- "If you can make God bleed, people will cease to believe in him, and there will be blood in the water and the sharks will come. All I have to do is sit here and watch as the world will consume you."
- ―Ivan Vanko to Tony Stark
Ivan Antonovich Vanko 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 his revenge against Stark's own son, Tony and the whole Stark family for all the ruin and humiliation suffered by him and his own father, designing armor similar to Iron Man in order to publicly defeat him and destroy the reputation of his own family. Although his first attempt failed and he was then arrested, Vanko eventually joined forces with Justin Hammer, who had recruited him to build the Hammer Drones which Vanko stole in another attempt at Stark's life until he was finally defeated by the combined efforts of War Machine and Iron Man. In a final bid, Vanko sacrificed himself in a desperate attempt to destroy the Stark legacy.
Ivan Vanko 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 Stark accused him of espionage. Ivan was also convicted of selling Soviet-era weapons-grade plutonium to Pakistan and served 15 years in Kopeisk prison. Anton Vanko fell into poverty and alcoholism, and also abused his son for many years due to the humiliation caused to him personally by Stark. Ivan became knowledgeable in the fields of physics and mechanical sciences, and adopted his father's hatred for the Stark family.
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 their enemy Howard Stark, confessing to the world to being the famous superhero 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 organisation, who gave Vanko a ticket to Circuit de Monaco, which Stark would be attending. Vanko travelled to Monaco and disguised himself as a member of the pit-crew to get close enough to his target.
- "You lose Stark, you lose!"
- ―Ivan Vanko to Tony Stark
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 defenceless, 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 harms 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 chock 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, claiming that he had lost the fight.
Arrest and Interrogation
- "You come from a family of thieves and butchers, and like all guilty men, you try to rewrite your history, to forget all the lives the Stark family has destroyed."
"Speaking of thieves, where'd you get this design?"
- ―Ivan Vanko and Tony Stark
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.
Deal with Hammer
- "I want my bird."
"Yeah, sure. We can get you a bird."
"I want my bird. My bird."
- ―Ivan Vanko and Justin Hammer
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 celldoor 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 organised 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 shit 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 humilating 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.
- "This isn't a helmet, this is a head... Ivan, what's going on?"
"Drone better? What, why drone better? Ivan, I got an order for suits, not drones!"
- ―Justin Hammer and Ivan Vanko
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.
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 phonecall 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 the betrayal, Justin Hammer stormed into Ivan Vanko's room at Hammer Industries Headquarters with two body guards. 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.
- "You sound pretty spry for a dead guy."
"You too. I double cycle."
"You told me double cycles more power. Good advice."
- ―Tony Stark and Ivan Vanko
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.
- "Good to be back."
"Oh this ain't gonna be good."
- ―Ivan Vanko and James Rhodes
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.
Defeat and Sacrifice
- "You lose."
- ―Whiplash's final words to 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 his armor, his dying words being, "You lose", but failed as Iron Man flew away to try to save Pepper Potts and was killed instantly.
- "Hey, Tony. Before you go, palladium in the chest, painful way to die."
- ―Ivan Vanko to Tony Stark
Anton Vanko was deported from United States of America in the late 60's for selling weapons to Pakistan along with his son, Ivan. 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 until 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. He was often seen with a confident sadistic smile when attacking others, and in both of his battles with Iron Man he frequently took his time to enjoy taunting and attacking Stark unaware that doing so gave Tony enough time to counterattack.
Vanko was also an alcoholic, something which he picked up from his 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 where 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.
- Expert Combatant: As a result of his upbringing and prison sentence, Ivan Vanko is 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.
- 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.
- Genius Intellect: Ivan possesses 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.
- Expert Computer Skills: 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.
- 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 deteoriating health would mean his effort wasn't in vain and that Iron Man would lose his reputation.
- Multilingualism: Vanko is fluent in Russian and speaks English with a heavy accent, using the latter language to communicate while in the United States. He frequently used Russian to insult Justin Hammer.
Vanko possessed two Arc Reactor powered suits which offered him increased strength as well as durability and in which the primarily weapon were a pair of electrified whips by the arc reactor in the centre of the suits.
- 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.
- Anton Vanko † - Father
- Howard Stark †
- Tony Stark/Iron Man
- Prisoner † - Victim
- Hammer Industries - Allies turned Enemies
- James Rhodes/War Machine
- Black Widow
- Pepper Potts
- The Ivan Vanko character is an combination of elements from Iron Man villains 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.
- Vanko's fake ID and alias on the Monaco Grand Prix track use the name Boris Turgenov, a reference to the second Crimson Dynamo.
- Although that he appears as Whiplash himself, this alias was never adopted or mentioned by him, or by any character in the film.
- An alternative ending for Iron Man 2 showed Whiplash attacking Pepper Potts at the Stark Expo, but being killed by War Machine.