Darren Franich places ''Guardians of the Galaxy'' in the upper tier of the canon
Another example of the Marvel Sequel-as-Overcrowded-Mess, Robert Downey Jr.'s second go-'round as Tony Stark suffers from a classic case of Villain Overload, with Mickey Rourke's Whiplash mostly playing second fiddle to Justin Hammer (basically a lamer Tony Stark) and, well, the U.S. Government. Iron Man 2 is probably the least movie-like of the Marvel movies it feels less like a full-fledged story than a way station between sequels, complete with an Act 2 deus ex machina appearance by Nick Fury.
But unlike in, say, Dark World, everyone looks like they're having a blast, even if they all appear to be acting in radically different movies. (Like, Scarlett Johansson seems to think she's in The Matrix, Sam Rockwell could be the villain in a Lethal Weapon sequel, and Rourke appears to be starring in a futuristic Russian remake of Death Wish.) Put it this way: If Marvel Studios were Arnold Schwarzenegger in the '80s, then Iron Man 2 would be Conan the Destroyer: Not a good film by any means, but strangely watchable when suddenly discovered playing on television on a Saturday night.
Image Credit: Marvel