When Mickey Rourke was given the part of Ivan Vanko/Whiplash in Iron Man 2, he had some very specific requirements in mind. The 2010 follow-up to the film that kicked off the now-ubiquitous Marvel Cinematic Universe had its fair share of teething pains. There were plenty of obstacles along the road, like Robert Downey Jr. rewriting the Iron Man 2 screenplay on the fly with his ad-libs, forcing screenwriter Justin Theroux to conduct repeated rewrites, and the recasting of Don Cheadle as Rhodey following Terrence Howard’s departure. Iron Man 2’s $40 million box office triumph over the initial picture all but confirmed Marvel movies were here to stay, despite critical acclaim as one of the weaker MCU installments.
Rourke was in the middle of a brief career renaissance when he took on the ro le of Vanko. Before taking a sabbatical from acting to pursue a career in boxing, the former 1980s heartthrob appeared in films such as Rumble Fish, Body Heat, and 9 1/2 Weeks. Rourke’s Oscar-nominated turn as a former wrestler battling demons and his broken body to get
According to Indiewire, Rourke agreed to portray Whiplash in Iron Man 2 on the basis of some extremely severe conditions, despite having no prior knowledge of Marvel comics and having not seen the screenplay. According to reports, the actor said, “What exactly is ‘Iron Man 2’?.” Despite this, he met with director Jon Favreau and Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige to lay out his fully realised Whiplash. His requirements for portraying one of Iron Man’s biggest opponents included having his hair done in a “samurai bun,” speaking with a Russian accent, and carrying a bird on his shoulder.
In Iron Man 2, Mickey Rourke plays Whiplash.
Of course, Marvel bowed to Rourke’s requests, but there was one that the studio refused to honour: Rourke’s pay. Marvel allegedly offered the actor $250,000 to portray Whiplash, while Downey, Jr. reportedly offered a portion of his $10 million profits to match Rourke’s desired salary. Rourke, on the other hand, dove right into the character after receiving his official Iron Man 2 casting, doing extensive study on Russian prison culture, the significance of mob tattoos, and even visiting the infamous Butryka jail in Moscow. Despite his preparation, Rourke didn’t seem to be much assistance on set, with reports claiming that he was often “frustrated” or “ambival[ent].” He’s also said that Favreau “doesn’t have any balls,” according to reports.
Rourke has recently expressed dissatisfaction with how his Iron Man 2 adversary was shown, claiming that the approach reduced Whiplash to a one-dimensional and simple monster. Given how particular the actor was about how to flesh out the role, it’s easy to understand how Favreau’s final vision may not have matched his ideal version of Whiplash. It’s likely that, being the second MCU picture, Marvel still had some kinks to smooth out before bringing more sophisticated and in-depth villains to the screen, such as Thanos from the Infinity Saga, but Rourke definitely supplied Iron Man 2 with a distinctive and entertaining baddie.
back in the good graces of his estranged daughter in 2005’s Sin City paved the way for perhaps his best role, Rourke’s Oscar-nominated turn as a former wrestler battling demons and his broken body to get back in the good graces of his estranged daughter in The Wrestler. The actor was then set to keep the momentum going.