The summer movie season officially starts on Friday, which means I will spend a number of evenings sitting in the dark scarfing popcorn in my craw and basking in the warm glowing warming glow of the silver screen.
Iron Man 2 is first out of the gate this year. Hard to believe that around this time two years ago it wasn’t a foregone conclusion that the flick would even be a hit. But it was, which means we get to watch another one. And while I’m excited to see it, it makes me nervous.
The first movie was an underdog in every sense. It had a second tier super hero not well known to most people who have never attended a comic convention. Its director, Jon Favreau had never helmed a movie of this size and scope. Marvel, who bankrolled the flick, was doing it on their own for the first time.
It was fun to root for the underdog. But like the Boston Red Sox after they finally won the world series, Iron Man 2 is the farthest thing from an underdog. (Yes, I did just make a sports reference.) Last time out, Favreau was one bad flick away from movie jail. If he had failed, it could have sent his directing career into a downward spiral from which it might never recover. He doesn’t have to worry quite that much this time around. He's on solid ground after directing one of the most successful comic book movies of all time.
What it seems we the audience have to worry about is super hero sequel double vision. It’s an unfortunate condition that seems to have sprung up over the past few decades where filmmakers take everything that worked in the first movie…and double it.
My concern popped up at the same time as my excitement, when the trailer for Iron Man 2 first popped up. The trailer teaches us that in Iron Man 2 there are two bad guys (Whiplash and Justin Hammer), two babes (Pepper Pots and Black Widow) and two good guys (Iron Man and War Machine). Not to mention a whole lot of other armored suits as well as Nick Fury himself. To me that feels like the movie equivalent of that chubby lady I saw wearing spandex at the mall, a whole lot squeezed into a small space.
If Batman Forever, Spider Man 3, X Men 3, Transformers 2, and countless others have taught us anything its that sometimes there can be too much of a good thing.
I hope that Iron Man 2 doesn’t fall into that oh so tempting cinematic trap. I don’t believe that bigger is better. I don’t need my sequels to be overflowing with characters and story threads. I just want them to be competent and compelling.
So here's hoping that Marvel pulls it out again. And here's hoping, as I always do at the start of one of my favorite times of the year, that everyone has an entertaining summer movie season.