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It's a major plot point in both the first and second Iron Man movies that the major limiting factor in Iron Man's effectiveness, and the one thing that keeps Iron Man suits out of the reach of competitors, is power. Tony's arc reactor technology gives him the energy reserves required to run the suit and weapons that traditional power sources aren't capable of.

In Iron Man 2 a major plot point is Tony's improvement on the arc reactor technology using a new element as a fuel source. During the battle-bot fight scene Romanoff even comments on how Tony's new design is showing significantly increase power generation. This should significantly enhance most of Iron Man's capabilities, which does help explain his triumph over a literal army of bots.

Vanko's claim to fame in the movie is that he was able to replicate Tony's original palladium based arc reactor design. As such we can assume that both the battle bots and his suit design had approximately the same amount of energy available as Tony's original suit. This is further supported by Vanko taunting Tony on their phone call by noting how he took Tony's advice to increase power output.

Vanko's suit was significantly larger than Tony's, with an implied higher mass. This means that most any functionality, from moving to punching or flying, should require significantly more energy. I'm not sure, but I thought this was even noted in one of the movies for the reason Tony's suit was as small as it was. In any case, given that Vanko's suit had significantly less power available while also requiring far more power for even the most basic actions, why was he able to match Tony in firepower, dexterity, flight speed, and all other dynamics during their battle, requiring two of Tony's suits to take down?

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    A larger suit doesn't automatically have the same power available as a smaller one - it might just also have a bigger engine :) – Erik Oct 9 '17 at 14:56
  • My first thought is - tony's not used to fighting people near his power level. Rhodey was the only recent one. Durability is probably the other big factor. – Radhil Oct 9 '17 at 15:21
  • Do we know how much extra power Tony gained by using a new element over the palladium reactor? Maybe Vanko's "double cycle" increased his own output by a similar amount. – DisturbedNeo Oct 9 '17 at 16:25
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    Wasn't Tony's suit already pretty beaten-up by the "army of bots" you mentioned by the time he fought Vanko? – MartianInvader Oct 9 '17 at 23:32
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My impression from the film was that it was less a matter of Vanko's suit matching up in power, and more that Vanko is a significantly better fighter, as a consequence of his survival in the prisons, versus Tony who dabbles and relies on his computers' tactical advice.

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