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- "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."
"And where will you be watching the world consume me from? Oh, that's right, a prison cell. I'll send you a bar of soap."
- ―Ivan Vanko and Tony Stark
Ivan Antonovich Vanko was a Russian physicist who swore revenge on Iron Man and the Stark family for the ruin and humiliation suffered during his whole life, designing similar armor to Tony Stark in order to publicly defeat him.
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. Ivan became knowledgeable in the fields of physics and mechanical sciences, and adopted his father's hatred for the Stark family.
- "Now, the true history of Stark name will be written. What your father did to my family over 40 years, I will do to you in 40 minutes."
"Sounds good. Let's get together and hash it out."
- ―Ivan Vanko and Tony Stark
As living in their broken home, Vanko cared for his father Anton Vanko as he became older and more frail. While watching the news footage of Tony Stark confessing to being the superhero Iron Man, Anton called for his son to help him eat his food. As he ate, Anton apologised to his son for not allowing Ivan to be in Stark's position before passing away, seeing his father lying dead caused Ivan to scream into the air.
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 a member of the pit-crew during the race.
- "You lose Stark, you lose!"
- ―Ivan Vanko to Tony Stark
Using his ticket, Vanko arrived at the Monaco Grand Prix and disguised himself as a mechanic, with his Whiplash Armor: Mark I hidden under his clothes. 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 who had destroyed his family's legacy.
Vanko stepped into the race track of the Monaco Grand Prix, using his Whiplash harness to crash and destroy several cars in the race, including Stark's. Since Stark was without his armor, Vanko took his time to try to kill him, slowly walking up to the car and enjoying the moment before cutting the car in half. Tony Stark continued to prove to be adaptable to his environments, tricking Vanko several times. Having escaped from his car, Stark attempted to knock Vanko out, but despite his best efforts, Vanko's weaponry seemed to be Stark's downfall, as he was unable to defend himself from the deadly whips. Before Vanko could exact his final revenge, Happy Hogan and Pepper Potts drove into the fight and crashed into Vanko, pinning him to the wall.
As Vanko attempted to escape by cutting the car to pieces, Potts gave Stark an armor concealed in a suitcase. Now fully prepared for the battle, Stark fought Whiplash and although he struggled to defend himself against the electric whips, Stark defeated him 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 sent to prison. As he was being pulled away, Vanko continued to mock Stark, claiming that he had lost the fight.
- "Hey, Tony. Before you go, palladium in the chest, painful way to die."
- ―Ivan Vanko to Tony Stark
While in custody, 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've done. Vanko was asked by Stark why he did not sell his technology to make money and how did he obtain 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.
Meeting Justin 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; there 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 killed the man and activated the bomb before walking away from his cell. Before he could get outside, Vanko was grabbed and thrown into a van and driven away.
Vanko was driven to a facility where Tony Stark's business rival Justin Hammer was waiting for him with dinner. Once Vanko's handcuffs were removed, Hammer revealed that he had organised Vanko's escape from prison and also orchestrated the faking of Vanko's death in the prison break. Hammer revealed that he had been impressed that Vanko had managed to recreate an Arc Reactor and wanted him to build replica Iron Man suits which could discredit Stark, Vanko agreed as long as Hammer arranged for Vanko's pet bird to be brought over from Russia.
Building an Army
- "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
Hammer and Vanko immediately began work as Vanko began to design and build armored suits like the Iron Man armor in exchange for Hammer Industries resources. Vanko explored the facility and insulted Hammer's technology, noting that the computer software was shit before pulling apart the armor prototypes to examine them.
While taken a break from his work, Justin Hammer arrived in the facility and delivered Vanko a pet bird, claiming it to be Vanko's own pet from Russia, so Vanko called Hammer out on the lie, which Hammer confessed to. While they were talking, Hammer noticed that his Iron Man suit prototypes had been redesigned into unmaned drones. Vanko revealed that he had changed the terms of the deal, confessing that he had retrofitted Hammer's existing armor technology from wearable suits into unmanned drones. Although Hammer was initially horrified, Vanko convinced him it was the right decision.
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.
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. Hammer then began 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. Hammer then left to attend the Expo, leaving Vanko being guarded by his bodyguards, who assured Vanko were not to be messed with.
- "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 locked up in Hammer Industries Headquarters with Hammer's guards. Vanko killed his guards with minimal effort and phoned Tony Stark, revealing himself to be alive and well, commenting that Stark himself seemed to be better himself after his poisoning. Vanko began boasting that he had rebuilt and perfected his Whiplash Armor: Mark II, using Stark's recommendation, he then promised to destroy Stark Industries in 40 minutes as revenge for what Howard Stark did to his family 40 years prior before hanging up the phone.
As the Hammer Industries presentation went underway at the Stark Expo, Ivan Vanko remotely assumed 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 and Iron Man, who had come to try and warn the guests and get them to safety. The Drones chased Stark throughout the Expo, with War Machine leading and Rhodes inside the armor attempting to warn him of the Drones battle plans. Vanko watched from the screen as more Drones were destroyed and the battle went in Stark's favor.
Showdown with Stark and Rhodes
- "Good to be back."
"Oh this ain't gonna be good."
- ―Ivan Vanko and James Rhodes
As a lengthy fight involving Iron Man and the Hammer Drones progressed, Vanko discovered that Black Widow was approaching and was going to kill him, so he abandoned the factory and got inside an armored suit of his own and escaped the facility before he could be found. Widow then restored control of the War Machine armor to James Rhodes who helped Stark battle and destroy the Hammer Drones.
As all the drones had been destroyed by this point, Vanko landing in front of them in his upgraded Whiplash Armor: Mark II and challenged the pair. In an attempt to finish the fight early, James Rhodes tried to use one of Hammer Industries weapons called the Ex-Wife Missile, but unsurprisingly it malfunctioned. Ivan Vanko then readied his whips and fought Iron Man and War Machine alone. The superior bulk and capabilities of his suit initially outmatched the combined efforts of Iron Man and War Machine and he was soon able to nearly rip their suits apart.
- "You LOSE!, YOU LOSE!"
- ―Whiplash to Iron Man
Vanko managed to wrap his electric whips around both Stark and Rhodes' necks, slowly killing them, but working together they soon found a way to beat him by causing a massive explosion which destroyed Vanko's suit. As he lay wounded and dying in the remains of his armor, Vanko knew he was 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.
Anton Vanko was deported from 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'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 Tony 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.
- 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. Ivan 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.
- Whip Mastery: Vanko is highly proficient in the use of his two electrified whips, that are powered by an arc reactor. Vanko relies on his whip for long-range combat, and in using them is versed enough to capture both Iron Man and War Machine at the same 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 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 fathers tutelage. From his efforts to duplicate the arc reactor, Vanko was able to deduce that Tony was dying of palladium poisoning. Additionally upon escaping prison, Ivan 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 has 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 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 Tony'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 primarily weapon were a pair of electrified whips by the arc reactor.
- Whiplash Armor: Mark I: The first Whiplash Armor was designed as a harness powered by an arc reactor with two electrified whips.
- 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.
- Anton Vanko † - Father
- Howard Stark †
- Tony Stark/Iron Man - Killer
- Hammer Industries - Allies turned Enemies
- James Rhodes/War Machine - Killer
- 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.