^Stane was a great villain, particularly the way Jeff Bridges played him in the 1st movie. He had an interesting rapport with Tony when they were friends. He clearly had a certain appreciation for Tony's genius even if he was exasperated at having to cover for a bunch of Tony's messes. Then, when we find out he's a bad guy, he's hella scary. I especially love the scene with Pepper in Stane's office. Even though very little is happening in that scene, the tension is quite palpable.
Yeah, Stane's issues and relationship with Tony is something that really worked in the film. They tried to establish a connection between Vanko and Stark with Vanko's father having worked and helped Stark. But it was a connection that never felt very strong. So there's really not an effective personal issue between the two. Spider-Man at least had strong personal issues with all of his villains in the movie. Sandman killing Uncle Ben was was complete and utter dogshit but at least Tobey Maguire sold Peter's hatred for him.
I was really expecting the stuff with Vanko's father to be a more dynamic plot point than it turned out to be. And in some ways, I think that that plotline's failure to resonate reminds me of Dr. Octopus in Spider-Man 2.
(Personally, I never really bought the emotional connection between Peter Parker & Otto Octavius. These guys have a vital emotional bond just because they spent one afternoon together?
Hammer was more comic relief than villian. It would be better if they made him a threat.
And it's not like funny & threatening are mutually exclusive. I thought the Gene Hackman & Kevin Spacey versions of Lex Luthor from the Superman
movies struck a good balance between the two. Bullseye was a certifiably deadly assassin played with comic insanity in Daredevil.
Then, of course, you have the Joker. Heath Ledger was the scarier one but there was still an appropriate menace in Jack Nicholson's portrayal. ("Bob, gun."
) For a non-comic book example, I've been very impressed with the level of dark humor we get from the Sheriff of Nottingham in the BBC version of Robin Hood.
Sam Rockwell did a good job with the comic elements of Justin Hammer. But if he was supposed to be a credible villain as well, I think he either needed to be written with a more viscious streak or be played by an actor that can be inherently more menacing. (While it wouldn't fix all the problems, I think Craig Bierko might have brought a more intimidating edge to the character.)