Tony Stark threw what he believed would be his last birthday party and promptly proceeded to get drunk whilst wearing the Mark IV armor, forcing his friend Lt. Colonel James Rhodes to don the Mark II armor and subdue him. Rhodes flew off with the Mark II and turned it over to the United States Air Force. General Meade ordered Rhodes and Justin Hammer to weaponize the suit.
Disgraced, Stark was approached by Nick Fury of S.H.I.E.L.D., who provided him with a chest of his father's old artifacts that could hopefully be used to find a cure for his Palladium poisoning. Reviewing the film reels in the chest, Stark discovered a message from his father that led him to the original 1974 diorama of the Stark Expo: in reality, a disguised diagram for the molecular structure of a new element. Stark hand-built a Particle Accelerator with the aid of his computer J.A.R.V.I.S. and synthesized this new element, creating a new triangular chest Arc Reactor that cured his poisoning.
At Stark Expo, Justin Hammer unveiled his new military drones, captained by James Rhodes in a heavily-weaponized version of the confiscated Mark II armor. Unfortunately, it was soon discovered that Whiplash has complete control of both the drones and Rhodes' new armor, and Stark arrived just as they went on the attack. Natasha Romanoff who was escorted by Happy Hogan, drove to Hammer Industries Headquarters, where Vanko was located, in hopes to stop him.
When they arrived the two were approached by a guard who Hogan began to fight, while Black Widow continued. Black Widow found herself fighting off numerous guards with ease as Hogan struggled with the one. After Black Widow defeated the guards, she headed where Vanko was located to find he had left and was heading for the Stark Expo. Black Widow however managed to get control over War Machine's armor, letting him fight with Iron Man.
Black Widow's success lead to James Rhodes having control over his battle suit. She informed them that Ivan Vanko was headed there way, leading to his defeat and the arrest of Justin Hammer by Pepper Potts. Before Vanko destroyed the facility, Black Widow retrieved data from the industry and returned to S.H.I.E.L.D. to give it to Nick Fury, who sent her on another mission to watch over Bruce Banner.