If Robert Downey Jr is the comeback ‘kid’, then “Iron Man 2” is the comeback kid ‘sequel’!

Between the deliciously witty Downey and an ever-so badass Mickey Rourke, Jon Favreau’s pricey blockbuster is a win-win for fans of both the source material and of the stars themselves.

In addition to a smorgasbord of wall-to-wall action sequences, Director Jon Favreau is able to pull great performances from his cast, thus ensuring bringing this sequel is up to par with the ’08 original. And in many respects, it’s this cast – and their bravura performances – that keep “Iron Man 2” energized. Not to discount the special-effects and stunts, as impressive as they may be, but Downey and comrades are where the real magic lies in these “Iron Man” movies.

The role call reads like an Oscar’s after-party guest list : Downey Jr is back as the charismatic superhero, Tony Stark/Iron Man, this time with the whole world aware of his true identity. A raven-haired Gwyneth Paltrow reprises her role as his brainy confidant and love interest, Pepper Potts. Pepper and Stark have a great old married couple chemistry that is only slightly jolted by Stark’s mysterious new assistant, Natalie Rushman aka Natasha Romanoff, played by the delightfully-flexible Scarlett Johansson. Don Cheadle has taken over the role of Stark’s sidekick Lt. Col. James “Rhodey” Rhodes / War Machine from Terrence Howard – which, as I see it, is a win for the audience and Cheadle, since the character’s a lot more interesting, and has a bigger stake in the game, this time around. Howard’s loss is the audience’s gain. And then there’s the plastic-fantastic Mickey Rourke as the film’s intelligible villain, and Sam Rockwell as the shady scumbag, Justin Hammer. There’s also a small but pivotal appearance by Samuel L.Jackson, playing the eye-patch adorned S.H.I.E.L.D agent that’s always got his “eye” on Stark.

In the sequel, the U.S. government wants Stark’s suit to use as a weapon / defense mechanism. When Stark refuses to give it up, he is forced to face off with rival Justin Hammer, who wants to be Stark and will do whatever it takes to get the secret of the Iron Man suit (Rockwell is everything you could want in a wannabe government villain and more, down to self tanner on his hands and knock off Stark suits). Hammer enlists the help of Ivan Vanko (Mickey Rourke), who is out for revenge against the Stark family.

Between Vanko/Whiplash, Hammer, the US government, Rushman and Potts, Stark has his hands full and begins to crack under the pressure. In a plot twist, the batter keeping Stark alive is also killing him, adding one more problem into the mix. Can Stark stay alive, keep his suit’s secret safe and save the world from Whiplash? Of course he can! How else are they going to create more sequels? (Speaking of, Samuel L. Jackson is also in the picture as Nick Fury, thus suggesting the “Avengers” movie – a film that teams all the Marvel characters, well most of ’em – can’t be too far away).

Scribe Justin Theroux (“Tropic Thunder”) has written an action-packed but also, like the original, very lighthearted and charming action/adventure movie.