Thanks to a handy Tweet from Jon Favreau, we’ve discovered that USA Today has the first look at Mickey Rourke as Whiplash, Iron Man 2’s chief villain – and it’s… interesting, to say the least.

For a starters, there’s no costume, per se. No mask – just Rourke, snarling away beneath long, flowing, highlighted hair – and no metal armour. Instead, Whiplash – aka a Russian arms dealer, the unfortunately-named Ivan Vanko – sports a bare chest, his jailhouse tats glimpsed beneath a rickety chestplate that seems to be powered by the same ARC technology that gives Tony Stark’s metallic alter ego his oomph.

“The technologies are definitely related, and that’s part of the core theme of the film,” Favs told USA Today.

And, just out of shot, we get our first glimpse at the weapons that give Whiplash that name: two electric whips, which are powered by the chestplate. We’ve got a feeling that once those things start cracking away, Stark’s going to want to hit the bottle pretty damn fast.

Intriguingly, the picture shows Vanko, who also appears to be wearing prison-issue orange trousers, at the Monaco Historic Grand Prix, another sign that Iron Man 2 is going to span the globe more than its predecessor (which, of course, went to Afghanistan).

As for Whiplash’s look, I like it. It’s unusual for a supervillain to be so brazen about his true identity, and there’s something about the ramshackle nature of his chestplate and ‘costume’ that should make for a great contrast with Robert Downey Jr’s glistening golden Avenger. It’s also a near step away from the normal thinking that Man In Suit must fight Bigger Man In Suit – which was one of the few faults of the first movie. Though it isn’t yet clear whether Whiplash may develope his suit throughout the film and refine it to something a little, well, bigger!

So far, though, all the signs from Iron Man 2 suggest that Favreau and Marvel aren’t putting a foot wrong; let’s hope they keep it up.

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