Iron Man 2 has its villains and, in keeping with the franchise’s approach to date, has lined up some very interesting names for the roles. Mickey Rourke, so hot right now on the buzz from The Wrestler, and Sam Rockwell, always so hot cause he’s ace, will play Crimson Dynamo and Justin Hammer respectively, facing off against the might of Robert Downey Jr’s returning Shellhead himself.

Plot details are still under wraps, but Rockwell is apparently scheduled to play Justin Hammer, a rival industrialist to Tony Stark and something of an evil genius who, in the comics, has done everything from take remote control of Stark’s Iron Man suit to stealing its technology to sell to other super-suit-wearing villains, including Crimson Dynamo, starting the first “Armor War”.

But here’s where it gets confusing. Rourke’s role is hazier still, and there are conflicting reports about who he’s even playing. Variety has it that he’s a heavily tattooed Russian arms dealer who dons a nuclear-powered suit to become Crimson Dynamo; The Hollywood Reporter claims that he’s a tattooed Russian heavy (subtle difference there) named Ivan who has “deadly, technologically enhanced coils” and becomes Whiplash.

Since the Whiplash character in the comics has never been Russian, since he looks more like Rockwell (so maybe they’ve got his casting wrong) and since the coils thing sounds a bit Doc Ock, we’re going to go ahead and call it for Rourke as Crimson Dynamo, who is after all an actually popular Iron Man villain. So popular, in fact, that there have been at least twelve incarnations of him. That said, the “nuclear powered suit” is new: the comic book versions of the character have had a merely electrical suit, but we suppose that reflects the down-and-dirty post-Soviet feel that the character will have.

One more major part – that of Stark’s assistant Natasha – remains to be cast*. Comic fans will immediately twig that this Natasha is bound to be Natasha Romanov, aka Black Widow, a SHIELD agent. So has Gwyneth Paltrow’s Pepper Potts been promoted? Are they wrong about Natasha’s job title? Is it some kind of jobshare arrangement? 

Filming is due to start this Spring for a May 7, 2010 release, which is a tight schedule with Justin Theroux still working on the script. Let’s hope they get the details straight before then…