?”

But as the camera zooms out, we see what Ivan’s been working on instead of the drones.

A lightsaber prop for Star Wars Episode VII, by the look of it.
Hammer returns to base to try and “motivate” Ivan to work harder by taking the bird. And his pillows. And his shoes. Hammer brags about having some modified Starktech to show off, and tells Hammer that he’ll be under heavy guard tonight. And if Ivan doesn’t agree to the original terms when Hammer returns, Ivan goes right back to prison. Over with Tony, he’s getting a phone call.

Tony Stark: “Hey, Coulson. How’s the Land of Enchantment?”

You mean Tahiti? Magical.

But it’s not Coulson. It’s Ivan.

"Hey, man. Just here with friends, hanging out. It is play on words."
He’s upgraded his tech, he’s killed the guards, and he’s ready to cause some havoc at the Stark Expo. But first things first, he has to thank Tony for the advice on the reactor.

Ivan: “You told me double cycles, more power. Good advice.”

As Ivan outlines the reasons for his revenge, Tony uses signal triangulation and common sense to trace the signal to Hammer Industries. With little time left before the Expo, Tony has no choice but to use the new reactor. Not only does it work better than expected and suck all the heavy metals out of his body, but it leaves the taste of coconut and metal in Tony’s mouth. Definitely better than dying.

Pepper Potts and “Natalie” arrive at the Expo just in time to see Justin Hammer dance out on stage. This dance is actually something that Sam Rockwell would regularly do to get into character. It’s a nice touch to add it here, it hearkens back to Steve Ballmer’s energetic tech presentations. I like it.

After a failed joke or two, Hammer shows off his Hammertech drones, all decked out and painted for each branch of the military, culminating of the unveiling of the Variable Threat Response Battlesuit, piloted by Rhodey.

Technically, guys, you're showing off stolen property.
Ivan types furiously in classic Hollywood fashion to begin to take over the drones' software remotely. Rhodey and the suits salute like Ivan promised, and Iron Man arrives in the brand new Mark VI armor to inform Rhodey about the danger.

Basically, the old suit with a triangle.
He waves to the crowd as he calmly tells Rhodey what Hammer and Ivan are about to do. But before they can do anything, Rhodey’s HUD goes nuts as a salute of a different kind begins. A 21-gun salute. And Tony’s the target. Iron Man takes to the air as Rhodey’s commandeered suit and the drones follow after him. Hammer tells his men to get control back, but they can’t. And all the phones are down, so they can’t call the guards at Hammer Industries to put a stop to this.

Pepper shows up with “Natalie” to yell at Hammer. When that doesn’t work, “Natalie” cuts the crap and slams Justin down to interrogate him. Being a wuss, he spills everything almost immediately. She goes off to take care of Vanko while Pepper calls the cops.

Tony’s remote reboot of the Mark II proves unsuccessful as the Expo is evacuated. “Natalie” has Happy drive her to Hammer HQ as Iron Man manages to use some of the drones to shoot the other drones. Ivan switches tactics and has the drones start attacking the crowd to draw Iron Man out, including a small boy wearing official Iron Man 2 merchandise.

Actually, who knows how many lives were saved because this kid distracted the drone? Way to go, shorty.
“Natalie” changes into her spysuit in the back of the car as Tony manages to make a few more drones crash with tricky maneuvers. Happy and Agent Romanoff take out the guards… well, he takes out one with some fisticuffs and ear biting. She takes out the rest with spy-gear and her legs.

She's broken bones, kicked testicles, and even garroted a guy. But Mr. Mace-in-the-Face gets my sympathy.
Tony, meanwhile, has taken out even more drones using some quick maneuvers and the World’s Fair globe. Agent Romanoff breaks into Ivan’s control room, but he’s gone. Rhodey and Tony crash in the Oracle biodome, all decked out like a Japanese teagarden because Larry Ellison loves Japan.

Because Natasha knows her way around Ivan's Russian programming, she manages to give Rhodey back control of his armor and radios Tony that everything's better. Including him, now that he's not dying. Pepper, listening in them through what appears to be a very sudden Skype call, learns that Tony was dying and freaks out accordingly. But there’s no time for that, more Hammer drones are on their way. Or as Tony dubs them, "Hammeroids." He helps Rhodey up and they get to it.

Tony Stark: “They’re coming in hot, any second. What’s the play?”

This set-up might actually be less common than somebody mentioning a thunderdome.
After a bit of banter over who’s got the biggest gun for the defense (because penis), Rhodey tells Tony to get out of the middle of the area.

Rhodey: “It’s the kill box, Tony, okay? This is where you go to die.”

Cue the Hammeroids surrounding them in the kill box. After some shooting, Tony whips out a one-time use laser weapon and takes the rest out.

So would this be... a KillBox 360? ...You know, I'll apologize for that pun. Sorry.
And with the minions defeated, it’s final boss time. Not Justin Hammer, the cops are arresting him as he promises to return with righteous vengeance. Outside of a cameo, he’s never seen again. The final boss is Ivan Vanko in a suit of his own.

Why does he have the armor-plated loincloth, you ask? ...reasons.
Rhodey decides to use Justin Hammer’s bunker buster with the cyclotrimethylenetrinitramine (RDX) burst (“the Ex-Wife”), but it just bounces off Ivan and fizzles out.

Try bullets. Those seemed to be working.
Tony Stark: “Hammertech?”
Rhodey: “Yeah….”

Uh, it’s not the tech, Rhodey. Most missiles of that strength have a minimum distance before the charge arms so you can’t accidentally blow yourself up. You’d think you’d know that, seeing as how you're the Air Force guy.

Also, all that stuff I learned you about Ulysses and RDX and junk? Also Flash Facts.
After the token fight with the new-and-improved Whiplash, Tony and Rhodey use their repulsors on each other to cause a small explosion to knock out the armored Russian. It knocks him down, which usually means the villain is going to return for more, but they cut that scene out of the movie.

Along with most of Ivan's scenes. I'll get to that in the Review.
Instead, Ivan activates the timed self-destruct on all his drones. Iron Man and Rhodey fly in to save Pepper from one, and the day is officially saved. Pepper decides that she doesn’t want the job of CEO anymore, because she already has to put up with Tony. She doesn’t want to put up with the people who also have to put up with Tony. The two kiss, as Rhodey judges them.

Rhodey: “You look like two seals fighting over a grape.”

Rhodey tells Tony that his car got destroyed in the fight, so he’s going to need to take the suit for a bit.  Sometime later, Tony has a meeting with Nick Fury where he gets turned down for Avengers duty, as detailed in Agent Romanoff’s report.

Well, hello, news report of the Hulk's rampage! As well as Easter Eggs for Thor, Black Panther, and possibly Namor.
Tony Stark: “’Textbook narcissism?’ …agreed.”

Now… here’s the confusing part.

Tony Stark: “’Recruitment assessment for Avenger Initiative. Iron Man? Yes.’”

The kicker?

Tony Stark: “’Tony Stark not… Not recommended’? That doesn’t make any sense.”

I agree. Basically, the implication is that they want someone else in the suit. This plot point ends up being written around to Hell and back for The Avengers. But Nick Fury tells him that S.H.I.E.L.D. wants Tony as a consultant. Remember the stinger to The Incredible Hulk? Tony was talking to General Ross on S.H.I.E.L.D.’s behalf. And in a week or so, I’ll be talking about the short film that explains that stinger.

But for now, Tony asks for a small favor. He and Rhodey are due to get those medals Tony said he deserves, and he has a specific presenter in mind. As "Highway to Hell plays," Senator Stern gives Rhodey and Tony their medals (Rhodey gets a Meritorious Service Medal, and Tony the Distinguished Service Medal), intentionally sticking Tony with the pin.

Senator Stern: “Funny how annoying a little prick can be, isn’t it?”

They pose for the cameras, and the film ends. After the credits, a car drives through New Mexico. After arriving in the middle of a desert, Agent Coulson steps out to oversee some kind of event.

Fun Fact: This is not an official S.H.I.E.L.D. excavation. Those are all drunken rednecks down there.
Agent Coulson: “Sir. We’ve found it.”

A fancy-looking Atari joystick? This must be where they buried all those E.T. cartridges!
And with the sound of thunder over the image of Thor's hammer, the road to The Avengers officially begins. The waters were tested with Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk. With the post-credits scene of Iron Man 2, things are set into motion that now, as I write this in 2015, are still waiting to be fully paid off. But at the end of the day, is this a good movie? Let's review.

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