There's only one story at the multiplexes this weekend: Iron Man 2, the most saturated new release ever at North American theaters. The film lands at 4,380 locations today -- 14 more than The Dark Knight boasted two years ago -- and will be on multiple screens at many of those venues.
If you can't bear the multiplex crowds and lament that we do not yet have the technology to have movies beamed directly to our eyeballs (though I bet Stark Industries is working on that), you have some other options for home viewing that won't make you feel quite so out of the loop come Monday, when everyone else is talking about that ultracool scene in which Iron Man [redacted so as not to spoil].
Begin, of course, with the 2008 original, the simply titled Iron Man, which introduced us to Robert Downey Jr.'s Tony Stark, billionaire genius playboy defense contractor, and the powered armored he invented in a cave in Afghanistan in order to escape his terrorist kidnappers. (Yes, there's a huge spoonful of fantasy on top of the science fiction.) Then move on to The Incredible Hulk, from that same year, in which Edward Norton portrays the radiologically mutated scientist: it features a cameo by Downey as Stark that sets up the hugely anticipated Avengers movie (projected for 2012), about a sort of superhero Scooby gang led by Samuel L. Jackson's Nick Fury (who appears briefly in Iron Man 2). For more of Downey's renaissance and rise as a global movie star, don't miss his athletic, aggressive take on Sherlock Holmes (2009), just released on DVD. Then discover how much comic book movies have changed in a decade with a look back at X-Men (2000), which foresees Downey's snarky Stark in Hugh Jackman's Wolverine, but is far more earnest and serious a movie, in many ways, than Iron Man 2 has any notion toward being.
There: now you can at least fake your way through conversations about Iron Man 2 on Monday morning. Drop a few cryptic comments about Nick Fury and The Avengers, and everyone will think you're supercool.