Jon Favreau on Mickey Rourke's Iron Man 2 Presence as Whiplash

Jon Favreau on Mickey Rourke's <i>Iron Man 2</i> Presence as Whiplash

Separate from the Iron Man 2 Press Conference, Jon Favreau tells LA Times a few new & repeated things about the Whiplash character.



The first time Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) gets to speak to a mysterious new nemesis named Ivan Vanko, the posh billionaire surveys the burly Russian’s grim dental work, assortment of prison tattoos and dishrag mane and makes an easy deduction. “You,” Stark says, “look like you have friends in low places.”

Vanko, portrayed with muttering menace by Mickey Rourke, is a complete stranger to Stark when he first attacks him during the Monaco Grand Prix, but the billionaire superhero soon finds out that his own past is intertwined with this hulking mad genius.

“It's revealed to Tony that the underlying technology that Iron Man suit used, the arc reactor, was not just invented by his father, as he had thought, but something his father collaborated on with a Soviet scientist named Anton Vanko. Anton Vanko defected but then was sent back and lived in squalor and disgrace. So Mickey Rourke’s character, Ivan, has grown up the son of this pariah who lay dying penniless while the Starks have immense wealth. It’s a story about legacy and, in both cases, the sins of the father.”

-The younger Vanko uses his father’s work to create a wearable weapon very different from Stark’s sleek armor -- it’s an exoskeleton with two sizzling whips that can slice through walls and cars -- and Favreau said his bruising and very public assault on Iron Man leaves the hero reeling. “Just like anybody super-famous in our society, once they stumble it’s ‘the agony of defeat’ and the nature of fame and public support and how they turn.”

“His character has lived a long tough life and been scarred, and Rourke really found ways to tap into that,” Favreau said. “The real challenge for us was finding someone who could hold the screen opposite of Downey, who has so much presence. If you just hired one of the usual suspects among the young and upcoming actors, they’d just get blown off the screen. When I saw Mickey in ‘The Wrestler’ and thought back also to ‘Sin City,’ I thought to reach out to him. I knew this was a guy who could hold his own.”
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