Ivan Antonovich Vanko (Russian: Иван Антонович Ванко) was a Russian physicist and the son of the disgraced scientist Anton Vanko. When Vanko's father died penniless due to the actions of Howard Stark, Vanko swore to seek revenge by targeting Howard's son, Tony Stark. Recreating an Arc Reactor based on his father's design and designing an armor similar to Iron Man's, Vanko attacked Stark in Monaco, under the moniker of Whiplash. Though he was incarcerated, he was subsequently broken out and recruited by Justin Hammer in order to use his skills to create a functional advanced armor to compete with Stark's, but Vanko repurposed the armors into the Hammer Drones, hijacking them and the Mark I War Machine Armor, in an attempt to kill Stark and destroy his legacy. He was defeated by the combined efforts of Iron Man and War Machine, following which he chose to end his life by initiating a self-destruct feature within his armor.
Ivan Vanko was born on February 15, 1968. He was the son of Anton Vanko, a Russian physicist who helped Howard Stark design the Arc Reactor, but was deported from the United States when Howard accused him of espionage. Anton fell into poverty and alcoholism, and also abused his son for many years due to the personal humiliation caused to him by Stark. Growing up, Ivan became knowledgeable in the fields of physics and mechanical sciences, and adopted his father's hatred for the Stark family. He also became a physicist, but was convicted of selling Soviet-era weapons-grade plutonium to Pakistan and served 15 years in Kopeisk prison.
Creating the Suit
As living in their broken home, Vanko cared for his father Anton Vanko as he became older and more frail as their many years in exile went on. While watching the news footage of Tony Stark, the son of Howard Stark, confessing to the world to being the Iron Man, Anton called for his son to come help him eat his dinner.
As he ate, Anton apologized to his son for not allowing Ivan to be in Stark's position, noting that it should be him there as the CEO of Stark Industries. Vanko told his father not to think about this but his father kept speaking, reminding him that all he could now give him due to having no money was his vast knowledge before passing away. Seeing his father lying dead caused Vanko to take a large drink of vodka before screaming into the air in mournful rage.
With his father now dead, Ivan Vanko focused his efforts in achieving his father's greatest wish. With this in mind he began work on a replica of the Arc Reactor based on his father's and Howard Stark's designs from the eighties. Vanko designed and constructed an exoskeleton with two electrified whips which could cut through almost anything, powered by a miniature Arc Reactor, to use against Tony Stark in an aggressive effort to discredit and kill him, thus securing revenge for his father. Vanko's overall aim was to bring down the Stark Industries' credibility forever, mirroring what he felt Howard Stark had done to his father decades before.
With his Whiplash Armor: Mark I now constructed and ready for battle, Vanko prepared to find and kill Stark in a public space. In a snow storm in the centre of Russia, Vanko met with an agent of one of Stark's other enemies, the Ten Rings terrorist organization, who gave Vanko a ticket to Circuit de Monaco, which Stark would be attending. Vanko traveled to Monaco and disguised himself as a member of the pit-crew to get close enough to his target.
Using his ticket given to him by the Ten Rings, Vanko arrived at the Monaco Grand Prix during the race and then disguised himself as a mechanic, with his Whiplash Armor: Mark I hidden under his clothes while he explored the racetrack searching for his target. When Vanko learned that Tony Stark would now be racing a car in the Grand Prix, Vanko knew that this would prove to be the perfect time to attack and finally kill the man whose father had destroyed his own family's legacy.
Vanko stepped into the race track of the Monaco Grand Prix, ripping open his shirt and using his Whiplash Harness to crash and destroy several cars in the race, including Stark's. Since Stark was without his armor and was therefore nearly defenseless, Vanko took his time to try to murder him, walking up to the car and enjoying the moment before cutting the car in half. However, to Vanko's surprise, Stark had already gotten out of the car and seemingly escaped.
Stark struck Vanko from behind before he continued to prove to be adaptable to his new environments, tricking Vanko several times and escaping his blows. Having escaped from his car, Stark attempted to knock Vanko out, but despite all his best efforts, Vanko's weaponry seemed to be Stark's downfall, as he was unable to defend himself from the deadly whips which Vanko swung at him, although he still managed to avoid several of the lethal blows aimed at him.
Stark managed to cause an explosion to put some distance between himself and Vanko: However, Vanko had refused to give up so easily. As he continued walking towards Stark, and just before Vanko could exact his own final revenge, Happy Hogan and Pepper Potts drove into the fight and crashed into Vanko, pinning him to the wall and briefly taking him out of the fight. While Vanko attempted to escape by cutting the car completely into pieces in a fit of rage, Potts eventually managed to give Stark his new armor concealed in a suitcase.
Now fully prepared for the battle, Iron Man kicked the car with Potts and Hogan inside out of harm's way and then fought back against Whiplash. While Iron Man was now more durable, Whiplash blocked his gauntlet strikes as he struggled to defend himself against the deadly electric whips, which Vanko had managed to wrap around Stark's neck, which Vanko delighting in Stark's suffering.
Despite Vanko's best efforts to kill him by increasing the power of the whips while trying to choke him, Stark eventually defeated Vanko using his Iron Man Suit. With two punches to the face and stomach, Vanko was unable to stand and Stark destroyed Vanko's Arc Reactor before Vanko was captured and taken away to prison. As he was being pulled away by the police, Vanko spat out his own blood and continued to mock Stark, laughing maniacally claiming that he will lose to him eventually.
Arrest and Interrogation
While in custody, Tony Stark went to interrogate Vanko. Upon arriving, Stark pointed out a few design flaws on the Whiplash harness and a few improvements that Vanko could have done. Stark asked Vanko why he did not sell his technology and how he had obtained an Arc Reactor.
Vanko replied that he wanted to remove Stark's awe from the people and demonstrate that Iron Man could be defeated as revenge for Howard Stark destroying the Vanko family. Vanko also deduced that Stark was being poisoned by the palladium in his Arc Reactor saying, "Palladium in the chest, painful way to die." As Stark left, Vanko laughed to himself, believing that even if he spent the rest of his life in prison, Stark would still die a horrible death.
Later, Vanko was moved to his new prison cell to begin his sentence for his actions during the Duel of Monaco; there he was delivered his dinner which included dynamite disguised as mashed potatoes. Moments later, Vanko's cell door was unlocked and another prisoner was brought into the cell with the same uniform number and similar build to Vanko.
Seeing this as his chance for freedom, Vanko quickly killed the man by smashing his head against a sink and activated the bomb before walking away from his cell. As he walked down the corridor, Vanko was stopped by a guard who he killed by breaking his neck just as the bomb went off in his cell. Before he could get outside, however, Vanko was grabbed by some men who covered his face and threw him into a van before driving him away to a secret location.
Vanko was driven away with a bag over his head and was eventually taken out inside a private airport to meet Justin Hammer, owner of Hammer Industries and rival to Tony Stark. Once Vanko's handcuffs were removed, Hammer introduced himself and invited Vanko to sit down and eat dinner with him. While Vanko looked around him with considerable confusion, Hammer proudly revealed he had personally organized the faking of Vanko's death in the prison break.
Explaining why, Hammer noted that he had also been impressed by Vanko successfully recreating the Arc Reactor technology which had been claimed by many would be almost impossible. Vanko listened as Hammer explained he wanted Vanko to go build replica Hammer Armors which could discredit Stark's own technology, Vanko agreed as long as Hammer arranged to collect his bird from Russia, which Hammer agreed to do as they both raised their glasses.
Building an Army
Vanko was given the tour of the Hammer Industries Headquarters as he was personally taken round by Justin Hammer where Vanko was shown the prototypes for the Hammer Armors. Vanko immediately began work as he hacked into Hammer's security systems, easily overriding their pass-codes and commenting on how terrible the software was.
Taking interest in the prototypes that were on display, Vanko went to take a closer look while Hammer then pointed out the cost of each machine made by Hammer Industries. Vanko, however, simply ignored everything Hammer was saying to him and began pulling apart the armor prototypes to examine them, much to the dismay of Hammer and his assistant Jack. Vanko then questioned exactly what Hammer wanted the armors to do and what they were for.
Hammer told Vanko that he intended to use his technology to ensure that Tony Stark's own inventions were a thing of the past, as he had planned on display his own advancements at the Stark Expo in the hopes of humiliating Stark and taking the business away from Stark Industries. Vanko enjoyed the concept and promised that he could easily do everything Hammer required, much to Hammer's delight as they both then agreed to work together against Stark.
While taken a break from all of his own work, Justin Hammer arrived in the Hammer Industries Headquarters and delivered Vanko a pet bird, claiming it to be Vanko's from Russia, so Vanko called Hammer out, which Hammer was forced to confess to. While they were both talking, Hammer then noticed that his Iron Man suit prototypes had been redesigned into unmaned drones, with Hammer noting he needed suits for the United States Armed Forces as they had already been requested.
Vanko revealed he had changed the terms of the deal, confessing that he had retrofitted Hammer's existing armor technology from wearable suits into unmanned drones, claiming this was actually an improvement on Tony Stark's designs as people made problems. Hammer was horrified as the presentation at the Stark Expo had already been arranged, Vanko convinced him that this was the right decision, telling him not to get so attached to things.
Angering Justin Hammer
While working on the final designs for the Whiplash Armor: Mark II armor, he had been constructing in his spare time, Ivan Vanko received a phone call from Justin Hammer, who was busy playing golf with Senator Stern and wanted an update on the Hammer Drones. Vanko informed Hammer that the designs were incomplete and he would only be able to make the Drones perform a salute at the Stark Expo instead of the full weapons presentation he had promised Hammer, much to Hammer's own very clear frustration.
Furious and annoyed about his expectations not being met, Justin Hammer stormed into Ivan Vanko's room at Hammer Industries Headquarters with two bodyguards. As punishment for his failure, Hammer ordered that the bird he had been given be taken away, along with his shoes and pillows. With Vanko now uncomfortable and annoyed, Hammer yelled in his face that he was also upset about how he had been betrayed by Vanko for not supplying him with what he needed for his presentation.
Hammer continued to rant at Vanko about how he had betrayed him before revealing that he had a new presentation to show off at the Stark Expo which would replace the demonstration he had planned with the drones. Hammer then left to attend the Expo, leaving Vanko being guarded by his bodyguards, who assured Vanko were not to be messed with, although Vanko sat confidently waiting to be alone with them so he could kill them and make his escape.
Vanko was then locked up in Hammer Industries Headquarters with Hammer's guards. Vanko killed his guards with minimal effort and then phoned Tony Stark, revealing himself to in fact be alive and well, commenting that Stark himself seemed to be better himself after his poisoning from his Arc Reactors. Vanko began boasting that he had now rebuilt and also perfected his Whiplash Armor: Mark II, using Stark's recommendation, he then promised to destroy Stark Industries within 40 minutes as revenge for what Howard Stark did to his own father all those 40 years prior before hanging up the phone.
As the Hammer Industries presentation went underway at the Stark Expo, Vanko remotely took control of the Hammer Drones, as well as the War Machine armor worn by James Rhodes and used them to attack the guests, Justin Hammer as well as Iron Man. The Drones chased Stark through the Expo, with War Machine leading as Rhodes attempted to warn him. Vanko watched this from a screen as more Drones were destroyed and the battle went in Stark's favor.
As the lengthy fight involving Iron Man and the Hammer Drones still progressed, Vanko discovered that Black Widow was approaching and was going to kill him, so he abandoned the factory and got into an armored suit of his own and escaped the facility before he could be found. Widow then restored control of the War Machine armor back to James Rhodes who then helped Stark battle and destroy the Hammer Drones.
As all the drones had been destroyed by this point, Vanko landing before them in his upgraded Whiplash Armor: Mark II and challenged the pair. In an attempt to finish the fight early, War Machine tried to use one of Hammer Industries weapons called the Ex-Wife Missile, but unsurprisingly, it malfunctioned, much to Vanko's amusement. While Iron Man then attempted to shoot him in the head, Vanko then armed himself and attacked the pair who fought back.
Whiplash readied his whips and fought Iron Man and War Machine alone. The superior bulk and capabilities of the Whiplash suit initially outmatched the combined efforts of War Machine and Iron Man and he was soon able to nearly rip their suits apart. When War Machine attempted to use the mini gun to destroy the Whiplash armor, Vanko simply tore it apart before stepping on and crushing the War Machine armor while still fighting the determined Iron Man.
As the fight neared its eventual conclusion, Vanko managed to wrap his electric whips around both Iron Man and War Machine' necks, slowly killing them, but working together they soon found a way to beat him by reusing a trick they learned during their own battle, by shooting beams of energy from their Arc Reactors at each other, the combination of which caused a massive explosion which almost completely destroyed Vanko's suit and threw the two heroes backwards to safety.
As he lay wounded and dying in what remained of his armor, Vanko knew he was finally defeated and revealed that he had concealed self-destruct devices in his suit as well as all of the Hammer Drones, meaning that the entire Stark Expo was going to be destroyed. Vanko attempted to kill him by detonating an explosive device in his armor with his dying words being, "You lose". However, he failed; as Iron Man flew Pepper Potts to safety and Vanko was killed instantly in the explosion.
Anton Vanko was deported from United States of America in the late 1960s for selling weapons to Pakistan. After being sent back to the Soviet Union, he was sent to Siberia as punishment for failing to deliver weapons, where Ivan Vanko was born. He was often at the receiving end of his father's alcoholic rages in this stupor, but most of all, Vanko was raised to hate the Starks for what they did to his father whom he evidently loved dearly despite this abuse. Using his intelligence and patience, Vanko vowed revenge against Howard Stark's son, Tony by destroying his legacy and reputation the same way his family did to Vanko's, even spending his life imprisoned solely to destroy Tony's name by showcasing his own Arc Reactor in Monaco to counteract Stark's previous statement a few days earlier; that no one was in possession of his technology.
He's an opportunistic manipulator, having easily tricked Justin Hammer into letting him use his resources to build the new Whiplash suit and the Hammer Drones army without any real intention to support Hammer's cause. He also called Stark to taunt him into going to confront the Hammer so the drones could attack him in front of a large audience. Vanko was very overconfident, when he called Stark to explain his plans he took the chance to brag that he used Stark's advice to improve the Whiplash Armor before explaining his plans and was often seen with a confident sadistic smile when attacking others. Vanko's overconfidence proved to be his biggest weakness as in both of his battles with Iron Man he frequently took his time to enjoy taunting and attacking Stark unaware that doing so gave Stark enough time to counterattack.
Vanko was also an alcoholic, something which he picked up from his father. When Anton died in front of him he took a swig of whiskey and when being recruited by Justin Hammer, the two cheered with a drink, whereupon Vanko took the entire bottle. The only thing Vanko has any attachment to is his bird back in Russia which he demanded that Hammer bring to him in exchange for Vanko to begin working for him.
Powers and Abilities
- Whiplash Armor Capabilities: Although Vanko possessed no innate superhuman attributes, he utilized his genius to construct a battle suit which granted him several superhuman abilities.
- Superhuman Strength: The Mark II Whiplash Armor was more similar to Iron Man's then the first. This granted Vanko superhuman strength, allowing him to contend with Iron Man and War Machine simultaneously. He punched War Machine to the ground with ease and was able to trap him under his foot.
- Superhuman Durability: The Mark II also provided Vanko with superhuman durability, being able to withstand repulsor beams and missiles from Iron Man. He didn't even get a scratch during their battle until he sacrificed himself in a failed attempt to kill Iron Man.
- Superhuman Speed: After upgrading to his Mark II armor, Vanko flew all the way from Hammer Industries to Stark Expo within the time when Iron Man started fighting the Hammer Drones to when they crash landed in a sanctuary. Which happened to be only a few minutes.
- Superhuman Stamina: Vanko's armor granted him increased stamina from his first armor. This allowed him to withstand many shots from War Machine without getting tried.
- Superhuman Reflexes: Vanko quickly put up his helmet to protect him just as Iron Man started shooting at him. He could also quickly subdue Iron Man and War Machine using his whips just before they shot at him, but he wasn't able to recognize that Rhodes and Stark were going to use their repulsors to make a more powerful blast.
- Flight: The Mark II armor was way more advanced than the first. Vanko used the plans for the Hammer Drones to give himself thrusters in order to fly. He flew from the Hammer Industries Headquarters all the way to the Stark Expo to fight kill Iron Man once and for all.
- Whip Manipulation: The suit's most important feature was the two large whips that could be deployed through the suit's arms. The suit was powered by Vanko's very own arc reactor which allowed the whips charged with electricity that was capable of slicing through most objects. The whips effortlessly cut through Happy Hogan's car and also sliced through many race cars. Yet, they still couldn't cut through Iron Man's armor. Vanko relied on his whip for long-range combat, and using them versed enough to capture both Iron Man and War Machine at the same time. The electricity in the whips were able to set things on fire, mostly race cars due to the gas within them. The electricity was also able to severely damage Iron Man's armors, leaving the metal scorched and burned. The inside of Iron Man's armor was also fried as his HUD system was compromised.
- Power Suit: The second version of the Whiplash armor contained an HUD system very similar to that of Iron Man, although it wasn't as advanced as Iron Man's nor War Machine's. He even preferred to not use it as he always retracted his helmet when he wasn't in danger of getting hit.
- Genius-Level Intellect: Ivan possessed a strong intellectual mind as a result of his scientific background and his father's tutelage. From his efforts to duplicate the Arc Reactor, Vanko was able to deduce that Tony Stark was dying of palladium poisoning. Additionally upon escaping prison, Vanko was able to manipulate Justin Hammer into allowing him to make more Iron Man suits. Although Hammer wanted more man-operated suits, Vanko turned the suits into drones which were secretly under his control, and was able to deceive Hammer about their functionality until he was ready to activate them.
- Master Engineer: Though he did not invent the Arc Reactor, Vanko was resourceful enough to duplicate them with limited materials. Upon receiving access to more resources at Hammer Industries, Vanko was able to secretly design a Mark II armor for himself, as well as create several Hammer Drones that took the combined efforts of Iron Man and War Machine to stop.
- Master Hacker: Upon being shown Hammer's Iron Man prototype-suits, Vanko easily hacked into Hammer Tech's software to which Hammer believed was highly encrypted. Also whilst Tony Stark had J.A.R.V.I.S. to operate the Iron Legion, Vanko instead possessed the knowledge to slave the 'Hammer Tech drones' to operate by themselves, as well as operate War Machine's suit against his will. It took the efforts of Black Widow, an accomplished hacker, to eventually overthrow Vanko's influence over War Machine and the Hammer drones.
- Expert Tactician: Upon creating his first Arc Reactor, Vanko entered the United States of America to make an attempt on Tony Stark's life at the time when he believed him most vulnerable. Vanko determined that even if he lost the fight, that the aftereffects of Iron Man being challenged by his similar technology and Stark's deteriorating health would mean his effort wasn't in vain and that Iron Man would lose his reputation.
- Expert Combatant: As a result of his upbringing and prison sentence, Ivan Vanko was a hardened individual who is well-versed in combat. Because of his brute strength, he was able to easily subdue his cellmate during his prison escape, as well as snap the neck of a guard with apparent ease. Vanko also managed to kill two trained armed guards tasked to him by Justin Hammer, and was able to challenge Tony Stark in his Mark VI armor for a short period of time.
- Bilingualism: Vanko was fluent in his native Russian, as well as English with a heavy accent, using the latter language to communicate while in the United States. He frequently used Russian to insult Justin Hammer.
- Whiplash Armor: Mark I: The first Whiplash Armor was designed as a harness powered by an arc reactor with two electrified whips. He used the armor to ambush Tony Stark in Monaco, succeeding in cutting his car in half, however he was eventually defeated and both he and the suit were taken away by the police once the Arc Reactor had been torn out.
- Whiplash Armor: Mark II: The second Whiplash Armor is an upgraded version of the Mark I that granted Vanko enhanced speed, strength, reflexes, durability, and endurance. It also had flight capabilities. He created the suit using Hammer Industries' technology and equipment and used it to battle Iron Man and War Machine at the Stark Expo. However, once again, he was defeated and the suit was damaged beyond repair before being destroyed when Whiplash activated the self destruct, killing himself in the process.
- Arc Reactor: Vanko powered several of his designs using Arc Reactors. Like Stark, his father was one of the developers of the original reactor, so he was familar with the concept.
- Whiplash Armor: Mark I: Using his father's blueprints of the Arc Reactor, Vanko created a harness which connected two electrified whips. However, it was rendered useless when the central reactor was removed. Stark remarked that the design was effective enough, but not very efficient. 
- Whiplash Armor: Mark II: The second rendition of the Whiplash Armor was a dramatic improvement from the first, an all-body suit that featured superior electric whips, and gave Vanko enhanced senses. The armor combined an arc reactor with Hammer technology.
- Hammer Drones: Vanko was hired by Justin Hammer to improve the Hammer suits so the miliatry could use them. Instead, Vanko decided to make the suits remote-controlled drones.
- Ivan Vanko's Workshop: Along with his now-deceased father, Vanko lived in his workshop, the same place where he created the first Whiplash armor.
- Hammer Industries Headquarters: Vanko used the Hammer Industries Headquarters facilities while he was upgrading the Hammer Drones.
- Batiment B3: Upon his arrest after the Duel of Monaco, Vanko was imprisoned at the Batiment. With the aid of Justin Hammer, he later escaped using demolitions to fake his death.
- Ivan Vanko is a combination of elements from Whiplash and the Crimson Dynamo.
- Marvel Comics created a new version of Whiplash named Anton Vanko in the Mainstream Universe that was similar to this character shortly before the release of Iron Man 2, as the Ivan Vanko version of Whiplash was not similar to any other one of the other characters named Whiplash in the comics. The mainstream Whiplash also doesn't appear to have any relations with the first Crimson Dynamo (also named Anton Vanko).
- Vanko's fake ID and alias on the Monaco Grand Prix track use the name Boris Turgenov, a reference to the second Crimson Dynamo.
Behind the Scenes
- A reference to Whiplash was made in the first Iron Man film, with Tony Stark's callsigns being "Whiplash 1" and "Whiplash 2". This was done because Jon Favreau felt that it was important to include intentional inside references for comic book fans, such as a replica of Captain America's Shield in Stark's workshop.
- Mickey Rourke originally spoke about with Justin Theroux and Jon Favreau to portray Whiplash more sympathetically, but Marvel Studios executives reportedly "robbed" him of the character's three-dimensional personality and cut all scenes featuring Vanko's deeper feelings, a reason Rourke didn't enjoy making the movie.
- An alternative ending for Iron Man 2 showed Whiplash attacking Pepper Potts at the Stark Expo only to be killed in turn by War Machine, who sends a missile towards Vanko as Iron Man takes Pepper away from the explosion.
- Garrett Warren was a stunt double for Mickey Rourke in the role of Whiplash.
- Iron Man 2
- Ivan Vanko - History Files
- Translates from Russian to: That should be you.
- Translates from Russian to: Don't listen to that crap.
- Translates from Russian to: I'm sorry. All I can give you is my knowledge.
- Translates to: "You talk too much."
- Translates from Russian to: If I get killed, don't wake me up. I'd rather die than live in your world.
- Part 2 of Quint's interview with Jon Favreau! IRON MAN 2, Stark's alcoholism, Empire Strikes Back and THE AVENGERS!
- Mickey Rourke Talks ‘Immortals’
- Whiplash Attacks Pepper at the Expo - Iron Man 2 - Alternative Ending