Big Screen Avengers 101: IRON MAN 2 Annotations pt 2

Review: IRON MAN 2 Shows Some Rust

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Just before Rhodey comes to Tony’s house to confront him about Vanko, we see that Pepper is drinking Dr. Pepper. Dr. Pepper was involved in sponsorship for this movie, but this also seems like a fun deliberate wordplay.

Rhodey say “You don’t have to do this alone,” and Tony tells him, “You have to trust me.” These two lines summarize various conflicts the two characters have had over the years. Many times, Jim Rhodes, Pepper and many superheroes have offered Iron Man direct aid or, at least, emotional support and many times he has deliberately kept his plans hidden and lied to those around him, believing that he can only fully rely on himself and that sometimes it is a safer bet to manipulate people than it is to trust that they will do as you ask. Rhodey, being a military man, believes you are stronger by being open about the situation with those you need to help carry out your objectives.

In a deleted scene, Tony’s birthday party also involved Natalie borrowing one of his gauntlets and trying out his repulsor blasts.

As we can see, Tony using his armor while drunk is very dangerous. When this happened in the comics, it helped Tony realize that he was an alcoholic. Later on, when he fell off the wagon again, he turned over his Iron Man armor and identity to Rhodey until he sobered up.

When Rhodey returns to Tony’s workshop, the code he enters in is different than the code he entered when he visited earlier. Earlier, the code he entered was 425. Here, the code he enters is 7948. It makes sense that Tony changes the codes on a regular basis (automatically of course) and Rhodey (along with Pepper, no doubt) is privy to this.

As Nick Fury and Natalia later point out, a man as smart as Tony Stark would have safeguards to prevent armor theft, especially when you consider that the workshop is under the watchful eye of J.A.R.V.I.S. The fact that Rhodey is allowed to take this suit means that J.A.R.V.I.S. has been informed to let him do so if he says he needs to. The fact that he uses the armor so effectively and has no problem flying later indicates he has used this or one of the other armors before. Natalia points out that there are redundancies to prevent unauthorized usage, so Tony probably has the means to rescind permission but has chosen not to since he’s dying and Rhodey is the only person he trusts with his armor.


During the birthday party fight, Tony asks, "You wanna be a war machine?" In the comics, when Rhodey began using Tony’s black and white Variable Threat Response Battle Suit, he adopted the name War Machine as his alias. Later in this film, after upgrading Rhodey’s suit, Hammer refers to it as a prototype Variable Threat Response Battle Suit.

Nick Fury, Director of S.H.I.E.L.D., returns. He and Tony first met during the stinger scene of the first Iron Man film (which confused many folks in the audience who had been unaware of the scene’s existence and did not stay to watch for it after the credits). In that scene, Fury remarked that Tony was not the “only superhero” in the world and that he wanted Iron Man to join his “Avengers Initiative” program. Here, Tony remarks that he refused to join Fury’s “super secret boy band.”

In the comics, Tony provided S.H.I.E.L.D. with much of its technology and was one of the people to recommend Nick Fury become its head after the departure of the previous director.


In the comics, the Avengers Initiative was originally a program that involved setting up legally sanctioned Avengers teams in each of the 50 states of the U.S.A. Later, this program was ended and the phrase “Avengers Initiative” referred to Steve Rogers AKA Captain America’s legal authority to create Avengers teams to protect the world and to recruit whomever he saw fit into such teams. The Avengers Initiative of the Marvel Cinematic Universe seems to resemble this second model.

We finally see Natalie/Natasha in her Black Widow uniform. She is wearing her wrist-blasters from the comics and her belt buckle is decorated by a black widow hourglass.

Fury remarks to Tony that he has “bigger problems in the Southwest region.” The second hour of this film takes place just before and then during the opening scene of the movie Thor, which involves Thor and his hammer Mjolnir falling to Earth through a wormhole and winding up in New Mexico. According to the comic book tie in Fury’s Big Week, Fury had recently learned of a dimensional disturbance rising in New Mexico, but Thor had not yet arrived when he had this conversation in the donut shop with Tony.


Fury says he knew Howard Stark personally and that Howard was a founding member of S.H.I.E.L.D. As we learn in Captain America: The First Avenger, Howard Stark served with the Strategic Scientific Reserve, an international organization that came together during World War II. According to a deleted scene from that film (and as is obvious from their similar seals), the S.S.R. later evolved into S.H.I.E.L.D., similar to how the OSS became the CIA.

In the comics, Howard Stark was a member of the Brotherhood of the Shield, an international secret organization of world protectors and scientists that later evolved into the intelligence and counter-terrorist world-saving group known as S.H.I.E.L.D. His partner in the field was Nathaniel Richards, father of Reed Richards, leader of the Fantastic Four.

Rhodey proves that Tony’s faith in him is valid. Although he is ready to use the Iron Man suit he’s taken as a military weapon, he does not condone others to investigate or speculate on how the arc reactor works. Nor does he seem keen on letting Justin Hammer examine the armor’s systems so he can “upgrade” the software. All he allows is for Justin Hammer to add physical weapons and the basic software needed to control them.

Howard Stark’s footlocker contains a few interesting items. Along with film reels and his notes, there is a copy of Captain America Comics #1 and a map of Antarctica. As we saw later in Captain America: The First Avenger, Howard Stark made Cap’s special body armor and gave him his famous shield. And, as seen in that film, many comics were produced of Cap to publicize him as a rallying symbol and help sell war bonds. This comic is also where, in our reality, Cap made his debut.


The 1975 version of Howard Stark is played by John Slattery, making him the second actor to perform in the role. Dominic Cooper plays the young Howard Stark in Captain America: The First Avenger and he’s played by Gerard Sanders in the first Iron Man film.

Howard Stark gets a little drunk during the filming of his promotional video. In the comics, Howard, like his son, had a drinking problem.

Looking through Howard Stark’s notes, Tony finds a page that has drawings of a “hyper-cube.” Another word for a hyper-cube is “tesseract.” In Captain America: The First Avenger, we saw the tesseract as an object of immense power, one that had once belonged in Odin’s armory in Asgard. In the comics, this object is known as the Cosmic Cube.


The last page of Howard Stark’s notes refers to an “anomalous Zeeman Effect.” This is a small physics joke. The Zeeman Effect is an analogue of the Stark Effect, which is the splitting of a spectral line of atoms and molecules into many components in the presence of an electrical field. The Zeeman effect refers to this happening due to the presence of a magnetic field.

As Tony enters his old office, which is now Pepper’s, he gets past a secretary whom he calls “Bambi.” In the comics, some time after Pepper Potts and Happy Hogan had gotten married and left Stark Industries, Tony hired a new secretary named Bambi Arbogast. A middle-aged woman with a biting sarcasm, Mrs. Arbogast (also known as Mrs. A) kept Tony on his toes by constantly putting him in his place, reminding him of his responsibilities, and criticizing his activities and attitudes. Tony found her both exhausting and highly amusing, understanding that she truly cared about him and said everything with the intention that it would help. Later on, Tony promoted her to be manager of one of his smaller subsidiaries.


When Tony closes his hand around the holographic atomic model, it vanishes and seems to be its own light source. This should be impossible, since the hologram is being projected from Tony’s equipment and is not self-generating. Tony’s hands would break through the hologram but even if it became small enough to hold, he would only block its projection, not contain its light within his hand. Then again, this is also a movie where Tony’s heart and armor run on a clean source energy system that doesn’t exist in reality, so what the Hell.

Some fans believed that this new element Tony created was vibranium, an idea echoed in the novelization. In the comics, vibranium is a metal found in the fictional African nation of Wakanda, which is ruled by a royal family line, each leader assuming the guise of the country’s protector, “the Black Panther.” It is able to absorb sound and vibration. In the comics, the Black Panther of the 1940s gave Captain America sample of vibranium after the American hero helped fight off a Nazi invasion. Captain America was only to use the vibranium for himself and so it was used to create the vibranium-steel alloy that his makes up his now-famous shield. Since we already knew by this point that Captain America and his shield existed prior to Tony’s birth, this made it highly unlikely this new element was vibranium. This was confirmed when Captain America: The First Avenger showed that Howard Stark had a shield made of pure vibranium and gave it to Captain America during World War II.


A form of vibranium known as “anti-metal” was discovered in Antarctica in the comics. Perhaps that’s why Howard Stark had a map of the place in his footlocker?

Remarking on how his lab has not had true machinery in it for a long time, Tony says he is going back to “hardware mode.” It is fitting that he is returning to his roots now that he has discovered a new lease on life.

Agent Coulson remarks that he didn’t stop Tony from breaking perimeter because he was “busy.” According to the tie-in comics Fury’s Big Week, Coulson was looking over new data that an extra-terrestrial object (Thor’s hammer) had landed on Earth the previous night. Now, as he tells Tony, he has been reassigned to New Mexico to investigate. Tony references the state slogan that it is the “land of enchantment.” This is true and it is also an intentional nod to Thor’s origins in Asgard, a literal land of enchantment.

Agent Coulson is surprised to find an uncompleted replica of Captain America’s shield. This was first glimpsed on Tony’s workbench in the first Iron Man film. As will be seen in The Avengers, Coulson is a great admirer of Captain America.

At the StarkExpo, Justin Hammer dances onto the stage. Interestingly, actor Sam Rockwell has danced in many films he’s starred in. This song was also featured in the film Swingers, written by its lead actor Jon Favreau.


As Vanko takes control of Rhodey’s armor, we can see Russian words appearing in his heads-up display (H.U.D.). While Ivan Vanko shows a knack for breaking into other systems and taking over technology, the comic book version of Anton Vanko had a weapon in his Crimson Dynamo armor that achieved the same effect.

Tony saves a child and then flies past several banners. One refers to a company called "Circuits Maximus." In the comics, after losing Stark International to Obadiah Stane. Tony began to rebuild his fortune and career by starting a small company called Circuits Maximus. After he regained his fortune, he reformed this company into Stark Enterprises.

The Black Widow takes down several opponents with a taser-like weapon. In the comics, her wrist blasters can deliver an electro-static charge known as the “Widow’s bite,” as well as gas agents referred to as the “Widow’s kiss.”


When the Black Widow see that Whiplash is approaching, she remarks that his “repulsor signature is significantly higher.” This would indicate that Vanko had equipped the Hammer drones with some form of Stark’s repulsor technology. Interestingly, when asked about repulsors during an interview with MTV Splashpage, Scarlett Johansson did not remember ever hearing the term and didn’t know what it meant.

After defeating Whiplash, Tony finally acts on his feeling for Pepper and it looks like they may try to explore a relationship. In the comics, Tony and Pepper did admit feelings for each other some time after she and Happy had divorced and she had returned to Stark’s employ, but they have not (usually) acted on this or pursued a relationship for various reasons.

Tony Stark goes to Nick Fury’s makeshift office. From his dialogue later, we learn that this scene takes place a week after his victory over Whiplash and the Hammer drones. That means that, by this time, the events of the movie Thor have already concluded.


While Tony Stark is waiting to meet with Nick Fury, we can see a video monitor displaying photos of the crater where Thor’s hammer landed. Another monitor displaying news footage seen during the film The Incredible Hulk. Initially, the idea was that Iron Man 2 took place some time after the events of the events of the 2008 Hulk film. However, it was later decided that a portion of the Hulk movie took place parallel to the events of this film. The comic book tie-in mini-series Fury’s Big Week states that Black Widow left Stark Industries after revealing her true nature in this film by fighting several Hammer employees and that she went to track down Dr. Bruce Banner, making her a witness to the last two battle scenes of The Incredible Hulk.

Tony Stark actually appears in the epilogue scene of the 2008 Hulk movie, which takes place at least a month (possibly several months) after the main events of the film. There, he acts as a representative of S.H.I.E.L.D. and the Avengers Initiative. However, this movie shows that Fury does NOT recruit him and instead decides to only make Stark a “consultant” for S.H.I.E.L.D. Exactly why Tony was sent to speak with General Ross is explained in the short “Marvel One-Shot” movie “The Consultant,” which stars Agent Coulson and Agent Sitwell (played by Maximiliano Hernandez), both of whom also appear in the film Thor. This short film can be found on the Thor Blu-Ray.


Another monitor in Fury’s office shows a map of the world, with highlighted areas of concern in: California, Iron Man’s base of operations and the site of the Hulk’s battle at Culver University; New York, where Iron Man battled Whiplash and where the Hulk battled the Abomination; New Mexico, where Thor and Mjolnir landed; the Arctic Circle, where Captain America went missing; Tonsberg, Norway, where Odin once fought Frost Giants and where the Red Skull found the Tesseract centuries later; a place in the Atlantic Ocean (Namor and Atlantis?); and a location in Africa, confirmed by Marvel Studios producers to be the country Wakanda, home of the Black Panther and the metal vibranium.

The stinger scene shows Agent Coulson arriving in New Mexico to see a crowd gathered around Thor’s hammer. This leads directly into the next Marvel Studios film that was produced: Thor.

And that wraps it up, folks! Be on the look-out for updated annotations on Thor and Captain America: The First Avenger.

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