Actions have consequences and few people know this as well as Tony Stark, the Marvel hero known as Iron Man. Over the years, both he and his company have sometimes had a hand in creating powerful enemies.
One of the themes that's certainly relevant in "Iron Man 2," which debuted this weekend, is that some villains owe their careers to ol’ Shellhead and his armor. Here are some of the major baddies whose villainous paths originate with Iron Man — making them prime source material for this weekend's film and future chapters of the Marvel movie universe.
Oh, and before anyone complains, Obadiah Stane (a.k.a. Iron Monger) isn't on the list because he was an active villain long before he donned his own suit of armor.
BLIZZARD: Gregor Shapanka was a Hungarian scientist specializing in cryonics. After joining Stark Industries, he tried to steal some special Stark tech and was caught. When Tony fired Shapanka and sent him packing, he joked about possibly getting “cold feet” about leaving the police out of it if Gregor didn’t leave immediately.
The remark bizarrely inspired the corrupt scientist to make a specialized suit and weapons, becoming the ice-powered villain Jack Frost. When he later updated his suit, he renamed himself Blizzard.
Later on, Gregor was killed by a villainous Iron Man from a possible future. His technology has been used by others since then.
CRIMSON DYNAMO: Dr. Anton Vanko was an Armenian scientist who took inspiration from reports of Iron Man and created a suit of armor which could manipulate any electronic system from afar, earning him the nickname “Crimson Dynamo.” Vanko wanted to prove he was a superior scientist to Stark and and that his suit made him more powerful than Iron Man.
The two fought, but Vanko found his distrust of his own superiors inspiring him to start life anew in the U.S. Vanko later sacrificed his life to save Iron Man’s and the Crimson Dynamo armor has been used by over a dozen Russian agents over the years, some heroic, some villainous.
It’s possible that Vanko is related to the latest villain to use the name “Whiplash" — but more on him later.
TITANIUM MAN: After getting a demotion, Russian government agent Boris Bullski gained access to the original Crimson Dynamo’s lab and decided to restore his reputation by defeating Iron Man in combat. He had scientists use Vanko’s notes and intelligence on Stark technology to create a powerful, if bulky, “Titanium Man” suit.
He was defeated each time to beat Iron Man, though, and later apparently died in battle. His armor has been used by others since.
ARSENAL: During the last days of World War II, Tony’s father Howard Stark led an experiment called “Project Tomorrow,” intended to create a robot super-soldier. WWII was ended before this robot, dubbed “Arsenal,” could be perfected — and so it was put in storage.
Many years later, during a battle between the Avengers and the villain called Unicorn, Arsenal was accidentally uncovered and activated. Believing the Avengers were Axis agents, it attacked the heroes and it was only thanks to the intervention of the Hulk that it was finally destroyed. Although another Arsenal model showed up some time later, the Avengers were able to deactivate it.
EZEKIEL STANE: Like father, like son. Ezekiel Stane was a brilliant scientist and futurist, possibly the Tony Stark of a new generation. But whereas Tony sought to improve technology around him via weapons and armor, Zeke improved his own body, using its natural energy to give himself dangerous powers and abilities.
Driven by a revenge fixation against Tony Stark, Stane warped Stark Industries technology for his own means, such as creating new repulsor-powered suicide bombers. Tony’s own inventions were being used against him in the worst ways possible.
WHIPLASH/BLACKLASH: Mark Scarlotti was a Stark International employee who was talented in electrical engineering. Eventually, though, he desired fame and power by any means necessary. Using Stark technology, he created a specialized, telescoping electrical whip and hired himself out as a weapons designer and assassin for crime families.
Later on, he changed his name to Blacklash for a while. A few years later, Scarlottie went back to calling himself Whiplash and started sporting a bizarre S&M-themed costume. He had created new weaponry which made him a much more formidable foe. He was killed during a battle with Iron Man.
Two other villains called themselves Whiplash and Blacklash, but they later fell off the radar.
Recently, in the "Iron Man vs. Whiplash" miniseries, a new player was introduced as the villain Whiplash. Ivan Vanko was a scientist whose entire village was seemingly wiped out by Iron Man. Swearing revenge, he created his own suit of armor and found a way to mimic Stark’s repulsor generators.
Even after he discovered Stark wasn’t responsible for the destruction of his village, Ivan has sworn revenge because it was still Iron Man’s technology that was used to kill. The latest version of Whiplash is closest to Mickey Rourke’s version. And the last name Vanko would indicate that he may be related to Anton Vanko, the original Crimson Dynamo. Perhaps we’ll learn more in the future.
RAGNAROK: Possibly Tony’s biggest screw-up. When the government decided all superhumans needed to be registered, a superhero Civil War erupted. Iron Man led the pro-registration forces and Captain America led those against registration. In the past, Thor was often the one to turn the tide in battle for the Avengers, but since he wasn’t around and was presumed dead, Tony used hairs collected from the Asgardian hero to create a clone of Thor.
This clone couldn’t replicate all of Thor’s magical abilities or his full Asgardian nature. So to compensate, Tony made this creation a cyborg, using his own advanced technology. Unfortunately, this clone-cyborg was too difficult to control. It killed the hero Bill Foster (a.k.a.Goliath), and since then has gone on its own to face off against various heroes. It calls itself Ragnarok, the name of the final battle of the Norse gods, and it is dangerous on a colossal scale.
Well, that about wraps it up for the villains spawned from Iron Man's comic book history. Honorable mentions go to Firepower and the armored anti-hero called Sentry.
Any villains you'd add to the list? Let us know what you think in the comment section or on Twitter!