In a rundown apartment building in Moscow, Ivan Vanko (Mickey Rourke) screams out in murderous rage after watching his father die in bed. Next we see Ivan constructing his own Iron Man suit complete with ‘power whips’. We learn that Ivan’s father was responsible for developing the plans for the original arc reactor, which were taken over by Tony Stark’s father. This enabled Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr) to create the original Iron Man suit. Instead of reaping the rewards of his invention, Ivan’s father was deported back to Russia.
Six months after these scenes, we find that all is not going well for Tony Stark. He is slowly being poisoned to death by the arc reactor used to power his Iron Man suit. Meanwhile the US government is pressuring him to hand over his suit to the military. The military decides to develop its own suit, so it teams up with Justin Hammer (Sam Rockwell), an industrialist who wants to destroy Stark. Then Ivan Vanko re-enters the picture as ‘Whiplash’. He attacks Stark during the French Grand Prix, but is defeated and imprisoned.
Unsuccessful in his attempts to create an Iron Man suit, Hammer orchestrates Vanko’s escape from prison. Hammer believes Vanko will help him make the suit, but Ivan has his own agenda. Rather than building an Iron Man suit, he builds an army of Iron Man clones.
In the struggles that follow, Stark relies on both new and old alliances, including Lt Col. James Rhodes (Don Cheadle), Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow), SHIELD agents Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and Natasha Romanaff (Natalie Rushman), and the Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson).
Superheroes; the weapons industry
Iron Man 2 contains sequences of intense, stylised action violence, but there is minimal blood and gore. For example:
- During a boxing match between Tony Stark and another man, Stark punches the other man in the face and kicks him in the chest. A woman gets into the boxing ring. She grabs and twists the man’s hand, using her legs to place his head in a scissor hold. The man crashes hard onto the floor.
- Whiplash walks onto a Grand Prix track and is narrowly missed by racing cars. He uses his power whips to slice open several race cars, which crash into each other. They flip over, flying through the air and exploding in flames. Stark’s car is sliced in half and comes to rest with Stark hanging upside down and petrol pouring over him. Stark bashes Whiplash over the head with a piece of metal. Whiplash lashes Tony to the ground with his whips. A car explodes and Stark’s arm catches fire, but Stark pats out the flames with his hand. A car rams into Whiplash, pinning him against a fence. Now in his Iron Man suit, Stark punches Whiplash and rips his power source from his chest.
- While in prison, Vanko grabs a prisoner and slams his head against a toilet bowl. The prisoner falls lifeless to the ground. Vanko then places a bomb on the ground and walks away. The bomb explodes in flames and blows up the cell. During the same scene, Vanko twists a prison guard’s arm behind his back then twists the guard’s head. The guard’s neck snaps, and we hear the sound of bones breaking.
- While in a drunken rage and in his Iron Man suit, Stark shoots champagne bottles in the air and shoots out panes of glass. James Rhodes, also in an Iron Man suit, attacks Stark. They fight, crashing through plate glass windows, hurling dumbbells at each other, throwing punches and kicking. They throw each other through walls and ceilings. One bashes the other over the head with a porcelain sink. When both shoot each other with a power beam, the resulting explosion demolishes the entire room and leaves both unconscious.
- Vanko is left alone with two guards. In the next scene, both guards are dead, strangled and dangling from the ceiling. Vanko has blood on one of his hands.
- In an auditorium full of people, dozens of Iron Man clones fire bullets and missiles into the crowd. Glass panels shatter, and glass and rubble falls on people. People stampede in panic, and some fall down stairs. One clone aims his weapon at a young boy wearing an Iron Man mask, but Iron Man arrives and destroys the clone.
- A female SHIELD agent uses electrified lassoes to tie up one man and strangle another. She also uses stylised martial arts to knock out numerous men. She tasers a man in the face.
- We see numerous Iron Man clones shooting various guns and cannons at Iron Man. Iron Man shoots a laser at the clones, cutting them in half and leaving the ground littered with their bodies.
- Whiplash uses his power whips to lash Stark and Rhodes around the chest and neck. Iron Man punches and head-butts Whiplash. Stark and Rhodes combine power beams coming from their hand to create an explosion that leaves Whiplash lying torn up on the ground. Whiplash self-destructs with a giant explosion.
Content that may disturb children
In addition to the violent scenes mentioned above, this movie contains some scenes that could scare or disturb children under eight. For example:
- As Ivan Vanko’s father lies dying of unknown causes, Ivan screams out in rage.
- Whiplash’s appearance might scare or disturb younger children. His entire body is covered with tattoos and scars, which are designed to make his appearance intimidating. He also has several gold teeth, giving his mouth a metallic appearance.
- At times, parts of Tony Stark’s body become covered in raised blue veins, a result of his body being poisoned by the arc reactor. In one scene, Stark removes the arc reactor from his chest and leaves a gaping hole.
- Younger children might be scared by the robotic appearance of the Iron Man suit and the Iron Man clones.
Some children in this age group might also be disturbed by some of the scenes mentioned above.
Apart from the violence described above, children in this age group are unlikely to be disturbed by anything in this movie.
Iron Man 2 contains several covert sexual references and innuendoes. For example:
- When Stark leaves a hotel, he finds a young attractive woman sitting in his car. Stark asks, ‘Does she come with the car? ... I certainly hope so’.
- A man makes a comment to Stark about expensive sexual harassment law cases.
- A man is talking about an attractive young reporter who is writing a piece on Tony Stark. The man says, ‘She did quite a spread on Tony’.
- A man says, ‘Maybe I’ll even get laid’.
Alcohol, drugs and other substances
Iron Man 2 contains some use of substances. For example:
- People at parties drink wine and champagne.
- Vanko swigs vodka straight from the bottle.
- Stark sips a martini and then sculls the drink.
- At his own birthday party, Stark behaves in an extremely drunk way while wearing his Iron Man suit. He staggers around, falls over and wees in his suit. His behaviour then becomes aggressive and dangerous, resulting in a fight with his best friend.
- Stark is injected in the side of his neck with the drug lithium dioxide.
- Vanko is referred to as ‘vodka enraged’.
Nudity and sexual activity
Iron Man 2 contains some partial nudity and sexual activity. For example:
- A group of women wearing very short, tight shorts and low-cut bikini-style tops perform a sexy dance.
- A woman undresses in the back of a car and reveals sexy black lingerie. The driver tries to watch her in the car’s rear view mirror.
- Tony Stark kisses a woman passionately on the lips and tells her he loves her.
None of concern
Iron Man 2 contains some infrequent low-level coarse language.
Ideas to discuss with your children
Iron Man 2 is the sequel to Iron Man, a superhero action adventure based on Marvel comics characters. The movie targets an adolescent male audience. Despite some good performances, the movie falls short of providing stimulating grown-up entertainment. At just over two hours in length, it’s also a little longer than needed.
The main message from this movie is that technology should be used for the greater good of humanity rather than for individual personal gain.
Values in this movie that you could reinforce with your children include self-sacrifice. Tony Stark as Iron Man makes numerous sacrifices, including risking his life to save others and humanity in general. Several of Stark’s close friends also make similar sacrifices to benefit Stark and others.