In Captain America: Civil War, the Vision sums up the importance of the Sokovia Accords quite succinctly: “Our very strength invites challenge. Challenge incites conflict. And conflict breeds catastrophe.”
With Iron Man, it wasn’t just his strength that invited challenge. He went out in front of a room full of cameras and reporters and said, “I am Iron Man.” A face could be put to the superhero. Most of Tony Stark’s enemies were people that had a personal problem with him (apart from the one time that it was an android he created). So, here are Iron Man’s 10 Best Scenes With Villains, Ranked.
10 Obadiah Stane taking out his arc reactor (Iron Man)
Tony Stark has always had a complicated relationship with his father. After Howard died, the father figure Tony was left with was Obadiah Stane, but he was just mentoring Tony in an attempt to dethrone him as the CEO of Stark Industries. He even hired a terrorist group to kill him.
The moment where Tony reaches his lowest point in the first Iron Man movie is when Obadiah uses one of his gadgets to incapacitate him and then rips the arc reactor from his chest. Tony then has to crawl across the floor to get the one Pepper framed for him. It was such an effective moment that a bunch of subsequent MCU movies copied it in one way or another.
9 “Earth is closed today.” (Avengers: Infinity War)
Tony Stark has the right quip for every villain, and Ebony Maw is the kind of villain who doesn’t have time for quips. Bruce Banner crashed into the Sanctum Sanctorum and warned Doctor Strange and Wong that Thanos was coming. Strange teleported to Central Park and brought Tony back to the Sanctum to talk strategy. And then a Q-Ship landed around the corner and Ebony Maw stepped off.
He wanted the Time Stone, which was hanging around Strange’s neck. Before he could even ask, Tony told him, “I’m sorry, Earth is closed today. You better pack it up and get outta here.”
8 Infiltrating the Mandarin’s hideout without his suit (Iron Man 3)
For obvious reasons, Iron Man 3 is one of the most controversial entries in the MCU. The Mandarin is a fearsome, mystical, iconic villain in the comics – the arch nemesis of Tony Stark – and Iron Man 3 turned him into a soccer hooligan; an actor hired to portray a terrorist.
Ignoring that, the scene right before this reveal, with Tony having to infiltrate the Mandarin’s hideout with nothing but his wits, is truly great. He’d lost his armor, so all he had were makeshift gadgets and scientific knowhow. Tony uses his suits as a crutch. The technology does everything for him. That’s what makes this such an interesting escalation of the stakes.
7 “I’m bringing the party to you.” (The Avengers)
One of the main criticisms of Joss Whedon’s The Avengers is that the villain in the final battle is the Chitauri, a faceless alien robot army. But that helped to place the focus on the characters and their burgeoning relationships.
Right as the Battle of New York began, Iron Man distracted one of the giant flying metal worms and didn’t know what to do with it, so he told the other Avengers, “I’m bringing the party to you,” and flew around the corner, followed by the flying worm. A deadpan Black Widow quipped, “I don’t see how that’s a party.”
6 “He killed my mom.” (Captain America: Civil War)
The MCU is so interconnected that a character who is an ally to one of the heroes can be a villain to one of the others. Captain America: Civil War accentuates this perfectly. Steve Rogers’ best friend Bucky Barnes was brainwashed to be a ruthless assassin, and during that time, he murdered Tony Stark’s parents.
The conflict is clear: Bucky wasn’t himself when he did the killing, but Tony blames him anyway, and Steve wants to protect him, because he’s his best friend. This leads to possibly the most intense fight scene in MCU history. Steve implores Tony to let it go, but a heartbroken Tony just says, “He killed my mom.”
5 Fighting Whiplash on the Monaco racetrack (Iron Man 2)
Due to its generic and predictable plot and the movie’s focus on setting up a cinematic universe over telling its own story, Iron Man 2 is one of the least beloved movies in the MCU. Whiplash is considered to be a lackluster villain, because he doesn’t pose much of a threat to Tony Stark and he’s pretty one-dimensional.
However, the movie and its villain did combine forces to give audiences a breathtaking action set piece. The fight on the Monaco racetrack, with Ivan Vanko whipping cars in half and Tony desperately trying to get his Iron Man armor on, is a spectacular sequence.
4 Blasting Ultron with Thor and the Vision (Avengers: Age of Ultron)
Marvel fans weren’t exactly thrilled by Avengers: Age of Ultron. The main problem with the movie is that Tony Stark never faces any consequences for creating Ultron. When Ultron attacks the Avengers and flies off on a murdering spree, Tony just laughs. That’s not the Tony we know.
He wants to keep the people he cares about safe and put a suit of armor around the world. He failed on both of those counts. Age of Ultron should’ve reflected that in a meaningful and lasting way. Having said that, the sight of Iron Man, Thor, and the Vision combining forces to blast beams of energy at Ultron will never not be awesome.
3 “We have a Hulk.” (The Avengers)
Every good movie needs a calm-before-the-storm moment ahead of its climactic sequence. In Jaws, it was when the characters compared scars. In The Avengers, it was when Tony Stark poured himself a glass of whiskey in Stark Tower and discussed the possible outcomes of Loki’s plan with him.
When Loki said, “I have an army,” Tony quipped back, “We have a Hulk.” Tony was trying to resolve the matter peacefully, telling the trickster god that as long as the Avengers were assembled, there was no way he’d win this battle. Still, props to Loki for giving it his best shot.
2 Going toe-to-toe with Thanos and losing (Avengers: Infinity War)
Towards the end of Avengers: Infinity War, Iron Man, Doctor Strange, Spider-Man, and half of the Guardians of the Galaxy team up to fight Thanos on the ruins of Titan. It’s mostly a group effort, and for a while, that works out. However, as the battle winds down, the Mad Titan goes toe-to-toe with Tony Stark.
The villain that Tony has waited six years to rear his head finally engages in hand-to-hand combat with him. And just as Tony feared, his technology isn’t enough to save him. Thanos stabs Tony through the abdomen and places a hand on his head. “You have my respect, Stark.”
1 Snapping Thanos and his armies out of existence (Avengers: Endgame)
This is the moment that Iron Man will be forever remembered for. It’s the moment that brought his character arc full circle, not just in repeating his classic line, but in finally overcoming the emotions that have tortured him for a decade. Tony Stark always feared that a villain would come along that his technology couldn’t defeat, and then one did and the world lost dearly.
As outlined in Age of Ultron, Tony’s worst fear was watching his fellow Avengers die while he’s left alive, unable to help. At the end of Avengers: Endgame, when he snapped his fingers, he proved that he could defeat that villain, save his fellow Avengers, and finally rest.