Iron Man 2 was awesome. Robert Downey Jr., Mickey Rourke, and Sam Rockwell all turned in delightful, top-notch performances. I thought the film was about as good as the first one, although I did not enjoy it as much. What blew me away about the original was not so much its artistic and technical merit per se, but that it was just so much fun to watch. But some of the themes Iron Man 2 deals with are darker, more frightening and worrisome; it made for a different movie-going experience--more tense--even thought-provoking. Brandon is still speculating on what political statement the filmmakers wanted to imply with the line about "privatizing world peace."
I was also irked by the introduction of Scarlet Johansson's character. Her personality can be more or less reduced to the words "super-sexy and dangerous." I think it is a sign of the failure of women's liberation that a female character is not allowed to kick ass unless she's all seductive about it.
That was another thing I loved about the first movie: they included the throw-away sex-object female characters, and contrasted them with Pepper Potts--strong, competent, loyal, caring--a real person--who also happens to be beautiful and sexy--but not hyper-sexualized, and not defined by her sexuality.
One of my professors was asking (rhetorically) the other day about why it is that the U.S. has never elected a woman to its highest political office. India, Pakistan, Britain, Argentina, and Chile are all, surprisingly, ahead of us there. I wonder if it has something to do with the fact that here in the U.S., the image of the powerful woman is also hyper-sexualized (like Scarlet Johansson's character in Iron Man 2), which may be okay for a superhero movie, but not for a political candidate. And although Pepper Potts is still a strong character, and tough in her own way, she clearly plays a supporting role to Tony Stark, and is not a hero herself.
I don't remember the Kill Bill movies very well, but I think Uma Thurman's character was a good example of what it would look like for a female lead to be powerful but not defined by sexuality. (Although she's more of an anti-hero in some respects--not necessarily someone you would want to be like.)
Anyway ... Iron Man 2 ... like most films, it brings up some interesting issues about gender stereotypes in the media ...