What if Ivan Vanko Had Won?


Ivan Vanko – Bots and Bodies

credit: Iron Man 2

Quite often, the MCU comes under fire for one thing or another when it comes down to their storytelling methods. One of the more irritating aspects seen over the years is the lack of development that some of their characters receive. One could chalk this up to the idea that they might be seeing what works and what doesn’t, but along the way, it still feels as though a few characters have suffered needlessly for no reason when it comes to development and overall effectiveness. This has been happening since Iron Man first came out, and the Iron Man movies started, in the MCU, with the trend of using a villain once before tossing them to the side. The excuse of wanting to differentiate themselves from the comic books that inspired the MCU is all well and good, but by eliminating the villains that have caused the heroes so many problems over the years, the MCU is doing its characters a huge disservice. One villain that comes to mind is Ivan Vanko, or Whiplash, who was the main villain in Iron Man 2 but was taken out by Iron Man and War Machine before the end of the movie. 

credit: Iron Man 2

Whiplash looked like a worthwhile villain. 

There aren’t too many villains in the Marvel Universe that can give Tony Stark cause to worry, but how Ivan Vanko was brought in made it clear that Tony was still a bit too arrogant and not nearly as careful as he should have been. While the Marvel character and the MCU version are a bit different, they still share the same hatred for Tony Stark that fuels them to create a suit of armor that, while kind of crude, is still effective since it can take a severe amount of damage before being rendered useless. The fact that he stood up to Iron Man and War Machine at the same time was impressive since it means that while he is more of a brute in an iron shell, he’s still a capable fighter and not as dumb as other villains have been. Had Ivan been given even more time and development, it’s fair to think that he might have been victorious. However, it’s also easy to see how this would have happened had he not been scripted in the way he was. In other words, staying a few steps ahead of Tony Stark would have been far better than simply beating him to the ground. 

What if Ivan had won? 

This is where a lot of villains in the comics and the movies fail, they end up toying with the heroes too much, and as a result, they end up getting beaten in the long run. This has more to do with the fact that people want to see the good guys win than giving the bad guys theirs due now and then. For example, Ivan Vanko had Tony Stark down a couple of times and, for one reason couldn’t appear to capitalize, or perhaps he wanted Tony to suffer before he died. The downfall of many villains is that when the hero is at their lowest point, they tend to pull back and bask in the moment of their triumph. When villains do this, they lose too often, and Vanko does roughly the same thing. Had he won, either by snapping the necks of two men or eliminating Tony in the first place, it’s easy to state that he would have been one of the most formidable villains in the MCU at this time. Well, he would have for a short while, at least. 

credit: Iron Man 2

He could have been a Spider-Man or Avengers villain. 

As a Spider-Man villain, he might not have been quite as effective, but it does feel that when paired with other villains, he might have been able to cause a little more trouble to the team. ApparentlyWhiplash  wasn’t meant to stick around, like Killian, Iron Monger, Malekith from Thor: The Dark World, and many others. It’s a little disappointing that such a thing would happen that more than one villain would be allowed to fall by the wayside when they could have been brought back for another movie, but there are other reasons why it might not have happened anyway. Mickey Rourke might have been adamant about a one-and-done with the MCU before ever taking the role, but he certainly stated that he never wanted to do it again

As a villain, Whiplash was impressive, but it’s fair to say that he was kind of a cheat to the fans. 

Since the comic book version stuck around for a while, the sudden and very fatal end of Whiplash in the movie made it easy for fans to think that the MCU was interested in closing the book on a few characters that were brought over. While this feels like a bit of a dodgy move, it’s also been seen as wasteful since the one-and-done villains are typically some of the best that could have benefited from further development. 

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