Yesterday evening we received our first look at Mickey Rourke as Whiplash in "Iron Man 2," and it was a peek that not only cleared up some confusion about the character he'll play in the much-anticipated sequel, but also stirred up some powerful reactions from fans.
While the new image and various reports accompanying it confirm that "The Wrestler" star will play an amalgam of Crimson Dynamo and Whiplash rather than one or the other (as had previously been pondered), there is one big question that remains: was the decision to combine several characters into a new character a wise move?
By blending two established characters in the Marvel Comics universe (or more, given the similarities to Wolverine villain Omega Red in the look Rourke is sporting for the character, as well as his weapons' resemblance to those of another Marvel villain, Constrictor) and creating an entirely new, mash-up character, "Iron Man 2" director Jon Favreau is treading where few filmmakers have gone before -- and even fewer have traveled successfully.
Most recently, Fox received heavy criticism for its decision to take liberties with fan-favorite character Deadpool and offer audiences a new, similarly blended character with the same name, but only bearing a tangential resemblance to his comics counterpart. He was mash-up of several different characters from the Marvel universe, with some new attributes thrown into the mix, and in the end, he became the focal point of much of the negative criticism about the film.
Of course, he did end up with his own "Deadpool" spin-off movie -- so maybe the end result wasn't all that bad.
Thinking back a little farther, Ang Lee's much-maligned 2003 take on "Hulk" also featured a prominent mash-up character. Actor Nick Nolte played a combination of both Bruce Banner's father and a very obvious nod to Hulk villain The Absorbing Man -- and we all know how that film was received by fans and critics alike.
One of the only other mash-up characters that comes to mind is 2006's "X-Men: The Last Stand" mutant Psylocke, who bore the name of her comics counterpart, but seemed to have the powers (teleportation through darkness) of completely different comics characters. While the film was the highest grossing of all the "X-Men" movies, it's widely regarded as being the weakest of the films -- with much of that criticism heaped upon how it treated various characters from the X-Men universe.
So, does any of this mean that "Iron Man 2" is destined for failure? Absolutely not. However, with this first image of Rourke as Whiplash generating such a polarizing response, it's certainly worth looking at how similar mash-up characters have fared in earlier films -- and kick off the discussion of why that might be the case, and why things might be different this time around.
Let us know what YOU think in the poll above -- and be sure to leave a comment explaining why you feel that way!