By Jeff Jensen
September 25, 2010 at 04:00 AM EDT
Francois Duhamel

In the 1960s, Marvel Comics revolutionized the superhero biz. Spider-Man, Hulk, The Fantastic Four, and more had their own books but also shared the same fantasy world, and every issue contained bonus materials with inside intel about the whole line. To be a Spider-Man buff was to be part of the Marvel community. Marvel Studios is applying that same philosophy to its superhero movies. Since Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk hit theaters in 2007, Marvel has been laying the pipe for next summer’s Thor and Captain America, and 2012’s The Avengers. Iron Man 2 — not as golden as Robert Downey Jr.’s first flight in the suit, but steel clad nonetheless — continues the push to create a dynamic Marvel movie culture. Fans will geek hard on the DVD and Blu-ray EXTRAS, including a feature-length making-of and an alternate beginning. They’ll geek even harder on the Blu-ray exclusive called S.H.I.E.L.D. Data Vault, which utilizes content from the Iron Man and Hulk movies to create interactive dossiers about each soon-to-be Avenger.

It also provides a unique way to experience Iron Man 2 itself. The database links you directly to the scenes most pertinent to the development of the larger Marvel Universe. It can also be activated to flash info about weapons, characters, and other Things Of Interest while you watch the movie from beginning to end. It’s like a decoder ring and Easter Egg finder in one. Marvel fans will giggle at seeing Edward Norton in the Hulk-related stuff (he’s been replaced by Mark Ruffalo for The Avengers) — but they’ll relish the prospect of building up the database by downloading material from upcoming Marvel flicks as it becomes available. B+

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