Iron Man 2

Movie: Directed by Jon Favreau.

Inciting Event: After Tony makes a farce out of the Senate hearing to determine whether he must turn over his Iron Man suits to the government, it is revealed the palladium core that powers his Arc reactor is poisoning him. He’s dying.

There really isn’t a super-strong Inciting Event here. The main antagonist—Ivan Vanko—is still in Russia, his pursuit of vengeance still entirely unknown to Tony. The Senate hearing sets up Tony’s rivalry with arms dealer Justin Hammer and Senator Stern, but neither power the central conflict.

Tony’s health is much more central. The scene in which he is replacing the palladium cores introduces this conflict to viewers—but, of course, this is not the first time he has encountered it.

First Plot Point: At the racetrack in Monaco, Vanko attacks with his Arc-powered whips. This is where Tony suddenly runs smash into the main conflict—which he didn’t even know existed prior to this moment.

Again, not a super-strong plot point, since although Vanko continues to work his plans behind the scenes after his arrest, Tony moves on with other business—namely, trying to prepare for his death.

First Pinch Point: Hammer helps Vanko escape so he can build Hammer his own army of Iron Man suits. Again, this doesn’t impact Tony particularly, since Tony thinks Vanko dies in prison. However, we do see another pinch in the emphasis of his growing illness.

Midpoint: A drunken Tony self-destructs at his birthday party, destroying his house, fighting with Rhodey, and allowing Rhodey to take one of his suits to the Air Force. He experiences his Moment of Truth in the subsequent scene when Nick Fury confronts him and hints that Tony’s dad, Howard, knew the solution to Tony’s palladium dilemma.

Second Pinch Point: Tony fails in his bumbling attempts to apologize and explain to a furious Pepper. She kicks him out, and he is “abandoned” by his bodyguard Happy and his one-time “assistant” Natasha Romanov. The plot turns when he then discovers, in Pepper’s office, a map left by his dad—which he realizes is a secret message, meant for him, about an undiscovered new element.

Third Plot Point: After Tony successfully creates the new element and uses it to power his Arc reactor (thus saving his life), he rushes to the Stark Exposition. Vanko hacks all of Hammer’s drones and turns them—and Rhodey’s suit–on the crowd.

This isn’t, by any stretch of the imagination, a super-personal low moment. But it definitely emphasizes the supremacy of the antagonist and his seeming ability to completely destroy Tony and everything he cares about.

Climax: After Tony and Rhodey have fought off the drones, Ivan shoes up in his own Arc-powered suit. One of people’s chief complaints about this movie is the anticlimactic nature of this battle—and is pretty anticlimactic. Ivan conks out almost immediately, but leaves behind his true threat: the self-destructing drones. Tony rushes to save Pepper.

Climactic Moment: He saves her—and kisses her for the first time, kicking off their long percolating romantic relationship.

Resolution: Fury tells Tony he’s too volatile to be included in the Avenger initiative, but that they’ll keep him on as a consultant. Tony agrees only if Fury gets Senator Stern to present the medals Tony and Rhodey are being awarded.

Notes: As a one-shot standalone this isn’t a great movie. It works much better within the overall context of the series—and is a lot more interesting to watch “in hindsight,” as it were, now that the Marvel Universe is firmly established and the teasers and setup in this installment all make sense.

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