Iron Man 2 isn’t as much fun as its predecessor, but by the time the smoke clears, it’ll do,” writes Variety‘s Brian Lowry. Wait — didn’t Edmond O’Brien say that to Robert Ryan at the end of The Wild Bunch? “It ain’t like it used to be but…it’ll do.” Life tends to degrade or disappoint rather than improve. But you have to laugh about it.

“Much like The Dark Knight, this Paramount release brings an enormous stash of goodwill to the party, thanks to a well-crafted origin tale whose popularity fueled anticipation for a follow-up. Yet while the first go-round for this lesser-known Marvel hero benefited from its freshness and visual flair, the beats here are more familiar, the pacing more uneven. Given the demand, though, that will hardly matter, and this armored adventure promises to be a money-making machine that clicks on all cylinders.”

An HE commenter named “t.w.” says the following: “Iron Man 2 is a bit of a mess. Too much squeezed in. Definitely not as enjoyable as the first. I found Downey fairly irritating in this, and Don Cheadle (who replaces Terrence Howard) looked like he would rather be anywhere else. The movie it reminded me of most is Spiderman 3. It will make a fortune at the box office as the masses will eat it up, etc., but it’s a major disappointment to add to this year’s already long list of failures. At least it isn’t in 3D.”