“They wasted a talented actor”: The Biggest Flaws in Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man 2 Would Have Been Solved With Sam Rockwell’s Justin Hammer

‘Iron Man 2’ was not as well-received by the audience as its predecessor and its main villain played a huge role in this.

Sam Rockwell, Robert Downey Jr.

One could say that Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man (2008) is the reason why the Marvel Cinematic Universe is still up and running. The film acted like the stepping stone for the superhero universe and if it failed, who knows where the MCU would be right now? Thankfully, Robert Downey Jr’s charm along with Tony Stark’s egoistic yet somehow loveable personality together made Iron Man a huge success.

Robert Downey Jr. in a still from Iron Man 2

Therefore, fans were extremely excited when a sequel was announced. However, Iron Man 2 did not live up to the fans’ expectations as much as they had hoped it would. One of the biggest reasons for this was the film’s main villain – Ivan Vanko a.k.a. Whiplash played by Mickey Rourke.

Fans Are Still Mad at Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man 2

Justin Hammer and James Rhodes in a still from Iron Man 2

Reddit has always been a great platform for fans to come together and discuss their favorite films, give their opinions, and engage in debates. On the r/marvelstudios subreddit, a fan asked the question, “Why do you think Iron Man 2 is so hated on?” prompting an in-depth discussion amongst fans.

One of the biggest reasons for the film not doing well in comparison to its predecessor is its main villain, Whiplash, and the fans agree. User ‘ItsBliizzard’ wrote, My only issue with the movie is the villain. He doesn’t have much depth and they wasted a talented actor on it.”

To this, another user who goes by the name ‘Riptide1001’ stated that “they should have just made Justin Hammer the main villain, he was much better.”

These two statements sum up the feelings of the majority of MCU fans who believe that Sam Rockwell’s Justin Hammer should have been the main villain in the film instead of Mickey Rourke’s Whiplash.

As for why Whiplash wasn’t as well-received as other villains by fans, it was because they felt he lacked character depth. The character had a great backstory involving his father and their vendetta against Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark. Should this theme have been properly explored, perhaps the villain would have had much more depth to his character.

Whiplash’s storyline also lacked focus and the film was divided into many sub-plots including Tony Stark’s deteriorating health, Black Widow, and more.

One of the best things about a superhero film is the final showdown which keeps viewers on the edge of their seats. Unfortunately, the final battle between Iron Man, War Machine, and Whiplash was quite anticlimactic, short-lived, and lacked the drama of your usual MCU film.

On the other hand, Rockwell’s Justin Hammer was charismatic, energetic, and absolutely unforgettable. The good old corporate rivalry was a treat to watch and we can only imagine just how great it would’ve been if Hammer was the film’s main antagonist.

Mickey Rourke isn’t Pleased with the Film Either

Mickey Rourke as Whiplash in Iron Man 2 (2010)

As it turns out, not only fans but Rourke himself wasn’t a fan of what happened to his character in Iron Man 2. In an interview with CraveOnline (via IndieWire), Rourke put the Marvel Studios on blast stating that while he wanted to add layers to the personality of Whiplash, the studio wasn’t behind his idea.

However, he did add that Jon Favreau, the film’s director, was completely on board with his idea but it was the studio that didn’t really care for it. The actor stated that all Marvel Studios wanted was a one-dimensional bad guy.

I explained to [Jon] Favreau that I wanted to bring some other layers and colors, not just make this Russian a complete murderous revenging bad guy. And they allowed me to do that. Unfortunately, the [people] at Marvel just wanted a one-dimensional bad guy, so most of the performance ended up [on] the floor.

Rourke further admitted that he wished Favreau could have been the one calling the shots and not “some nerd with a pocketful of money.”

Perhaps if the studios went with Rourke’s idea of giving Whiplash more depth, the film could have lived up to the expectations set by Iron Man. Unfortunately, what’s done is done.

Stream the Iron Man films on Disney+.

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