Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark/Iron Man in Iron Man 2 (source: IMDB)

How Jon Favreau’s ‘Iron Man 2’ Peaks — Then Crashes

Tony spends the first half of the film worrying about his legacy but also trying to have fun with the time he has left. It's rather like MCU's superhero film challenges of the time.

The lead-up to the release of Iron Man 2 (Favreau, 2010) was an exciting time for both Marvel Entertainment and blockbuster films. On the Marvel side of things, The Walt Disney Company announced on 31 August 2009, that it intended to purchase Marvel Entertainment for $4.24 billion. The deal was approved on 31 December, and Marvel immediately became a subsidiary of Disney. This meant that everything owned and controlled by Marvel was now owned by Disney, including comic book publishing, merchandising, television properties and, of course, Marvel Studios.

Marvel had spent a decade from the mid-’90s to the mid-’00s licensing out the film rights to some of its properties, including Spider-Man to Sony Pictures and the X-Men to 20th Century Fox. Those deals remained in place. Disney would have film rights to all of the characters under Marvel Studios, which was still growing at the time and had only released two films (Iron Man, Favreau, 2008) and The Incredible Hulk, Letterier, 2008). Marvel Studios had previously made a deal to distribute its films through Paramount Pictures, and this deal basically continued in some form up to Iron Man 3 (Black, 2013). This is all to say that the full impact of Disney taking control of Marvel Studios, if any, would not be felt for some time. But it’s worth mentioning that Marvel Studios’ 20 superhero films have now grossed over $17 billion worldwide, so the Marvel acquisition was an incredibly lucrative deal for Disney.

Meanwhile, the world of blockbuster films gained a new gold standard with the release of Avatar (Cameron, 2009) at the end of 2009. The titanic success of the film, which grossed nearly $3 billion worldwide and became a major cultural touchstone, sent shockwaves through a film industry that was experiencing sagging revenues due to competition from more diverse entertainment outlets, the growth of cinematic television, the improvement of home theaters and film piracy. Avatar was marketed as a film that not only needed to be seen but specifically needed to be seen on an IMAX screen in 3D. The urgency and the event that was Avatar eclipsed nearly anything that had come before. Much has been written over the past few years about how little cultural endurance Avatar ultimately had, that no one discusses the film with the same level of fandom as Star Wars or Lord of the Rings or even the Marvel films. This may change with the upcoming sequels, but I believe that the true impact of Avatar was upping the ante regarding blockbuster films.

Suddenly, every major studio blockbuster needed to have a release in IMAX and in 3D. This had the twofold benefit of encouraging people to see films in theaters, rather than at home, and allowed theaters to charge higher ticket prices for the enhanced experience. If films were not shot with IMAX cameras, like some sequences in The Dark Knight (Nolan, 2008), they would be modified to fit IMAX screens, like Iron Man 2. If films were not created with 3D in mind, they were altered, often poorly, to give some semblance of visual depth. Studios attempted to one-up each other more than ever before, and blockbuster spectacles grew in size and scope.


Marvel Studios was uniquely positioned to take advantage of this trend, with its connected universe of films making even lesser installments seem like required viewing and tri-annual team-up event films built into the plan. The flipside of this trend, however, was that mega-budget blockbusters sucked up most of the studios’ attention and money, only leaving room for relatively low-budget fare to fill out the release schedules. Mid-level budget films increasingly migrated to cable television or television-adjacent outlets (such as Netflix or Amazon). Avatar did not create this whole situation, but its massive success was the catalyst for a lot of this change. That is its legacy.

This was the burgeoning environment in 2010, which featured a great diversity of comic book films. Three interesting films based on DC Comics imprints were released, The Losers (White), Jonah Hex (Hayward), and Red (Schwentke), but none of them were particularly successful. A superhero film based on a comic from Marvel’s Icon imprint, Kick-Ass (Vaughn), violently and hilariously spoofed the superhero genre. Finally, one of my favourite films, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (Wright), adapted from the Canadian Oni Press series, was also released. These films were very diverse in terms of scope and scale, but Iron Man 2 was the only blockbuster comic book film release of the year. Studios had not yet released their slate of comic book films in reaction to 2008, a milestone year for the genre. Most blockbuster films take three or more years to produce, leading to a dearth of superhero films in the meantime. Iron Man 2 was released in 2010 because it was rushed through production. This rushing would, unfortunately, be apparent in the finished product.

At this point in its history, Marvel Studios was experiencing some growing pains. Nowadays, it has a reputation for long-term planning and collaboration with interesting filmmakers. In 2008, however, this wasn’t the case. Immediately following the success of Iron Man (Favreau, 2008), Marvel Studios announced the next four films that in its production schedule: Iron Man 2 and Thor in 2010, Captain America and The Avengers in 2011. Thor and The Avengers both ended up being pushed back a year, but Marvel producers plowed ahead with Iron Man 2, producing the film in less than two years. Director Jon Favreau was reportedly not pleased with the truncated schedule and felt the script was unfinished when filming began. These reports have never been confirmed by Favreau, who’s credited as an executive producer on every Avengers film and on Iron Man 3 and also acted in Iron Man 3 and Spider-Man: Homecoming (Watts, 2017). So either reports of conflicts were overblown, or Favreau is professional enough to continue a successful working relationship with Marvel. Regardless, Marvel certainly rushed Iron Man 2, and it remains the shortest time between the release of two films in a Marvel Studios franchise. The studio clearly wanted to keep momentum in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) going strong after its 2008 debut.

And then there was the issue of money. The reported budget for Iron Man 2 is $200 million, a major increase from Iron Man’s $140 million, but much of that did not go towards the cast. The most publicized negotiating conflict was with Terrence Howard, who played James ‘Rhodey’ Rhodes in the first film. Howard was reportedly the first actor cast in Iron Man and was offered quite a lot for a three-film contract. In negotiations for Iron Man 2, Marvel reportedly tried to pay him less than his contracted salary. Negotiations broke down, and Howard was replaced with Don Cheadle. Other reports came out stating that Howard had conflicts with Favreau on the set of Iron Man, or that Favreau was not happy with his performance. These might seem plausible if other actors did not discuss their negotiation issues. Marvel offered Samuel L. Jackson a nine-film contract to play Nick Fury in various films. The actor, a noted comic book fan and the basis for the character’s comic book redesign in 2001, was very excited to continue in the role after his cameo in Iron Man. But he came out publicly to announce that he may not, due to Marvel’s low salary offer. Mickey Rourke, fresh off of an Oscar nomination for The Wrestler (Aronofsky, 2008), entered negotiations to play Ivan Vanko, the villain, but publicly balked at Marvel’s $250k offer. These actors publicly discussing their disappointing offers was a negotiating tactic. But for three actors to report low salary offers, Marvel Studios must have been overly frugal at this stage.

Other pre-production aspects went more smoothly. Emily Blunt was the frontrunner to play Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow, but had a conflict with Gulliver’s Travels (Letterman, 2010). Scarlett Johansson was cast instead. I think both actors are very talented, but I cannot imagine anyone else in the role at this point, eight years and six appearances later. Sam Rockwell, who was considered for Tony Stark in Iron Man, was cast as Justin Hammer, a second-rate, unscrupulous version of Tony Stark. Favreau and Robert Downey Jr. developed the story for the film, then hired Justin Theroux to pen the screenplay. Theroux had written the brilliant Tropic Thunder (Stiller, 2008) with Ben Stiller. Downey starred in an Oscar-nominated performance, and likely the last-ever widely accepted example of blackface. Shane Black, another Robert Downey Jr. collaborator who directed the actor in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (Black, 2013) also consulted on the script. Black would later succeed Favreau to write and direct Iron Man 3.

Despite these strong collaborators, the screenplay needed more work. The set-up of Iron Man 2 is very strong, and has a lot of potential. Unfortunately, halfway through the film, it takes some very wrong turns and uses contrivances and a major deus ex machina to resolve the plot and character arcs in incredibly unsatisfying ways. Perhaps if the filmmakers were given more time, they could have smoothed out the plot into something more logical, but they were not. And so, Marvel Studios’ first sequel was a bit of a stumble.


Iron Man 2 opens with the the audio of the final scene of Iron Man replaying from a Russian television. Anton Vanko (Yevgeni Lazarev) and his son, Ivan (Mickey Rourke), listen as Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) holds a press conference, and reveals that he is Iron Man. Anton worked with Tony’s father in the ’60s to develop the arc reactor, which Tony later miniaturized and used to power his Iron Man suits. But Anton and Ivan had a falling out, Anton was deported to the Soviet Union, and Ivan blames the Starks for his father’s subsequent squalid life. Anton dies in the scene, motivating Ivan to get revenge. As the opening credits roll, the film enters a montage of Ivan miniaturizing the arc reactor in his lab. The montage purposely mirrors the memorable scenes from Iron Man of Tony building his first suit as a captive in an Afghan cave. Ivan’s lab is also littered with newspaper and magazine clippings depicting Tony’s growing influence on geopolitics during his first six months as Iron Man. So the stage is set for a conflict between two men, Tony and Ivan, of parallel genius but different resources. And the sins of their fathers will be visited upon the sons.

This is a strong set-up for the film. The theme is legacy. In case you did not realize that was the theme of the film, Tony says the words “it’s all about legacy” in his first full scene. Iron Man 2 is not exactly subtle about its messages. Tony finds himself in a very difficult situation because he’s secretly dying. The arc reactor in his chest is poisoning his blood with palladium, and he can’t find an alternative. Or as his artificial intelligence J.A.R.V.I.S. (voiced by Paul Bettany) sums up early in the film “the very thing that is keeping you alive is also killing you.” Again, not subtle. Tony spends the first half of the film worrying about his legacy in the world, but also trying to have fun with the time he has left. These two sides often find themselves in conflict.

On the legacy side, he stopped manufacturing weapons in the first film, and he has been policing the world as Iron Man. This has generated a period of relative peace in the superhero world, which Favreau on the film’s commentary likens to the period immediately following the introduction of the atomic bomb in 1945. The nations of the world feared this catastrophic weapon, while also wanting to make one for themselves. Tony has cautiously guarded the secret of his miniature arc reactor and weaponized suit of armour, insisting that it’s years advanced from any of his competitors. This is outlined in a wonderful scene set in the United States Senate, where Senator Stern (Garry Shandling) demands that Tony turns his technology over to the government. The sequence intentionally echoes the Howard Hughes Senate hearings of 1947, where a real-life billionaire industrialist intelligently and charismatically opposed an adversarial panel. But the problem here is that Tony will soon be dead, and then what will become of his technology?

Tony takes steps in other areas to preserve his legacy. He appoints his personal assistant, Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow), as the new CEO of Stark Industries. He explains that he has no time to focus on that job but secretly knows that the company will be safe in her capable hands. Tony also launches the year-long Stark Expo in Queens, New York. The Expo is a version of the World Expos that were once held regularly to display wonderful new technologies and cultures. In the world of Iron Man 2, Howard Stark (John Slattery) held these Expos every ten years before his death. Howard Stark is presented here as a man with shades of Howard Hughes and Walt Disney. The Stark Expo was meant to distract from Howard’s more unscrupulous weapons manufacturing and war profiteering. Tony resurrects the Expo to similarly distract from his worse behaviour and perhaps leave his own positive legacy.


Speaking of that worse behaviour, his legacy hunting does not prevent him from acting like an even bigger jerk than he was in the first film. His bad behaviour can be explained psychologically by the fact that he’s dying, or as the results of ego-stroking that comes from being the only superhero in the world. Regardless, it feels regressive for the filmmakers to roll back his character growth from the first film. This is often done in unimaginative sequels or, possibly in this rare case, in sequels that need to hold back on character development until the big team-up film in two years. Regardless of the reasons, Tony blatantly sexually harasses his new assistant, Natalie (Scarlett Johansson). He puts himself at risk by deciding to drive his own sponsored race car at a Formula 1 race in Monaco. He gets drunk and recklessly wears his Iron Man suit at his birthday party. These moments are the filmmakers’ nod to the classic Iron Man story “Demon in a Bottle”, which details Tony’s struggle with alcoholism. It seems that Marvel Studios will never push Tony Stark’s character quite as a far as that story, but at least Iron Man 2 begins to address the dangers of such reckless behaviour in powerful people. All of these actions serve to alienate him from his closest friends, Pepper and Rhodey (Don Cheadle), who are fed up covering for him. At the party, Rhodey puts on a spare Iron Man suit to subdue Tony and then absconds with it to the United States military.

Tony’s issues are compounded by the arrival of Ivan Vanko. Vanko constructs a pair of electrically charged whips powered by his arc reactor and attacks Tony during the F1 race. The sequence is genuinely thrilling, with Tony having to stave off Vanko mostly without his armour, while Pepper and Tony’s driver Happy (Favreau) drive onto the track with Tony’s neat, suitcase-sized portable suit. Vanko here is an amalgamation of two Iron Man villains: the Crimson Dynamo and Whiplash. Whiplash has the whip aesthetic, while the Crimson Dynamo is an Iron Man knock-off working for the Soviet (and more recently Russian) government. Iron Man traditionally has not had the most interesting group of villains, unlike Batman or Spider-Man, so it was smart of the filmmakers to take elements from two characters to make one satisfying villain.

Vanko is defeated, but he planned to demonstrate that other people are capable of making technology like Iron Man and challenging him. Suddenly, Tony’s decision to keep his technology proprietary seems less cautious, and more reckless and selfish. This sets up an interesting opportunity to explore the fragility of power and celebrity, as this one event seems to turn the world against Tony after six months of infallibility. But the film doesn’t dwell on this issue. Vanko is broken out of prison by Justin Hammer (Sam Rockwell), a rival weapons manufacturer. Rockwell plays Hammer as a buffoonish, second-rate Tony Stark who’s not as smart, charming, or successful. Rourke’s Vanko is the true villain of the film, and he uses Hammer’s resources to carry out his plan. Unfortunately, Vanko is much more reserved and calculating, while Hammer is much louder and more flamboyant. Rockwell is hugely entertaining, but he sucks all of the air out of the scenes between his character and Vanko. His presence in the film diminishes Vanko as a character, so the real villain seems to fade to the background of the film until the very end.


But then again, everything fades to the background one hour into Iron Man 2 to make room for some truly terrible storytelling. There are occasional check-ins with Rhodey, Pepper, Hammer and Vanko to remind audiences that they’re around, but their stories are mostly put on hold when Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) arrives in the film. Many critics use the inclusion of Nick Fury to explain the failure of Iron Man 2. They argue that Marvel Studios shoehorned in elements setting up The Avengers (Whedon, 2012), taking away precious screentime from the actual characters and narrative of this film. But that is not the problem with this film. Nick Fury is just the messenger, the plot device used by the filmmakers to poorly resolve the difficult, complex scenario they had created.

Fury reaches out to Tony after the party and the fight with Rhodey, which is Tony’s rock bottom. Fury reveals that he knew that Tony was dying, so he sent SHIELD agent Natasha Romanoff undercover as his new assistant, Natalie, to spy on him. Most viewers knew who Johansson was playing in this film, but it’s fun to watch Downey play out Tony’s surprised reaction. I wonder, however: Is Tony Stark’s inappropriate behaviour with his new assistant “excused” because she was intentionally leading him on to get close and spy on him? Honest question, please give me your opinions.

Then, Nick Fury and Tony chat on Tony’s balcony. Fury explains that Howard Stark founded SHIELD, meaning that Fury knew him. Fury also explains that Anton Vanko was a bad guy and sought to misuse his work with Howard, which is why he was deported. Up until now, Ivan Vanko was a layered villain, but now he’s just the bad guy son of a bad guy father. This nuance and character development are removed from Ivan Vanko. The film then introduces Tony’s issues with his father, which have never mentioned before. It does this so that a few minutes later Tony can overcome his previously unmentioned daddy issues, giving the illusion of character growth. Then Fury becomes cryptic. He claims that Howard was working on something that he could not complete, and only Tony could finish his work. And maybe, by totally convenient coincidence, Howard’s decades-old work could save Tony’s life in his current condition. Fury gives Tony a large case of Howard’s belongings and then utters the line “you can solve the riddle of your heart.” This is a terrible line. It sounds interesting, mystical, provocative, but it’s totally out of place. And it’s inaccurate. The miniature arc reactor in Tony’s chest is not a replacement for his heart; however, it’s keeping shrapnel from reaching his heart. The line is just indicative of how far Iron Man 2 veers from its focus. Jackson thanklessly recites pages of exposition that either too-neatly resolve issues or contrive new ones to be immediately solved.

Tony discovers a reel of outtakes of a 35-year-old Stark Expo film in Howard’s belongings. At the end of the outtakes, Howard leaves a heartfelt message to Tony explaining how important Tony is to him. He then furthers the cryptic riddle that he wants Tony to solve. Iron Man 2 is off-the-rails at this point. Why did Nick Fury not show this to Tony earlier? Why set up Tony’s daddy issues and resolve them with an old, on-the-nose hidden message in the next scene? And how is Tony meant to solve this ridiculous riddle with these minor hints?

But solve it he does. Tony takes a trip to his old office to apologize to Pepper for his behaviour, and he happens to notice a scale model of Stark Expo. The same model in the video. The model that somehow contains the blueprint for a new element that Howard discovered. An element that will, very conveniently, power Tony’s arc reactor without killing him. Even Favreau admits on the DVD commentary that this section “fudged the science”, explaining that it’s comic book science, after all. I disagree. The Iron Man suit is comic book science, this new element business is just lazy writing. It’s third-rate Dan Brown writing. A deus ex machina is derived from ancient Greek plays, which would often establish impossible situations and then conveniently resolve them by having one of the gods appear, often suspended by a pulley. A god from a machine (the pulley). In fiction writing, the term describes an unexpected (typically unearned) plot development that saves a seemingly hopeless situation. The new element derived from a Stark Expo model is a deus ex machina of the highest order.

When Tony discovers the blueprint for the new element, J.A.R.V.I.S. says that it would be impossible to synthesize the element. Then, in a matter of hours, Tony builds a particle accelerator in his workshop and synthesizes the element. The filmmakers have the gall to, once again, contrive a new obstacle, only to immediately resolve it. The building of the particle accelerator is meant to harken back to the scenes of Tony building his suits in Iron Man, demonstrating his genius. But these scenes in Iron Man 2 strain belief to such a degree that they call attention to the stupidity of the plot rather than the genius of the character.


The worst part of this half-hour diversion is that it pulls focus away from the other characters. All that’s left is a big action climax, where Iron Man lets loose for the only time. But the problem is that Pepper, Rhodey, Hammer and Vanko have been mostly absent from the film, so the climax feels disconnected. There are, however, cutaways during the Howard Stark business that set up the climax. Vanko builds a series of drones for Hammer, who’s disappointed that they’re not manned suits. He’s happy to take the armour that Rhodey stole and arms it to the teeth to create the War Machine suit that comic fans will recognize. Hammer plans to unveil his new toys at the Stark Expo, while Vanko plans to use them to send a message to Tony.

Vanko takes control of the drones, and they begin attacking the Expo and Tony. He also takes control of Rhodey’s suit, and Tony leads them on a merry chase. Gendy Tartakovsky, animator and creator of the television shows Samurai Jack and Star Wars: Clone Wars, contributed to the storyboards for this action sequence, and it’s filled with lots of nicely staged moments. They’re realized by the top-notch, Academy Award-nominated visual effects team. At one point, a drone targets a young boy in an Iron Man mask, but Tony swoops down and blasts the drone before he can fire. In 2017, Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige stated that this boy was Peter Parker (the future Spider-Man). I’m curious if this will ever be directly referenced in a future film. Meanwhile, Natasha goes into full Black Widow mode for the first time to break into Hammer’s facility. Interestingly, on the DVD commentary, Favreau hopes that Johansson will headline a solo Black Widow film. Eight years later, and that still hasn’t happened, although they seem to finally be moving forward with one. She discovers Vanko has escaped, but she manages to reboot Rhodey’s suit. Tony and Rhodey then square off, back to back in a lovely biodome set. The scene of Iron Man and War Machine tearing through robotic drones is great fan service, and it caps off a truly memorable action sequence. Favreau’s action climax for Iron Man was far less enjoyable, and he matured as an action director on this film.

Unfortunately, as I previously mentioned, the sequence with Tony’s father and the new element was such a diversion, that the climax feels disconnected. Vanko arrives in an advanced Whiplash suit, but Tony and Rhodey defeat him. This is such a passing scene that, regardless of how many times I watch this film, I forget that Vanko appears in a full suit at the end. Vanko gets the last laugh, however, as his drones are set to self-destruct all over Stark Expo. Tony rushes in to save Pepper and whisks her to a rooftop where they kiss for the first time in two films. I wish it were a more satisfying moment, but the two characters have been apart for so long that it diminishes the payoff. The fact that Pepper is now Stark Industries CEO, and Tony is no longer her boss, means the films waited until there was no power imbalance between them before bringing them together, which is a nice touch in retrospect. Hammer is arrested, and Tony is awarded a medal by Senator Stern.


But before the medal ceremony, there’s one last contrivance. Tony meets with Nick Fury to discuss the Avengers. Fury reveals that Natasha’s evaluation of Tony recommends that he only join the Avengers as a consultant. I remember thinking this was weird since we would next see Tony in The Avengers. Why would they set up this barrier to him joining the team? How would Joss Whedon, writer/director of The Avengers, handle it? The answer, like so many contrivances in Iron Man 2, is that he would immediately move past it with a throwaway line and have Tony join the team. One last unnecessary plot development from Iron Man 2.

People forget how many little missteps the Marvel Cinematic Universe made as it built its world. There were contract disputes with Edward Norton, Terrence Howard, Samuel L. Jackson and Mickey Rourke. There were creative disputes during post-production of The Incredible Hulk (Letterier, 2008). The Incredible Hulk underperformed and was not particularly well-received. Iron Man 2 was a big hit, although it underperformed expectations and was not particularly well-received. And yet, thankfully, none of these issues resulted in Marvel Studios abandoning their plans for a shared universe. They pressed on towards The Avengers and, once that film massively succeeded, most of their early missteps were forgiven or forgotten. And now, having learned from its mistakes and outgrown these early issues, Marvel Studios has flourished and achieved unprecedented success. The studio and cinematic universe survived because it was given licence to fail, and it didn’t rush through the early stages of development.

The same can’t be said for its imitators, the other shared cinematic universes that launched in the wake of Marvel’s success. Sony Pictures cancelled plans for a Spider-Man universe of films after The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (Webb, 2014) underwhelmed. Warner Bros. has been struggling to stabilize the DC Extended Universe (DCEU) since Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice (Snyder, 2016) was savaged by fans and critics. Universal Studios cancelled plans for its Dark Universe of monster characters after The Mummy (Kurtzman, 2017) bombed. Since Marvel had already succeeded, these imitators all seemed like they were rushing to catch up. They immediately incorporated large, world-building elements rather than focusing on making independently good films. Furthermore, the studios behind them seemed so uneasy with the massive time and money needed to build a cinematic universe that they overreacted to any stumbles along the way.

Maybe that’s the lesson of Iron Man 2. The film was rushed, the script was imperfect, the solid set-up and entertaining climax were devastated by an awful, contrived diversion. But Marvel Studios learned from its mistakes and, given the time and money to grow, have turned into one of the most consistently excellent, successful superhero brands in film history. Studios should take this lesson to heart. Otherwise, the MCU will be the only cinematic universe to actually succeed.


Stan Lee Cameo Corner

Echoing Tony mistaking Stan Lee for Hugh Hefner in Iron Man, here Lee is introduced to Tony as Larry King outside Stark Expo. That is 12 cameos in 21 films.

Credits Scene(s)

The first post-credits scene to ever set up an entirely different franchise. Agent Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) leaves part-way through Iron Man 2 to address a situation in New Mexico (“The land of enchantment”). After the credits, he arrives at a crater in the desert created by Thor’s hammer. The scene was directed by Kenneth Branagh in the middle of the Thor shoot.

First Appearances

  • John Slattery makes his first appearance as Howard Stark. He would return to the role in at least two more films
  • Olivia Munn briefly appears as a reporter covering Stark Expo. She would later play Psylocke in X-Men: Apocalypse (Singer, 2016)
  • Kate Mara appears as a U.S. Marshall serving Tony with a summons to appear at a Senate hearing. She would later star as Sue Storm in Fantastic Four (Trank, 2015)
  • Garry Shandling appears as Senator Stern. He would return to the role in Captain America: The Winter Soldier (The Russo Brothers, 2014)
  • Don Cheadle takes over the role of James “Rhodey” Rhodes from Terrence Howard. He has continued in the role for four more films and counting.
  • Finally, and most importantly, Scarlett Johansson begins her run as Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow, the first female superhero of the MCU. She has appeared in five more films and counting, and she will hopefully one day star in a Black Widow solo film.

Marvel Cinematic Universe Viewing Order

Iron Man 2 reveals that Tony initially refused Nick Fury’s offer to join the Avengers at the end of Iron Man, but he is made a consultant to the team at the end of this film. That seems to be his role when he appears at th end of The Incredible Hulk. Therefore, Iron Man 2 should be viewed before The Incredible Hulk.

  1. Iron Man
  2. Iron Man 2
  3. The Incredible Hulk

Next Time: “Whosoever holds this hammer, if he be worthy, shall possess the power of Thor!”