Though by no means unknown to the world, prior to 2008, Iron Man was not at the top of too many lists of favorite characters. Going even further back, when Tony Stark was first created in 1963, Stan Lee did so in a dare with himself over whether he could make an easily hateable character (arms manufacturer, billionaire, smart-ass) likable. Much to the testament of Mr. Lee, his creation grew popular amongst loyal comic readers. Despite all that, Stark remained lost on mainstream audiences where he was usually viewed as a lower-tier hero - if they even knew who Iron Man was at all.
Enter the wisecracking, irresistibly charming and very quotable Robert Downey Jr.
Armed with the best wit in the business, RDJ, alongside some fantastic directors and writers, upped Stan Lee’s original success. With the help of an endless stream of one liners and a not-too-shabby suit of armor, they successfully turned this filthy rich, egocentric, industrializing playboy into one of the most beloved movie characters (and superheroes) of all time. Not to mention, the king of the quip.
We're sure he's going to make a few new great quips in Captain America: Civil War, but in the meantime, here are The 12 Best Tony Stark Quotes From The Marvel Cinematic Universe.
13 “I told you. I don’t want to join your super-secret boy band.” (Iron Man 2)
Sitting in a donut shop, hungover and still in a suit he peed in the night before, Tony Stark reasserts to Nick Fury just how uninterested he is in joining the Avengers Initiative. When Iron Man 2 hit theaters, The Avengers was on the cusp of becoming a full-fledged cinematic event. But while everyone else was eager to see it assemble, one man made it abundantly clear he could care less.
One of the best things about RDJ’s portrayal of Iron Man is that so much of what he says is sarcastic, slightly offensive and spot on. But that’s why we love him. We know anyone with an invitation to join Earth’s Mightiest Heroes is going to be super handsome with slick moves and really good hair (the makings of any great boy band) and we know that Iron Man is eventually going to join the party. But it wouldn’t feel right if he wasn’t a little Robert Downey Jr. about it first.
12 “I loved you in a ‘A Christmas Story’.” (Iron Man 3)
Tony Stark knows how to treat his fans. He also knows how to say what’s on everyone’s mind. When a small boy with blonde hair and glasses accompanies his sister in, asking Iron Man for an autograph, anyone in the audience who’s tried to watch TV on Christmas and been swallowed up in 24-hours of soap-sucking, eye-shooting, legged-lamp fun is apt to do a double take. There’s little doubt this person is a double of the lead character from A Christmas Story.
Of course from there things get a little weird and the boy eerily asks Stark about his wormhole experiences, sounding more like he’s from Poltergeist than a timeless holiday classic. Suffice to say, Ralphie 2.0 makes the most of his short time on screen.
(Side note: Peter Billingsley, who played Ralphie in A Christmas Story, was an executive producer of and appeared in the first Iron Man.)
11 “Well, performance issues, it’s not uncommon. One out of five…” (The Avengers)
Thinking he has the upper hand on Iron Man, Loki tries to overtake Iron Man using the Chitauri mind-controlling scepter, only to come up empty handed after a few taps on Stark’s arc reactor. Left vexed, Loki assures Stark that “this usually works.”
In an entertaining back and forth between himself and Loki (that provides more than one entry for this list), Tony Stark takes full advantage of the misstep with a quick jab at the God of Mischief’s manhood. Iron Man never misses the chance to undercut an adversary, even if they’re about to destroy the planet with a glow stick of destiny.
10 “I’m a huge fan of the way you lose control and turn into an enormous green rage monster.” (The Avengers)
Bruce Banner couldn’t be more different in demeanor than Tony Stark. Subdued, unassuming, mild mannered, humble, quiet and unreliant on suits of armor, he is everything Stark is not. Which is what makes their first introduction so perfect.
In the Hulk’s alter ego, Iron Man finds a kindred scientifically minded spirit, who while is impressed by Banner’s work on anti-electron collisions, only really cares about what happens when he gets angry. Later on Stark will prod Banner to unleash a sign of the beast, curious what his secret is to keeping a lid on it. (“Mellow jazz? Bongo drums? Huge bag of weed?”) While everyone else riding aboard the helicarrier wants nothing more than to keep the green goliath at bay, Tony Stark wants to see him come out and play because he’s a huge fan of seeing Hulk smash. Just like the rest of us.
9 “How do you go to the bathroom in the suit?” [Long pause.] “Just like that.” (Iron Man 2)
The great thing about Iron Man and the entire MCU is that they don’t take themselves too seriously. A lot of other superhero films tend to overcompensate for the campy nature of some of the material by going excessively dark and serious. But all we really want to know is: how do they go to the bathroom in those suits? Luckily, Robert Downey Jr. has given us the answer. And, even better, shown us.
While throwing probably the most epic rager ever, filled with beautiful people, flowing alcohol, Iron Man DJing and War Machine party crashing, Tony entertains his guests with a little insight into what it’s like to be Iron Man. On top of finding out that Iron Man can pee freely whenever he wants, we also learn the suit has a filtration system, which makes the upcoming scene, where Tony sits down over donuts with Nick Fury, a little less gross.
8 “Doth mother know you weareth her drapes.” (The Avengers)
What happens when you finally get the Big 3 from the first phase of the MCU together in one scene? Fast-flying pummeling, a true test of Captain America’s shield and the leveling of a sizable chunk of forest. (But that’s another list.) It also includes one very enjoyable verbal insult.
Leave it to Tony Stark, in his first few words to a Norse god, to mock his wardrobe. When Thor, dressed in full Asgardian attire, tells Iron Man that he has no idea what he’s dealing with, Robert Downey Jr. has just the right reply - “Uh, Shakespeare in the Park?” But why stop there when you can double down on the mockery with a little improv, touching on Thor’s mother and his cape all in one very well delivered quip.
7 “Sometimes you gotta run before you can walk.” (Iron Man)
If ever there was a befitting epitaph for Tony Stark, this would be it. Having just learned that he could fly and suited up for the first time, Stark runs some tests on the Mark II suit. J.A.R.V.I.S. wants to play it safe with some diagnostics, but Iron Man much prefers to take risks.
Intrepid progress is what makes Iron Man Iron Man. Taking on an entire terrorist camp in some welded sheet metal. Impromptly racing in the Grand Prix. Flying through a wormhole holding a nuke. Blowing up an entire city while beneath it. Flinging his cherished chest tech off a cliff. Stark’s proven you don’t move ahead by going slow. What kind of futurist would he be if he wasn’t willing to take a leap (or flight) of faith from time to time.
6 “Have you ever tried shawarma… I don’t know what it is, but I wanna try it.” (The Avengers)
What’s on Tony Stark’s mind after having just stopped an army of aliens from overthrowing Earth and nearly being trapped in space for the rest of eternity? Shaved meat. Looking directly at the Hulk, he asks, “Have you ever tried shawarma? There’s a shawarma joint about two blocks from here.”
Setting up a perfect post-credits sequence (which has an equally perfect backstory), this quote shows precisely why no one else is better suited to be the mouthpiece of Iron Man. After all, Robert Downey Jr. was the one who suggested they revise the “what’s next?” that was originally supposed to be said in that moment.
The shawarma industry thanks him.
5 “If there’s one thing I’ve proven it’s that you can count on me to pleasure myself.” (Iron Man 2)
Called to testify at a defense hearing on the safety of the Iron Man suit, Tony Stark makes it very clear he has no intention of turning over his high-tech prosthesis to the government. “My bond is with the people, and I will serve this great nation at the pleasure of myself.”
Moviegoers can count on Robert Downey Jr. providing the appropriate wisecrack at just the right moment and simultaneously layering it with poignant undertones. Iron Man relishes in protecting the greater good, has a whole lot of fun doing it and refuses to hide the fact. That’s why he’s the ultimate celebrity superhero for the people.
4 “We have a Hulk.” (The Avengers)
Why do we love the Hulk? Because just the mere mention of his name is enough to cause audiences to cheer, especially when every notion of his awesomeness is about to come to fruition when he willingly takes down an entire Leviathan warship with a single punch. Push come to shove, everyone wants Hulk on their side.
And there’s no bigger advocate of the Hulk in the MCU than Tony Stark. While talking with Loki atop Stark Tower, Iron Man in four syllables confidently shows why he has little concern over the fact the rebel Asgardian has unleashed a Chitauri army on New York City. The best part? Stark isn’t bluffing.
3 "Genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist." (The Avengers)
There’s no hiding that Iron Man and Captain America don’t always see eye to eye. They also don’t hold back from letting one another know it. Well, before Civil War, audiences got their first taste of this symptomatic clash of resolute righteousness vs brazen ingenuity on a helicarrier in The Avengers.
“Big man in a suit of armor. Take that off, what are you?” While Steve Rogers cuts to the core of what it means to be a hero, Tony Stark uses it as an opportunity to once again flex his skills at repartee, and show that the suit one wears does not make the man.
Which brings us to the most iconic of all Tony Stark quotes.
2 “I am Iron Man.” (Iron Man)
What good is being a superhero if the world doesn’t know it? Secret identities are for people that have something to hide, and if there’s one thing Tony Stark doesn’t do it’s hide. After introducing the world to the armored Iron Man, he is asked to deliver a fabricated alibi to cover it all up, urged by S.H.I.E.L.D., the government and everyone else around him in the know. Luckily he didn’t listen and instead Tony Stark uses the press conference to catapult us into the Age of the Superhero.
The last line in 2008’s Iron Man (which would reappear throughout the series) was a game changer for superhero movies. The ending came as a stark contrast to others whose plots largely focused on keeping true identities hidden, such as in The Dark Knight, which came out the same year. Marvel’s first entry in the genre showed that none of that really mattered with a flippant bravado that only Tony Stark was fit to deliver. At the time, Robert Downey Jr’s admission caught moviegoers off guard, but it was the perfect end to Iron Man’s first movie and an ideal beginning to the MCU.
Eventually, what Iron Man started would come to be redefined by the time Captain America: Civil War appeared on screens, but we couldn’t have arrived there and the Marvel Cinematic Universe wouldn’t be what it is today if it weren’t for the endearingly sarcastic wit of Tony Stark.
1 Honorable Mention: "You know, it's moments like these when I realize what a superhero I am." (Iron Man 3)
Every so often something happens in a movie trailer or commercial that ends up on the cutting room floor for the final film. So goes it with this quote from a TV spot for Iron Man 3. It appears it was meant to be said (or at least a variation of it) near the beginning of the movie when Tony Stark is testing out the new Mark 42. In the final product, it was replaced with the far less rousing line “I’m the best.”
Who knows why the filmmakers chose not to use it and, even though technically it’s not in any of the films, taken on its own the line is another one of the many great quotes delivered by Robert Downy Jr that spot-on personifies Iron Man.
Did we miss any of your favorite Iron Man quotes? Tell us which ones in the comments.
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