Release date (US): 7th May 2010
Director: Jon Favreau
Screenwriters: Justin Theroux
Interesting that over the Paramount logo and Marvel logo, we hear the press conference that ended Iron Man (2008), with Tony Stark revealing he’s Iron Man. We are picking up right after the last film.
And we go straight to Moscow. They tell us its Moscow, but we couldn’t find the location for this shot along the river.
The a snowy train station, and then the street.
The production never got close to Moscow, and this was all set work. It was most likely Raleigh Manhattan Beach Studios – 1600 Rosecrans Avenue, Manhattan Beach. Not only was that the primary studio for this film, it was the home of the Marvel Studio offices at the time.
An old man watches the television. It is the same footage that ends Iron Man (2008), the press conference.
An old man is watching. It is Anton Vanko. He’s played by Evgeniy Lazarev.
In the comics, Anton Vanko is the original Crimson Dynamo, an Iron Man villain but eventual ally, whose origins laid in Russia (hence the name). He is the first of many characters, mainly villains, to use the name (and the suit).
He first appeared in Tales Of Suspense #46 (October 1963), and created by Don Heck and Stan Lee.
Originally, the plan for this film was to have both Whiplash and Crimson Dynamo as the villains (having two villains in the sequel was still cool at this point). That idea was eventually shelved, although more Crimson Dynamo lore will appear later in the film. But the filmmakers did use many elements of Crimson Dynamo’s comic book origin for Whiplash.
His apartment location is unknown, and again, likely a set.
The score here is called Ivan’s Metamorphosis.
Anton Vanko is the father of Ivan Vanko, who comes to tend to him. He is played by Mickey Rourke.
This is where it gets a little complicated. Ivan Vanko will become Whiplash in this film, however he is not the real identity of that villain in the comics. In fact, no Ivan Vanko exists in the comic at all, but his father, of course, does. So the filmmakers basically created a son for the original Crimson Dynamo to be the main villain here.
There was a Whiplash in the comic, who was a villain associated with Iron Man. He’s real name was Mark Scarlotti, and he had made a special metal whip. You can see why the filmmakers changed it up, but he was a gifted technician (like so many of Iron Man’s foes).
He first appeared in Marvel Team-Up #145 (September 1984), and was created by Gene Colan and Stan Lee.
Rourke was a huge star in the 80s on the back of breakout hits like Diner and 9 1/2 Weeks. Rourke left acting in 1991, but had been making a slow return, finally earning huge acclaim for his role in The Wrestler.
He told Popmatters:
“I didn’t want to do a one-dimensional bad guy like you’d see in a comic book. Get some schmuck to do that. Hollywood always does that, especially when it’s a Russian bad guy. I wanted to add layers to it, represent where he’s coming from, and have a sense of humor.
I want to challenge myself and challenge the audience to say, ‘I see something redeemable in him.’ That makes it more interesting and not so silly.”
Since 2010, another character has taken the mantle of Whiplash – one very much based on this film’s take on the character. His real name is Anton Vanko, of no relation to the original Crimson Dynamo.
Either way, the film’s Anton Vanko dies.
Ivan Vanko gets to work. This sequence supplies the opening credit sequence.
On his wall are images of Stark taken from magazines. The Rolling Stone and Forbes covers appeared in Iron Man (2008).
There’s some pretty funny photoshop jobs on young Robert Downey Jr.
He is working from plans that have the Stark Industries logo on them.
And he’s made an arc reactor.
Then our titles. They animate quite nicely.
6 months later, according to the film.
The music we hear is Shoot to Thrill by AC/DC. It’s a track from their massive 1980 album Back In Black. Aside from the orchestral score. AC/DC provided the rest of the soundtrack for the film. The AC/DC only soundtrack sold 3 million copies – the band was previously against compilations in any form.
They even made a video for this song.
Iron Man is jumping out of a plane. He is hit by some fireworks and lands in what we will see is Stark Expo. This is armour Mark 4.
The city is below him is the New York borough of Queens – in particular Flushing. Although much of the expo centre was created digitally.
When the text for Stark Expo comes on the screen, there is a scene of Flushing at night, with the world globe in the foreground. It’s called the Unisphere and it’s located at Flushing Meadows–Corona Park. It was created for the 1964-65 World’s Fair.
Stark Expo probably takes a lot from the World’s Fair. Marvel created a website to promote the expo like a real event – StarkExpo2010.com – but it’s gone.
We assume that’s Flushing Bay we can see behind the expo centre.
There’s also a big Kodak sign. Brand names like this don’t happen by accident, and there’s no Kodak Theatre in Queens. We see a little more of Kodak later.
Big smiles as Stark removes his armour to reveal a tux. Tony Stark is played by Robert Downey Jr.
“Once you tell an origins story pretty well, that’s usually where things start to get dull, and one or two or three things start to happen over and over again. So, we made Tony Stark’s challenges very much outside the usual realm of activity. As much as anything else, it’s much more of a side job for him the second time around. And the great thing, too, is that the Marvel universe is wild; it’s so far out. That’s the big balance to strike. It would be so easy to go so far out it would intergalactic and nothing would be grounded in reality any more.”
There was an alternative opening sequence that involved the expo.
Stark makes a big speech. In it, he says 1974 was the last time the Stark Expo took place.
He then throws to his dad, Howard Stark, on a video. He’s played by John Slattery.
We only saw an image of him in Iron Man (2008), although he was referred to several times. In that film, he was portrayed by Gerard Sanders.
Howard Stark is also Tony’s dad and the founder of Stark Industries in the comics. There was also a tense father/son relationship, and he also years before there was an Iron Man.
He first appeared in Iron Man #28 (August 1970) and was created by Archie Goodwin and Don Heck.
Tim Robbins was considered for the role.
The music that plays over the old video is Make Way for Tommorow Today by Richard Sherman.
Stark checks his blood and there’s something wrong. Toxicity is 19%.
Reporting live from the expo is Chess Roberts, played by Olivia Munn.
Chess Roberts made only one appearance in the comics, in Iron Man Vol. 3#1 (February 1998). That issue was part of the Heroes Return storyline, and she reported on Stark’s return from his apparent death.
Munn had broken out as a correspondent for The Daily Show, which she was still appearing in at the time this film came out. She would go on to roles in TV shows like The Newsroom and films like X-Men Apocalypse.
She is reporting for WHIH, the fake news channel of the MCU, that has a real YouTube channel.
The news scroll calls it a keynote speech. It’s worth noting at this time keynote speeches by tech heads were all the rage, thanks to a series of electrifying product launches by Apple’s Steve Jobs. There’s definitely some of Jobs in Stark, and it’s the butt of a joke that would feature in Guardians Of The Galaxy 2 (2017).
Here’s Happy Hogan played by Jon Favreau.
“I’ve never done a sequel before. For me there wasn’t the same pressure that you’re used to feeling. [The first time around, you’re] throwing a party and you don’t know if people are going to show up. Here, we knew people were going to show up, and we just wanted to make sure everyone had a good time, and it was just going to be as fun or more fun than the last party.”