‘Iron Man 2′ coverage: Downey, Rourke, top 10 comicsWritten by Toledo Free Press Staff Writers | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Local comic book experts pick Tony Stark’s greatest hits (by Jim Beard)
The rock-‘em-sock-‘em robot-look-alike comic book hero known as Iron Man has been jet-booting through adventures for 47 years and shows no signs of slowing. Maybe you’ve heard he has a new feature film out May 7? If you haven’t, pull your head out from under that rock and set your repulsor rays to “Top 10” – as in “The Top 10 Iron Man Stories,” suggested by Paul Shiple of The Game Room, Jim Collins of JC’s Comic Stop and Ed Katschke of Monarch Cards & Comics.
10. “Tales of Suspense” No. 39 (1963) – It all began here: a Vietnam War parable about a millionaire weapons manufacturer whose heart was broken. Literally.
9. “Iron Man” No. 17 (1969) – Iron Man’s had his share of chicks but Madame Masque made her malicious mark here as Stark’s “loving enemy.”
8. “Iron Man” No. 55 (1973) – Introducing the death-worshipping Thanos; one big, badass cosmic villain. Iron Man was way out of his league with this one.
7. “Iron Man” No. 128 (1979) – One of the most well-known Iron Man stories of all. Tony Stark, alcoholic: they didn’t call it “Demon in a Bottle” for nothing.
6. “Iron Man” No. 149-150 (1981) – Iron Man and Dr. Doom rocket back to Camelot and become lost in time beyond recall. Undeniably oddball – but undeniably unforgettable.
5. “Iron Man” No. 166 (1983) – Stark loses everything, and we mean everything, to rival Obadiah Stane. Partially adapted in the first Iron Man movie.
4. “Iron Man” No. 200 (1985) – After a series of stories with his friend Jim Rhodes as Iron Man, Tony Stark once again dons the armor and kicks some major Stane booty.
3. “Iron Man” No. 225-232 (1987) – A story that defines the term “fan-favorite.” Iron Man hunts down other armored individuals to recover his stolen technology. Ouch!
2. “Ultimate Iron Man” No. 1 (2005) – The Armored Avenger reimagined by science fiction author Orson Scott Card.
1. “Iron Man” Vol. 4, No. 1-6 (2005) – “Extremis” is recent, but its one of the most popular Iron Man stories of all and currently being reprinted in a “Director’s Cut.” Tony Stark becomes his armor. And vice versa.
Mickey Rourke finds new redemption in ‘Iron Man 2′
LOS ANGELES (AP) — With the muscular physique of a lifelong athlete, a face battered by boxing and repaired by Hollywood, Mickey Rourke looks almost as intimidating in person as he does in “Iron Man 2,” where he plays a villainous loner determined to destroy the hero with deadly electrically charged whips.
But when the 53-year-old actor walks into a suite at the Four Seasons Hotel to talk about the film, he brings a disarming secret weapon: The tiniest, cutest Pomeranian puppy. Rourke poses for photos with the fuzzy miniature, then the little dog he calls Mush contentedly curls up next to him.
Rourke’s famous love for small-breed dogs (he thanked his dogs when he won a Golden Globe for “The Wrestler” last year and dedicated his Spirit Award for that film to his late Chihuahua, Loki) hints at the inner sensitivity of the man who derailed a promising career in the 1980s with angry outbursts and arrests.
He spent years defeating his demons to make a critically acclaimed comeback in “The Wrestler.” Now he stands poised to recapture the Hollywood glory he enjoyed early in his acting career with his terrific turn as Whiplash in “Iron Man 2.”
“I didn’t think it was going to happen again,” Rourke says, shielding his eyes with sunglasses as if to maintain a shade of distance between himself and an otherwise candid interview. “I burned too many bridges and I did misbehave terribly and I’ve only got myself to blame.”
Not that the role was an easy sell — for Rourke or for Marvel Studios. Director Jon Favreau says he and “Iron Man” star Robert Downey Jr. worked hard to persuade both.
“There was a lot of resistance to (Rourke),” Favreau says. “The studio was not inclined to hire him. It took a bit of a struggle and Robert was very helpful in that. And Robert was the guy who there was resistance in hiring last time around.”
Downey overcame his own troubled past, marred by drug addiction, to see his star-power restored with his role as Tony Stark in the first “Iron Man” film, a huge hit that brought in $318 million domestically.
Rourke’s agent insisted that doing “Iron Man 2” would be a good move, but the actor still needed convincing.
“I didn’t want to play a one-dimensional villain,” he says. “I said I’d like him to have a sense of humor. I’d like him to have a particular look. I’d like to do it with the accent. I could see Favreau shaking his head, and I knew I was taking the chance that he could just say goodbye, thank you for coming in. But he embraced the ideas.”
Making those suggestions and seeing them realized on screen has renewed Rourke’s love of acting. It reminds him of his heroes, like Marlon Brando and Montgomery Clift, and the brave choices they made during their careers.
“Getting back to being interested enough to make those choices has made me like acting again,” he says. “I enjoy what I do now. I don’t disrespect it and I don’t hate it anymore.”
The truth is he always loved it. An amateur boxer in his teens, Rourke tried acting during a break from the ring and became an instant devotee, studying at the Actors Studio in New York.
“I’d work my construction job, or wherever I was working all day long, and then I’d go into the studio at midnight and work for three or four hours,” he says.
Before long, he was working with Steven Spielberg and Francis Ford Coppola and earning critical praise for roles in “Diner” and “Barfly.” But the movie business isn’t like boxing, and Rourke’s temper often got the best of him.
“When I came to Hollywood, I realized it wasn’t all about acting,” he says. “This is where I went wrong … With boxing, with sports, it’s black and white most of the time. There’s hometown decisions, but it’s not as gray as the acting, and that short-circuited me. Now I realize it is political … and at the end of the day, it’s a business.”
Rourke says he had “authority problems” with Hollywood. He was difficult to work with. He’d mouth off to studio heads, policemen, anyone who crossed him. And he was self-righteous about it. Soon the work dried up.
“I had lost my house, my wife, my money, my career and my credibility,” he says. “When a decade went by and I didn’t work, I thought it was over.”
He was living in “a state of shame, as my doctor calls it,” knowing he had squandered the promise of his early work. He recalls stopping into a 7-Eleven on Sunset Boulevard for cigarettes late one night when a man behind him in line said, “Hey, aren’t you the guy who used to be in movies? What’s your name?”
“He mentioned like three wrong names,” Rourke says. “And I remember the whole way home I was so embarrassed. (I wished) there was a button to make me disappear.”
Instead, he went to therapy and learned to shed the childhood traumas that caused his temper to flare. He had all but given up on Hollywood when an agent from a top firm asked to meet with him. Then came roles in “Domino,” “Sin City” and “The Wrestler” and now “Iron Man 2.”
And there’s plenty of work ahead. Rourke just wrapped “Passion Play” with Megan Fox and is currently filming “The Disciples” with John Hurt and Freida Pinto. After that, he has a project with Tony Scott, a movie about the Hells Angels and “Genghis Khan.”
Plus, there’s still “Wild Horses,” the script Rourke’s been working on for 20 years and probably won’t wrap for another couple of years. He said he was looking to cast “a moviestar” in the co-starring role because he couldn’t raise the capital on his name alone. But he doesn’t mind waiting because, “I’m only gonna get one shot to do it and I want to do it the right way. I want to do it my way.”
Review: ‘Iron Man 2’ hits the sweet spot, again and again
Read the original Harry Knowles review here.
WARNING: Minor Spoilers Alert
“Iron Man” was a damn good first foray into the character of Tony Stark and Iron Man, but I think just about everybody was a tad disappointed in the Iron Monger. That last act just wasn’t quite as super-awesome as the first two-thirds. “Iron Man 2” kicks it up several notches across the board.
For the first time, we really get a glimpse of the self-destructive Tony Stark — not the “Demon in a Bottle” storyline we all cherish, but something equally strong. Stark is addicted to being Iron Man, the rush and thrill of being in that armor and knowing there’s nothing on the planet that can even come close. He’s cocky, but he has a secret that is killing him, literally. The palladium he uses to help power that awesome bit of tech in his chest is slowly but surely poisoning his system and will result in his death.
Meanwhile, we’re introduced to Mickey Rourke’s Ivan Vanko, aka Whiplash. He’s the son of a brilliant physicist who worked with Stark’s father in designing the large version of what’s in Stark’s chest. Vanko’s father has raised him with a hatred for the Stark family, which he blames for the ruin of his life — he’s become a ruined drunken shell of the man he should have been. Once he sees Iron Man in action, he begins to work on his own miniaturization and creates the Whiplash outfit to take out Stark.
Sam Rockwell’s Justin Hammer is kind of like a Michael Dell to Stark’s Steve Jobs. He struggles to project an image that. to Stark, is second nature. Hammer desperately wants to be Stark – he wants Stark’s genius, his women, his fame and adulation, but he can’t quite crack the magic 8 percent of Stark’s brain that gives him a decade’s edge on everyone else.
The scenes with Stark and Hammer are classic. The dialogue between Rockwell and Downey is so sharp and incredibly well delivered that I thought it couldn’t get better. And yet it does.
Garry Shandling’s Senator Stern is just an incredible ass, and he plays it effortlessly. He is someone who looks at the Iron Man tech and thinks about an army of Iron Men serving the interests of the United States.
But the thing that is just outstanding about the film is that every single character has motivations and I understand where they’re coming from.
It is impossible to watch Downey’s Stark and not be quite a bit concerned about the direction he could take. Here’s a man who has “privatized world peace,” snuffing out the problems of the world unilaterally. But he is also a crazy womanizing philanderer.
That’s where Don Cheadle’s Lt. Col. James “Rhodey” Rhodes comes in. He is Stark’s best friend, but even he realizes that this is too much power to be squandered upon someone who just isn’t a responsible adult, much less the sort of hero that he has been trained to be.
Then there’s Scarlett Johansson’s Natalie Rushman/Black Widow. She comes into this as a preternatural goddess who steps in to fill Pepper Potts’ shoes as Stark’s assistant.
I love the action of the film. I love that this is full on Marvel Science Fiction. The entire last act just rocks!
“Iron Man 2” is comic movie crack. I remember how I was after I saw “Spider-Man 2.” It felt like the world finally got it. I thought we’d always have films increasingly badass from that point — but “Spider-Man 3” was not better, and I got a tad sad. When you see a comic book movie that is absolutely the best of what that character can be on screen, it is euphoric, something to celebrate, to revel in. I’ve been a comic geek my entire life. I remember when Bob Layton really began blowing my mind with Iron Man. This is that, but on film, with hundreds of talented awesome artists, technicians and craftsmen all supporting that vision.
We may not have a lot of comic book awesome coming this summer, but frankly, this is all I need. I’ll be seeing this a bunch.
The only problem with “Iron Man 2” is this: It really does throw a challenge to Kenneth Branagh on “Thor,” to Joe Johnston on “Captain America” and Joss Whedon on “The Avengers.”
“Iron Man 2” is in the tradition of the great second films in the series we love the second films from. You know the titles. This will be like those experiences, where you were scared that it was going to be watered down, you were worried that there was going to be too much to juggle, when you were terrified it was just going to pander to kids. No. “Iron Man 2” is made for us — all of us.
And by the way … when Johansson goes full Black Widow, you’ll geek out pretty hard. I promise. She’s perfect.
Harry Knowles is a film critic who operates the film review website Ain’t It Cool News. This review reprinted by permission of Harry Knowles.