Iron Man 2 Poster Gives Us the First Look at War Machine

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The phenomenal success of the first Iron Man film meant moviegoers were going to get another chance to see Robert Downey Jr.’s reformed Tony Stark character. But there were some major transformations in order before they could start filming the sequel, and the buzz behind the scenes has been almost as interesting as Iron Man itself. There have been reports about a feud between Scarlett Johansson and Gwyneth Paltrow. Don Cheadle replaced an unhappy Terrence Howard as Stark’s sidekick, James Rhodes (War Machine), and Mickey Rourke landed the role of an energy whip-wielding villain known as Whiplash.

Check out the film stills as we explain every development and more after the jump.

When it was announced that Scarlett Johansson (instead of Emily Blunt) would play the role of Natasha Romanoff (aka the Black Widow), comic book fanboys could barely contain their pubescent excitement. Unfortunately, Johansson’s position in the film didn’t sit well with the former leading lady Paltrow, and they didn’t get along on set. We wonder if you can see the antagonism in the finished product?

Don Cheadle as the new Jim Rhodes (aka War Machine) was supposedly a product of Terrence Howard demanding too much money. Both actors have been nominated for Academy Awards, but while Howard seems more comfortable in a leading man role like with Hustle & Flow, Cheadle can submerge himself in ensemble work, like the Oceans series. That will help him with this cast.

Mickey Rourke’s insertion as the menacing Ivan Danko (aka Whiplash) has us the most excited. As Whiplash, sometimes known as Backlash, Rourke will be able to ham it up as a former employee of Stark International that craves luxury and ends up using a bad ass whip to fulfill his lust for power. Yes, we’re giddy about the prospect of Rourke with a whip in the outfit below.

Some other notes about the movie: Sam Rockwell will play Justin Hammer — Stark’s competition in arms. G4TV’s Olivia Munn is Melina Vostokoff or Iron Maiden (again sending fanboys into a tizzy). Samuel L. Jackson will play Nick Fury, and director Jon Favreau will helm the Iron Man 2 character Harold “Happy” Hogan.

The film is set to be released in May 7, 2010. It’s rumored that the first trailer will run with Sherlock Holmes later this month.