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[Image: Burger Business]

Iron Man, Sherlock Holmes, Iron Man 2. Robert Downey Jr. is certainly having a good run of things lately. The red-and-yellow metal suit he sports is quite a change, too, from the prison orange we saw him in not ten years ago. Most probably thought that he was through—but unlike Nick Nolte or Gary Hart, Downey rose from the ashes. The phoenix in him masterfully recaptured the screen as, aptly, a flashy playboy-genius who reinvents himself as a superhero.

Burger King has partnered with the Iron Man film series to offer a promotional menu item called The Whiplash Whopper, named after the latest film's villain. In this writer's opinion, the new Whopper tries to harness the phoenix-like qualities of both Downey and Tony Stark, Iron Man's true identity. With Burger King serving the XT, the Whopper was almost forgotten, tossed in the corner like an old, forgotten Kid's Meal toy. But the Whopper is back, and it's better than ever.

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[Photographs: Robyn Lee]

I picked up the Whiplash Whopper at a drive-through, in a value meal with fries and a Dr. Pepper—I love reviewing things at BK because even if the burger is bad, the fries still rock—and stopped in the parking lot to savor my treat.

At first glance, it was unappealing. I can't hold that against it, though, as every fast food burger fails to live up to the image you see in the advertisements. The first bite was, in one word, underwhelming. (After the Smoky Cheddar XT, I had my expectations set high.) The slice of tomato was from the top of the fruit. It was flavorless, as they usually are, but on top of that, had the hard consistency of a bell pepper. Not what you expect from any tomato. Off it came.

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But the next bite allowed me to enjoy the bun and the burger. The bun is a standard sesame seed Whopper bun, fluffy but more cake-like than bun-like. The meat of the bun was almost non-existent; in that regard, it doesn't compete with the XT. (I mean, come on, one Whopper patty?) The patty itself was unremarkable meat, standard Burger King fare.

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After two bites, though, things changed. Barring the bad tomato, bland Whopper beef, and thick bun—let's face it, all standard—I started to really enjoy the burger on bite three. There's spicy mayo on the Whiplash, and it really has some kick. On top of that, there are hot crunchy fried red peppers. The heat and the crunch started to bring some of the flavor out of the burger. I could taste a bit more smoke (albeit laboratory-created smoke flavor). Washing the heat down with Dr. Pepper, and then diving in for more, I realized that the burger almost tasted like it had Buffalo wings on it. But as I continued, I refined that thought, and decided it tasted more like a burger with Hot Fries. Anyone ever had Hot Fries? Well, as far as this guy is concerned, it was an inspired combination: Andy Capp's Hot Fries with a burger.

I finished the burger, and audibly sighed, "Awesome"—even though I was alone in the car. I've never tasted heat like that before at a fast-food joint. It definitely needs more than one patty, because the toppings overwhelm the beef (unlike the XT, where there's a nice complement). But great heat and kick made for an unforgettable experience. Like Tony Stark, Iron Man, or Downey Jr. himself, the Whopper is back.

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