It would be completely fair to say that Tony Stark was a rather divisive figure. Not just among MCU fans, but the characters in the movies as well. Pompous yet endearing, courageous yet mischievous, charming yet manipulative, he was certainly a hero who had his share of flaws.
Unfortunately, Iron Man’s time on the big screen seems to be over (at least for now), with the character --played by the superb Robert Downey Jr-- biting the dust during the emotional Avengers: Endgame finale. However, as Spider-Man: Far From Home showed, he has left quite the legacy behind. We now take a look at 10 MCU characters who really, really couldn’t stand the guy - and delve into their reasons for such strong feelings.
10 Obadiah Stane
Tony Stark becomes Iron Man during the very first MCU movie back in 2008. He is immediately pitted against Obadiah Stane, who becomes the Iron Monger.
Stane’s reasoning for such a villainous transformation is simple: he’s seriously, seriously aggrieved when he finds out that Tony will become CEO of Stark Industries, despite the fact that Stane had been working alongside the billionaire’s father, Howard Stark, for years. Such feelings of jealousy tip him over the edge and he embarks on an attempt to defeat Iron Man, only to fall short.
9 Ivan Vanko
As you’ll notice as we go on, revenge seems to be a major motive for some villains pitting themselves against Tony Stark. Ivan Vanko is the first to have an ax to grind with Tony; going after Iron Man after Howard Stark had allowed his father to die penniless in Russia.
Vanko recreates an Arc Reactor based on his father’s design and designs armour capable of damaging even Stark’s technological creation. He attacks the billionaire in Monaco and refuses to relent but, at the very end of Iron Man 2, blows himself up in order to avoid going to jail for his crimes.
8 Aldrich Killian
Iron Man 3 played it smart because the Mandarin wasn’t the villain after all. Instead, that mantle belonged to Aldrich Killian who, you guessed it, wants revenge on Tony Stark. Why? He was shunned by the superhero when he asked for the man’s support for his project under Advanced Idea Mechanics.
If Tony had met Aldrich on the roof, as he had agreed, then the two men would have simply had a discussion and gone their separate ways. When Iron Man doesn’t show, however, he makes himself a new enemy, one who would come close to ending his life and killing his girlfriend, Pepper Potts.
Ultron is basically the MCU’s version of Frankenstein’s monster. He’s created solely with good intentions, but later turns against his creator and sets about bringing death and destruction to the world. That’s what Tony Stark has to contend with during Avengers: Age of Ultron.
The mechanical being loathes Tony and his outlook on the world, insisting the inhabitants would be better off dying and allowing artificial intelligence to evolve to a point where it exists without the need for humans. However, Iron Man and the rest of the Avengers are able to stop him from killing anybody outside of Sokovia - the place that would come back to haunt Stark not too long after...
6 Miriam Sharpe
Miriam Sharpe is a character who pops up during Captain America: Civil War for just the one scene. There, she confronts Tony Stark over the death of her darling son, who had chosen to take a gap year in Sokovia in order to build houses for those living there... only to die when the Avengers turn up to fight Ultron and cause mass destruction in the process.
Sharpe blames Tony for that and her words leave a lasting impact on the hero. It’s partly why he signed up for the Sokovia Accords - used, in short, to keep enhanced beings in line. This also leads to huge conflict between Stark and Captain America.
5 Helmut Zemo
Miriam Sharpe isn’t the only character to have issues with Tony Stark and the rest of the Avengers gang over what happened in Sokovia. Helmut Zemo suffers similar heartache when his entire family are murdered there and, by way of revenge, he comes up with the cunning plan to turning the entire team against one another.
He does this by teeing up the reveal that Bucky Barnes, Captain America’s closest and oldest friend, was responsible for the death of Tony's parents. This won’t be the last we see of Daniel Bruhl's devious Zemo, with the actor primed to reprise his role for next year’s The Falcon and the Winter Soldier TV series.
4 Adrian Toomes
The big fight against Loki and the Chitauri in The Avengers has a big impact on the rest of the films that come after it. Adrian Toomes is one of the consequences, with the villain stealing key technology after Tony Stark makes sure that his own men, rather than normal civilians, get rid of the dangerous equipment that lies among the wreckage in New York City.
Vulture is furious at the time and spends the next few years gathering equipment that’s way above his pay grade. On this occasion, Iron Man would have been in for even more trouble had it not been for Spider-Man. Peter Parker is able to not only stop the advanced weapons falling into the wrong hands but also save Toomes from death, yanking him from his suit just as it looks likely to explode.
3 Ebony Maw
Did you know that Tony Stark actually hits Eboy Maw with a different quip depending on which version of Avengers: Infinity War you're watching? In the French edition, he labels Thanos’ right-hand man "Voldemort," in reference to the villain of the Harry Potter series. For the U.S. and most of Europe, he brands him "squidward" instead.
This quipping irritates the Maw, however, who notes that Iron Man ‘exhausts’ him with his countless jokes in order to put him off his stride. He then does everything in his power to murder him, only to come up short. Maw dies when Tony Stark and Peter Parker team up to boot him out of the spaceship they’re travelling in, with Thanos’ lieutenant last seen floating into oblivion.
Spider-Man: Far From Home followed the same lead as Spider-Man: Homecoming, setting up somebody that Tony Stark had seriously wronged (in their minds) as a main villain. While Vulture was the bad guy of the first movie, that mantle passes to Mysterio for the sequel. Having been left devastated by Iron Man labelling his illusion technology "Barf," Beck sets about getting his revenge.
With Earth now without its guardian angel, Quentin Beck chooses to use a combination of drones and illusion technology as a means of tricking the planet into thinking he’s their new saviour. It’s left to Peter Parker, once again, to tidy up the mess his surrogate father has left behind.
1 The Avengers
This one is a bit tongue-in-cheek but, despite working alongside them to save the Earth on many occasions, Tony Stark always seemed to have an issue with at least one of the Avengers (and vice versa).
Clint Barton, Bruce Banner, Natasha Romanoff and Thor are all particularly angry with him in Age of Ultron, where his little science experiment nearly leads to the whole world being destroyed. He then clashes with Steve Rogers in epic fashion over the Sokovia Accords in Civil War and, as the movies go on, he even has disagreements and arguments with the likes of Peter Parker, Doctor Strange and the Guardians of the Galaxy. He’s not hated all throughout the series, but there are certainly times where even those closest to him take a drastically different path and resent him.