The resurrection of Mickey Rourke is just about complete. Hollywood’s fixer-upper of the moment is close to signing on to play one of the villains in the upcoming Iron Man 2, though the trades are split on just whom Mr. Rourke will be playing. Variety claims the actor will tackle the part of a Russian arms dealer who eventually becomes Iron Man nemesis Crimson Dynamo, while The Hollywood Reporter claims his Ruskie baddie will take the comic book visage of Whiplash. (At least they both agree on his nationality.) Of course, since Iron Man director Jon Favreau is still writing the script with Tropic Thunder writer Justin Theroux, we wouldn’t be surprised if he ended up playing another character entirely. We just hope he remains Russian because the thought of Mr. Rourke inflecting a Borsht Belt accent has us giggling already.
We’re happy for Mr. Rourke, because who doesn’t like to see someone who was down on their luck succeed again? But! We’re more excited about the other bad guy who was just cast in the Iron Man sequel. You probably didn’t notice it under all the pomp and circumstance involving Mr. Rourke, but the hope is that O2 favorite Sam Rockwell will be added to the Marvel universe as Justin Hammer, a multibillionaire (is there any other kind?) who is a rival of Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark. While the role doesn’t sound very substantial—it sounds like it could be a lot like his dancing heavy from Charlie’s Angels—any opportunity we get to see Mr. Rockwell in a movie is a good one. He literally stole Frost/Nixon with about 10 minutes of screen time, so our hopes are high that he can do the same here.
Meanwhile, the Iron Man franchise is rapidly becoming the go-to hotspot for past Oscar nominees. When Mr. Rourke gets his predictable Best Actor nomination later this month for The Wrestler, he’ll be the fourth cast member involved in the sequel with a nomination to his name: Don Cheadle, Gwyneth Paltrow and Mr. Downey being the other three. This follows the first Iron Man, which also included fellow Oscar-nominated actors Jeff Bridges and Terrence Howard. With this cast, Iron Man 2 is already shaping up as the next great comic book sequel, following in the footsteps of Spider-man 2 and The Dark Knight. In fact, if we were Batman, we wouldn’t get too comfortable with the moniker of "second highest grossing movie of all time." By the time Iron Man 2 shuffles out of theaters in fall of 2010, there could very well be a new title-holder.