Anton Vanko was the Russian counterpart to Tony Stark and first appeared in Tales of Suspense #46. He invented his own suit of armor and became known as the Crimson Dynamo. Vanko eventually defected to the United States and a succession of agents has worn the Dynamo armor.
His son, Ivan Vanko, is a combination of the Crimson Dynamo and another Iron Man villain named Whiplash. The original Whiplash was Mark Scarlotti, an employee of Stark Industries, who invented a pair of metallic whips that could channel energy. Rourke’s Whiplash uses those same coils as well as armor of his own devising.
Olivia Munn cameos as a reporter. In her original scenes, she played a party girl flying around Tony Stark’s mansion after he drunkenly handed out Iron Man components to his guests. Munn will play Psylocke in X-Men: Apocalypse.
Stan Lee, Larry Ellison
After being confused for Hugh Hefner, Stan Lee pops up again and is mistaken for Larry King. Another Larry, Larry Ellison, the CEO of Oracle also does a cameo. Tony has JARVIS access the Oracle Grid later on to trace Vanko’s phone call. Other cameos in the film include CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, Bill O’Reilly, and Elon Musk, the co-founder of PayPal and Tesla Motors. He’s the fellow who pitches the electric jet to Tony Stark in Monaco.
Garry Shandling plays Senator Stern, no relation to Samuel Sterns aka The Leader. In the comic book prelude, Iron Man 2: Public Identity, the Senator works with General Ross and Justin Hammer to create an attack aircraft to rival the Iron Man armor. It ends disastrously and leads to Stern campaigning for the government to seize the amor. In Winter Soldier, Stern is revealed to be a member of HYDRA.
0:12:35 – Sam Rockwell as Justin Hammer
Sam Rockwell was actually on Jon Favreau’s shortlist to play Tony Stark. They would later work together on another comic book adaptation, Cowboys & Aliens. In Iron Man 2, Rockwell plays a much younger and much less competent version of Justin Hammer (1st appearance Iron Man #120, 1979), a rival industrialist who hired a number of superhuman agents (including Whiplash) to destroy Stark and his company. Though he eventually died, Hammer’s daughter, Justine, and granddaughter, Sasha, have continued his villainous legacy.
0:13:53 – Don Cheadle as Rhodey, Secretary of Defense
The dialogue, “It’s me, I’m here. Deal with it,” takes on a double meaning. Don Cheadle assumes the role of Lt. Col. James Rhodes following the acrimonious departure of Terrence Howard.
Tony jokes, “I’ll settle for Secretary of Defense.” In the comics, he actually served as the Secretary of Defense for a brief period as well as Director of SHIELD.
0:23:00 – Happy Hogan the boxer, The Black Widow
Natasha Romanoff, alias the Black Widow, was originally a KGB agent sent to steal technology from Stark Industries in Tales of Suspense #52 (1964) . She was initially aided by Hawkeye before they both reformed. The Black Widow has been a valuable member of both the Avengers and SHIELD. She’s also been the romantic interest for Hawkeye, Bucky, and Daredevil.
This is the first time Black Widow has appeared on film though she has flirted with the medium. Back in 1975, Angela Bowie, the then-wife of rocker David Bowie and mother to director Duncan Jones, got the rights to do a television series featuring Daredevil and the Widow. Ben Carruthers from The Dirty Dozen and John Cassavetes’ Shadows was cast as the Man Without Fear with Angela as the Widow and costumes by Natasha Komikoff, who worked with Bowie during his Ziggy Stardust period. The proposed series never got the greenlight nor did a potential film written and directed by David Hayter, one of the screenwriters credited on X-Men and Watchmen.
Tony and Happy Hogan working out in the boxing ring makes sense as the latter was a former boxer. The music playing in the background is “The Magnificent Seven” by The Clash. Marvel’s own magnificent seven: Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Hulk, Hawkeye, Black Widow, and Nick Fury will come together in The Avengers.
0:30:53 – B. Turgenov
The label on Vanko’s uniform reads, “B. Turgenov.” Boris Turgenov was the second Crimson Dynamo. Along with the Black Widow, he was sent to kill Iron Man and Anton Vanko, the latter of whom sacrificed his life to stop him.
0:33:04 – Roxxon Oil Formula-1 racer
The green Formula-1 car is sponsored by Roxxon and their logo was previously seen on a skyscraper during the Iron Monger battle from the first film.
0:35:00 – Mark V suitcase armor
In the comics, Tony did have a suit that could turn into a suitcase. He also invented a collapsible version of the armor that could fit inside a case. A great example can be seen on the cover of Iron Man #118. The red and silver color scheme is a nod to the Silver Centurion armor.
Another nod to the comics, Happy Hogan became Tony Stark’s driver and bodyguard after saving him from a car wreck after Tony suffered a heart attack.
0:47:23 – 1963
According to JARVIS, Anton Vanko defected in 1963, the same year that Iron Man first appeared in the comics. A young Anton Vanko (played by Costa Ronin) appeared in the Agent Carter episode “Now is Not the End,” in which he is seen as a scientist at Stark Industries.
0:58:54 – “You want to be a war machine…”, Demon in a Bottle
“You want to be the war machine? Take your shot.” War Machine is the superhero name used by Rhodey and Tony Stark’s recurring battles with alcoholism was famously depicted in the “Demon in a Bottle” storyline, widely considered to be one of the definitive Iron Man stories.
1:01:42 – Nick Fury
After a brief cameo in the post-credits scene of Iron Man, Nick Fury makes his first full appearance in the sequel. Though Tony has refused to take part in the Avengers Initiative, SHIELD has continued to keep tabs on him. Both Samuel L. Jackson and Scarlett Johansson played cohorts in Frank Miller’s The Spirit, the critically reviled movie based on the comic strip by Will Eisner.
Nick Fury’s problems in the southwest region are a reference to the events of Thor.
Next to the blueprints for the ARC reactor is a map of Antarctica. The Savage Land was a tropical area within Antarctica that was home to dinosaurs and genetically engineered mutates. In the past, Roxxon and a corrupt faction of SHIELD have sought to exploit the Savage Land’s resources, one of them being vibranium, the material used by Howard Stark to construct Captain America’s shield.
1:16:38 – Bambi
Pepper’s secretary is Bambi Arbogast (first appearance, Iron Man #118), who worked in an administrative capacity for the U.S. Army before becoming Tony Stark’s executive assistant for a time.
1:24:00 – Project PEGASUS
Project P.E.G.A.S.U.S. (Potential Energy Group/Alternate Sources/United States) is a facility for the Department of Energy and based in the Adirondacks that is devoted to research in alternative energies. In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, PEGASUS is the designation for SHIELD’s research facility seen at the beginning of The Avengers.
1:24:29 – Captain America’s shield, New Mexico
“What’s this doing here?” Captain America’s shield appears once again in Tony’s workshop and is used as a glorified paperweight. In The Avengers, Agent Coulson is revealed to be a huge fanboy of Captain America.
“Director Fury wants me in New Mexico.” Agent Coulson is being transferred to New Mexico due to the arrival of Thor. His long drive to the Land of Enchantment is depicted in the short film, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Thor’s Hammer, available on the Captain America Blu-ray.
1:27:00 – The new element
The new element invented by Tony and based on his father’s research is a synthesized version of the energy emitted by the Tesseract. Before Captain America was released, many fans believed this new element was vibranium. It’s even stated as such in the novelization.
1:40:00 – Circuits Maximus
A banner at the Stark Expo reads “Circuits Maximus.” After falling off the wagon, Tony lost control of Stark Industries to Obadiah Stane. Tony regained his sobriety and formed a new company called Circuits Maximus.
1:54:00 – SHIELD debriefing, Global Alert, Incident at Culver
This debriefing is loaded with easter eggs. One screen displays the “Incident at Culver University” from The Incredible Hulk and another shows the crash site of Mjolnir from Thor. This suggests that all three films occur around the same time and six months after the first Iron Man. A SHIELD Global Alert Map also indicates numerous hotspots throughout the world…
- Southern California – The home of Tony Stark
- New Mexico – The arrival of Thor
- New York – The home of Marvel Comics where a majority of their characters are based. It’s the state where Iron Man & War Machine battle with Whiplash and where Hulk and Abomination fought in Harlem.
- The Arctic Circle – The area where Captain America was lost
- Tonsberg, Norway – The village featured at the beginning of Thor and where the Tesseract was discovered by the Red Skull in Captain America: The First Avenger.
- The Atlantic Ocean – Possibly a reference to Atlantis, the kingdom of Namor aka the Sub-Mariner. Namor was one of Marvel’s earliest superheroes and a member of both the Avengers and the X-Men. He was also in the WWII-era team known as the Invaders with Captain America.
- Africa – A reference to Wakanda, ruled by another popular Avenger, the Black Panther. Wakanda is also a primary source for vibranium.
2:03:40 – Mjolnir
For those of you who didn’t know or simply didn’t have the patience, the post-credits scene features Agent Coulson arriving at the crash site in New Mexico as the townies attempt to lift Mjolnir.