“Iron Man 2” is a superhero movie based on the popular Marvel comic book character. It set a new standard for how films of the superhero genre integrate special effects and computer animation with live action. A critical success (it received a rating of 74% on Rotten Tomatoes, unusually high for a sequel) and a fan favorite (it was met with favorable reviews by comic junkies), Iron Man 2 was the catalyst for more Marvel film adaptations and, thus, The Avengers.
The use of crystal-clear special effects is apparent in the very first main scene of the movie. Tony Stark is driving a Formula 1 car in a race in Monaco when the antagonist of the film, Ivan Vanko, steps out onto the track with a homemade, whip-like lighting weapon. As Stark is about to crash into him, Vanko lashes out with the whip, slicing the car in half and sending Iron Man’s alter ego hurdling through the air. The camera zooms into Stark’s face, showing the fear in the face of a man who is usually annoyingly complacent while the car is cut perfectly in half, with sparks showering down from the white-hot metal. This not only creates a dazzling image but also shows how Ivan Vanko effectively uses pathos to scare both Tony Stark as well as the audience into submission.
One of the more impressive features of the film is the equipment that Stark uses throughout the story. With the sophisticated special effects that director Jon Favreau had at his disposal, the technology seemed not only plausible but logical. The way that the Iron Man suit robotically attaches itself to Stark is so intricately designed that it makes me feel as if I could go find it at The Sharper Image. Said Favreau of the special effects in an interview with ‘Chuck the Movieguy,’ “Five years ago you couldn’t make an Iron Man movie that showed the suit doing everything it could do in the books.” Furthermore, Stark’s butler/Artificial Intelligence computer will surely have tech geeks raving. The screen is a hologram capable of filling his entire workshop, a “galaxy-like” display of icons and applications that can be opened, rearranged, and even tossed in the garbage with a flick of the wrist. This use of logos argues not only that Tony Stark is a genius, innovative, technological mastermind but also that this kind of technology simply can’t be that far away.
The movie also employed ethos in a very realistic medium as well. In the scene where Stark is taken before the Senate to hand his suit over to the government, the camera switches from the standard view to a news broadcast. The camera view is complete with not only the ever-popular “Live” bar at the top of the screen, but also the actual C-Span logo and the trademark title and subtitle. This makes the hearing more serious and convincing to the audience, while at the same time makes it even funnier that Stark is mocking the entire thing. Other scenes show Stark from the point of view of the heads-up display in his helmet. This gives the viewer a sense of excitement, making them feel as if they’re right there inside the suit with Iron Man, shooting lasers and missiles at the bad guys.
In a genre of its own where special effects are often criticized, Iron Man 2 succeeds where others have failed. It is a breath of remarkably fresh air for superhero films (just watch the corny stunts in the 1997 Batman & Robin). Iron Man 2 is also proof that the movie industry hasn’t fallen into the hands of “moneygrubbing hacks” with no artistic taste that Giannetti is worried about, due to our technology today.