One of the new challenges on Iron Man 2 was conceptualizing, designing and building the suit for Tony Stark’s new archenemy Whiplash! 

Co-producer Latcham explains the evolution of the look of the character:

“We really liked the character of Whiplash, but in the comic he looked like an S&M guy in black with all these buckles and a zipper across his mouth, which was really not what we wanted,” explains Latcham.

“We decided instead to take the character and do something new to make him feel more a part of the Iron Man world. Ryan Meinerding is one of the most talented concept artists in the entire industry and we felt like it would be a really cool idea for him to design a Whiplash costume that could have been built in a cave with a box of scraps, just like Tony Stark had built his when he was in captivity.”

“For Whiplash, taking the design cues from the actual comic was a little difficult because he’s not exactly an icon of design,” says Meinerding.

“We really wanted to add some sort of realism to the character, so we started at a place that was very close to where we started with Tony, but with a low-grade medical RT-like device implanted in his chest. Jon gravitated towards that, but it did appear a little too much to perform surgery on himself, so it evolved into more of an exoskeleton design. Everyone liked that concept and from there we talked to Jon to figure out how much damage he needed to take, because it was a tricky balance between trying to understand how much exoskeleton we needed to put on him and how protected he needed to be.”

For Meinerding, the casting of Mickey Rourke in the role of Whiplash also influenced the conceptual design of the character.

“We always thought the character was going to be this bad-ass Russian prisoner, which is the archetype I went for in the first drawings,” recalls Meinerding. “When we found out it was going to be Mickey Rourke, it definitely added a lot to the design. I ended up doing a new sketch of Mickey as the character, which added a whole new, really gritty, dark dimension to it.”

"In the comic Whiplash looked like an S&M guy in black!"

“The thing that got Mickey really jazzed about the film was a piece of Ryan’s concept art,” Latcham mentions.

“When Jon and Kevin Feige met Mickey the first time they showed him two pieces of concept art and said ‘We want you to play this character.’ When Mickey saw the design with the tattoos, straps and burned-out pants, he thought it was really cool and Ryan’s artwork was really instrumental in influencing Mickey to do the film.”

With the design concept in place, the torch was passed to Shane Mahan and his team in building the practical suit that Mickey Rourke would wear on set.

“Ryan gave us the designs for Whiplash and we spoke to Jon and interpreted it as more of an older style, Russian looking, leather belt that electricians wear but with a rawer feel to it,” explains Legacy Effects coordinator Dave Merritt. “We also crafted a bunch of model parts onto it to give it a little more futuristic look.”

For Rourke, the Whiplash suit was great to look at but not so easy to wear for long periods of time. But he found his own way to make it work.

“They built a great suit that was very cool-looking, which I really liked because I didn’t really want to be in a full suit,” he says. “Part of the appeal for me was that it was skin and leather, but it still weighed about 40 pounds, not including the arms. The first time I put it on, I said ‘This isn’t going to cut it’ because it was so heavy and cumbersome that I was exhausted after having it on for only a few minutes. So I worked with my trainer for about seven weeks, walking on a treadmill with a 40-pound vest on for 45 minutes so I wouldn’t get exhausted every time I put the suit on.”



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