I think I’ve seen about half of the Marvel movies, and I like a lot of them! Sometimes they’re really badass, sometimes there’s a lot of charm, and the way they make the pulpy, crazy stuff feel integrated into the mundane, modern world is super cool.
I also love the way all the stories connect in a big, intertextual web! It’s like a little treat whenever I recognize something or someone from a different part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Therefore, I thought it was about time I watched every single one, starting from the beginning!
The first two Iron Men were not what I expected.
They were so weird, grimy, and crass that it made for a fascinating, unpredictable experience. The first, I would say, had a strong structure and through line that clearly knew what it was going for. The second… it just didn’t have any themes! Nothing meant anything at all, and that made it so funny! Still, when it came down to it, I didn’t feel much inclined to watch them again.
Therefore, my ratings of subjective, personal enjoyment are…
Iron Man – 3/5 stars!
Iron Man 2 – 2/5 stars!
Tony Stark is truly detestable.
I think it is a fascinating choice to make the very flagship hero of your enormous franchise a hated, selfish antihero!
The movie pulls no punches in portraying this rich, snotty jerk. He flaunts his wealth, he constantly objectifies women, and he blows off everyone who tries to help him with a mocking quip. It’s not really a secret that he’s a weak and insecure man.
In the first movie, he has a character arc that involves a kind of positive growth. He ends his weapons business and commits himself to protecting others. The second movie, understandably, shows us he’s still got quite a ways to go to be a decent human being. The thing is, he has no arc in movie two! Nothing changes! We just watch him be him for two hours!
All in all, though, I found Tony decently entertaining to watch. Even if I don’t like him, it’s fun to watch him turn the tables on everyone with a snappy comeback, and I was able to root for him when it really mattered.
Tony treats his assistant/girlfriend like trash.
The Tony/Pepper relationship is what I like to call a “bare minimum” relationship. This refers to a fictional couple wherein the bar for the man’s behavior is so low, you get excited when he performs the bare minimum of care and selflessness.
That said, I enjoyed watching it!
I think what Tony and Pepper have is actually really interesting. The writers suggest a lot of layers in not a lot of time. She works for him, but he relies on her. She sometimes takes him to task, but she also keeps coming back for more. She hates that he womanizes, but she also knows she’s the only person he’s gonna keep around.
It’s not a healthy relationship, but it wasn’t a bad element of the movie.
The fights are a real mixed bag!
I found the climax of the first movie – the very first final fight in the MCU – pretty fun! It was tense, and it really felt like watching two mechanized guys slugging it out up close. The final fight in the second movie was so boring to me. It just felt like a wash of motion and crashing sounds. However, the second movie had a couple of other fights that really made my day.
Firstly, there’s the scene where the hardcore Russian villain, shirtless and wielding electric whips, accosts Tony simply to prove that Iron Man isn’t invulnerable. I loved seeing him smack Tony out of his dumb vanity racecar.
Later, Tony’s using his Iron Man suit irresponsibly on a drunken bender, and his long-suffering ally Rhodey puts on a suit of his own to stop him. This fight epitomized the tone of the movie to me. It’s such a sad, awkward, embarrassing, pathetic thing to watch our hero drunkenly fighting his own friend over nothing. That is Tony Stark to me! That is what these movies have taught me about our first Avenger.
All in all, it’s kind of terrible, kind of weird, and kind of fun!