Things were looking up for actor Mickey Rourke after he staged a major comeback with his performance in The Wrestler, racking up an Oscar nomination and scoring a role as the main villain in Iron Man 2. But behind-the-scenes disputes ensured that Rourke’s Marvel experience was bitter.
The troubles began when he was reportedly offered just $250000 to play Ivan Vanko/Whiplash in the film. The offer was increased, but the freedom Rourke had on set was swiftly undermined. While promoting his film Immortals in 2011, a year after the release of Iron Man 2, Rourke didn’t mince any words when he attacked Marvel for altering his performance in the final cut of the film.
He told CraveOnline, “I explained to Justin Theroux, to the writer, and to [Jon] Favreau that I wanted to bring some other layers and colours, 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 the floor.”
He said that he wished director Favreau had displayed more authority on set, and implied that Favreau wasn’t fully in control of the film. “At the end of the day you’ve got some nerd with a pocketful of money calling the shots,” he said. “You know, Favreau didn’t call the shots. I wish he would have.”
Rourke continued, “If they let you play the bad guy with other dimensions other than one-dimensional. You have to fight for that though, to bring layers to the character. Otherwise, if you’re working for the wrong studio or let’s say a director that doesn’t have any balls, then they’re just gonna want it to be the evil bad guy. […] So, if you’re working with some good studio guys that got brains and you’re working with a director with a set of nuts that’ll let you incorporate that then it’s fun. Otherwise, you end up with what happened on Iron Man.”
Iron Man 2 received mixed-to-positive critical response, and was a box office success. But it did also receive some criticism for setting up future sequels and a distracted narrative.
Rourke concluded, “It is f—ing too bad, but it’s their loss. If they want to make mindless comic book movies, then I don’t want to be a part of that.”
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