Tony Stark claims he knows exactly what hes doing the entire time the movie is going on when Rhodes confronts him and helps him swap out palladium strips in his reactor. He spent the movie acting erratic and crazy so that when he died of palladium poisoning he would tarnish the reputation of personal reactors, in addition to coping with his fears of death. What nation would risk creating a weapon that will end with their soldiers acting utterly uncontrollable and potentially violent. That and the fears of autonomous weapons would keep anyone with a brain from creating drones using it what with the existing problems copying his tech. Another layer of deterrent courtesy of Tony Stark.
Obadiah Stane framed Anton Vanko for espionage. Think about Fury's explanation - Vanko was a Soviet spy who also wanted to get rich against Howard's wishes. Commie capitalist does not compute. But an abundant source of clean energy would end conflict. Especially one designed by an American-Russian partnership in the middle of the Cold War. So Obi faked evidence of Vanko's espionage. Howard knew it but couldn't prove anything, which is why he still named Tony after Anton. S.H.I.E.L.D. knew but stuck with the official story, just as with Obadiah's eventual death. And, when you think about it, it's likely that HYDRA may have had their own reasons to conjure up an excuse to get Vanko out of the picture after HYDRA's involvement in Howard's death becomes clear in Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
Rhodes' Bottomless Magazines in the second film — with the arc reactor he may not actually be firing bullets, just bits of metal propellecond to bullet-type speeds by the arc reactor and some form of on-board propulsion, which would make ammunition easier to store since there's no need for the "bullets" to have casings, primers and powder.
Rhodes shows up at Tony's house after the Monaco attack and says "I just got off the phone with the National Guard, they wanted to roll tanks up the PCH. They wanted to take your suits." Even as a Lieutenant Colonel, Rhodes can't get the California National Guard to stand down. He must have been on the three way call with the President, the Governor of California and their State Adjutant General! No wonder Rhodes "took" the suit and whipped Tony's ass later in the movie (see below).
In the film, one may be initially annoyed that the Hammeroids were getting torn apart so easily by the standard-issue weapons in War Machine's suit. If they're using Iron Man tech, they should be a lot tougher, right? A concealed FN2000 and a chaingun wouldn't have even bothered Tony's suit. Then you realize that the Hammeroids, aside from being Hammer Industries technology and thus prone to failure, were also showroom models and not the weapons systems meant to go from the production line to the front lines. They were built for show, not combat; no wonder they were getting torn to pieces. Hell, they were probably armored with cheap plastic.
Alternatively: The Hammeroids were just fancy versions of Hammer's Iron Man ripoffs, seen earlier in the film. They were designed to be mass-produced. Tony designed Iron Man to be a one-off, so he can spare no expense in the weapons or armor department. War Machine is a fully functional Iron Man suit, with all the "no expense spared" regarding the armor. The drones, on the other hand, would require costs to be cut significantly from the Iron Man model if you want to be able to build hundreds or thousands of them.
Much of the need for armor in a weapons system is to protect the human pilot. The most badass tank in the world is useless if the crew gets immolated inside of it by an armor-penetrating shell. For an unmanned or remotely-piloted system, one can easily be tempted to shed armor weight/cost for more robust missions payloads, either more weapons or better comm/electronic warfare systems. Then again, it's also possible that Hammer figured he could make more money selling replacements for battlefield losses if the units were a bit more vulnerable to damage. A large force of these things, even with cheap plastic armor, would still be quite the force to be reckoned with on the battlefield. It's also possible Hammer just wanted to ensure a government contract by offering a lower bottom line.
They're also not based on the actual Iron Man armor Tony regularly uses; they're based on his prototype. In essence, the Hammeroids are based on Iron Man from at least two or three versions ago and that wasn't built for combat.
Another thought about HammerTech failures. Vanko is able to effortlessly gain access to the computer system connected to the Hammer Man suits, evidently via Rapid-Fire Typing. He claims that it is because of "Shitty Software". It occured to me later in the film that the login name was "ADMIN". Maybe he just typed in the default ADMIN password for that operating system... because the HammerTech IT guys were too inept or careless to change the password.
Made more possible by the fact that this seems to be a devoted internal-only system; the technicians may not have thought they needed to bother to protect it better because only HammerTech employees would have physical access to it in the first place. "Shitty software" is a simplification, easier to say than "Your security protocols suck."
It was pretty clear from the beginning that Vanko/Whiplash was supposed to be an Evil Counterpart to Tony Stark, but it wasn't until later that I figured out just how much he was supposed to mirror Stark. Both men are seen building their first suits of armor from scratch using substandard technology. Both men were imprisoned and escaped. Both men eventually found ways to use the resources provided to them to build a weapon for someone who thought they were in control in order to build weapons for themselves and exact their vengeance.
Also, Vanko is a very quiet man who prefers indirect or sneak attacks. Tony is a loudly talkative man who prefers frontal assaults.
The parallel breaks down here though: where did Vanko get the palladium he used for his knockoff reactor? Tony had to cannibalize 10 or 12 missiles to get enough for the Mark I reactor; is palladium easier to get on the Russian black market?
Palladium is actually purchasable on the open market, like most rare metals. Assuming you're not stuck in an Afghan cave WITH A BOX OF SCRAPS! somewhere, of course.
It being available for purchase also explains how he was able to get it so much more easily than Tony. Vanko could buy however much he needed outright, while Tony had to dismantle missiles that might not have had very much usable palladium to begin with.
Something about the film just occurred to me. A lot of people were complaining about how the Mark II mysteriously had its own separate arc reactor. I was starting to side with them. But then I remembered that Rhodey wouldn't have been able to access the suit unless Tony did something to okay it... Tony knew he was going to die, and he began setting things up so that Rhodey could take over as Iron Man when he died. That's why there was a separate arc reactor.
The sole fact that Rhodey could pilot the armor without any problem, unlike Tony during his first steps at flying, indicates that Tony has previously allowed Rhodey to use the Mark II armor to learn how to fly it. Which is a callback to Rhodey wanting to fly it in the first film. It's likely he asked Tony who equipped it with its own arc reactor. Also the Iron Man armors require a lot of CPU. While Tony's own armor is always connected to J.A.R.V.I.S., this would mean the Mark II had its own CPU too.
Also Rhodey removes the arc reactor before letting Hammer see it, showing he fully knows the value and importance of the device and not letting Hammer see it and potentially figure it out.
When you re-watch it with all this in mind, you realize so much more about the movie. It's essentially a long story of Tony trying to prepare for his death. Enabling his best friend, the only person he would trust to do it, to take up the mantle of "Iron Man" after he's gone. Trying to tell his girl that he loves her. Even donating his art collection to charity. And also acting out constantly, because that's just Tony.
Not to mention making Pepper CEO. She's probably the only person in the world, maybe even Rhodey included, who Tony trusts to both be competent enough to run Stark Industries and to not turn it back into a weapon's supplier after he dies. The last thing Tony would want is to have another Stane take command after he is out of the picture.
Vanko said he'd be able to make the drones "salute". He makes them pull off a 21-gun salute.
Not only that: there's an added layer of meaning in that, in Russian, the word "salute" (салют, pronounced /salyut/) means "fireworks, firework show".
When Vanko attacks Tony (who's wearing the famous Mark V suitcase-armor) on the Monaco race track, his first strike with the whip the one that prevents Tony from getting a shot at him with his repulsor actually tears some of the scale-like plates of armor right off of the suit, sending them flying across the screen. This always confused me as to how his whips would be capable of such an articulated grabbing motion needed to actually pull multiple small items like that. I learned the answer when I read the novelization of the film. The whips in question are actually equipped with small but solid tungsten barbs. They weren't visible in the movie at any particular point, but putting two and two together easily explains how Vanko was able to do something as badass as tear the plating off Iron Man's arm.
Very briefly, during Vanko's "Training Montage" where he's building his whips for the first time, you can see what looks like barbs along the wire just before it powers up. They look more like prison razor wire than classic fence barbed wire.
When the Mark II suit is refitted into the War Machine armor, one of the more confusing minor details I noticed was the seemingly inexplicable exaggeration of the round plates over the ears on the helmet. Originally, they were nearly flush with the helmet and not that big, but now they were just these big discs sitting on the sides of the helmet and they were confusing. After all, since when would the ears need extra protection from anything? Since the suit was configured so that it'd regularly have a gatling gun firing next to its wearer's head.
One meta joke that didn't hit me until after the 2nd viewing. In Iron Man 2, Rhodes shows up unexpectedly during Stark's hearing. Stark puts a pause on the action to go have a little chat with him, where Rhodes (being played by a different actor) says something to effect of: "Yeah, it's me. Deal with it, and let's move on." Just in case anyone in the audience was complaining about the switch.
Whether it was indeed a cut piece from the first film and incorporated into the second as a major plot piece, I must say that I would have to go Tony's drinking of that green chlorophyll goop to try and keep his blood healthy. Isn't he drinking the SAME stuff in the first Iron Man when he's telling J.A.R.V.I.S. to use gold titanium for the new Mk. III suit? He must have caught on early that the palladium in the reactor was already giving him problems and rather heap on a problem with Tony in the first one, they must have shelved it and made it part of the second film. -bw3viper
Conversely, drinking those nutrient shakes was a habit he developed to cope with being 1) a workaholic and 2) an alcoholic. Not stopping to ever eat, he'd solve the problem by just drinking more.
Near the end of the movie, when Whiplash found himself defeated by Iron Man and War Machine, he sets off his suit and all the drones surrounding him to detonate, prompting Tony and Rhodes to fly away very quickly. Vanko could have had the drones on an instantaneous timer, ensuring that Tony and Rhodes would also be destroyed, but instead chose a delayed timer. Why? This gives Vanko more than enough time to simply disengage the explosive device in his own suit and escape himself, with no witnesses to his survival.
Also, Hammer is canonically terrible at the technical aspects of his own weapons, but even he would have to be suspicious when Vanko started to stuff enough explosives into the drones to blow apart an arena, which means he probably okayed it. The reason why? No other country (or more importantly, company) has armor/dronetech (apart from Tony obviously), like Hammer had at that time, and he wanted to keep the monopoly. The explosive self destructs were meant to keep the armor/drones out of the hands of enemies to keep them from reverse-engineering it (like Obadiah did in Iron Man).
For the record, if that was their function, it worked beautifully. Tony and Rhodey had torn apart, shot up, and cut in half most of those drones, and their self-destruct functions not only didn't accidentally go off even when cut by a laser, but still activated when the drones themselves were offline. Now that is some good Russian engineering.
Fridge Logic on the Ex-Wife exchange. Rhodey acts disgusted when the Ex-Wife doesn't work, noting that it's 'HammerTech'. He apparently conveniently forgets that the rest of the perfectly-functioning and very effective weaponry on his suit is also HammerTech. Fridge Brilliance occurs with the Ex-Wife, seeing as it's designed to penetrate heavily-fortified bunkers - probably concrete structures, needing to be fired from great distances or heights, rather than at very dense, metal, man-sized targets. In addition, it's quite possible that it needs to be in-flight for a certain amount of time before arming, since you really don't want something that powerful going off that close to whatever fired it. It's hardly surprising that it wouldn't work against Vanko.
On the other hand, Vanko had proven capable to hack everything in HammerTech's arsenal. What's not to say he hadn't hacked the Ex-Wife so it would not work? Of note, Vanko's visor was quick enough to protect his face from Tony's automatic guns, but he didn't even bother to put it on during the Ex-Wife. Maybe he knew it's going to splutter?
The other guns were only manufactured by HammerTech, but are real-life guns that have their own designers that worked out all the kinks. The Ex-Wife was the only one designed by HammerTech.
I always got the impression that Hammer was fine with conventional weapons - it's when he tried to get fancy like Stark (as with the Powered Armor or the Ex-Wife) that he crashed and burned (he's probably not that hot with computer stuff either, going by Vanko...)
Given that he's a highly successful weapons manufacturer, that seems probable.
An additional bit of Brilliance that lends itself to a bit of Fridge Logic. The Ex-Wife is mentioned to be designed to bust bunkers. Why it would be so strangely designed so that it can't be fired out of any known launcher, but the one we see mounted on the War Machine suit is a mystery, but I digress. You don't bust bunkers from ten yards away. Most explosive weapons nowadays have a minimum distance they have to travel before they arm themselves, to stop soldiers from blowing themselves up. Rhodes firing that thing at point-blank range practically guaranteed that a) it wouldn't have time to get up to full armor-penetrating speed and b) the warhead wouldn't be armed. The Fridge Logic comes in when you realize that as a member of the military, Rhodes should have known this.
The really sad thing is, the Ex-Wife appears to be based upon the rocket Tony used in the first movie, via the Mark III, to take out a tank. Hammer is trying to ape a design that was outdated by the end of the movie it appeared in.
Further supporting the original two points here, note a comment-chain I saw elsewhere pointed out thatJustin Hammer himself named it a kinetic kill sidewinder, meaning it requires distance and speed to get up to full armor-penetrating power. Maybe Hammer's not so inept as we think... still there's the matter of the paper-armored drones though.
Given the speech mention the Ex-Wife is both a kinectic kill and has explosive in it to bust a bunker, either Hammer was full of shit or it's a really poorly designed weapon, kinectic kill are supposed to be inert projectile, preferrably shot from space that damage solely by using the kinectic force behind it. You're not supposed to put it on a shoulder and the warhead is more a liability than anything.
Pay attention to the hallway during the Black Widow fight scene. After Happy beats his one guy, there's a guy strung up from the ceiling who wasn't there before. While he was polishing his guy off, Widow beat up even more guards. — Jonn
I just got the reference to John McCain's statement during the economic collapse of September, 2008, when Pepper's on the phone after returning from Monaco trying to salvage the company - "Yes, but the fundamentals of the company are very, very strong." I hadn't noticed that previously because the line is so perfect to the situation that it doesn't seem forced or worked-in at all.
With Vanko/Whiplash's suit, it only has the whips as weapons, and nothing else. Granted, the first suit was just constructed in his Russian home, with no logical way to add ranged weapons whatsoever without giving himself away, but he could have stuck a few missiles in his second Powered Armor. Then, looking at Iron Man's loadout, it suddenly makes sense why he only uses the whips: most of the weaponry Tony uses is ranged and explosive. If Tony unleashes a missile, he either misses and causes a lot of collateral damage, or hits Vanko and damages both of them. The whips are designed so that Vanko can keep Tony close so that he is limited to punches and repulsor blasts, and mangles his armor at the same time.
This may have been obvious for others, but at first I thought it was lame that Tony's father would hide the new element structure in the Stark Expo diorama instead of just writing it in one of the books that came with it, but it's possible that Tony's dad hid it there because he didn't want anyone else but Tony to find it.
Not just a new element structure—it contained his study on the Tesseract, of all things, which gave birth to the arc reactor. Guess who tried to get rich off of it? Anton Vanko.
Vanko just wanted to make money off of his co-creation, which is a legitimate goal. Howard was afraid HYDRA would use it for more nefarious purposes.
Some people have criticized the movie for how Howard Stark somehow predicted that Tony would have a holographic computer that could copy and pull out random parts of the diorama, except the Fridge Brilliance is that he didnt predict that. He wanted to keep the new element a secret except only from Tony, and he didnt know his own son well enough to use a pop culture reference or something from his childhood only Tony would know. The only thing he knows for sure is that Tony is as smart, or smarter than himself. So how does he keep it locked for Tonys eyes only? He makes it so hard that only someone as smart as him could decipher it. He expected Tony to see the schematic for the Stark Expo, pull out all the extraneous stuff, and create the new element... in his head. Of course, he expected it to take longer, and proably for Tony to destroy or break the diorama in the process so that only his son would know it. He didnt realize how powerful computers of the 21st century would become, so Tony deciphers it in minutes instead of hours.
This might not be exactly Fridge Brilliance but it seems like Tony is spinning out of control and fights his best friend because he's a drunken mess... except he's dying. He already gave Pepper his company, and now is giving the suit to the only person he can trust with it: Rhodey. While he is severely messed up emotionally speaking, so he can't just tell him what's wrong; he knows if he acts messed up enough, Rhodey will do the right thing and take it, proving he's the right man to be Iron Man's successor. The whole War Machine thing was planned by him.
And why would he need to convince Rhodey with such an elaborate scheme, instead of, y'know, just asking him? Because he already did ask, and Rhodey refused to participate, in the first movie.
At the end of the second movie, Rhodey asks Tony if he can borrow the suit for a little while longer, and Tony flatly answers no. Considering that much of Tony's dialogue was improvised, this might have been a throwaway joke - but it could also be taken to mean that Tony doesn't consider Rhodey to be borrowing the suit, because he's already given it to him permanently.
Tony brawling with Rhodes isn't just a dispute between friends. Tony was testing Rhodes to see if he was willing and able to use the suit to fight his best friend if need be. In one go, Tony was training, teaching, and evaluating Rhodes' suitability. Brilliant.
All while drunk.
All of which lends new meaning into Tony's line to Rhodey earlier in the movie: "You gotta trust me. Contrary to popular belief, I know exactly what I'm doing."
The fact that Tony tested Rhodes while drunk also ties in with a comment from Yinsin in the first movie. When Tony said he didn't remember them meeting before, Yinsin's reply was "Oh, you wouldn't. If I had been that drunk, I wouldn't have been able to stand, much less give a lecture on integrated circuits." Thus showing that Tony is still capable of functioning quite well when totally plastered... even if he doesn't always remember the finer details of what happened.
It's also possible that Tony wasn't even actually drunk the whole time and was just acting to get Rhodey to fight him.
When Tony tries to talk Pepper into taking a European vacation (and tell her he's dying in a relaxed setting), he tries to pine her with a handmade omelette... that looks like some kind of diseased sea slug (and took three hours to make). It's highly possible that he's not a good cook, but here's the Fridge Brilliance moment: at 30,000+ feet, no one is! Low air pressure at high altitudes means that heat transfer is screwed up, and skillets, ovens, etc. don't work as expected - that's why frozen pizzas and such have alternate cooking times for high altitudes such as mountains. Plane cabins arepressurized, but not to ground level. For example, alternate cooking instructions are considered necessary for some things above 3,000 feet above sea level; a 767 is pressurized to the equivalent of 6,900 feet. The best business jet in the world, the Bombardier Global Express, is pressurized to 4,500 ft, but that's still too high to make tea without a pressure cooker. It's why airline food comes in little microwave packages - that's the only cooking method that works on a plane.
Iron Man 2 has what might be a Fridge Stealth Pun. What armor does Tony use on the race track? The Mk. V.
Why the hell would the government employ a card-carrying idiot like Hammer as a contractor? Because Stark still isn't selling them weapons! In the first movie, he made it clear that he was shutting down the weapons development arm of Stark Enterprises until someone could reasonably assure him that his weapons wouldn't end up on the black market - as in no guns for Uncle Sam until he plugs the link to the Ten Rings.
Best part? Vanko got the Ten Rings exactly what they wanted. By giving Vanko false ID and a ticket to get him to Monaco so he could pick a fight with Stark, they scared the U.S. government into seizing Iron Man technology. Acting on behalf of his superiors, Rhodey stole a suit, and let Hammer pull it apart. Between Senator Stern's political/military connections and Hammer's criminal connections, Stark's technology is out of the bottle. The Ten Rings, via the connection the military refused to acknowledge, now has its "gift of iron soldiers". And "A man with a dozen of these could rule all of Asia." Say "hi" to the Mandarin for me, Stern.
Likewise when Hammer presents all these weapons, neither the Air Force officer nor Rhodey seem particularly interested or amazed. It's because he is showing two military officers existing and already in-service weapons. He is acting as if he is dealing with two civilians who have never used a gun in their life and trying to impress them. The worst part: he calls the M134 minigun "Puff the Magic Dragon". The two Air Force officers know that Puff the Magic Dragon was the nickname for the first AC-47 gunships used in Vietnam, not the guns.
Rhodey and the Air Force officer are unimpressed by Hammer's description of the Ex-Wife; they're looking at him like he's full of shit, and it's for good reason. They can't believe that a tiny little rocket held in the palm of Hammer's hand can "bust a bunker under the bunker it just busted" and if "it were any smarter, it would write a book". Modern bunker busters are large, aircraft-carried munitions and the only known bunker busters that can do what Hammer alleges are nuclear bunker busters. So basically they just think he's talking out of his ass with the Ex-Wife.
Hammer spends the scene acting like hes never handled a gun in his life, getting all kinds of information wrong, calling magazines "clips," keeping his finger on the trigger of every weapon he touches, occasionally flags bystanders with the muzzle, etc. Rhodey is thinking, "Weapons designer, my ass."
And then you realize that Justin is the CEO of Hammer Industries, whose skills lay in running the business. Of course he wouldn't have reason to be familiar with the ins and outs of the weapons his company produces, as he isn't a part of the building process. Tony is a tinkerer at heart and has been since an early age, which was confirmed in the first movie. Justin is likely just a run of the mill businessman in a world filled with run of the mill businessmen.
In the scene before Hammer arrives to see the Iron Man Mk. II armor, Rhodey is removing and hiding the arc reactor, with the Air Force officer not complaining, but just asking about its importance. Fridge Logic kicks in when one realizes that the Air Force officer does not trust Hammer either and the U.S. government must have given Rhodey the right to hide vital information from a private arms manufacturer like Hammer. Especially the heart of the suit.
Fans have questioned why the government stuck Rhodes in a suit and let him introduce Hammer's demonstration at the Stark Expo with no training, given that War Machine is not only rendered completely helpless by a simple suit hack, but ends up doing more damage than the drones. Brilliance: They didn't expect him to have to fight because they haven't yet figured out that their universe is becoming a comic book. Quoting the official timeline;
April 22nd: The 2010 Stark Expo opens.
April 23rd: The senate hearing takes place.
May 10th: Ross ambushes Banner in Rio.
May 24th: Vanko ambushes Stark in Monaco.
May 29th: Stark trashes his house fighting Rhodes.
Captain America won't be found in the Arctic until April 14th of next year.
In summary, the government thinks its biggest problem is the reckless mad scientist who re-invented both ground and air war in his garage. They don't understand that they're alienating the most stable of their potential allies. But they will. Oh, yeah, they will.
While re-watching Iron Man 2, I was wondering why Agent Coulson looked so miffed when Tony put an old shield under the energy pipes to level it out. Then I remembered from The Avengers, that Phil was a huge Captain America fan. Considering that The Avengers movie came out years later, I thought it was an awesome piece of foreshadowing!!
Look at the way Tony stares at the shield, before disrespectfully shoving it under his machinery. He clearly has no love lost for a certain spangly-outfitted super soldier. In The Avengers, he describes Steve as "the guy my dad never shut up about," and in this movie, his dad as someone who "never told me he loved me, never even told me he liked me." According to Robert Downey Jr., Tony views Steve as a kind of older brother he can never live up to, and while The Avengers didn't really delve too deeply into their dynamic, it's still clear from the get-go that Tony's got some baggage with Cap.
It might have seemed like a convenient coincidence that the old model of the Stark Expo, which was in fact a hidden model of the new element's atom, just happened to be in Pepper's office for Tony to find. But of course it would have been in the CEO's office: they needed it for reference when they planned the new Stark Expo!
Mild case, but Vanko taunts Stark early on by saying how people will cease to believe in God if you can make Him bleed. That is possible, but then remember that one of the largest religions in the world is based around God (or, really, His son) coming to Earth and bleeding (specifically, from nails in his hand). Within the film proper, Tony does get beaten up a bit in his first fight with Vanko, but as we see in later films, he's still got a lot of people rooting for him as a superhero.
Why did Howard hide the designs for the new element in the floor-plan instead of writing them down? Possibly as a test of character for Tony but Captain America: The Winter Soldier revealed that the car crash he and his wife were killed in was really an assassination by HYDRA who had infiltrated S.H.I.E.L.D. Could it be he was keeping such things out of HYDRA's hands by hiding it in plain sight and in a format that they would not guess?
Always bugged this troper when Tony and Rhodey are back-to-back how he wasn't hitting Tony with "Mr. Gazpacho," then realized J.A.R.V.I.S. controls the firing, keeping Tony safe.
Watching the movie, it always confused me why Tony was continuing to use the same arc reactor to power his pacemaker/chest magnet/whatever, and his Iron Man armor, when he knew the added strain was poisoning him. I always wondered why he couldn't simply install another arc reactor into the armor and have it operate independently. Then I remembered his words to the senate subcommittee, about how he was Iron Man and the suit and he are one. He and the suit are tied simultaneously to the arc reactor, and if he separates himself, he's admitting to the world at large that anyone can have it.
Minor example: Tony's ridiculously large bodyguard Happy ends up fighting one single guard while Black Widow takes out half a dozen in the same amount of time. The difference? We're shown earlier in the film that Happy trains as a boxer, a non-lethal sport based around wearing the enemy down. Black Widow was trained since childhood to finish enemies fast by whatever means necessary. He's fighting fair, she isn't.
It's also interesting to note that Happy only gains the upper hand against the guard when he bites his ear (a.k.a. fights unfairly).
From the same scene where Black Widow is fighting the guards. Whiplash is controlling the Hammeroids, and keeps checking the screen to see if anyone is approaching him. He sees Black Widow racing down the hall and promptly gets into his own suit and leaves. This is a guy who has shredded race cars with his whips, killed his armed guards barehanded to get back his "burd", gone toe-to-toe with Iron Man... and yet he rushes out of there when he sees this unarmed redheaded woman racing down the halls, someone even Tony Stark thinks is only a secretary with a lot of eye candy photos. Given as how they're both from Russia and are very familiar with the shadier elements, it's probable that Vanko knew of Black Widow already. Hence why he didn't even bother to stay and fight, even with the likelihood that she'd be hacking his computers soon enough if he left the terminal unattended. He knew he'd have a hard time going up against Black Widow. Sort of a fridge CMOA for Black Widow!
Coulson's bit about threatening to taze Stark, then watch TV while Stark was incapacitated. And of all the things he could be watching, he's going to watch Supernanny. Yes, it's very funny. Yes, it establishes Coulson as a complete dork. However, the same tactics the nanny uses on misbehaving or foot-dragging kids could also be pretty effective when adapted to, say, uncooperative suspects or squabbling team members.
When Tony made the comment about how other countries are 5-10 years away from developing an iron man battlesuit and Hammer is 20 years away. He isn't wrong, they got the first part worked out which was kill someone else not themselves.
Whiplash's whips are hot enough to melt through the Mark V, yet Convection Schmonvection is fully in play, as Tony has no burns anywhere on his body. Why is this? He's wearing his fire-resistant racing suit underneath. It's protecting him from the heat even as the metal burns away.
Adding to this, the Mark V is a armor designed to be able to compact itself into the size of a standard suitcase. It's likely been heavily stripped down including it's armor plating to save space, which is why Vanko's whips are able to do so much damage to it compared to previous versions of the suit which probably would barely have had their paint scratched by it.
The improved Crimson Dynamo suit in the finale has whips that can do a number on War Machine and the Mk. VI, all because Tony gave Vanko the advice he needed to make his reactor and whips more powerful!
It's established that Vanko has no problem with killing in order to achieve his objectives. Now consider his appearance at the Monaco race track, in a maintenance uniform most likely obtained through nefarious means. Now consider that one race track maintenance employee who won't ever be going home again...
At the party, Tony is essentially drunk driving the most advanced weapons platform ever developed. And it's armed. Also in a bit of Fridge Brilliance, JARVIS was keeping people safe until Rhodey showed up in the Mark II.
Vanko is probably well aware of the poisoning given how he knew about how Tony was abducted. Had Tony not discovered the new element. The pure strain of fighting the Hammer Drones and him would have killed Tony anyway. Vindicating his father's by dying the same way his father did, by heart cancer.
The ending song Highway to Hell actually foreshadows the troubles ahead for Tony after receiving a medal for thwarting Hammer and Vanko, from the alien invasion in The Avengers to suffering PTSD during Iron Man 3. Tony was in for a lot of hellish problems in later films for joining the Avengers Initiative.
"I'd like to point out that that test pilot survived." Whether he wanted to is another question...