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Iron Man 2: Robert Downey Jr. returns as superhero

Iron Man 2: Robert Downey Jr. is joined by Gwyneth Paltrow, Scarlett Johansson, Mickey Rourke, and Don Cheadle in the sequel to the 2008 superhero blockbuster.

By Zorianna KitReuters / April 29, 2010

Actor Robert Downey Jr. poses during a photocall for Iron Man 2 in Los Angeles Tuesday.

Gus Ruelas/REUTERS


Los Angeles

As a kid, Robert Downey Jr. never dressed up in superhero costumes.

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"Growing up? No," says Downey Jr. "But in my mid-30s in Palm Springs right before an arrest? Yes. It was a premonition."

Although the actor is making light of his past struggles with drug abuse, what is no joke is Downey Jr's success at resurrecting his acting career after overcoming a long addiction to heroin and cocaine.

He made a stunning comeback as Tony Stark, an arrogant, hard drinking, wisecracking playboy engineer who also wrestles with his own personal demons in 2008's big screen adaptation of the Marvel comic book series, "Iron Man."

Now, Downey Jr., 45, is back in "Iron Man 2" along with plenty more action, characters and explosions. The film opens in much of Europe, Asia and Australia this week before hitting U.S. theaters on May 7.

The parallels between Downey Jr. and Tony Stark were obvious in the original and are just as clear in the sequel.

After five years of drug arrests culminating in a prison term in 2000, Downey Jr.'s return to Hollywood's A-list post- "Iron Man" -- including a Golden Globe award for his role in "Sherlock Holmes" -- is not unlike Stark's own rise in status after he reveals his dual identity as the armored superhero.

"I think (Robert's own success) informed the level of fame and resurgence that Tony Stark experiences since he announces that he's Iron Man," director Jon Favreau told reporters.

In "Iron Man 2", Stark himself is no longer making weapons -- just saving the world and enjoying his rock star status. Except now the U.S. government insists that he hand over his superhero suit to the military. Stark refuses.

Favreau likened the sequel to someone throwing another party after a successful first bash. "Iron Man" earned $585 million at worldwide box offices and the pressure was in making sure "this was going to be as fun or more fun than the last party," he said.

Putting together the sequel began soon after the first movie was released. With plenty of characters vying for a finite amount of screen time in the sequel, Favreau needed actors who could really "make an impression."