The ''Iron Man 2'' baddie on how he made Whiplash come to life

By Josh Rottenberg
Updated April 30, 2010 at 04:00 AM EDT
  • Movie

In preparing to play the marquee baddie in the summer’s biggest superhero movie, Mickey Rourke must have steeped himself in comic-book lore and boned up on supervillainy, right? ”Nope, not at all,” he says. Rourke, 57, admits he’s not a fan of comic-book movies, so he just went with his own instincts in building the character of Ivan Vanko, a.k.a. Whiplash, a Russian criminal and inventor obsessed with taking down Iron Man. ”I didn’t want to make him your typical one-dimensional, cowboys-and-Indians bad guy,” Rourke says. Coming off his career-resurrecting turn in 2008’s The Wrestler, Rourke visited Russian prisons to help get in the proper head space. Learning his Russian lines, though, wasn’t easy: ”It’s a tough f—ing language. I worked for three months on just a few lines, then I’d go home, and my girlfriend, who’s Russian, would make fun of my accent.” Fearsome as he looked with his muscles (shaped by hours of training with a 40-pound vest on) and tattoos (all based on real Russian prison tattoos), Rourke had the idea to humanize Vanko by giving him a white cockatoo as his sole companion. ”That just popped into my head,” he says. ”I thought it would be more interesting than having a cat.”

Iron Man 2

  • Movie
  • PG-13
  • 125 minutes
  • Jon Favreau