Mickey Rourke Had An Accent In Iron Man 2 Because Mickey Rourke Demanded It

"Iron Man 2" is an awkward entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, continuing the story of Tony Stark while following up on the big Avengers promise that the previous film's post-credits scene teased. The characterization of the vengeful tech genius Ivan Vanko, aka Whiplash, was unfortunately one of the casualties of this uneven balancing act. However, Mickey Rourke did provide the more memorable aspects of the supervillain, including his delectably menacing Russian accent.

Arriving in theaters a couple of months after Disney had acquired Marvel Studios (but made before the deal), production of "Iron Man 2" was unusually disorganized compared to the current way Marvel Studios meticulously plans how each of its films fit into the MCU. This was way back when Marvel still had to get audiences familiarized with the idea of an "Avengers" movie while also building Iron Man to be the poster child of the future project. There was no completed script at the start of shooting, which meant that screenwriter David Theroux was making daily additions and changes to the story. Even in post-production, "Iron Man 2" was in a state of flux, which apparently led to a chunk of Whiplash's scenes being left out of the final cut, at least that's what Rourke says. But the actor had certain demands that were still met during production.

Mickey Rourke had three demands

Rourke hadn't even heard of Iron Man when he was first offered the role, nor did he read the (uncompleted) script. He did, however, have more than a few ideas about how he would make Ivan Vanko his own. According to an insider source from Vulture, the actor agreed to sign on to the project under three conditions:

"...I have to have my hair in a samurai bun. I have to speak in a Russian accent. And I have to have a bird on my shoulder."

That wasn't the end of Rourke's personal contributions to Whiplash's personality, either. The actor spent time studying the culture of the Russian crime world, trying to master speaking the Russian language in a proper accent and even visiting Butyrka Prison in Moscow to interview the inmates there. He also became enamored with the significance of the convicts' tattoos, as evidenced by the body inks visible in Rourke's numerous shirtless scenes. All this is to say that Rourke really did mold his character on his own, especially since the script was so bare-bones at the time of production.

Whiplash from Whiplash

Despite his creative freedoms, Rourke never had an easy relationship with "Iron Man 2." While he may have been allowed his choice of hairstyle, Marvel Entertainment's Ike Perlmutter cut his paycheck to $250,000, below the actor's salary demands. Robert Downey Jr. ended up giving a portion of his own $10 million to Rourke in order to satisfy the negotiations. In addition, Marvel reportedly cut what seems to have been scenes that would have contributed to Ivan Vanko's character development, much to Rourke's dismay. As Vulture re-states from a Crave Online interview, Rourke explained:

"...I wanted to bring some other layers and colors, not just make this Russian a murderous, revenging bad guy... Unfortunately, the [people] at Marvel just wanted a one-dimensional bad guy, so most of the performance ended up on the floor."

The ire is understandable, as Whiplash's flat characterization is one of the elements critics panned "Iron Man 2" for. It would be fascinating to see the lost footage, but it seems to have been picked up off the cutting room floor and tossed into the Marvel Studios trash. Fortunately, we still have Rourke's Russian cadence, tats, and, of course, his beloved bird, all reminding us of his unique contributions to what is arguably the messiest film in the MCU.