When we think of Iron Manwe think of quick wit, incredible facial hair, and a brain that makes Einstein look like Korg (Taika Waititi). Across nine films (ten if you count his cameo appearance in The Incredible Hulk), Robert Downey Jr. embodied the character, ensuring Tony Stark became one of the MCU’s most beloved characters.
Though he made the ultimate sacrifice when he snapped his fingers and killed Thanos and his army at the conclusion of Avengers: Endgame, Stark’s legacy isn’t exactly perfect. He made a variety of mistakes across his time in the MCU, some significantly more detrimental than others.
Trusting Obadiah Stane – Iron Man
After seeing the horror his weapons caused when in the wrong hands, Tony made the moral decision to shut down the weapons arms of Stark Industries. This, rather unsurprisingly, ruffled the feathers of Obadiah Stane (Jeff Bridges), Tony Stark’s business partner.
Tony thought Stane was angry because of the money the company they would lose, but instead, he was angry that his plan to kidnap and kill Stark had failed. Tony only realizes Stane’s true intentions when it’s far too late, which nearly costs him his life. Thankfully though, he escapes and fully commits to becoming the MCU’s first superhero.
Being Overly Arrogant – Iron Man
The Tony Stark that we are introduced to at the beginning of Iron Man is arrogant, selfish, and insensitive. He is the type of guy to either show up late or not show up at all, and his petty decision not to ride with Rhodey (played in this film by Terrence Howard) results in him being kidnapped, tortured, and left with pieces of shrapnel edging towards his heart.
Thankfully, this experience shows Tony the error of his ways, and when he eventually rescued, he works towards becoming a better version of himself. His incredible character arc is a large part of why Iron Man is considered one of the best films of Phase One of the MCU.
Giving Into His Demons – Iron Man 2
We’ll start this entry off by saying we have a lot of sympathy for the predicament Tony Stark finds himself in when he returns for his second outing in Iron Man Two. The palladium that powers his arc reactor and helps keep him alive is also slowly poisoning him. Tony isn’t used to being faced with a problem that he can not immediately solve, so he turns to alcohol.
Unsurprisingly, his reliance on alcohol only makes things worse and actually results in Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) deeming him unworthy of joining the Avengers initiative. Thankfully, Tony (with a little help from his father) invents a new element to power his arc reactors and also kicks his drinking habit to the curb. What a hero.
Alienating The People Around Him – Iron Man 2
To say that Tony relies on the support of Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) and his best friends James Rhodes (Don Cheadle) and Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau) is an understatement. They have all saved his life (both literally and metaphorically) on multiple occasions, making the way he pushes them away in Iron Man 2 even more difficult to watch. Instead of confiding in them, he pushes them away and tries to party his problems away.
Of course, when Rhodey steals one of his suits, he is forced to confront the reality of his situation and soon realizes how wrong he has been and how much he needs Pepper, Happy, and Rhodey in his life.
Giving Out His Home Address – Iron Man 3
Ok, this one’s a biggie, and it does not make a whole heap of sense. After seeing Happy unconscious in a hospital bed after being caught in the wake of a Mandarin (Ben Kingsley) attack, an understandably upset Tony Stark gives out his home address on national television. What makes this decision even more baffling, however, is the fact that his home seems largely unprepared for an attack.
People are able to walk right up to the front door and ring the bell, and he only has a prototype suit ready. Also, somehow his security systems do not pick up a missile. Instead, they just notice it on TV. In the words of Tony Stark himself, not a great plan.
Not Asking For Help – Iron Man 3
Tony Stark is in a dark place in his final solo outing. The events of The Avengers have shaken him to his core, and as a result, he has PTSD. Rather than confide in Pepper, Happy, or Rhodey, though, Tony instead buries himself in his work. He makes an inordinate amount of suits and distances himself from those he loves. Given that he almost sacrificed himself to save the world in The Avengers, the people in Tony’s life would definitely have understood his anxieties and sought to help him in any way they could. Instead, he bottles up his feelings, and it almost winds up costing Pepper her life.
Not Trusting Cap – Captain America: Civil War
Boy, oh boy, did the Sokovia Accords do a number on The Avengers. The papers proposed in Captain America: Civil War state that superheroes can only get involved in situations that the Government deems worthy. Naturally, Captain America (Chris Evans) and Iron Man disagree on the accords. But, in the midst of all this fighting, Zemo (Daniel Bruhl) is plotting to tear the Avengers apart.
Captain America discovers this and tries to tell Tony, but Stark’s narrow-mindedness and guilt about what happened in Sokovia get the better of him. He continues to fight against Cap rather than listening to his friend and fighting against the man looking to destroy the Avengers forever.
Keeping Peter At Arm’s Length – Spider-Man: Homecoming
After trusting him enough to go toe-to-toe with Captain America at an airport in Berlin, Peter Parker (Tom Holland) finds himself struggling to get into contact with the man who recruited him. Happy, the man supposedly overseeing his superhero development, does not return his calls or texts, which forces Peter to take matters into his own hands.
He becomes determined to prove himself, and taking down the Vulture (Michael Keaton) is the perfect way to do it. Peter’s quest causes a massive amount of public damage and sees the teenager risk his life on multiple occasions. However, if Tony had trusted him, they could have worked together and stopped the Vulture much sooner.
Creating Ultron – Avengers: Age Of Ultron
Do not worry; we did not forget about Tony’s biggest mistake. Creating artificial life is never a good idea, and Tony’s attempt at it comes at a huge price. Not only does the newly-created Ultron (James Spader) seemingly kill Jarvis (Paul Bettany), but he also plots to wipe out humanity while holding a fierce grudge towards the man who made him.
Of course, there is the excuse that Wanda (Elizabeth Olsen) planted a vision in his head which showed him the world in ruins in which his fellow Avengers were dead and blamed him for it. Luckily for us, the Avengers united once more to take down Ultron and all his robots, saving Tony’s reputation from falling to tatters.
Choosing An Offensive Acronym – Spider-Man: Far From Home
Ok, so this is a weird one given that Tony wasn’t actually around to see how it unfolded, but the simple act of giving a piece of technology a silly acronym caused Spider-Man a world of bother a few years later. Quentin Beck (Jake Gyllenhall), enraged that his technological breakthrough was relegated to a therapy project for Tony Stark, decides the only way to prove his worth is to become a superhero.
This brings him face to face with Spider-Man, and very nearly leads to the deaths of MJ (Zendaya), Ned (Jacob Batalon) and the rest of Peter’s class. Thankfully, Peter is exactly the hero Tony thought he was, and he manages to defeat Beck and save his friends.
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