Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) swooped back into theaters in 2010 for “Iron Man 2,” picking up from where the events of the first film left off. While it’s a sequel, the second Iron Man flick feels sturdy enough to stand alone, even though it’s much more Marvel-centric than either of its predecessors, “Iron Man,” or “The Incredible Hulk.” Let’s explore why as the MCU Easter egg hunt blazes on.
At the onset of “Iron Man 2,” Tony Stark appears at a Senate hearing, debating whether his Iron Man suit is a weapon. During the hilarious scene, he quips that he’d gladly accept the Secretary of Defense position. Comic aficionados will recall that Stark actually assumed this role in “The Best Defense” story arc. Remember that scene where Lt. Col. James Rhodes (Terrence Howard) wistfully stared at Tony’s extra armor and mumbled “Maybe next time” in “Iron Man?” Well change that “maybe” do a “definitely.” Er, sort of. Although Rhodes donned the suit, becoming War Machine, it was actor Don Cheadle portraying Rhodes for the second installment, replacing Howard.
What really sets “Iron Man 2” apart however is the increased focus on S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg), first appearing in “Iron Man,” plays a prominent role, as does S.H.I.E.L.D. Director Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson). In a clever sequence, Coulson discovers Captain America’s shield, and he’s shocked to find it in Stark’s lab. It’s lovely foreshadowing, and especially funny after we discover Coulson’s an avid Cap fan. Fury gets significant minutes, and isn’t merely relegated to a post-credits scene. Furthering the Avengers Initiative, Fury speaks with Tony about the proposed project, and a future Avenger Natasha Romanoff aka Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) gets substantial screen-time.
While there ample hints at the future, there are several throwbacks as well. “Iron Man 2” delves into S.H.I.E.L.D.’s origins, and Tony’s father, Howard Stark’s (John Slattery) involvement. Howard helped found the organization, and Tony probes his late father’s work, which ties into his health problems, as well as adversary Ivan Vanko (Mickey Rourke). Vanko’s father Anton worked with Howard, a crucial subplot of the film.
Once again, there are plenty of fun cameos. Stan Lee appears as Larry King, proving that suspenders can actually look pretty fashionable. Tech heads will appreciate a quick shot of Larry Ellison, CEO of Oracle, who Stark calls “The oracle of Oracle.” The post-credits scene finds Coulson in New Mexico, where Thor’s hammer has landed in the desert. “Iron Man 2” is loaded with mildly obscure, nuanced references. Take a look at What Culture’s detailed breakdown, as well as Den of Geek and MIBBA for additional lurking treasures.
Stay tuned for “Thor,” and see what our Easter egg hunt unearths next.