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'Iron Man 2' a Victim of Hollywood 'Sequelitis'

May 7, 2010
By James L. Hirsen, J.D., Ph.D.
contributor to

This weekend, beleaguered Americans will flock to the multiplex to get away from the terrible news about the way this country is being governed.

An outlet is being provided by Paramount and Marvel with the release of the sequel to “Iron Man.” It’s aptly called “Iron Man 2” and will be shown on 4,000 screens. The highly anticipated movie has already taken in more than $100 million from the overseas box office.

The premise has imaginative elements that will meet the expectations of audiences who flocked to the first film. Yet “Iron Man 2” is a cinematic victim of a movie malady known as Hollywood “sequelitis.”

Unlike Superman or Batman, everyone knows that billionaire inventor Tony Stark, played masterfully by Robert Downey Jr., is the metallic super hero Iron Man. But Tony is being pressured by the government and the media to share the technology he developed that created the armored suit that transforms him into a mighty flying tin man. Stark won’t reveal the secrets behind the Iron Man suit, even to the military because he is afraid the information will end up in the wrong hands.

But excessive writing has produced a new set of villains to put Tony/Iron Man in jeopardy, so he must be consoled by love interest, Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow), and assisted by sidekick, James “Rhodey” Rhodes (Don Cheadle).

The movie business is a very risky enterprise, so originality is constrained by insecure Hollywood execs that prefer the comfort of sequels and remakes.

Unfortunately, the movie does what sequels often do.

Unlike “Iron Man,” “Iron Man 2” over-complicates and overdoes the plot. Here there are just too many new characters and too many story lines. The end result is a film that is not as fresh or well-paced as the first “Iron Man.”

Some caution is in order for “Iron Man 2” with children and sensitive teens. The flick is rated PG-13 for scenes involving intense action, some violence, and a bit of profanity.

Should we expect the franchise to continue with a third installment?

Bet on it.

Despite its problems, the “Iron Man” sequel will entertain sufficiently to be No. 1 at the box office, may even break some records along the way, and provide escapist entertainment to an American public who desperately needs it.

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James L. Hirsen, J.D., Ph.D.
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