Robert Farley and Davida H. Isaacs get wonky on Iron Man 2:
In Iron Man 2, billionaire industrialist Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) risks billion-dollar pieces of equipment to impress guests at a birthday party -- a big mistake for a defense contractor. After all, Stark's reckless debauchery provides the perfect pretext for the U.S. government to take away his Iron Man suit. Explosions, tattoos, and Scarlett Johansson notwithstanding, the disputes between Tony Stark and his antagonists revolve around ownership of the rights to the Iron Man technology. Iron Man 2 is the most expensive movie ever made about an intellectual-property dispute.
Comic-book writer Stan Lee envisioned Iron Man as the quintessential figure of American capitalism, a member in good standing of the military-industrial complex who fought both the Viet Cong and the Soviet super-villain consortium Crimson Dynamo. If Lee's goal was to have Iron Man fight against a country that failed to recognize individual property rights, then Iron Man 2 ironically achieves that. Because while Stark does battle with an angry Russian, the biggest threat to his intellectual property is piracy by the United States government.