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Marvel Studios Retrospective: Iron Man 2 – 2010

2009 was a quiet year for the Marvel Cinematic Universe as no movies were released that year. It was, however, a BIG year for Marvel Studios as 2009 was the year it was bought by Disney. From here on out, Marvel would no longer be fledgling movie studio. Also from here one out, we wouldn’t go another year without and MCU movie (usually there would be two or three).

After Disney’s acquisition, fans wondered what would happen to Marvel’s movies. Would Disney take the edge off the MCU? Would the movies be more “kiddy?”

Fans have breathed sighs of relief multiple times over the years as Disney has largely let Marvel do what they want. Ironically, though, the first MCU movie released after the acquisition, Iron Man 2, is the most “Disney” of any of the MCU movies.

Jon Favreau, the director, is a Disney fan so it’s no coincidence that the Stark Expo brings to mind the 1964-64 World’s Fair or Epcot’s Future World (including a song written by Richard Sherman). It’s also not a coincidence that Howard Stark reminds you of Walt Disney or that the video he’s in is reminiscent of the Disneyland TV show.

When ranking the MCU movies, fans often rank Iron Man 2 on the lower end of the lists (Rotten Tomatoes has it in the bottom 3) but I would argue that it is one of the most essential movies in the MCU franchise. Both Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk worked as stand along movies, but they only hinted at a larger universe, and even then, using post-credit scenes. Iron Man 2 finally gave us a bigger picture. It’s a fair criticism to say this bigger picture came at the expense of a movie fully focused on Iron Man but, in my opinion, this is still a movie we needed.

SHIELD was a bigger presence in this movie. We learned some of the history of the organization and characters like Nick Fury, Phil Coulson, and Black Widow were given more screen time paving the way for stories like The Avengers, Captain America: Winter Solider and, of course Agents of SHIELD (Hopefully soon, we’ll also get to say that this movie paved the way for the Black Widow movie).

The Stark Expo is also a concept that shows up in other movies from Captain America: The First Avenger to Spider-Man: Homecoming. (The Stark Expo is also the setting for the Iron Man Experience in Hong Kong Disneyland).

As a sequel, Iron Man 2 does what many sequels do, tries to be bigger than the first movie but largely falls short. As a part of the MCU, however, it is essential viewing.

What did you think of Iron Man 2 when was first released? What do you think of it now?