Stark captures the Big Bad in the first act, has a chat with him in prison where the villain sends a cryptic message, only to fake his death a little while later and come back to menace the hero. Sound familiar?
And has proceeded to spew Take Thats at Marvel, the director, and even the other actors in every interview he gave.
Considering how often the page has Whiplash as an antivillain, while still not being allowed a free pass of course, it seems his sheer performance and a few tidbits were plenty to gain Whiplash that status.
Doing It for the Art: Rourke improvised a lot of Vanko's characteristics, such as his toothpick habit, his fondness for cockatoos, and his tattoos. He paid for the cockatoo with his own money, learned to speak Russian, and visited the infamous Butyrka prison to interview the prisoners there, who he described as very polite.
The Other Darrin: James Rhodes was played by Terrence Howard in the first Iron Man movie. Here, he's played by Don Cheadle.
Real-Life Relative: Sam Rockwell and Leslie Bibb are a couple in Real Life. Her presence in this film is a bit of an ironic coincidence. First Bibb was cast in the small but pivotal role of Christine Everhart in the original Iron Man, then she began dating Rockwell, then Rockwell was cast as Justin Hammer for this film, and when the producers found out he was dating the actress who played Christine in the first film, they brought back her character as Hammer's uninterested date.