Big Screen Avengers 101: IRON MAN 2 Annotations
On May 4, 2012, we’ll see Earth’s Mightiest Heroes team up in the Marvel Studios movie The Avengers. This has been a long time coming and has been hinted at in films such as Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk (and you should check out the annotations on both those movies, too).
Now we get to Iron Man 2, taking place six months after Tony Stark’s defeat of his enemy Obadiah Stane and nine months after he was first captured by foreign insurgents, which led to his becoming the armored hero.
Mickey Rourke plays Ivan Vanko, a character who was created for this film. Soon before the release of the movie, Ivan was introduced into Marvel comic book continuity in the mini-series Iron Man Vs. Whiplash. In the continuity of mainstream Marvel comics, Ivan Vanko is the fourth super-villain to use the name Whiplash, most of whom have had a history of fighting Iron Man. In the first Iron Man film, two USAF pilots were referred to as Whiplash I and Whiplash II, another reference to the comic villains who've used this name.
The first Whiplash was a man named Mark Scolotti, a scientist who felt his work was not recognized as an employee of Stark Induestries, leading him to a criminal career with high-tech whips of his own design that were capable of tearing Iron Man’s armor. He then became a high-tech enforcer for criminals, such as Justin Hammer, and changed his name to Blacklash. The name Whiplash was then adopted by a criminal named Leeann Foreman. Foreman vanished later and a new pair of villains calling themselves Whiplash and Blacklash showed up for a time.
Finally, Ivan Vanko appeared, a young scientist in a small Russian village. A criminal impersonating Iron Man (thanks to stolen technology) attacked the village and killed Ivan’s father Igor Vanko in the process. Though the impostor escaped, Ivan was able to damage his suit and obtain his chest piece power source. Believing Stark had killed his father, Ivan sought vengeance and spent six months creating his own armor with enhanced whips powered by the technology he’d obtained. Even when Vanko later learned it was not the real Iron Man who had attacked his village, he still put the blame on Stark since he had invented the technology used to commit the act.
Ivan's wall shows a news article concerning the Middle East. The byline is by "Rob Downey." Get it?
The Stark Expo is a fictional technology conference inspired by the New York World's Fair. Like the Stark Expo, the New York World’s Fair occurred in Flushing, Queens during 1939-1940, the theme being "Building the World of Tomorrow." In the film Captain America: The First Avenger, fans see that both Tony's father Howard Stark and the hero Steve Rogers attended that fair, although in the Marvel Movie Universe it was still happening in 1943. The next New York World's Fair was themed "Peace Through Understanding" and occurred from 1964-1965. In this film, we are told that the Stark Expo originally operated annually between 1954 through 1974. It's placement in Flushing not only connects it with the World's Fair but also, perhaps unintentionally, matches the comics where it has been said that major Stark Industries facilities are housed in Queens.
Stark-Fujikawa was originally introduced in the comic Spider-Man 2099 as what Stark Enterprises would develop into in a possible version of the year AD 2099. The web-site displays its new product, sunglasses that posses digital data displays similar to Iron Man's helmet.
Accutech was seen in the comics during the "Armor Wars" storyline as a subsidiary of Stark Enterprises. The film web-site displays Accutech scientists developing haz-mat exoskeletons based on Tony's armor. It is also shown that Accutech is the subsidiary responsible for the creation of the Jericho missile seen in the original Iron Man film. It also displayed images of the Stark-designed sonic cannons that were used in The Incredible Hulk.At the Stark Expo opening ceremonies, Tony appears on stage in a tux, surrounded by many dancing women. This is echoed in Captain America: The First Avenger when we see his father Howard Stark put on a similar show at the New York World’s Fair.
When the U.S. Marshall hands Tony a subpoena, he lets Happy take the document and it is said that he doesn’t like to be handed objects from people. In the first Iron Man film, a deleted scene showed similar behavior when Tony had Pepper carry a hand sanitizer next to him, which he used after shaking hands with folks.
After a night of advertising the return of Stark Expo, Tony has to appear before the U.S. senate. This echoes several clashes Tony has had with the government in the comics. In the 1960s, the character Senator Byrd investigated Stark, believing that he and Iron Man were potentially sabotaging the U.S. military. In the story "The Best Defense" by John Jackson Miller, Tony defied Senator Burch, who demanded that the Iron Man tech be given to the U.S. military to create an army of armored soldiers.
Don Cheadle was asked to replace Terrence Howard, who portrayed Jim "Rhodey" Rhodes in the original Iron Man. Some fans were okay with this, some hated it and demanded to know why the change in casting was truly necessary. To those who kept complaining on the Internet, Don Cheadle's opening lines in this film are: "Look, it's me. I'm here. Deal with it. Let's move on."
In the film, Jim Rhodes is said to be a Weapons Procurement Liaison between the USAF and Stark Industries. In the comics, although he was a combat pilot, Rhodey was a member of the Marine Corps, not the Air Force. In the comics, he met Stark the day after the armored hero had escaped imprisonment and built his first suit. Years later, he left the military before coming to work for Tony Stark as a pilot and a bit of a bodyguard.
Tony Stark jokingly muses he wouldn’t mind being named Secretary of Defense. This actually happened in the comics for some time, starting in the storyline “The Best Defense” by John Jackson Miller. He was then released from this post during the storyline “Avengers Disassembled.” His remark that he is not a “joiner” is ironic considering his desire later in this film to join the Avengers.
Notice that each of the armors has a glowing power source. Apparently, after nearly dying in the first film because he didn’t have an extra arc reactor readily available, Stark decided to make a few extra ones and have them sit in storage inside the other suits. Of course, this means that now anyone can take one of the suits (if they get past the security protocols) since they don’t have to rely on ripping Stark’s “heart” out to power it. Foreshadowing…
Notice that Tony’s workshop no longer has all his workshop clutter from the first film. There’s no equipment, no half-built car, not tables filled with uncompleted projects. Evidently, Tony has put aside much of his inventing for a while, focusing on his life as Iron Man.
Tony’s holographic computer consoles are much more impressive and interactive than in the first film. After the first film, director Jon Favreau heard from several computer programmers and technologists that they were working on similar systems to what Tony had used, therefore he wanted to enhance the technology in the second movie in order to emphasize the hero’s genius.
Tony has discovered that his miniature arc power source is poisoning him with palladium. In the comics, there have been a couple times where Tony was endangered by his own tech. First, of course, there was his explosive weapon which shredded his chest with shrapnel, leading to his first becoming Iron Man. Years later, he was shot and used experimental technology to repair the nerve damage to his back, but then found out that it was poisoning his nervous system. A few years after defeating this problem, Tony found a new threat when the energy fields of his new armor was causing cellular breakdown in his body, leading to a redesign.
Soon before this film came out, Pepper Potts was indeed named CEO of Stark’s company in the Invincible Iron Man storyline “World’s Most Wanted” by Matt Fraction.
The name on Vanko’s passport is “Boris Turgenev.” In the comics, this was the second Crimson Dynamo’s real name.
Harold “Happy” Hogan is played by director John Favreau. In the comics, Happy Hogan was a professional boxer before becoming Stark’s chauffeur, so him giving Tony boxing lessons in this film is appropriate.
The Black Widow first appeared in Tales of Suspense #52 in 1964 and was a Russian spy who got close to Tony Stark with the intention of stealing the secrets of his technology. She also later manipulated the archer Hawkeye into helping her in criminal acts against Iron Man. Later still, it was revealed that the Black Widow had been a reluctant agent and had been forced to commit these acts against Iron Man and the U.S. She defected, operating with S.H.I.E.L.D. and later as a member of such teams as the Avengers, the Champions and the Secret Avengers. She was even leader of the main Avengers team for a while.
The Black Widow’s real name is Natalia “Natasha” Romanoff (though, in Russian, she would use the female form Romanova as her last name). Here, she is first introduced as Natalie Rushman. In the comics, “Nancy Rushman” is an alias she has often used.
It is said that Natalie has done modeling, is a ballerina, and is fluent in French, Italian, Russian and Latin. In the comics, Natalia is indeed fluent in many languages and Russian is her native tongue. She had false memories of being a ballerina, implanted by her supervisors when she was trained as a child to be an assassin as part of the secret Black Widow program. In the comics, she also had a few training sessions with Wolverine and is several decades older than she looks, her aging slowed down thanks to the chemical treatments received during the Black Widow program.
This emergency suit is silver and red, recalling Tony’s famous “Silver Centurion” armor, which he wore in the comics from 1985 to 1988.
As Senator Stern speaks on the news, the ticker below informs us that the U.S. threat level has been changed from yellow to red in reaction to the discovery that someone else has replicated Tony’s arc reactor technology.
Pepper’s remark to Tony, "Not everybody runs on batteries..." is ironic. In the comics, just before this film, Pepper was seriously injured and Tony saved her life by implanting a repulsor magnetic-field generator similar to what had saved him when he first became Iron Man.
That’s all for part 1. Click here to jump directly to part 2 of Iron Man 2!More Marvel Studios Annotations:
- INCREDIBLE HULK Annotations - Green Goliath to Marvel Movies
- INCREDIBLE HULK Annotations - Green Goliath part 2
- IRON MAN Movie Annotations