Ivan Vanko
Ivan Whiplash
Alias(es) Whiplash
Boris Turgenov
Appeared in Iron Man 2
Status Deceased
Actor Mickey Rourke
"If you could make God bleed, people would cease to believe in Him."
―Ivan Vanko to Tony Stark[src]

Ivan Vanko was the civilian identity of the villain Whiplash bent on the destruction of the Stark family. He is a brilliant physicist just like his father before him, but also has a history of crime, selling illegal weapons and killing innocent people who get in his way.


Early life

Ivan was the son of Anton Vanko, a Russian physicist who had helped Howard Stark design the Arc Reactor, but who had been subsequently deported from the United States when it became clear that he was working for money rather than for the benefit of humanity. Ivan's father fell into alcoholism and proceeded to abuse the young boy for many years. Over the years, Ivan became highly knowledgeable in the fields of physics and mechanical sciences, while adopting his father's hatred for the Stark family. At some point, he was caught selling Soviet grade plutonium to Pakistan and served 15 years in prison. This would be the only recorded knowledge of his existence.

Iron Man 2

After the death of his father, Ivan Vanko immediately began work on a replica of the arc reactor. Ivan constructed an exoskeleton, powered by a miniature arc reactor, to use against Tony Stark in an effort to discredit him. Vanko attacked Tony during the Monaco Grand Prix, using his Whiplash harness to destroy several cars in the race, but Tony ultimately defeated him using a portable Iron Man suit, and Vanko was sent to prison. While in custody, Vanko was asked by Tony why he didn't sell his technology to make money. Vanko replied that he wanted to remove Tony's awe from the people and demonstrate that Iron Man could be defeated. Ivan also deduced that Tony was being poisoned by the palladium in his arc reactor saying, "Palladium in the chest, painful way to die".

Later, Vanko escaped from prison with the help of Tony's rival Justin Hammer, who also orchestrated the faking of Vanko's death in the prison break. Justin and Vanko then made a deal in which Vanko was to build armored suits like the Iron Man armor in exchange for Hammer Industries resources. However, Vanko changed the terms of the deal, when he retrofitted Justin's existing armor technology from wearable suits into unmanned drones.

Vanko was then locked up in the Hammer Industries New York factory, having enraged Hammer with the unexpected change. In the mean time, Justin's plan to unveil the drones during the World Stark Expo went ahead, although Vanko again surprised his benefactor when the drones powered up and altered the simple unveiling to a full-blown demonstration. Vanko had killed his guards and remotely assumed control of the drones, as well as the War Machine armor worn by James Rhodes.

As a lengthy dogfight involving both Tony's armors and the Hammer drones progressed, Vanko abandoned the factory and got personally involved in an armored suit of his own. The superior bulk and capabilities of his suit initially outmatched the combined efforts of Tony and Rhodes, but working together they soon found a way to beat him by firing their repulsors at each other while Vanko was in the middle, catching him in a powerful explosion. As he lay wounded in the remains of his armor, Vanko revealed that he had concealed self-destruct devices in his suit as well as all of the Hammer drones. His dying words were, "You lose".

Fury's Big Week

A year after Ivan Vanko's death, S.H.I.E.L.D. were still analyzing his first armor.

Character traits

Vanko was deceptively intelligent, his accent and thuggish appearance belaying a highly skilled mechanical and programming knowledge and cunning to outwit those around him, consciously manipulating Justin Hammer and his men with their perception of him as weak or stupid. He also has an sentimental attachment to a pet cockatoo which immediately soured his working relationship with Justin Hammer.


  • Skilled Hand-To-Hand Combatant: Vanko was a capable hand-to-hand combatant; easily able to kill two of Justin Hammer's well trained thugs with a little damage to himself.
  • Skilled Mechanic: Like Tony Stark, Vanko was a skilled mechanical and programming. he can create his own arc reactor.
  • Bilingualism: As a native Russian, Vanko spoke that language fluently, in addition to English (albeit with a thick Russian accent).


  • Mark 1: Vanko's first Whiplash construct was an exoskeleton worn on the upper body that connected an arc reactor to a weapon system of hand-held two plasma whips. It was never revealed if the harness had any other intended uses beyond supporting the whips, but it was able to generate heat from the main harness enough to burn through a boilersuit worn over the top. The whips themselves produced enough heat to knife through the reinforced body of a luxury car with ease.
  • Mark 2: Vanko's second Whiplash construct was a sophisticated fusion of Hammer technology armor with a miniature arc reactor adapted from Howard Stark's and Anton Vanko's earlier designs. Modeled with many of Tony Stark's Iron Man capabilities in mind, the Whiplash armor granted the wearer a wide array of enhancements. These included vastly magnified strength, a high degree of resistance to damage, and high-speed flight capability. The power output of the suit's on board arc reactor could be channeled into powering two arm-mounted plasma whips that could be controlled to have a level of prehensile grasping capability enough to firmly wrap around a person's neck.


Friends and Allies



Behind the scenes

  • Mickey Rourke paid a visit to Butyrka Prison, Moscow to prepare for his role as Whiplash.
  • Mickey Rourke stated “I didn’t tell Favreau I was going,” he says. “I went over there for a few weeks and I went to the prisons in Moscow and I met with a prisoner who had just got out after 12 years and I was fascinated by the tattoo work that he had and some of the other guys, too.“ There was one tattoo that I was very interested in and it was of an old Russian schooner and the guy had it on his belly and underneath, in Russian, it said ‘give me a blonde, a bottle and a boat and I’ll sail away..’”

“I tried to incorporate the whole Russian philosophy. It’s a culture of its own and I really enjoyed doing the research and meeting the people and they were very gracious there at the prison. “The guards took their time with me, I talked to the guards and to the prisoners and I was very interested in seeing under what conditions my character would have been incarcerated for 20 years.” It was nice because both Favreau and Downey Jr. both fought for me to get my deal worked out, those guys both went into bat for me and I appreciated that,” says Rourke.

“And then I spoke to Favreau and I told him, after I read the material, that I had some adjustments that I wanted to make and some character choices and he brought in Justin Theroux, the writer.

“And I said ‘well, I’d like to be able to speak Russian in the movie, I’d like to be able to use a Russian accent when I had to speak English and I also wanted to have a pet.’

“I was also adamant about not making him your typical, you know, lumbering kind of one dimensional Russian villain character. I said ‘there is no reason why this guy can’t be sympathetic at times…’

“I also wanted him to have a sense of humor. Yeah, sure he is going to be violent and unpredictable and all those other stereotypical things that you are going to have with a Russian bad guy but it was important for me to bring some likability to the character.”


  • Vanko's last name came from Anton Vanko, the original Crimson Dynamo in the comics.
  • Vanko's fake ID and alias on the Monaco Grand Prix track use the name B. Turgenev, a reference to the second Crimson Dynamo Boris Turgenev.


Iron Man 2


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