Is Mickey Rourke the hottest actor in Hollywood?  Last night word leaked that the Oscar-buzzed star of “The Wrestler” was set to rejoin his old friend Sylvester Stallone and a slew of action heroes in the new thriller “Expendables.” Now, according to The Hollywood Reporter, Rourke is in talks to play a villain in “Iron Man 2.” 

Marvel Studios is trying to keep things quiet, but the current incarnation of the screenplay, being written by Justin Theroux, would find Rourke playing a Russian heavy named Ivan who becomes Whiplash, a killer with a deadly and powerful steel coil.  In his original comic-book incarnation (where he’s also known as Backlash), Whiplash’s coil was in the form of a whip, it’s unclear how it would appear in the sequel.

Joining Rourke as a newcomer to the cast is Sam Rockwell.  The veteran indie actor is on board to play Justin Hammer, a billionaire rival of Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.). 

Late last year Marvel announced Don Cheadle would be replacing Terrence Howard in the role of Col. James ‘Rhodney’ Rhodes, a.k.a. War Machine.  Gwyenth Paltrow is set to return as Stark’s assistant, Pepper Potts.

The trader reports one last role, for what appears to be a second Stark assistant, Natasha (or would that be the Black Widow?), has not yet been cast.

Downey, Jr.’s dramatic comeback from substance abuse pinnacled with the release of “Iron Man” last year.  There is some irony that another comeback kid, Rourke, came on board the sequel to play his adversary.


Production is expected to begin this spring in Manhattan Beach.  Paramount Pictures will distribute the Marvel Studios production on May 7, 2010.