As Marvel fans, we’ve gotten a lot of enjoyment over the last decade with introducing our kids to these stories; first watching at home, then as they got older, seeing them in theatres and witnessing them flip out with giddy excitement at character reveals and plot twists. But recently we realized: we’ve never watched all of them as a family, and certainly not in release order. And that’s left some gaps in their understanding of the relationships between all these heroes.
Thus, as a family, we pledged to embark upon an epic MCU rewatch before we see Avengers: Endgame in the theatre, and answer the all-important question: should you watch these with your kids?
Iron Man 2 (2010)
Okay, I have to confess, when I was listing the Marvel movies in my own head without looking them up, I truly thought that the third one would be Thor or Captain America. I still can’t quite believe that instead, Marvel returned to the well and brought us an Iron Man sequel before introducing us to any other Avengers. Although to be fair, Iron Man 2 does introduce Black Widow, so maybe that counts? I don’t know, I’m still annoyed that we haven’t gotten a Black Widow movie yet.
Iron Man 2 is one of my least favourite Marvel films, to be honest. Aside from bigger and flashier action sequences and better effects, I just don’t connect with it emotionally. The plot is pretty thin, Tony’s relentless overtalk is passed off as romantic banter, and to add an extra ick factor, there’s an extended sequence where an arms manufacturer is showing off a line of automatic weapons to the military in a gung-ho, rah-rah fashion that just feels like a very weird tone given the current debate about the availability of automatic weapons in the U.S.
Anyway, the plot: the arc reactor in Tony Stark’s chest is slowly sickening him, and the fear of death sends him into some kind of spiralling midlife crisis. Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) has stepped up as CEO of Stark Industries and is doing damage control as best she can, while Tony’s best friend Rhodey (now played by Don Cheadle) takes one of Tony’s spare suits as War Machine. It takes Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) arriving on the scene to shake some sense into Tony and put him back on the right path – and of course, along with Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg), tease us with the prospect of an Avengers team-up.
Meanwhile, a rival weapons manufacturer (Sam Rockwell) has recruited a Russian physicist (Mickey Rourke) with a criminal past and a grudge against the whole Stark family to create a suit similar to Iron Man’s that he can sell to the military. Of course, things go awry, there’s a big final battle and a showdown with the Big Bad that ends way too quickly and easily, and bing bang boom we’re done. At least it’s streaming on Netflix right now so you don’t have to rent it!
So, should you watch it with your kids? Unless you’re a Marvel completist, I’d say this one is pretty skippable.
Bottom line: Fast forward through everything except the parts with Black Widow and Nick Fury.